How To Get Divorce Ready: Start With You


date published

7th September 2023

written by

Emma Heptonstall Image

date published

7th September 2023

As this blog goes live it’s the start of September. If you ask me, September’s more of a new year than January ever could be. September has the stirrings of autumnal breezes to blow away old beliefs and habits. The children are back to school, and workplaces snap back into usual rhythms after the patchiness of August. Does it surprise you to learn September is peak divorce application month too? Probably not… if you had an inkling your marriage was over, summer holidays have a way of sealing the deal! So, it’s time to get divorce ready. And, you need to start with you.

You take yourself with you

In my book How To Be A Lady Who Leaves: The Ultimate Guide To Getting Divorce Ready one of the first things I remind readers is ‘you take yourself with you’. What do I mean by this? I mean, if things are tough in your marriage and life, it can be easy to think a divorce is the answer to all your problems. In short, your marriage can be the scapegoat for all your difficulties in your life. Whereas, in truth, the thing that happens when you separate and get divorced is that you start the emotional, difficult journey to end your marriage and begin an independent future. Any other issues you have going on will still be there.

That’s why it’s essential to start with you, and your own self-reflection. Don‘t unpick your marriage and what’s going wrong just now. Start with your internal world, and what feels wrong there.

What shows up right now?

We’re going to get a bit creative to help with this ‘what shows up’ question! Do go with it, and just see what happens…

Imagine yourself as a hotel, with lots of guests staying. Your hotel represents you: how strong and well you’re feeling. And your guests represent all the emotions and other variables you have going on in your life.

Ask yourself, what’s the state of your hotel? Do you feel like you’re functioning well, no leaks or creaks, decorated in a way that fits who you are? Or do you feel shabby and run down? Spend some time imagining and writing down how your metaphorical hotel is.

And then, turn to your guests. Who’s taking up space in your hotel? This might include key people (including your spouse) who call on your time and energy, in good or bad ways. Include feelings you have too, such as anger, self-doubt, curiosity – they can all be guests. Spend some time thinking and writing through for yourself who’s in your hotel and how they treat it. There’s no right or wrong.

  • What’s the point of this exercise? I don’t want to give too much away, before you actually do it for yourself! But, this exercise can reveal a whole range of things as you get divorce ready, for example:
  • Your hotel is in a decent state of repair, but too crowded. There are some negative feelings about yourself you’d like to work through, as well as deal with how your spouse is acting towards you
  • Your hotel is in a poor state of repair and in desperate need of some TLC. Your guests are unhappy, and you’re unhappy with some of them
  • Your hotel is neglected, and some of your guests would love to roll up their sleeves and enjoy looking after it with you
  • Your hotel is fine, though there are things you’d like to improve. And some of your guests are annoying, but the main one you’d like to evict is your spouse…

As you can imagine, there are endless scenarios here! The point is, very rarely are our lives as simple as ‘get divorced = instantly feel great and live happily ever after’. Doing this exercise may mean you decide to pause for a while and see what you can work on, instead of proceeding with separation. Or it may mean you are more resolved that divorce is the right course of action, but that you have your eyes open about other difficulties that will remain. Or an entirely different third/fourth/fifth option!

What do you want and need?

Once you’ve got a handle on where you are now, and the range of ‘guests’ impacting your life, you’re in a more helpful place to think through what you really want and need as you get divorce ready.

If you want, continue with the hotel metaphor. What does your ideal hotel look like, and who gets to stay there? What happens when an undesirable guest shows up, as they inevitably will? Have fun with this, write it all out. And spend some time translating it into your here and now life.

Or, you could be more direct and ask yourself:

  • What does a fulfilled, healthy, happy me want?
  • What does a fulfilled, healthy, happy me need?

Let yourself go big with your wants, even if they don’t feel realistic right now. Hold onto them. And your needs: they need your attention. How are your needs not currently being met? Are they not being met because of your marriage or because of something else? How can you put things in place so they can be met?

Sit with your decision

Another spoiler from the book! The first thing I suggest you do when you’ve decided to divorce is… nothing.

You read that right. Unless you’re not safe in some way, take some time to sit with your decision, before sharing it with anyone, except perhaps someone from your very inner circle. The decision to divorce is huge, and needs to be given respect – by yourself first.

You need to become more at ease with it. Otherwise, it will be reactive and open up debates every time you share it with someone new. Telling someone, whether it’s your spouse, your boss or your friends, from a place of quick confidence is a world away from a heady spur of the moment, ‘I’m done!’ announcement!

More on that vital ingredient, communication, in a moment.

Do your research

If you’ve made the decision to divorce, it’s also a decision to be self-reliant. Of course it’s more than fine to ask your loved ones for help. You absolutely need a trusted emotional and practical support team around you. And, of course, it’s fine and healthy to be as collaborative as possible with your soon-to-be-ex. Amicable divorce relies on honest and respectful communication. (As a side note, navigating high conflict divorce also requires respectful communication from your side, but it looks very different: read about high conflict communication here).

But, as you get divorce ready you want to be an equal to your spouse. You want to minimise the power plays, from both you and them. If you’ve been the person who’s ignored the finances, and let your other half look after things, now is the time to work out what your gaps are. Get access to your paperwork and digital bank accounts.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve been the one looking after everything. Now is the time to think about what financial and household management looks like as you enter separation and divorce. What do you need to stop doing for your soon-to-be-ex?

Get Divorce Ready: Join the book club!

I wrote How to be a Lady Who Leaves: The Ultimate Guide To Getting Divorce Ready for women like you. Thousands have already read through the book. It’s packed full of up-to-date legal information, real-life inspired case studies, and actionable advice. Here’s how one reader reviewed it:

Wow, there is seriously nothing out there that compares to this book. It has a mixture of legal, practical, case studies and informative material and the author knows exactly how to be sensitive when she needs to be. One of if not the best book out there that can help you in this difficult decision making process. It’s like having your best friend by your side with a box of tissues, a glass of rosé, giving you a pep talk with your favourite chocs with the legal parts to back her up. A must-have if you’re contemplating leaving, highly recommend!

And, from 25 September, you can join the autumn book club so we can work through the book together! Which means:

  • You’ll be in a supportive cohort with other women, sharing experiences and learning
  • You can ask any questions and get clarity on anything you need
  • You’re more likely to actually do the exercises
  • You’ll be able to keep track of progress in real time
  • By the end of November you’ll know exactly where you want to be, and how.

It’s just £225 for eight weeks of support ( and if you join before 15th September it’s only £125), including a copy of the book, workbooks and zoom sessions. I wanted to provide an accessible way to get your divorce moving this September, and this is it!

I can’t wait for you to join me. Read more about the book club and sign up here.


About Emma

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the 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. Emma is also the host of  The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit


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