To be a brave woman at work, you need to bring your whole self to work. This means the personal side, the professional side, the physical side, and the emotional side.
Today, we are going to talk about relationships, especially after divorce, with my guest Renée Bauer. Renée is passionate about helping women stand strong in their relationships, recognize red flags, determine when parting may be better than staying, and discover what comes next after divorce. This was an eye-opening conversation for me, and one that I’m sure you will benefit from, no matter what your relationship status.
During my chat with Renée, we discussed:
- Why did Renée choose to be a divorce attorney to begin with?
- What was Renée’s life and work like after her second divorce? How did it shape her purpose?
- What motivated Renée to write the She Who Wins book? And what learnings about grit and resistance she had throughout that process?
- How this book was her own personal lesson in not being perfect?
- How rejection is not something to feel bad about, but something to learn and grow from?
- How each of us have our own version of bullshit, and what to do with it.
- How expectations can hamper our ability to grow and win at whatever we are doing.
- And more.
Listen to the podcast here
Rediscovering Joy, Building Confidence, And Thriving Post-Divorce With Renée Bauer
I’m glad you’re here. Everyone, how are you doing out there? Here’s my thought. To be a brave woman at work, you need to bring your whole self to work. That may mean the personal side, the professional side, the physical side, the emotional side, and even the spiritual side. We need to bring our whole selves to what we do each and every day.
We’re going to talk about one piece of that whole self. That’s on the relational or personal side. We’re going to talk about relationships. We’re going to hone in on a topic we haven’t talked about, and it’s divorce. We’re going to talk with my guest, Renée Bauer, who is an attorney and also specializes in this area. She is passionate about helping women stand strong in their relationships and recognize those red flags that many of us want to put blinders on. She’s going to say, “Take those blinders off and look at those red flags.”
We’re going to focus on determining when partying may be better than staying, which is a hard place to be, and reconcile what comes next after divorce. This was such an eye-opening conversation for me and one that I’m sure you will benefit from, no matter what your relationship status. During my chat with Renée, we discussed why Renee chose to be a divorce attorney to begin with, and what led her to become a divorce attorney because I have to tell everybody that it sounds like a hard job. I don’t know about you, but a divorce attorney would not be my first choice, but she loves it. This is part of her life’s path.
What was Renée’s life and work life after her second divorce? She personally has experience with this and how her second divorce shaped her life purpose. What motivated Renee to write her book, She Who Wins? What learnings did she have about grit and resistance throughout the publication process? How rejection or failure is not something to feel bad about, but it is something to learn and grow from? How each of us has our own version of BS and how we can be our own meters. What do we do with our BS? How do we solve our own BS, and how can expectations hamper our ability to grow and win at whatever we are doing?
Here’s a little bit more about Renée and her background. She has been a divorce attorney for over twenty years. She is the Founder and Managing Attorney of Happy Even After Family Law, located in Connecticut. She is also a Cofounder of a platform for tarot card readers called The Tarot Bridge. She is also an international speaker and author of three books, Divorce in Connecticut, The Ultimate Guide to Solo and Small Firm Success, and the children’s book, Percy’s Imperfectly Perfect Family.
She also hosts the annual She Who Wins Summit, a live event created to inspire, motivate, and challenge women to move forward bravely in their personal and business lives. Her impact has been recognized by Success Magazine, where she was nominated as Woman of Influence with awards such as Litigator of the Year, Women Owned Business of the Year, and New Leaders in the Law. She has been featured in multiple media outlets such as The International Business Times, Comment Central, AP News, NBC, Fox, and iHeartRadio.
Before we get started, if you’re enjoying the show, please make sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. If you’ve left a rating and review, I thank you so much. If I could give you a hug in person, I would. I’ll give you a virtual hug and high-five from here. Your support of the show means the absolute world to me. It helps me keep going to give you great content, interviews, and solo shows. Thank you.
A final reminder, if you haven’t gone over to my website BraveWomenAtWork.com, check it out. There’s plenty of stuff in there. These are my three freebies. Get Paid: 10 Negotiation Tips, 24 Career and Leadership Affirmations, and the 5 Steps to Managing Your Imposter Syndrome. If you have any interest in a discovery call for individual one-on-one coaching, those discovery calls are 30 minutes in length. They’re free. We can see if coaching is the right fit for you. All those resources are available to you at BraveWomenAtWork.com. Let’s welcome Renée to the show.
Renée, welcome to the show. How are you?
I am doing wonderful. I’m excited to have this conversation.
I’m excited to dive into your background, your book, and all of the things. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and how you’ve gotten to where you are?
I have been a divorce attorney for twenty years. I am multi-passionate and have always been an entrepreneur. I was the kid who had the lemonade stand trying to earn money for candy. I’ve always loved the idea of building a business. I was a lawyer, but I was always like, “Let me see how I can do things differently. Let me see how I can make my business stand out from a crowd of boring lawyers standing in front of a stack of books.”
That’s what I’ve been doing for twenty years. I also found that at that time, I was working with women over and over again who came into my office with similar struggles. They had a hard time having uncomfortable conversations or taking risks. They are afraid of being alone. I realized there’s something more here. There’s more work to be done because, by the time they get to me, it’s too late.
Because of that, I decided to host a live event and thought, “Let’s bring women together to empower, inspire, and encourage them to take some bold risks that they’ve been holding themselves back from. That was the first She Who Wins Summit. The second one happened this past year. From that, I came to the idea of my book She Who Wins, which came out in September. I love being an entrepreneur and a divorce lawyer. Now I’m in this space of speaking and helping other women see what they’re capable of.
That’s an awesome story. I have to tell you many stories on your story. We do have things in common. This was my business on the playground. I did drawings of Cabbage Patch dolls when those were a thing in 1983 or 1985 so I could get ice cream during lunch. My hustle was to draw pictures of Cabbage Patch dolls. I’ll never forget that.
I thought that I was going to be an attorney, and I am not an attorney, but I loved the People’s Court when I was a kid. You know when you’re a kid, and you tell your parents, “I want to be a teacher or a doctor.” I was like, “I want to be a lawyer.” I loved Judge Waner and eventually Judge Judy.” It didn’t end up turning out that way. I went into marketing my own trade, but I love that you practice law. What led you to the divorce side of things? I’m curious about that.
I went to law school because I wanted to work in politics. My whole goal was to get a law degree, move to DC, become a lobbyist, and work on Capitol Hill. When I went to school, I ended up doing an externship in helping this one particular man try to get Social Security benefits. He kept getting denied, and he had a disability.
We ended up winning, and I realized the impact I could have with one person at a time. By the time I made it out of law school, I decided that I was not going to go down the path of politics, which thank God, because I would’ve been chewed up and spit out. I would’ve never survived in those sharp waters down there.
I started practicing. When I started, I joined a firm. They would throw all of their family law cases at me because those were the cases they hated. They were criminal defense lawyers. That’s the stuff that they loved. I realized that this was an opportunity to help people see beyond a moment in their lives. I knew that was where I wanted to practice. I wanted to be in a courtroom. I wanted to be helping. I couldn’t imagine being a contract lawyer or a corporate lawyer. It was all about people from the beginning.
You’re very open about your own relationships. You’ve had yourself two divorces. How has that shaped your mission and purpose for your work now?
When I first started practicing, about five years in, I got divorced for the first time. I had a son who was two. I had a lot of shame around it but I was like, “It happens.” I got remarried and divorced a second time. I had such incredible shame and embarrassment around that because I was like, “What’s wrong with me that I can’t get this right?”
I didn’t want to tell people. I thought it would be unprofessional to share that with my clients. I kept it all zipped up and buttoned in, but I was this broken version of myself that hadn’t healed yet. I had gone on a friend’s podcast a number of years back. I didn’t listen to podcasts. She was like, “I have a podcast. I’m going to bring some sushi over.” I’m like, “Okay, what do you need from me? I’ll do anything for some good sushi and a drink.”
She clipped the microphone on me. I had a couple of drinks in me at that time. She started asking me questions about my divorce. For the first time ever, I answered them. After that interview came out, I had to first call my mother and be like, “I’m sorry. You might’ve come up in an unflattering way.” Women started to reach out to me and say, “Thank you for sharing your story.” It was at that moment I realized that I was not helping anyone by keeping this story to myself. I need to talk about it to heal myself, and other women need to hear it so they can come out the other side.
I’m curious. Without going too far down the rabbit hole, were there any key learnings through the divorces that you would want to share with our audience? If there is anyone else or a woman going in this community, they can learn from your learnings.
Trust your gut. When I was going through, especially both of the divorces, there was a time during those marriages when I knew something was off or something was not right. For the second one, it was toxic. I saw that. It was in my face, loud and clear. The first one was a little bit more subtle. I ignored it. I told myself, “It’s growing pains. Every couple has these issues.” I let time pass rather than pay attention to that gut instinct. My advice would be to pay attention and don’t delay.
I have a friend and it breaks my heart. She’s been having the same conversation with me probably for three years now, and she has not made the leap. Her life and happiness are on hold. She keeps thinking, “When the kids get older, I’ll do this.” In the meantime, where does that leave you? You’re putting your own joy and happiness on hold. The kids see it. They watch how you interact. That seeps into what they believe a healthy relationship looks like or doesn’t look like. It impacts them in a way, especially if there’s conflict in the house. My advice is to trust your gut and take action. Get into the marriage counseling to see if it can be worked. That’s always the first thing. If you can’t, don’t delay the inevitable.Trust your gut and take action. Get into marriage counseling to see if it can work. That's always the first thing, and if you can't, don't delay the inevitable. Click To Tweet
That’s interesting because I am coming from a marriage situation. We’ve been happily married for twenty years. You think about the aftermath, but you pointed out something important. If you think that you’re in your kids’s service by being married at eighteen or whatever, they’re seeing it. We know the kids are intuitive and smart. The pain is still there, whether you stay in it or you rip the Band-Aid off, and you move on.
This friend told me that her kids watch them constantly fight. They’re not sleeping in the same room. That’s how they’re molding their version of what a relationship looks like. It does so much damage. It’s not the divorce that causes the issues in children. It’s the conflict. Sometimes, when you try to stay intact for the kids, you’re doing more damage.
That’s really helpful. I hope this helps someone. For any woman that’s sitting on the fence, you’re saying, “Trust your gut and get off the fence.” You’re putting your children’s happiness and your life on hold. Your book came out in September 2023. How is everything going? I’m hoping the launch is going well. How is the launch going so far?
It’s funny because I feel like I’m out of the launch. I felt like the launch ended after the first seven days, but it’s still going. It’s crazy leading up to it. What typically happens with a book launch is you hear all of these things you’re supposed to do, like all of this stuff to get the pre-orders and do. People will drive themselves crazy over it. I’ve seen friends work themselves into exhaustion because of it. I said to myself going into the summer, “I’m going to do this with joy. I wrote the book because I had something to say. I wrote the book in Joy and I’m going to release it that way.”
For me, it’s the messages from readers and people I don’t know. My friends are going to be like, I love the book.” I expect that from them. It’s the strangers now who are starting to drop in, send me a DM, post something, and share something that they took away or highlight something. That means so much more to me than anything else. That has been an incredible feeling. I’m excited to continue to get it into more women’s hands because the feedback has been incredibly well received.
You talk in the book about being a recovering good girl. You hit these topics. I am almost all the way through the book, but you’ve been hitting hard. I feel like you’re sitting and going, “Jen, don’t be that.” How do you think that whole of good girl has held us back?
The feedback that I’m getting is, “It feels like you’re talking directly to me.” I’m like, I was talking to me. I was talking to who I was and who I still am.” It’s still a journey. I was a lawyer and a business owner. I was going to court and doing all of these things. On my personal side, I was still a people pleaser. I was still allowing people to blur my boundaries. I still had a hard time saying no. I would show up and do things out of obligation. I was still worried about what people would think. I realized those are all the conditions that we’ve been brought up with. Smile and don’t be a disruptor. Keep the peace.
All that did was diminish who you were. It silenced you and made you feel like your opinions didn’t matter. When I started to slowly peel each of those layers back, it wasn’t like I flipped the switch and all of a sudden, it was gone. It was like, “Let me exercise this practice of saying no. Let me see how that feels. Let me have a hard conversation with someone that I’ve been dreading for ten years. Let me have that and see how that feels.”
The more I started to do things like that, the more I realized, “This is what it’s all about. The people who love me will still love me, even if they have to hear something that may be hard for them. That’s on them.” That’s where that concept of getting rid of that good girl persona that many of us have been raised to be came from.
I’m thinking of myself. I’ve shocked people if I say no, and I’ve always said yes. Did you end up having relationships change or even lose relationships as a result of peeling those layers back through that process?
Yeah, I did. I had work relationships change. I had some personal relationships that I thought would change and get stronger because of it. It was these things that were left unsaid for many years because you can’t say them. It was like, “I’m going to say them, and you’re going to listen to this.” That changed the relationship for the better.
You do shed people through this process. That’s okay. That’s another whole layer too because you have to get comfortable with letting people go and realizing it’s not about you. Maybe that relationship has come to completion. Maybe that friendship has run its course, and it’s time to part ways. You send them off with all of the best wishes, but maybe they’re not your people anymore. That’s hard to do.
It’s a common theme because I’ve heard a lot of women say that. When they start to own who they are, live authentically, and start to speak their truth, people criticize them and judge them. Those aren’t your people. Those aren’t your circle of other women. There are many incredible women out there who want to lift you up and support you. You find those people.There are so many incredible women out there who want to lift you up and support you. Find those people. Click To Tweet
The other thing I want to shed some light on is the idea of saying no. I don’t want to say we’re making it easy, but we’re talking about after-practice and how good it feels. I don’t know about you, Renée, but as I’ve started saying, no, I’ve had a work mess. When I say no, my stomach hurts or I feel bad. What I have to do is sit with the discomfort of the no. Once I get through that discomfort, I feel amazing. I will say to everyone going through that whole new transition of saying no, at least for me, I don’t feel amazing upfront. I have to sit with it and own it. I’m like, “I did what was right for me.” I don’t know. What do you think, Renée?
I’ve experienced the same thing. I had said yes to two things in the past year. I realized as I was sitting with it, “These aren’t aligned. I don’t want to put my time and energy into it. It’s a not now thing.” I was nervous to have those conversations. It was two separate incidents. When I said, “I have to back out of this,” it was so well received. When you’re around the right people, the woman who responded was like, “Good for you for speaking how you feel. We’ll revisit this next year.” I felt such a weight lifted.
Sometimes, we play out the worst-case scenario of how that no is going to be received. The person on the other end might be like, “That’s cool. I get it.” Sometimes, I don’t want to go out either. You want to go home and be like, “I’m tired.” That’s it. I don’t have an excuse. I want to skip the obligatory conference or dinner that I think I have to go to. You start there and rumble small with what that no feels like. Life goes on. People move on to something else to be upset about or talk about. That’s on them if they don’t receive it well.
I wanted people to know that it’s not like you just start deciding to say no and it masterly occurs. It’s a conscious choice. You said it. You’re rumbling as a new person to say, “Can I say no?” Saying no, holding with the no, and being excited that you did something that served you best, not someone else. I want to circle back on the title of the book, which is She Who Wins. You’ve done two live events with She Who Wins, and the title of the book is She Who Wins. What does that title mean to you because it is special to you?
The title came as I was meditating. I don’t have an active meditation process. If I have a problem I need to sit with, I sit quietly and create some space. I was in that moment. I was saying to myself, “What’s next?” I put it out there. I’m like, “What’s next? What’s the next thing?” I was playing around with writing a divorce book. It didn’t feel right. I’m like, “That’s not what I want to write, but what is it that I want to write?”
That term popped up in my head. I opened my eyes. I’m like, “That’s what it is.” I immediately picked up my phone and googled it. I was like, “Someone has to be using this term.” There was nothing out there. I’m like, “This is the thing.” I didn’t even know what it was supposed to be attached to. I was like, “This is the term. Is that the book’s name? Where does this go?” It first became the live event before it became the book.
The concept of it is what winning is to me may be different to you, the next person, or our friends. We all have a different idea of what that means in our life. The only way to win is to tap into what it is for you. Listen to that voice, pay attention, drop the excuses holding you back, and take action that’s aligned with whatever it is you want. We get to define what winning is. No one is going to tell us that it means that we have to have a certain amount of money in the bank, many vacations, or designer bags. Winning is whatever you want it to be. How do you get it?
That’s a good question for everybody. Sometimes I’ll be like, “This is a journaling question.”
This is a journaling question, everybody. The question is, what does winning mean to you? We’ve never talked about that before. It’s a good one to say, “What is winning? What is that satisfaction? What does that mean?” It’s different for everyone.
For one person, it could be doing three vacations a year. For the other person, it could be, “I want to be at home. I’m ready to expand my family. I want to build a business.” That’s a good follow-up question for contemplation. Good for you for listening to your intuition. That idea of the title She Who Wins could have flittered away, but you listen. Good for you.
I try to listen to it. She usually knows more than I do. When I brush it off, it usually comes back and slaps me in the face. I’m getting much better at paying attention to that and saying, “That thought came up for a reason. Let me at least write it down so I can think about the why behind it.”
They say, “If we don’t listen, our body will eventually scream at us in one way or another.” It comes back as a boomerang. Good for you for listening the first time without negative repercussions. It turned out to be something beautiful. The opposite of winning is losing. That’s dedicated to rejection or failure. I wanted to ask. Why a full chapter on that? That’s a significant section of the book. If you’re willing to share, be vulnerable to some of your proudest rejections. I don’t know about you, but I believe that rejection and failure is the biggest path to growth.
That’s exactly why that’s in there. You said something, “The opposite of winning is losing.” I think the opposite of winning is stagnation. It’s not necessarily losing. If you’re putting yourself out there, going for it, following your intuition and heart, and making bold decisions, you’re going to fall on your face at some point. It is inevitable. It is part of the process. Whether throwing yourself into a new relationship and opening your heart up to love or starting a business and trying to turn up a business, whatever it is, you end up facing some level of challenges along the path.
That’s what it’s about. It’s about putting yourself out there. Those who don’t will be safe. They won’t feel that rejection, but they’ll never get to what that other side is. There’s so much opportunity and potential. Rejection is something that I like to celebrate now because it means that I went for it. My favorite rejection story is the one that involves this book.
I had 113 rejections from literary agents before I got the one yes. That means I had 113 emails come over that said, “No, thank you. This book is not for us for all various reasons.” The first 50 were like a slap in the face every time. I got to the point where I was like, “That’s not the right person.” When I finally got the yes, I was like, “This is great. We’re going to sell the book, and off we go.” All that changed was the publisher rejections went to her and not me.
We faced another two years of rejections from publishers before we got the one yes. The timing of this book couldn’t have been better. I ended up with an editor who I adore. I consider her a friend now. I was not ready to write the book that I ended up writing and had it sold when I thought I wanted it to. It would’ve been different.
Even for the sample chapters that I had originally sent, I ended up hitting delete on all of them and starting over because I realized I had to tell this in a different way. To do that, I had to put myself on the line. I had to share my own stories, be vulnerable, and talk about my failures. For my growth journey, I wasn’t ready to do that a number of years back. When I finally got the book deal, I knew it was time.
In total, how many rejections did you receive for the book? Talk about grit and resistance, but how many rejections total?
I lost count because they were going to my agent at that point. I had an agent. We couldn’t sell the book initially. It’s funny because the feedback I initially got was that it was too general. It was like, “You’re talking to women. You need to niche down on this and talk to one particular CEO.” I’m like, “I don’t care who you are. Whether you’re a CEO, a seven-figure earner, or a stay-at-home mom, we all have these struggles.” I was a little bit tenacious about that. I’m like, “This is the book. I don’t want to niche down to talk to one audience. I want to talk to every woman.” My editor who found it said, “I spoke to her.” It was an immediate yes for her because she felt that too when she saw the vision that I had for it.
I have two compilations of women’s anthology books, but if I ever decide to write a larger book from start to beginning, A to Z, it can be done. At 20th or 100th rejection, you could’ve been like, “No.” You stuck to your guns. That had to take a lot of moxie because you were tempted, I’m assuming. Maybe you weren’t. You tell me, but to change it or morph it. It’s everybody’s idea of what a book should be.
There were conversations about niching down to divorce. There were different book proposals that I put together. I ended up sticking with this one because I knew this was the one that I wanted to tell. I was going to write the book that I wanted to write and it felt good to me. I made peace with the fact that maybe it’s not the time. I would continue to build, show up, do the work, and tap away on my computer silently on the other side.
There were times or moments when I wanted to throw in the towel. I was like, “Not another rejection.” It’s demoralizing. We had a couple of close calls. We knew that the book was making it up the ladder to the chain of command. We’d get the rejection. Those were the worst because we knew we got over that first layer.
It’s here and your book is in the world. We’re excited that it is here because it is going to serve this community and many other women throughout the world. Good for you for sticking it out. It sounds like it took several years. How long did it take in total to get the book out there?
From literary agent to publication, it was probably four years.
It’s encouraging and motivating for anyone that’s interested. If you’re out there and you want to write a book, it can be done. Renée is a living proof. There’s one other thing that you mentioned in the book and I love this. Everybody, please don’t listen around with little ears because we’re about to use some colorful language. You say, “Everybody has a unique brand of bullshit.” I’m like, “Yes, we do.” Some of the stories I tell myself when I take a beat, I’m like, “I’m just bullshit-ing myself. I’m scared. I’m giving myself a line of BS so I won’t take the action.” What has been your experience with your own unique brand of BS?
Who doesn’t have the same story that shows up on repeat? For me, it’s money. I share in the book that I grew up with a parent who was an entrepreneur and had pitfalls that go along with that. Times were tough when I was a teenager. My parents ended up having to clean commercial buildings at night. My brother and I would have to tag along and help. My mother would clean houses. There was such a scarcity mindset around money. As an adult, I can catch myself falling into that. There’s that worry that there’s not going to be enough.
It’s releasing that and recognizing. Now, I think of money as energy. It comes in. It ebbs and flows. It goes in and out. You have to spend it to have it flow back in, and to the point where now I write a check to the IRS. I do it in gratitude even though you want to give your middle finger to it. The money story for me was the BS that had been holding me back from growing my business, hiring new employees, expanding, and buying office space. That’s something that has always been ongoing. I still have it to this day. It will come up when we have a slow month, then I have to put it in its place.
That’s a big one for me. The ones that you hear over and over again are like, “I’ll do it when I have more time. I’ll take care of myself when I have time. I’ll get divorced when the kids are older. I’ll start the side hustle when I have more time.” We only have so much time on this earth. What are we going to do with it? When we get to the end of our life, do we want to look back? Do we have regrets? Do we wish that we did something that we chose not to because we didn’t have enough time?
I always try to remember that when I find myself going into this fear of not knowing what the outcome is going to look like before I take the next leap. It’s time. How are we going to use that to the best? At the end of the day, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s usually much less worse than we make it out to be in our own head.
There are a couple of things in shades, but they are useful nonetheless. If it’s not now, when? You said, “When the kids are out of the house or when I retire.” It never ever happens. One of my husband’s family died. Anytime you have a close family member die, it’s like a re-clarification, a recalibration, or a reminder to be like, “Time is now. Time is fleeting. Use it as wisely as you can.” There’s that one for those who struggle with the time factor or the procrastination factor.
Renée, I want to ask you quickly because I struggle with the scarcity one. For those people that are in the not enough or never enough, what do you say to that voice? Mine is specifically around money too. We didn’t have a business, but there was that sense of not-enoughness. Unless you have it, it’s like this underlying nervousness. I don’t know how to describe it. I’m sure you understand. What do you say when that voice rears its head and you have to put it back in its place? Is there something particular that you say to get it back in line?
It all depends on how loud that voice is at the moment. Sometimes, I can rein it in easily, acknowledge it, and be like, “That’s your childhood issues with money. Let it go. It doesn’t mean that’s your adult issue.” If I catch myself lingering in that space for too long, I do something simple. I write affirmations around it like, “I am abundant. I am wealthy. I am a magnet for money. Clients flow in. There’s always enough.:” I focus all those affirmations around that idea of having enough and having that abundance. I read that until I knock it off, and my head finally quiets down.
It is this underlying nervousness. If you’ve never had that, you probably don’t understand, especially as a business owner. You constantly have that worry. I look back and watch my father lose his business. I think, “What if that happens to me? What happens if the court papers show up to take our house?” That’s not going to happen. There’s no indication of anything like that ever happening. It’s just that fear. It’s acknowledging it. For anyone tuning in, you can switch that out with a thing of your own things because we all have our own BS. We all have something. What is it for you? How do you wrangle that in? The first thing you do is recognize it and don’t allow yourself to live in that place too long.
That’s valuable. All of that is great advice. It’s recognizing that BS voice is not you. Yes, it is, but it’s the voice of fear. It’s your unique brand of it. You know that we all have it. Recognizing that there’s a higher thought. You write affirmations or whatever you need to do tool-wise to get out of that space. That’s awesome.
I’m spinning back around to relationships because there might be people going like, “I’m ignoring the red flags.” What are some of the red flags that you mentioned in the book? You say, “Everything in the relationship is just fine.” Maybe there are some more you want to mention. Talk to me about why being just fine is not so fine and if there are any other flags that you’re like, “Let’s pay attention to these.”
I’ll hear people say, “We live as roommates. We coexist in the same house. We get along fine. We don’t fight. We both are focused on our kids.” That’s a just fine mentality. I’ve always said to clients or someone who’s on the fence and they come to see me, “Let’s flash forward. You sent your youngest child off to college. You look at your spouse. You have your life with the two of you for a period of time because you’re an empty-nester. How do you feel?” You can see it on their face. Their lip might snare up. I’m like, “No. That’s not the reaction we want.”
Many people get caught in this hamster wheel of their schedule and the things they have to do. They’ve lost connection with their spouse. It’s all about disconnect. When you have a disconnect, things could be just fine. You could have a nice house, life, and vacations that you go on twice a year, but are you connected with your spouse?
A lot of people live in this state of this disconnect. They don’t want to put the effort in, or their spouse doesn’t want to put the effort in. Both of them are like, “We like each other. Maybe we don’t.” You live in that place. That’s a sad place to live because kids will also see that lack of connection, intimacy, and vulnerability that is important to have a healthy relationship.
You asked for red flags. The obvious ones are anyone who’s looking at you can see. What I like to talk about are the internal ones. Are you changing your own behavior in order to keep the peace in your house? What are you doing internally in order to not upset the apple cart? Are you canceling plans with friends and family because your spouse is going to be mad? Are you not bringing things up that bother you because it’s easier to shove them under the rug? When you start to change who you are and modify and not speak up, that’s a massive red flag that something is not okay. It doesn’t mean it’s completely broken, but something needs to be addressed.
There are many couples that are “just fine.” If those people are not ready or they’re like, “I’m not ready to throw in the towel,” that’s when you would say, “It’s not putting your head in the sand.” It’s about getting counseling. It’s about seeing what’s there and if that spark or intimacy can be reconnected if that’s where you want to go.
Clients would come in and it’s easy to tell when someone is done. That’s easy to read on someone and when they’re not sure. When they’re in that place of wavering, they’ll usually say, “I love my spouse. I like them still, but there’s something not right.” That’s when I say, “Go to counseling.” The best-case scenario is you reconnect and work on your relationship. You both recommit to each other. The worst-case scenario is it doesn’t work, but at least you both know what happened. You have some insight into how you showed up in the relationship and how the other person showed up.
The statistics for second and third marriages are bleak. Often, people don’t realize their own stuff that they bring into a relationship. For some, it could be that they’re conflict averse. They don’t speak their mind. That builds up resentment, and they leave rather than try to work it out. At least counseling will shed some light on what happened so you don’t repeat it.
On our show, we don’t talk a ton about relationships, but I’m glad we do because it’s part of being brave. You’re talking about being brave by making decisions, taking action, and not being stagnant. We do take our relationships with us as part of ourselves to work. I’m on this because it’s important. One of the other things you mentioned that I wanted to cover before we close is expectations.
I have to say jokingly. I’m studying the Enneagram like knee-deep. I don’t know if you know about the Enneagram, but I love the Enneagram. I’m a Type 1. I am a reformer perfectionist. I don’t love my type, but I own it that I struggle with those things. I know that expectations for me can be a big landmine for me and the expectations I have for others. Talk to me about how expectations can be detrimental to our journeys.
I’m not sure what my number is, but whichever one, I have the same issue you have. First of all, we put expectations on other people. We’re destined to be set up for disappointment. That’s not fair to do that. We don’t know how someone else processes things and reacts to things. It’s better to communicate through that rather than expect someone to know how you’re feeling or know how to react.
When we place expectations on ourselves, what happens when we don’t fulfill those, which most times we don’t we, and we fall a little short? We beat ourselves up. We talk about we’re a failure or we have this negative self-talk, “I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy enough.” Rather than spin that and be like, “Look at how far I did come. Look at how far I got or what I did accomplish, even though it wasn’t everything that I wanted.”
Expectations set us up for disappointment. In the divorce space, I always tell clients, “If you have an expectation of what’s supposed to happen, let it go because you will be disappointed no matter what.” It’s about being flexible and realizing that sometimes, you’ll still get the thing that you want. It just might be on a different timeline.Expectations only set us up for disappointment. If you have an expectation of what's supposed to happen, let it go because you will be disappointed no matter what. Click To Tweet
Anytime I’ve ever attached expectations to things, I can tell you I’ve ended up disappointed with it because I always set high ones. I said, “I’m going for the stars.” I have to step back. Instead of looking at how you didn’t meet that bullseye, look at everything else along that journey that you did, which may even be better. Sometimes, that pivot or redirection might even be the better thing. Expectation is a dirty word.
When you have goals around things, have hardcore expectations that you get disappointed. How do you measure success or determine what success looks like for you, knowing that about yourself with expectations?
I am specific about my goals. I will write down with such specificity like, “This is the thing I want. This is the number I want.” I do that and release it. I’m not allowing myself to hyperfocus on that. For example, it’s the next book deal. I’m like, “This is the amount that I want on my next advance and what I want the next book deal to look like. When it comes in and it’s not that, I’m like, “It’s a pause and a recalibrate.”
I have to assess. Am I being unrealistic with this? Do I re-evaluate or open myself up to something different? I’m always checking in with myself. I’m a doer and goal-getter. I’m going to keep driving. I’ve gotten better at not allowing that expectation to keep me stuck. If I’m not going to get that, what’s the next best thing that I can get to keep moving forward?
For our other ambitious go-getters out there, and I know there are many of you in our community, you have specific goals, and you’re holding yourself accountable to those goals. Let’s say it doesn’t go exactly as you envisioned. You are now fluid and flexible enough to be like, “Maybe the expectation needs to change. I like that tonation of having the flexibility and the compassion with yourself to be like, “Life happens. I don’t control every little thing. Maybe I need to change the way this may turn out.”
The whole third of the book is about rolling into action. It’s allowing momentum to take over at some point. You take the next thing to move you forward. You then release and control. I have a spiritual practice. I believe that sometimes I think I know what I want, but maybe the universe has a much better idea. I trust that and have faith in that. Even if something doesn’t play out how I want it, I say, “Maybe the universe has another plan.”
It’s like the book I go back to. The universe knew when this book was ready to be written. They had to delay all of these years and threw all of these rejections in my path because it wasn’t time. I have gotten to the place of making peace with the fact that my timeline, because I’m impatient and I want something when I want it, may not be the best timeline for my life.
I’m sure you have found a lot of peace with that surrender. It is something that I could take away from this show. What are 1 to 2 ways that you believe women can be braver at work?
Number one, that uncomfortable conversation that you’ve been dreading that you have not had yet, schedule it, sit across from that person, and have it. Instead of talking to somebody else about it or going home and complaining to your spouse about it, face it head-on. There would be so much relief on the other side of that.
Have that uncomfortable conversation, and then throw yourself to the next level of what could be. Many women sell themselves short. They think, “I can’t go for that promotion because I don’t have enough experience and so and so has more experience.” Put your name in the hat for whatever that next thing is, and don’t worry about whether you’re qualified. Just do it.
I love both of those, especially the second one. You talked about what’s the worst thing that could happen. Let’s say you don’t get picked for it or you don’t get selected. I’m like they know you’ve come to play and you’re serious. They know that your advancement is important. No one can be a mind reader.
I’ll ask friends or clients. I’m like, okay, “Do they know that you have interest?” They’re like, “No.” I’m like, “How are they going to know if you don’t do something about it?” It goes back to action. I love both of those. Your book, She Who Wins, where is it available? Give us all of the places where we can find you and your work online.
You can grab the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and any regular bookseller. Some independent booksellers have it too. Bookshop.org is a great independent bookseller site. If anyone wants to connect with me, Instagram is my favorite place to hang out. My handle is @MsReneeBauer.
Renée, thank you so much for talking. We’ve covered so much awesome ground about relationships, your book, confidence, and the BS meter. Thank you for all of the great work you’re doing in the world and for being on here.
Thank you for having me. This was a treat.
That’s a wrap-up on my discussion with Renée. I hope you found our conversation both valuable and inspiring. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. The show is also available on Google Podcasts or any other platform you enjoy. Until next time, show up, choose to win, be happy and confident even after a divorce, and be brave.
- Renée Bauer
- She Who Wins
- Happy Even After, Family Law
- The Tarot Bridge
- Divorce in Connecticut
- The Ultimate Guide to Solo and Small Firm Success
- Percy’s Imperfectly Perfect Family
- She Who Wins Summit
- Apple Podcast – Brave Women at Work
- Spotify – Brave Women at Work
- Get Paid: 10 Negotiation Tips
- 5 Steps to Managing Your Imposter Syndrome
- @MsReneeBauer – Instagram
- Google Podcasts – Brave Women at Work
About Renee Bauer