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5 Empowering Tips from a Divorced Woman.

When her eldest daughter turned 24 and her middle son turned 21, Helena (*name has been changed to protect her privacy) looked at her youngest child and decided she had had enough of her husband’s abuse and infidelity and forged ahead with a divorce that was on her mind for almost a decade. What came after was a huge toll on her already battered self-esteem and her finances.

As she had worked casually her entire life (to raise her kids better), she had little savings but it was enough to take her through the situation. It has been about 5 years since her decision and to her relief her children didn’t turn away from her after their initial horror at their mother’s audacity to divorce her outwardly supportive husband. They had instead cut off the communication with their father when all the ‘secrets’ were out in the open. The father moved to another state making the broken relationship hard to mend leaving him isolated and perhaps even lonely.

In Malaysia, Helena divorcing her husband at age 55 was a shock to her friends as the median age of a woman divorcing is 34 years old and men at 37 years old. If we look to the west as an example, US marriages are failing at 50% rate due to the possible powerful combination of the rise of employment, the focus of individualism and better mental health advocacy. While Malaysia is possibly half that rate of divorce, it is climbing.

Talking to Helena was eye opening. She affirmed that she didn’t regret the divorce. She wished she realised the marriage was not going anywhere sooner. When probed about her regrets, she smiled wryly and wished that she did not refuse the money given in the earlier years.

Her 5 advice to women :

  1. Be aware of mental abuse and when you encounter it, put your foot down. Do not allow it to continue. If you feel that you cannot be yourself when you are with him, this is not a good sign.

  2. Do not give up your job or at least negotiate for an allowance upfront. Manage the money better so you will feel less vulnerable.

  3. Always have an emergency fund. Start small with half month of expenses and over time grow that to 12 months. Grow this amount in a savings accounts (1-3 months’ worth) and investment account (beyond 3 months).

  4. Be aware that you will feel that you have invested too much to walk away. Unfortunately, it will not get better especially if he disdains counselling and insist that you need counselling instead. Be brave to leave for a peaceful life.

  5. Do not be reluctant to slog and earn your own money post the divorce. Its a chance to focus on something new for a stronger you.

Helena today remains happy after her life changing decision.

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