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Ep. 139 – Taking Ownership

While going through divorce there are many circumstances that we cannot control.

The one thing we always have control over, however, is ourselves. And taking responsibility for ourselves is incredibly empowering and a huge part of the healing process.

It isn’t about blaming yourself for the divorce.

It’s about seeing every situation in your life as if you own it and taking responsibility for your part of it.

When you learn to do this, you give yourself so much more power than staying in a victim mentality.

This week, Jeff and Doreen discuss how taking responsibility can be for your life after divorce and how to do it without beating yourself up.


Jeff 00:00
Hello, everybody out there. Today we’re going to be talking about taking responsibility for your part of the divorce. It’s called taking ownership. So if you’re ready, let’s start episode 139.

Doreen 00:14
Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaffa and Jeff Wilson and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you deserve, and desire. As partners, both in marriage and coaching, we use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter. Hey, Jeff.

Jeff 00:54
Hey, Doreen,

Doreen 00:55
I’m doing great. I knew you were gonna start that way.

Jeff 01:01
Oh, my goodness. Okay.

Doreen 01:07
Yeah. Today’s subject about taking ownership. Yeah, it’s gonna be a little, like, get ready. It’s gonna be a little deep, a little, a little…

Jeff 01:16
In your face.

Doreen 01:17
Yeah, you know, it’s something that I think a lot of people don’t want to think about. They want to avoid, but I think it’s really important in anything in life, to really just own your responsibility. And whatever it was that happened, whatever is happening.

Jeff 01:33
Well, they say that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. So there’s so many benefits to taking ownership and taking responsibility for your part. That, again, it’s not an easy subject to discuss, and listen to, but it’s so important, so beneficial.

Doreen 01:49
I think it’s so important because in order to move on, and to really recover and heal and get onto your best life, that’s part of it. And if you bury that part of it, and you’re not able to really consider digest, work through and own your responsibility as to why the divorce happened or is happening. It’s kind of like that elephant in the room, situation. It’s there, it exist, but it’s being ignored. I don’t think you can really move on. There’s always I think this like freeing part of owning anything, you know, your responsibility, like it doesn’t feel good. While you’re thinking about it doesn’t feel good while you’re maybe dealing with it, or even talking about it. But it does bring you to the other side of it.

Jeff 02:46
Yeah. And I think more than freeing you freeing you up, it’s very empowering. When you have the ability to look at yourself, to make changes to yourself, because you’re accepting something. I think that is self empowering. And it gives you this empowerment that I think that you’re going to need in the healing process. Yeah, yeah. So I want to start, if you don’t mind, Jeff with talking about what I see as a divorce attorney, practicing for somebody said this the other day, going on three decades. Oh, my goodness.

Doreen 03:07
Yeah, it sounds better than 20. What is it 20 years now. So going on three decades of practicing and dealing with family law cases, and mostly divorce is, there’s a lot of finger pointing, you know, in litigation, there’s a lot of finger pointing between with the client and me as the lawyer and that’s okay, in some way, because I am there in that role as an advocate for a position legally. And so it’s a much different. It’s a much different conversation. I’m not there to get them, my clients to recognize how they might have contributed to the divorce, but I am there as a lawyer to get them to recognize that there are other parts of what might come out that you know, when you point fingers, what do you say, when you point one finger at somebody else?

Jeff 04:11
Yeah, three pointing right back at you.

Doreen 04:14
So be careful what the door is that you open and litigation.

Jeff 04:17
Your role is different. Your role is to get the best result for your client, where their role is to kind of take responsibility and accept some of the things that you point out to them.

Doreen 04:27
You know, one of the things I do – I want to stay focused on the litigation part of it for a minute, but one of the things that I’ve done successfully in many of my cases is own something right off the top right off the beginning with the court, meaning that if my client for example, cheated, okay, and even though in Florida, we’re a no fault state so that cheating. Infidelity really is not even relevant. There are a few times when it is for example, If there’s best interests of the children, you know if this new person or the situation affected the children, or maybe in a circumstance where there was what they call dissipation of money, meaning that someone spent money on someone else, right. But so if there was an infidelity issue that was going to be presented to the court, because it fell into one of those issues that the court wants to hear about it, because you generally they don’t, they don’t want to hear about that stuff. As a matter of fact, they’ll shut you down, you start talking about certain things. But let’s assume I’m like, let’s just bring it to the forefront. In other words, if my client as an example, was the person who was unfaithful and spent money on his girlfriend, or her boyfriend, I’d rather just own that, and just let it come out. And let me present it and deal with it then to uncover and let the other side present the evidence on what they call cross examination. Because it has less of a sting to it. Because again, the courts really, they don’t care, what they care about is the money part of it. So I’ll say, you know, what, if you cheated on her, and this was what you spent, why don’t we just own that and just stipulate agree, you will have those dollars back? Right, rather than trying to ignore it, fight it? Yeah. So I think that this that’s in litigation, right. But we’re going to talk about owning your part in the divorce separate from litigation. Right, because I think what I’ve lived know what I’ve seen in my 30 years, almost 30 years is there’s a lot of finger pointing. And I always not always, I don’t like to use that word always. And never we can do an episode on that there is no always or never. Right? Very rarely. I can’t imagine one. But if anybody has some, please send them to us. But that was a sight. No. But, you know, there, there is always some part of recognizing, instead of just always pointing fingers at someone else that even though I’m using the example of cheating, even though he cheated, or she cheated, what was even your responsibility or your ownership in that. Okay, that is hard for clients to hear, because they focus in on that last act, or that real significant act that caused or what they’re focused on that caused the breakup in the marriage. So they’ll be like, Well, the reason we’re getting divorced is because he cheated on me, or the reason we’re getting divorced is because she, you know, spent X amount of dollars that I didn’t know on a credit card, and it’s like this big number, right? It’s like they focus in on one thing, when.. come on. It’s usually just not one thing.

Jeff 07:56
Exactly. That led up to it.

Doreen 07:59
Absolutely. It might be that one, what do they say? The straw that broke the camel’s back, it might be that one act, the cheating might have been the one act that broke the camel’s back that caused the divorce. But there was already a lot usually going on. Before that. And that’s hard for I think a lot of people to digest, recognize, accept, take ownership in. I don’t know, what do you think?

Jeff 08:29
Well, I just think that there was a lot of things going on a lot of issues with the marriage.

Doreen 08:35
Well, maybe not even a lot.

Jeff 08:37
Well, maybe not a lot, but people don’t get married and just start cheating. I mean, there was some things that either pushed her away, pushed him away, that put them in the situation to be vulnerable in that way.

Doreen 08:53
Yeah. And it’s very easy to say, oh, no, or you know, but I would say that I’m sure there are statistics on this. And so I don’t want to pretend that we know what the stats are. But I would venture to say that if we did the in depth research, we would find that most people don’t go into a marriage intending to cheat or to do a certain act to be hurtful to the other person, right? They go in with true intention to be married and to act in a way that you know, is going to foster and be loving in the relationship. Right. It’s a lot of what happens between the time of the marriage and the actor the situation that kind of broke, like you said, the camel’s back.

Jeff 09:40
It may not even be a cheating situation. It could be anything that’s going on in the marriage, whether it’s disagreements or overspending, overdrinking overgambling, whatever the issue is, there’s always something that you have a part of that you have ownership in.

Doreen 09:59
It could be ownership as far back as maybe you weren’t even, like suitable to be married, like maybe you rushed into marriage. Like it could go, the ownership could go really far back, it could be that maybe you were involved in another relationship and didn’t give yourself the time to heal. And so it was more of a rebound. I mean, there’s so much to really think about, and I think a lot of this ownership that we’re talking about today does require a therapist, it requires going back. Right, you know, and I want to emphasize that is life coaches we look at today, moving forward. So a lot of the issues that may have contributed to the breakdown on the marriage that we’re suggesting, you should look at and own might require deeper thinking beyond what we could suggest, what we’re saying is that, to recognize it, and to be at a place where whatever that looks like as to your ownership, you can own it today. However, that looks and then use that to move forward. Right. So I think the first thing to do is to recognize that there might have been, and probably was some part of the breakdown on the marriage that each party is responsible for. I think that’s the starting part, just recognizing the concept. Right? The next thing is, where do you fall in that ownership? Process? Are you in on the side that is pointing the finger mostly at your partner? Or are you may be the person that’s pointing a finger at yourself, blaming yourself for the breakdown, right? If you were the person, and we’re using the example, because it is the easiest to explain, I think that cheated, for example, so that you’re blaming yourself, there is going to be some mechanism or some, maybe that’s the wrong word. There’s going to be a need to not totally blame yourself and to recognize that you’re not totally to blame. There’s ownership on both sides owning if you were the person that for example, cheated, that it wasn’t 100% Your fault. Right?

Jeff 12:30
Right. Well, the difference between blaming yourself and taking responsibility for a part of it. Very, very different energies, they’re very different thoughts, okay? And very, very different approaches. So when you have the thought that I am to blame, you’re putting all of the responsibility on yourself and beating yourself up. But when you say I had a part of it, it means that you have shared responsibility for what happened. And then when you don’t blame the other person, and the other person doesn’t blame you. Then there’s healing that can happen. Well,

Doreen 13:12
there is because neither one then is taking responsibility for the divorce is owning it themselves. However, let’s also talk about your partner may not be interested in discussing this. You know, this all stemmed from a recent interview that you had with..

Jeff 13:29
Yeah, with Dr. Rocco.

Doreen 13:30
Right, where he talked about one of the ways they were able to move on and to remain friendly as coparents was because there was a recognition of not blaming one over the other, each had their own responsibility in the divorce and why that the marriage failed.

Jeff 13:48
Yeah, I think what do you what do you said was, if I take responsibility for what I did, and you take responsibility for you did then no one is to blame.

Doreen 13:57
Correct. Correct. That is exactly what I recall.

Jeff 14:01
Makes some.. I had a jaw dropping moment, because that just makes so much sense.

Doreen 14:06
Absolutely. Right. But let’s assume that unlike in his situation, or my situation with my ex, that you don’t have a willing participant on the other side, who’s going to say, yeah, you know, I’m into all this coaching stuff, too. And I’m going to sit there and accept my part and you’re going to accept your part and neither one is going to take total blame and we’re going to move on. You may not have that, you may have somebody who doesn’t want to hear about that and wants to continue to blame you or, or whatever it looks like and it’s okay like accepting who people are and doing this work in spite of that, you can always gain a better future don’t need it’s great if you can have both sides. You know, both of the the spouse is saying yeah, you know, we both had a part in this but you may not have that and you may not want to address this.

Jeff 15:01
Or you may not have it right away. But I think eventually, after you move on with your life and you’ve healed and you find a new, great life after divorce, you’re going to look back and say, it was partially broken. Okay, I am partially responsible.

Doreen 15:15
But I’m not talking about that what I’m talking about is that you may not have a willing participant as your ex, in your ex to be part of like, Dr. Rocco situation where they both came to the realization after a communication that they both had part of it to blame, right.

Jeff 15:35
In a way, they had part of it. But I’m just saying in the future, it may be that way.

Doreen 15:39
What do you mean?

Jeff 15:39
In other words, you might be in a situation where only one side is taking responsibility, only one side is owning their part. And the other one is fully blaming you for everything. I think eventually, when they heal and realize, there will be an epiphany that comes over them and saying, you know, they’re probably right, I do own a part of it, I am partially responsible.

Doreen 16:03
Right, that we can’t control someone else. So it may not happen for our listeners, meaning that they may, may approach it, especially if you’re co parents, I think it’s extremely could be extremely healing to your relationship and, and help to have a much better relationship moving forward. But if you have a non participant on the other side, you could still do this work. And either not blame yourself entirely or understand your part if you are blaming the other side.

Jeff 16:33
Right, exactly. And I think that’s what worked for them as they took into consideration more about the children or the daughter in this case, more than anything else.

Doreen 16:44
Right. They knew that they had to kind of come to peace at that, with that first move on.

Jeff 16:48
Absolutely, absolutely.

Doreen 16:50
I think this is really relevant in any kind of relationship. Having that conversation that you don’t want to have that recognition that you don’t want to have.

Jeff 17:02
So I think it all you know, what it all boils down to, is your thoughts. Yeah, I mean, whenever a situation happens in your life, that you would deem either positive or negative, it always boils down to how you think about it. Right? You know, so if you’re blaming yourself, it’s how your what your thoughts are, if you’re blaming somebody else, right, it’s all your thoughts. And you when you when you take ownership on it, it’s still your thoughts. And there are more empowering thoughts, of course, we talked before, but I think that when you do that, because we can’t control anybody in the world. No, you know, we’ve already said that we can’t control anybody in the world.

Doreen 17:41
Well, we adults, we want to premise out that as parents, we do have a responsibility to, to require certain things of our children as we teach them how to be, you know, successful wars,

Jeff 17:53
We can’t control anybody’s else’s thoughts or reactions, or the way they behave correct. But you can control your own. And, like I said, is very, very empowering. When you have the thoughts. To be able to accept something, whether you see it right away or not, there must have been something that I did.

Doreen 18:16
I think this requires really turning down the noise. Right. Which I mean, like really sitting down, without all the distractions, whatever they are for you. And just really reflecting, maybe journaling, maybe writing maybe just, you know, sitting there in silence, whatever it takes to kind of say, well, you know, maybe I need to think about this in my part in this. And then when you can recognize that yourself, just you yourself. And I, I think that’s extremely powerful.

Jeff 18:54
Well, I also think that if you are to the belief that life is 5050, which we’ve talked about before, it’s always some good and some bad. That’s an easier way to accept that maybe it’s part of my fault. Maybe it’s part their fault, right? Well, we talked about failure a lot, how the this situation with my divorce, my marriage is an opportunity to learn, right? So if it’s an opportunity to learn every time you own a piece of it, you’re learning from it.

Doreen 19:27
Well you bring up a couple of really good points I think I want to touch on the first of all, is a 5050. We talk a lot about life is a balance of good and bad, right. And, and I like to use the example of you know, you get fired from a job or you get sick or somebody you love gets sick or you get into an accident or your ex wants, you know, your spouse wanted a divorce. Whatever it is that you weren’t buying on that sometimes happens and it’s not within your control many times. That’s the 50% that’s part of the bad. And so these things just happen in life. It’s not this, like rainbows and daisies and unicorn world where everything is just amazing. It is not. And I think that makes life easier just knowing that that’s, that’s part of life. Right? Right. That’s part of being human. The 5050 – to me when I’m taught, when I think about talking about this bullet ownership subject today, is about as humans, we are both good and bad. We do good things. And sometimes we do bad things. Right. And so that is part of just being alive. You know, that’s that conversation or that. Let’s assume, for example, that you’re having an argument and you act in a way or you yell or scream or even throw something that’s at 50% bad, right? That’s something that when you reflect on it, you probably go, Well, you know, maybe I should have raised my voice, I certainly should have thrown that glass against the wall, or whatever it is. Again, these are just examples, but that we’re not supposed to be perfect, or we’re not. We all strive to be perfect, right? We all strive to do the best thing. But we’re human, we’re not always going to make the best decisions in relationships.

Jeff 21:16
Yeah, well, one thing my coach said the other day that was really hit me strong, was that you’re either winning, or you’re learning. You’re either having a great day, or you’re learning, right? So she looked at life in a difficult situation as a learning process. And what are you learning most about is mostly learning about yourself.

Doreen 21:42
Well, the second part I was going to mention is that the the great thing about ownership and reflection is that you’re learning. Because if you recognize the things that maybe you didn’t do so great that contributed to the breakdown on the marriage. Hopefully, you’re going to learn from that and not make the mistake again. Right?

Jeff 22:01
I think that’s one thing that we miss out a lot on life is not taking that deep, hard look at ourselves, and really studying ourselves and doing the self work that it takes to have the proper thoughts to get you where you want to go.

Doreen 22:17
But isn’t this true? Every, every day? I mean, how many of us just get up and start our day? And it’s like, we’re on autopilot, right? Like, do we really know where we’re going? Or what we’re doing or what we’re trying to accomplish? Because it’s all doable? I know, we talk about reverse engineering, meaning what is the goal? And what do I need to do reverse it to get there? How do I get there? Like it’s pretty, we can probably map it out. Right? But we get on autopilot. And we I still think that, you know slowing down and not being we’re so fast paced every day like it’s like run to this and do this and wake up and take the kids to school and get on the emails and do our work and get home and make dinner and dessert. And it’s like, when do you get to just like chill?

Jeff 23:10
Well, let me ask you this as a divorce attorney, what is, in your opinion is the most common reason for divorce?

Doreen 23:16
Well, I’m sure there’s statistics on this. And I will tell you what’s really interesting is people generally when they talk to me about wanting a divorce, or they’re getting a consult, many times they don’t tell me why the marriage broke down. Isn’t that interesting?

Jeff 23:22
Because they don’t tell you or they don’t know?

Doreen 23:35
They just well, they drifted apart. It’s not based on one specific thing. Generally, it’s because they have made a decision or they’re making a decision as to whether they want to or that they want to be divorced. I usually have to ask them more times than not what is going on with the marriage? Because one of the requirements in Florida to get divorce is the marriage you need causation, you need cause for the divorce meaning a reason you have to tell the court generally it’s irreconcilable differences, which means exactly what it sounds like we just don’t get along and we can’t fix it. The underlying reason of why is not even brought up generally, certainly not brought up to the court court does not care. You just have to say irreconcilable differences. You don’t have to tell why. You don’t have to explain it. You’re just going to say it, just like that. And so other times but not as often people will come in and tell me specifically well, he cheated on me or she was overspending or whatever is going on. So what does that mean to me? That means that when you talk about slowing down or we talk about reflection, how many of us really reflect on what it takes to have a good relationship with anyone, including marriages, right? Marriages are hard work. But if we’re on autopilot every day, and we’re just doing what we need to do, between taking the kids and work and making dinner and going to the grocery store and working out and whatever it is that you’re doing, where are you putting time in on your relationship, whether it’s self reflection as to how you can be better in the relationship, or it’s actually doing things that are going to bring you and keep you closer together? Something to think about, I think, I think most so the answer to your question along about way, is, I think it’s a lack of communication. It’s, it’s just going through those motions, and eventually, you look at each other, when you do kind of slow down and you go, Well, I don’t really want this anymore.

Jeff 25:47
Or you can say, Listen, I know that the reason you have done this, and this, and this is because I have been this way, and I’m willing to work at it if you’re willing to work at it. And so you’re taking ownership of your part, and they’re taking ownership of their part, maybe that could be something that could save your marriage.

Doreen 26:06
And that’s what I think happens in a lot of marriage counseling is people, you know, reflect on that. And that’s probably a great place to start. You know, because I think it’s important sometimes to have that kind of a mediator person, you know, who can help you to explore what’s going wrong. Now, I do have issues, and I’m just wanting to touch on it just personally. And I think as coaches we do about, you know, in the marriage counseling that goes something like this, well, here’s all the things that she wants you to do. And so she wants you to do XYZ, and here’s all the thing he wants you to do. And it’s XYZ. And so each of you should work on doing all these things. But what they forget is that people get to be who they want to be. And so happiness really is found with being who you are. People might make small adjustments and changes in order to make someone happy, in order to make the relationship better, in order to maybe save a marriage. But if they’re doing it based on their own free will, they’re doing it because they’re directed to do it.

Jeff 27:10
I don’t think that ever works out long term. And to make yourself miserable.

Doreen 27:13
That doesn’t work out long term. It’s really about self reflection. We talked about this, when we discuss in many of the episodes about the manual, right, about just being happy with if, if he’s not doing certain things, or she’s not doing certain things, accepting that, you know, you can certainly ask for change, you can ask for what you want. But when it doesn’t happen, you can’t get all caught up. And that’s going to make you happy if he did this, or she did that. Right. That’s for another episode..

Jeff 27:40
That’s for a whole another episode. Probably should revisit the manual again one day and talk about it because it’s such an amazing subject that people have that aha moment when they say, wait a minute, I did have a manual on that, and they didn’t realize it. And then most people that they have the manual for don’t realize they have the manual for it. So it’s a very good eye opening experience.

Doreen 28:03
All right.

Jeff 28:04
So anyway, but when you want to talk about the future and healing past the divorce, as a great thing to do is to start working on yourself. Self reflection, self ownership, understanding that you had a part of it and kind of figure out what the part was and kind of figure out who you are and what you want to be and what your future looks like.

Doreen 28:27
Yeah, in other words, learning so that you can do better when you fall into your next role, like I say, fall into because sometimes you you’re thinking, I’m never going to find somebody again, or this isn’t going to happen for me. And guess what? When you least expect it, you might meet somebody, you know, so. So that work I think is important for that next relationship.

Jeff 28:49
You owe it, you owe it to yourself first of all, but then you owe it to the next person.

Doreen 28:52
Absolutely. 100% Okay. All right, everyone.

Jeff 28:56
Well, I thought it was great episode.

Doreen 28:58
All right. Yeah. Welcome.

Jeff 28:59
All right, everybody. Have a great week out there. And looking forward to talking to you next week.

Doreen 29:04
Bye, everyone.

Jeff 29:05
Bye bye. You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit us at That’s LAD as in

Doreen 29:36
Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day. And remember, yes, you can..

Doreen & Jeff 29:42
Have an amazing life after divorce.

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