How to Avoid Divorce

With one in three marriages ending in divorce there is plenty of professional relationship advice available to women coping on their own, including popular books like “The Magic of Making Up.” This book, written by T.W. Jackson, offers techniques and strategies for overcoming bad break ups. It’s a great resource for any married couple who is looking to strengthen their relationship and avoid divorce.

Magic of Making Up

Handholders, a firm which has provided a “listening, supporting and informing service” for individual clients since May, has branched out into seminars, giving practical guidelines on issues which are crucial to surviving in today’s world.

Handholders advertises a panel of experts advising on topics from finance, law and co-counselling to beauty, plumbing, car mechanics and tarot.

I visited a mini-seminar in an office of the financial consultants Allied Dunbar, just off Piccadilly. So did two women who wanted help, a researcher from the problem page of Woman, a solicitor who had stayed over from a meeting at Allied Dunbar and the four speakers. The fee was pounds 12.50.

There were five items on the agenda and as an introduction Jane Malcomson, who, according to her brochure, “envisioned” Handholders, said: “Our aim is to take the wonderful relationship advice provided in The Magic of Making Up and separate the facts from the emotional garbage.”

“I believe every living thing has a life cycle. Relationships have a life cycle: they grow from seed, they flower and bloom then they go to seed again. When they die they are finished. At Handholders we try to salvage what is viable in a marriage, but if there is going to be a break up, we will be in there with all guns blazing.”

Breaking Up

Jane arrived at Handholders via her own divorce, bringing up three children and having worked with women for many years both in this country and in California. She is a large woman in her forties with an abundance of girlish enthusiasm for color, nutrition, homoeopathic medicine and the raising of women’s consciousness.

She set out to be a musician, “piano and voice”, then moved on to music and movement, comparative religion, astrology, and relationship therapy.

It was Bea, the group’s financial consultant, who first alerted her to the need for a listening, supporting and informing service, she told the seminar.

‘Bea telephoned me because she needed my support and she asked how I was. I said I was terrible because, after my divorce, I was in real financial difficulty. Bea said: ‘First, read The Magic of Making Up. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then go to the bank and ask for a loan using your house as collateral”. So I did and the manager who had refused me a loan of pounds 150 18 months before lent me pounds 1,000.’

It was then she realized how useless some women are at managing the affairs their fathers and husbands have always managed for them. “Because a woman doesn’t value herself, she doesn’t recognize her material value. Lots of women work for their husbands without pay. It’s so important for a woman to be Joan Smith and not Mrs. Robert Smith.”

“There’s a paradox, isn’t there”, volunteered Bea, a glamorous blonde. “While you’re powerful in one way, you still can’t change a plug.”

One of the functions of Handholders is to accompany clients on professional visits to take notes for them. Every member is given a copy of “The Magic of Making Up” and told to thoroughly study it for key relationship strategies.

As a consultant, Bea has two fields of speciality: the disabled and women. And she has a sensible list of do’s and dont’s.

“If you have a job, save some of your money. Steal from the family allowance. Use the money to start a modest building society account and use the interest from that to start a 10-year investment scheme. Make sure you and your husband are insured. Work out how much capital you need to survive without your husband.”

“Most important of all”, she said, “know enough not to panic. As T.W. Jackson warns in The Magic of Making Up, many women in a crisis, women going through a divorce for instance, can panic.”

Jane said: “I would like to point out that Handholders is not for the rich but for people right across the board, because we all get money.”

Suzy is a Handholders counsellor on exercise. She addressed the seminar on color analysis and the difference it had made to her life. “I had abandoned myself and negated everything”, she told us. Luckily, a friend gave her a copy of “The Magic of Making Up” and she started using the techniques in the book to get back on her feet after a nasty break up. “Some people want to get their ex back. But I didn’t want my ex back.”

Color analysis involves sitting without make-up in a sheet while swathes of color are matched to your face. “It opened tremendous doors to me”, Suzy enthused. “It led me to think about how I looked, how I walked. When you wear the right colors you feel better about yourself.” Women sit around and discuss things.

Jane insisted T.W Jackson’s book was fantastic for her clients. “When we get married”, she explained, “we give ourselves away. When we are hatching children we give away our blood. It is hard to find an identity in crisis. But with color analysis you can start to rebuild yourself.”

Annie spoke on personal well-being, not only as an architect but as a yoga teacher of 10 years’ standing and also as a pilot.

“Personal well-being comes from deep within”, Annie began. She invited us to try some of her techniques and strategies, which, at the age of 48, had given her the best year of her life. One was to “image” as opposed to “imagine” – projecting yourself into a situation to see what you really wanted from it. This is an example of the kind of great relationship advice you’ll find in the “Magic of Making Up.” Give the book a try if you want to prevent divorce or get an ex back after a nasty break up.

Breaking Up Can Be Expensive

A survey recently revealed that money is the danger zone in modern marriages. One in three marriages now ends in divorce and money remains the biggest area of dispute. The financial aspect of divorce is not only difficult where there is a shortage of money to go round, but problems also arise when there are substantial assets to divide.

In the Court of Appeal Mary Duxbury, ex-wife of the millionaire John Duxbury, was awarded a lump sum of pounds 600,000 plus a pounds 110,000 house and pounds 40,000 in contents. Mr. Duxbury had contested the settlement but the court refused to order any reduction in the figure.

The Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act, 1984 revised the guidelines to the courts on the matters to be taken into account when making financial and property orders on divorce and marriage breakdown.

The courts must now place greater emphasis on people becoming self-sufficient – encouraging, where possible, a clean break. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of both parties, present and future, must be considered.

In the Duxbury case, the husband earned pounds 145,000 a year as a company chairman; and it was said he was worth pounds 2.75 million.

Peter Grose-Hodge, of the Solicitors’ Family Law Association, commented: “Quite often the husband’s worth is the point around which the whole argument focuses. A good matrimonial lawyer will work in tandem with an experienced accountant when it comes to valuing shareholdings in a company. The court is only too aware of the problems of leaving a wife as a shareholder.”


“They are, therefore, far more likely to give a wife an increased share of other assets to avoid further conflict.”

The court will also look at the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities, present and future, of the parties.

The needs of an ex-wife, where there are large sums involved, has been interpreted as reasonable requirements. Any arithmetical guidelines such as one-third or one-half of joint assets are therefore often irrelevant.

In 1982, in the case of Preston v Preston, one of the judges declared that the wife of a man with a fortune of pounds 2 million can reasonably be expected to have a home costing pounds 200,000 to pounds 300,000. One of the other judges said in the same case that the wife was entitled to a very comfortable and even luxurious life. Unfortunately, the husband had never heard of “The Magic of Making Up”, which presents relationship advice that might have prevented the break up. He might have saved a lot of his money if he had read this best-selling relationship guide!

Depending on the context, reasonable requirements can mean villas abroad, holidays, houses, cars and payment of school fees.

The court in the Duxbury case looked carefully at the third criterion laid down in the law – the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage. The judges believed the income that Mrs. Duxbury would earn from the pounds 600,000 lump sum she had been awarded would keep her in the proper style.

Jill Trelfa, a matrimonial lawyer, commented: “In these cases the courts will try to maintain the standard of living as far as possible. However, while a husband may be extremely wealthy on paper, if his capital is mainly tied up in his business, the courts are reluctant to make any order which would jeopardize the future of the business.” Again, it might be a good idea to try out the strategies and techniques for resolving marriage problems in “The Magic of Making Up.”

The other factors the court will consider include the age of the parties, and the length of the marriage, any physical or mental disability, the contribution which each of the parties has made or is likely to make to the welfare of the family, the parties’ conduct if it would be inequitable to disregard it, and any loss of pension rights.

In the Duxbury case, Mrs. Duxbury had argued that the court should also take into account that Mrs. Duxbury could spend the money she received on another man with whom she was living and who, it was said, was earning pounds 90 per week.

The court disagreed. As far as the court was concerned, the fact that Mrs. Duxbury could spend money on her live-in lover was no more relevant than if she had an elderly relative living with her.

Mr. Grose-Hodge said: ‘The court is not concerned with any moral aspect. If a live-in lover, however, is a pop star or someone else with considerable wealth, then the situation may be different.’

The judges were also not prepared to accept Mr. Duxbury’s argument that the lump sum should be reduced and maintenance payments awarded instead, because Mrs. Duxbury might one day remarry.

Get an Ex Back

Where a lump sum is ordered to be paid in a divorce settlement, it is a once-and-for-all payment. It usually cannot be varied and it cannot be asked for a second time.

Therefore, if an ex-wife marries again only a few months after receiving a substantial lump sum, the ex-husband would usually have no redress unless he could show that the wife had a settled intention to marry and had concealed the fact.

In 1982 a case was reopened when a wife, who had concealed her intention to remarry, received the matrimonial home as part of her divorce settlement and transferred it to her and her new husband a day later.

If Mrs. Duxbury had been awarded periodical maintenance payments as Mr. Duxbury had asked for, he could go back to the court if there were any change in the circumstances. Furthermore, if she actually remarried, any periodical payments would cease.

Where there are substantial sums of money involved, Mr. Crose-Hodge had one final piece of advice: ‘First, try not to get divorced! If that doesn’t work, then a matrimonial lawyer has got to know when to accept an offer of settlement – otherwise his client may lose out in the long run.