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Top 5 Books to Read When Contemplating Divorce

I talk with many individuals who are struggling with the decision to divorce. It can be downright difficult to decide what direction to take, especially for those who have been married for decades. There can be a host of circumstances in the relationship that cause difficulty in deciding how to proceed. Some feel guilty leaving a spouse who has an addiction or mental health issue; others remain in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their children — not wanting to break up the family unit; yet others may be dealing with intimacy or infidelity concerns, and worse yet, there are those in an abusive or controlling relationship.

books to read when contemplating divorceHow each person comes to the conclusion to either remain in their relationship or proceed towards divorce will take a lot of soul-searching. No one source will provide all the answers. But there are a range of resources that can provide assistance in your decision-making. Following are five books that may help provide knowledge and insight for those comtemplating divorce:

1. Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum

A comprehensive series of questions and guidelines to help the reader determine whether it is best for them to stay in or leave their relationship. Some of the topics include:

  • Do you and your spouse really fit together
  • Will the things that bother you get better or worse
  • How you’ll feel if things do get better or if they don’t
  • Whether you can improve the relationship on your own or is it better to seek help
  • What you’ll find if you leave and whether it’ll be better or worse than what you have now
  • How to balance the responsibility you have to yourself and to the people you care about

2. The Complete Guide for Men & Women Divorcing by Melvin Belli & Mel Krantzler

Co-authored by an attorney and a psychologist who have joined forces to help keep the breakup of a marriage from becoming a legal nightmare or an emotional catastrophe. The book is a guide filled with common sense advice for many of the complications encountered, whether one is just realizing that a marriage may be ending or moving on to an independent single life, and all stages in between.

3. Ditch That Jerk – Dealing With Men Who Control and Hurt Women by Pamela Jayne, M.A.

Written to provide “an insider’s look at men who control and hurt women,” the book details what actually goes on in the minds of many controlling, hurtful men. Abuse comes in many forms, and the book discusses hundreds of ways an abusive man can exert control, and what to do if you find yourself on the receiving end of any of them. The book identifies three kinds of abusive men:  “those who can change, those who might change, and those who never will,” and why it’s important to know the difference.

4. Divorce & New Beginnings – What to Know Before, During & After Your Divorce, Second Edition by Genevieve Clapp, PhD

The book has three goals: “One, to provide a road map of what lies ahead, drawn from the experience of thousands who have weathered the rupture of their relationships and have started over again; two, to provide a repertoire of good coping skills to avoid many of the problems faced by so many others; and three, to guide the way in building successful new beginnings.”

5. The No-Fight Divorce Book by Brette Sember, JD

This book gives a detailed description of how mediation can be used to consider a cooperative approach to divorce. Complete with checklists and worksheets, the author explains all aspects of the process and how mediation can help work out separation, divorce, or post-divorce issues in a less contentious, less expensive, and more “dignified” way.

The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you will be to tackle challenges that present themselves.  Reading is a great way to learn about what to expect and how to prepare should you choose to move forward in the divorce process.  But more than that, it is a way to discover that you are not alone in the process. Often identifying with the experiences of others can provide understanding and information that you may apply to your situation. Gain insight and knowledge from these resources and apply that knowledge to real life.


Written by Donna Cheswick (Originally published 3/27/2016