Contributed by Diane L.

My Recovery Recipe

  • Forgive yourself – beating yourself only slows you down.
  • Don’t let your emotions take over – take action.
  • Find a quality lawyer – this is not an area to scrimp.
  • Increase your financial savvy – obtain your credit report and get advice from friends, books, other resources.
  • Find a quality fee-based financial planner.

After DivorceI thought I had met my Prince Charming. He was handsome, rich and dynamic.  We met at a party and he swept me off of my feet. We married and things were good for the first three years. I was very happy and then I found out he was cheating on me.  The next thing I knew he left me and the country.  It wasn’t the only thing he left behind; he left me half a million dollars in debt!

During our relationship he insisted on taking care of the books. I trusted him with our finances and I took care of other household responsibilities. We lived in a lovely home, went on fabulous vacations and entertained often.  I never found any overdue notices in the mail nor were there calls from creditors so I had no idea of the financial debt my husband was racking up.

When he left I was an emotional wreck.  We had been trying to have children so not only did I feel the loss of my husband and our future together, I was also mourning the family I would we would never have together. Then the next shoe dropped. Almost immediately after he left, creditors started calling. The mortgage had not been paid for six months and there were credit cards I didn’t even know about. I thought of asking my family for help but no one had the kind of cash needed to bail me out this financial mess.

The one thing I did know was that I needed help and it took a process.

  • At first I knocked myself for being so unaware, but I forgave myself once I realized that many women (and men) have been in the same situation. This knowledge helped me stop beating myself up. I accepted that I needed help and found a great lawyer who had experience working with couples who ex-spouses lived in other countries.  I knew that I had to fight for my rights and have this financial mess taken care of. I had been taught to be a nice girl my whole life, but in this type of situation there is no glory in rolling over and smiling. It was time to get tough.
  • I pulled my credit report and brought it to the lawyer’s office.  Then I went to a free financial counselor that I found on my local government’s website. My counselor recommended that I immediately make a budget to see where I was.  I have to say at times I was tempted to throw it all away and spend wildly.  Luckily I understood that this was an emotional reaction to the breakup and not an intellectual one.  I wanted to say that I deserved to keep living the way I did before as the end of a marriage was on him. My financial counselor said that is a common reaction the end of a marriage.
  • The first six months I decided to watch every penny I had and really think before I spent. I didn’t make any big money decisions and instead read all the popular financial books that I could get from the library. I also met with some friends who were good with money and talked to them about what they did and asked them for ideas about what I could do. I was surprised how much I was able to learn about finances. A subject that was always scary to me was surprisingly easy.

As I brought myself out of this situation, I decided that I would become a financial advisor and help other people get out of debt after divorce.  I feel that this horrible experience has not only made me stronger but led me to my dream career.  Now I am able to empower others so they can experience financial security at a time when they are most vulnerable.

How have you survived financial hardship after a break up? We invite you to write your comments in the box below.