Good Girls Do Get Divorced


date published

11th November 2019

written by

Emma Heptonstall Image

date published

11th November 2019

Good Girls Do Get Divorced


Good girls do get divorced.


Yes, they do. You know this because you are one, right? Maybe you’ve had the odd rebellious moment, but when it came to getting married, well, you just didn’t want to let people down: your fiancé, your parents, your friends… Why? Because you’re a good girl.


I’ll let you into a secret. I’d guesstimate that more than 95% of my clients knew that marrying their soon-to-be-ex-husband was the wrong thing to do. Obviously, when they proposed it seemed like a bloody marvellous idea! A wedding! Being loved! Having their person! Because #lifegoals. But the doubts soon crept in.


And grew.


And grew.


The only person you can ever be is you


Angela got married to a good boy because she thought it’d make her a ‘good girl’. Partying well into her 30s she thought that she should settle down with Mr. Sensible. He’d help her become the ‘proper grown-up’ and mummy she wanted to be.


It turned out Mr. Sensible was controlling and, frankly, boring. Angela began to die inside. What cheekily became known as ‘courgette gate’ was the end of their relationship. No drama, no showdown, no pivotal moment. Except it was, in its own way. You see Angela’s husband didn’t like food waste (nothing wrong with that, I’m sure you’d agree). However, when a Friday morning there was one slightly mushy courgette left in the fridge, he started to give his usual tirade of criticisms of Angela.


Enough was enough.  Angela couldn’t take it any longer. Life was governed by a set of rules that was all about her husband’s view of the world – a view that was crushing Angela’s sense of self.


You can read more about Angela and what happened next in my Amazon bestseller How to be a Lady Who Leaves – The Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. If you haven’t read it yet, you really must. One reader described it as “the best thing since sliced bread other than sliced bread”. Praise indeed!


The only person you can ever be is you. I learned this the hard way. Perhaps you have too. Perhaps you’re only just beginning to realise that it is more than okay to be you just the way you are. Maybe you’d love to believe that but you’re really struggling with it.


Daddy shouldn’t decide


If you’re a good girl, you probably equate being ‘good’ with being loved. I know I did. Love had to be ‘earned’ it wasn’t given freely. For me, being good at school got me attention from daddy. He didn’t connect at all with my love of singing or desire to dance. So my childhood lesson? Good grades meant praise and love. Don’t disappoint him.


Relateable? Right from childhood, we let other people decide our worth. And it becomes our normal – pleasing others to receive love. Co-dependency becomes a way of being in the world.


Some women share that they told their dad that they knew they were making a mistake on the way to the church. Some got ignored, others got told ‘they’d made their bed…’


When did daddy (or whoever it is for you) get to decide?


Why is he still deciding?


You get to decide


When you’ve learned that people-pleasing means getting attention and affection, putting everyone else’s needs above your own is second nature. You go from pleasing daddy to pleasing your spouse. You ignore your own needs. Worse still, you deny you have had any. Everything is ‘fine’ because you’re a good girl – you can cope. It’s noble to put everyone else first.


The truth is you’re exhausted. You’re resentful. You want some recognition for putting up with that crap.


That recognition won’t come.


Until it comes from you. Until you see that the power lies with you. No-one is going to make you feel better so long as you carry on ignoring yourself and living by everyone else’s rules. Sure, it might feel easier to not rock the boat, but deep down, like Angela, you’re feeling hollow.


You get to decide. And if you decide that you’re a person too, that you need to come first for once, the world will not stop turning. I promise.


Good girls do get divorced


Getting a divorce doesn’t make you a ‘bad girl’. Even if your dad (or mum, or anyone else whose opinion of you matters) doesn’t agree. Even if you disappoint these people for religious or cultural or value-laden reasons.


Good girls divorce go get divorced. Smart women divorce. Good mothers in bad marriages divorce.


Imagine it’s a few years from now. Your daughter tells you she’s unhappy in her marriage and she’s leaving. You can so relate.  Would you consider her a ‘bad girl’ for being a lady who leaves? No? Thought not. So why do you think you are?


In the five years since I began divorce coaching, not one client has said they regretted their decision. If you’re looking for the permission you need to leave – here it is. Take that permission and make it your own (it is anyway). #goodgirlsdodivorce


Letting go of guilt


Letting go of guilt allows you to focus on what’s right for you and your family. You take responsibility for creating the life you want to live, not the life that someone else thinks you should live.


You stop thinking that you’re not worthy of a financial settlement that meets your needs because you know that you are.  What’s more, you stop thinking that you should let him have all the money because it’s your fault for leaving.

You start believing in you and this changes everything.


Letting him have what’s rightfully yours won’t make you a saint – it only makes you a woman who has less than she needs and deserves. That’s not smart, however much you spin it as being easier, liberating or giving you the moral high ground.


Sister – that sainthood ain’t coming. Do the sensible thing and seek what you deserve. And don’t, for a second, feel bad about it. Know that you are worth it.  Feel it. Own it – unapologetically.


Want help stepping out of people-pleasing, good girl mode and focussing on you – book in a call.


Want your fireback? Together that’s what we do. And you can get your divorce on track, your way, because when you do, everything changes – you believe in you. You believe you can do this because you absolutely can!

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is author of the Amazon best selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. To find out more visit


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