Written by Monique Honaman Tuesday, May 29 2012
Atlanta businesswoman Monique Honaman is the founding partner with ISHR Group, which provides global solutions in the areas of leadership assessment, development and coaching. In addition to building her million-dollar business, Honaman is also passionate about helping women survive divorce productively for the good of all involved. She is the author of “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” and a regular contributor for The Huffington Post. She is also a 2012 Womenetics POW! Award winner.
Raise your hand (I know you’re reading this and I can’t see you, but humor me!). Raise your hand if your life has been impacted by divorce. You are or have been divorced. Your parents are divorced. You have a sister, aunt or best friend who has gone through a divorce. I’m betting that pretty much everyone reading this article has raised her hand.
We are women, most likely businesswomen. We are passionate about our jobs, our communities, our families and about making a difference in the world. We understand the realities of balancing work and life, the realities of striving for alignment amongst the different demands placed upon us and the realities of wearing many hats in an ever-changing world.
We all know that relationships and relationship issues like divorce impact our productivity, our effectiveness and our success. Statistics do confirm that one out of two marriages will end in divorce. That number is higher for second marriages with about 70 percent ending in divorce. If I look at my social circle and my network of professional colleagues, these numbers are holding true.
Marriage relationships, like business relationships, are hard work! Yet, at work we spend time developing our leadership skills. We learn about how to have crucial conversations, how to negotiate, about the art of influencing and how to motivate others. It seems like we could use that same focus and intentional skill development in all of those areas in our personal lives as well, doesn’t it?
Here’s the key question: Is any marriage really divorce-proof? I used to think mine was. Then, I was shocked to learn differently. I used to think certain friends had marriages that were divorce-proof. And again, I was shocked when I learned differently. Is this something we can and should prepare for? As women in business, we tend to think in terms of contingency plans. Should we look at our marriages and relationships through the same lens? Is any marriage 100 percent safe from divorce?
I have come to accept that there isn’t a single marriage that is divorce-proof and to think otherwise is naïve. I’m not negative on marriage. In fact, I’m happily remarried. I am a realist who has seen and learned far too much in recent years speaking with women (and men) across the country to know that there are no guarantees.
Many a woman, myself included, have looked back and said that their divorce was the best thing that ever happened to them. I look at my marriage now, and I think, “THIS is how a marriage and a partnership is supposed to feel.” I have had other women who were put through the pain of divorce, who surfaced on the other side, and who look back now saying they are in a much better place emotionally, relationally, physically and spiritually! BUT, it’s a difficult road, and those lessons and the journey towards peace, happiness, and personal fulfillment don’t always come easily.
The experience that the process of divorce creates can be incredibly disruptive not only personally, but also professionally. The impacts are emotional and physical. The ripple effect is huge, touching our children, our extended family, our circle of friends and our co-workers. I recall going through my own divorce and saying, “I wouldn't wish this experience on my worst enemy.”
If you are facing divorce, there are so many things to think about. How do you figure out what to do financially after divorce? Did you know that more and more women are now paying alimony and child support? How do you get rid of the anger that is swirling around in your head so you can start moving forward with positive momentum? How do you stay focused on your business and limit your productivity hits? How do you truly find forgiveness so that you can move on with your life? How do you support your children so that that they don’t grow up feeling pulled and torn between parents and stepparents?
These are just a few of things I had to wrestle with coming out of my own divorce experience. Most importantly, I learned you can’t go through this alone. I don't know about you but as a woman in business, I was used to handling stress, getting things done and being in control. Strong and independent are words that come to mind, yet, as my marriage fell apart I realized the need to reach out to my support network and allow them to help me and my children. This support network is broad. It includes family, friends, co-workers, clergy, accountants, lawyers, and the list goes on. I learned it was necessary to let people help. They wanted to; I needed them. For example, I was part of a business that was trying to grow, despite a less-than wonderful economy. Thank goodness for my two business partners who held me up and kept things moving forward. I learned it’s OK to ask for help, and that you don’t always have to be strong and in control.
In closing, I leave you with this thought. I coined a phrase while going through my own divorce based on a book I read called “The 4:8 Principle” by Tommy Newberry. Based on some points made in that book, I started to live by the credo:
“Live purposefully. Think rightly. Serve generously. Forgive quickly.”
I think that’s a pretty impactful way to live. It helps us to see the big picture both personally and professionally, no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
More advice on relationships and divorce:
During a divorce you're sure to receive much (potentially unsolicited) advice from friends and family, but when it comes to your finances, be sure to enlist a trusted professional.
Do you love your husband but feel like you're pulling more than your fair share of weight in the relationship? Dr. Sherry Blakely's book provides advice for "The Single Married Woman."
Suzy Yehl Marta was compelled to start Rainbows for All Children, a peer support group organization, after watching her sons "grieve the death of their nuclear family" after her divorce.