Divorce can be a complicated and lonely process but professional guidance can help. Tired of not knowing whether to stay or go, not to mention endless nights googling ‘how to divorce’? Divorce rates are skyrocketing, about one out of every two marriages ends in separation and divorce. But no one teaches us how to go through that process in a holistic way so we can come out the other side prepared for whatever comes next.

In the book, The Holistic Divorce: A Practical 10-Step Process for Healing, Olga Nadal gives you a companion and guide to achieving a low-conflict divorce no matter how difficult that might seem. Olga is the founder of Divorce for Love and CEO of the Holistic Divorce Institute. This book provides all the tools and techniques you need to make informed decisions, understand the divorce journey, prepare for and navigate each step, and complete the process renewed instead of devastated, ready for the next stage of your life.

This is the Author Hour podcast and I’m your host Frank Garza. Today, I am joined by Olga Nadal, author of a brand new book, The Holistic Divorce: A Practical 10-Step Process for Healing.

Olga, welcome to the show. 

Olga Nadal: Hi, Frank. So happy to be here. 

Frank Garza: Let’s start by giving our listeners an idea of your personal background. Can you share a little bit about that with us?

Olga Nadal: Sure! I am originally from Spain but I moved to Hawaii 18 years ago. I kind of did the American dream; I opened a restaurant in the north shore of Maui and then we expanded to a couple more locations in the Hamptons and in New York. All this while I was in a beautiful marriage. We had two children and then it reached a point where I felt the marriage was completed. I wanted to complete the relationship, exit the marriage but I still want to have the friendship and I did not want any animosity and that’s when the next chapter of my life began which was learning the whole process, which now is reflected in the book. So, that’s really the start and seed of how it all came about.

Frank Garza: Yeah I saw you call your marriage story in the book, one marriage; three divorces. Can you tell me a little bit more about why you call it that?

Olga Nadal: The math doesn’t add up, right? Well, in the book I tell the story of how I’d only been married— well, now I’m on my second marriage, by the time I was writing the book I was in my first. I had only been married once to this man that I moved to Hawaii with and yet I had had to go through my parents’ divorce when I was a little kid and I consider that the first real divorce that I went through. It was really traumatic and my parents, for the longest time, tried to avoid the inevitable so they stayed together for an extra decade even though their marriage was very finished and he was very violent and aggressive. 

We eventually ended up going through the whole divorce and it was also a very disturbing experience for my siblings, my mom and I suppose, even my dad.  Then I had to go through my dad’s second divorce to his second wife for the reason that he passed away as they were in the middle of the divorce and he was also doing— replicating the same model, having a very contentious divorce. They couldn’t agree on anything, so by the time he passed away then his children were gifted the continuing that fight, and to be honest, that fight is still ongoing— we’re still in court back in Spain trying to complete the process.  So, by the time I got to my own marriage and me wanting to divorce, you can just imagine all the preconceived ideas and the already existing trauma that I had to sift through and choose and make the decision that my divorce wasn’t going to be like that.  

I was going to successfully end my marriage and there wasn’t going to be animosity, it was going to be low-conflict, my children were not going to suffer through it and, at the end of it, I was going to be empowered instead of traumatized. So, I obviously didn’t have the template on how to do it but I was able to figure it out. I was able to research and educate myself, get the training and eventually was able to do it for my own divorce and then I started offering the services to other people and that’s when my coaching career started as a divorce coach. Eventually, I just kind of just created this model and I thought, this is a methodology that doesn’t really exist which is the concept of the book, which is a holistic divorce. Where we take into consideration, not just the logistics, the legalities of divorce, but we also take into consideration the emotional part, which in my opinion is huge. 

So, I created a 10-step process which is what I’ve been using with my clients and describe everything in the book and I even share stories with my clients. I share my own story because I think that it’s important that we see what is possible for others then we can begin to believe that it can be possible for us.

The Divorce Story: Tailoring Your Experience

Frank Garza: It sounds like it’s pretty clear who this book is for, in terms of people that are going through a divorce, but is there a certain stage that people typically pick up this book? Maybe when they’re thinking about it [or] once they’ve already started going through the process. Who would you say the book is for?

Olga Nadal: I believe that the book is going to attract the same stages that my clients find themselves when they sign up for my coaching and I do have a whole section in the book called “The Divorce Journey”, where I talk about the different stages that I feel— it’s almost like a universal hero’s journey, everybody goes through it and I talk about the stages of you know the “Am I okay, are we okay?”, the coming to Jesus moment, and all the different stages that we go through. But most people will find me as they start thinking about divorce. When we talk about thinking about divorce, it can take years before people actually make the decision. But in the whole time that they’re thinking about it, that’s when they start doing the Google searches, the Instagram [searches] and asking questions, maybe blogs. They are trying to gather the information and what they’re basically doing is they’re trying to figure out, “Is this my option?” 

So, that’s when a lot of people find me and then they come and talk to me and then we figure that together. I often say, “I’m not pro-marriage, I’m not pro-divorce, I am just pro-happy people”. So if you come to me, I’m not going to sell you on divorce, I am just going to sell you on, “What do you need? What is it that is going to take you to your next level?” If that can be found within your marriage, I will give you all the pointers on how to get back to that and if it’s not, then I will give you the strategy on how to exit. So that’s one place where people find me. 

Another one is when they have already made that decision; they’ve already started the process. And one of two things happen; either they’re doing well but they really want to do it better and those— I love those people. Those are my perfectionists and they come to me and it’s like, “Right, let’s make sure that you do the process properly”. Then there are the people who’ve already started the process and it is going terribly wrong and then they come and we work on how to fix the process together.

I’ve also been finding lately a lot of people that have been not working directly with me but they’ve been referring people to me even though they never worked with me, but they really resonate with my message. I’m very active on Instagram, on Facebook. So they just recommend it to all the people who are going through a divorce and they’re saying “I wish I had had this guidance while I was going through it, so maybe go and talk to her.” 

Those are usually the places where people sort of contact me and then we do the tailored approach that I think is really, really important. For me, this book, it’s just the framework. It just tells you this is possible— “okay, this woman that didn’t come from a beautiful, hippy commune where everybody loved each other. She actually came from examples of really bad divorces, was able to not replicate that. She was able to stop that progression and turn it around and then she replicated that process with all her clients. So there is another way,” and then the door is open and come and work with me and I will do that tailored approach because I do not believe in the cookie-cutter.

I think that each story, each marriage needs to be honored, each divorce story needs to be crafted and that’s [what] I love to with the one-on-one coaching.

Frank Garza: I enjoyed in the intro of your book, you had an interesting kind of example that explains how you work with people as a divorce coach and I’m going to quote it here. It says, “Divorce sometimes resembles getting blackout drunk, being handed the keys to your car, and being told to get yourself home.” Can you expand on that and maybe use that to kind of talk more about what you do as a divorce coach?

Olga Nadal: Yeah, that’s my easiest way to explain it and it is true. I always say that people are emotionally drunk when they get to this point. They just cannot, and I’ve been in that situation, so I can literally describe the sheer terror and the panic of your entire world is about to be dismantled and then you have to reconstruct it. 

It is scary and then with the narratives that we have going on that until my work is completed— and I see this is going to take maybe a decade or two— but I’m not sure the next generations are not going to come to their divorce conversation with all these preconceived ideas of how horrible it is. But what we’re working with right now is that you very rarely hear the word divorce and anything positive after.  Like my own Instagram handle is called Divorce for Love, and most people look at it go, “What is that oxymoron?” Like, this is not real, these two words can’t be together. It’s usually divorce for blood, you don’t divorce with love anywhere there. 

For me, it’s very important that people realize, yes this is scary. It’s complicated but this is the super important part, it’s like when you’re drunk, it’s not permanent, okay? As long as you stop ingesting the alcohol, you will get better.  This is where I think so much confusion comes from because they’re like, “But I’m really angry, I am really sad” and it’s like, yes, but you keep on feeding those energies. That is where we start working together. 

We work with the five emotions of divorce and they’re universal. There will be others for each particular case, but for the majority, we have five emotions that we need to work with before we even start talking about custody, about financial settlements; but we’ve always been doing this the wrong way around. So, we are drunk and then we’re given the keys and we’ll say, “Find your way home and God bless you.” Maybe you get the help of a lawyer, which is basically somebody just helping you how to get your car out of the parking lot, and then it’s like, “Okay, keep going.” 

For me, it’s very important. What I do is I sit with you. I am the one that says, “No, I am holding the keys, okay? There’s no rush, we need to do this right.” And then we work together until you sober up, until you can make sense, until you can tell me, “Okay this is what I need, this is what would be good for my children”, and then we create the plan. But up until now, that hasn’t happened— you’re basically, the moment that you utter the word divorce, you get on a roller coaster. That is what I’m trying to avoid and what I know that it’s possible. I’m not just talking in utopian terms and saying, “You know, maybe it would be nice if we could do it like this”. No, it is already happening and I don’t want people going down the path of suffering, confusion, and mistakes when there is another path already here.

Achieving Low-Conflict Divorce: Is It Obtainable?

Frank Garza: Your book is described as a companion and guide to achieving a low-conflict divorce. Can you tell me, what does a low-conflict divorce look like?

Olga Nadal:  It looks as, one where the emotional component is taken care of.  So, I believe that there are many, many, many types of divorce and there are many types of personalities, but I think that we’ve very often just put everybody in the same basket and believe that everybody that gets to a divorce, the relationship is beyond repair and they hate each other and there’s abuse and there’s an affair. And very often you will be asked that question. When I started coming out and saying that I was getting a divorce the first question would be like, “What happened? What went wrong?” And that’s not true. There is more and more people nowadays coming to me saying none of that is true but “we are just roommates. We just do what we call tag parenting.” Like, “okay you’ll have the kids and during the day, I’ll have the kids at night and we don’t—” there is no love, there is no passion, there’s no chemistry. The bond of the marriage is gone and they are just, you know, sort of cruising through life. 

That kind of relationship is perfect for having a low-conflict divorce, like I said they only need a little bit of guidance, they only need to look at a few of the emotions that are going to try and hijack the process but they can totally handle it.  Then there is the other category of people where there is more conflict personalities and it could either be my client or their soon-to-be ex. It doesn’t matter who it is, as long as, again, they’re willing to look at their emotions. There is a lot of conflict that can be removed just by working with a holistic divorce coach who is going to guide you through the process and who is going to work out all those emotions in the privacy and in the safety of the coaching session.

But again, if you don’t do that especially with these higher-conflict personalities and you just say, “Here is your lawyer,” which a lot of people think that the lawyer is their assassin and they’re like, “Okay, just go and destroy this other person”, then yes, then the ground is not for tile for any low-conflict divorce. But I do believe that a lot of those people who have been redirected with the proper guidance. 

And then we get to the last packet and this is the part that a lot of people don’t understand is that only five percent of divorces are truly high-conflict divorces. And by high-conflict divorce I mean like at least one of the personalities in the couple, they tend to have either a personality disorder, serious mental health issues, addiction; they are not fully present, fully there, fully conscious. So, no matter what you try to do, there is not going to be a low-conflict divorce, this is a high-conflict divorce that will most likely end up in court and you will need the help of a judge making the decisions. I want to make it very clear none of those groups are better than the other, okay.  Because I know that there’s so much pain and so much shame attached to how the process of divorce evolved and when you’re dealing in this five-percent category, it is very hard for people to accept what’s going on, but they also have to work on that. That’s the first step in the process, in the 10-step process is acceptance. They have to accept that they may end up in court, most likely will end up in court and they’ll need lawyers. It will be more expensive, more draining but still can be done. And those will not be the types that I call low-conflict divorce, but those are the ones that I will say, okay let’s manage the amount of conflict and the amount of animosity that is going to happen here, and let’s make sure that at the very least, my client and hopefully through my client, their children are protected. 

So, those are the, again, kind of the spectrum for the low-conflict divorce and then the high-conflict divorce, and in my case what I— my guarantee that I give to the clients that accept to work with me is that we will keep their case out of court. So that’s a huge guarantee that I have been able to keep all along.  But it’s something that I’m very careful as to who I work with and I have to make sure that they do have the capacity and that you are not dealing with someone at the other end, that no matter how you try to deal with them they just want blood. And then yes, it’s going to be a court case.

Frank Garza: Right. So in The Holistic Divorce you know we talked about this 10-step process for healing, step three is: Drop Mistaken Beliefs. Can you talk about what some of the common mistaken beliefs are that people have about divorce?

Olga Nadal: Yes, there are a lot of beliefs and I recently had a bit of a conversation with someone in the field where I was like, we really need the research because there is no documented research— recent research, let’s be specific here— that can give us the data that we need. So a lot of what we have surrounding divorce is literally misconceptions, wrong beliefs. It is almost myths that we’ve just accepted, but we haven’t realized that the divorce paradigm has shifted from its inception where you did have to have someone in the divorce that was at fault. Someone had to have done something pretty horrible for the system to be able to grant you the divorce but we now live in a no-fault system in the majority of the states— and I’m talking again about America— where you can go there and say we just have, I never know if I’m going to say these right, irreconcilable differences 

Frank Garza: Irreconcilable differences. 

Olga Nadal: That one. Thank you so much, I really need to get better at saying that word, it always trips me. So, you don’t have to explain anything. There doesn’t need to be a victim and a perpetrator but funnily enough, in pretty much every divorce, someone gets one of those labels. So, that’s one of the beliefs that I want to remove. There is no victim. There is no one being the bad person, even the one that supposedly wants the divorce— I would say nobody really wants the divorce, they just don’t want what’s happening and they sometimes are the ones that have the courage to ask for it to end. But that’s when you give these labels and then the amount of support, the amount of judgment, criticism, very dramatically and for me, that is a mistaken belief. The two parties should come equally to the table. 

Another huge belief that people need to drop is the one that their children will be traumatized. Again, I really want the research, I want the data that says that children of divorce will 100% be traumatized by the experience and I often say that, yes there are children that— like in my case, I had a very difficult childhood— due to their parents’ divorce, but I also say that my parents’ marriage was way worse. Divorce was actually the blessing that ended that nightmare. So many children in marriages of no divorce, the ones that say, “We will never divorce but we will stay in conflict”, are the ones that are traumatizing children. And nobody bats an eye because they are within the confines of marriage, so we have to protect that. 

But then the minute that you say all these kids are from a divorced household, which then there’s another mistaken belief that then it becomes a broken house, a broken home, then those are going to be traumatized. And to me the bottom line is it’s not divorce that traumatizes children, it’s conflict. So whether you have a conflict-ridden divorce or a conflict-ridden marriage, your children will be affected by it or not. 

Divorce will definitely affect your children; please, I’m not being all Poliana here and saying, “Oh your children won’t even know” but I think that very often we think there’s always going to be a negative effect. And I have to say, there’s a level of resilience, of adaptability, of understanding that children can acquire through a process of divorce that was handled in low-conflict. That I actually think it’s pretty powerfully positive for those children. But once again, how you did the divorce, how the process went, it was going to dictate how your children will handle this and navigate this change. So, those are some of the beliefs that I have to work hard for my clients to drop because if you believe that then half of the people won’t even be talking to me they would just think that is better to sacrifice their happiness in some mistaken attempt to guarantee their children’s happiness and, again, there’s no data backing any of that up.  

Embracing The Fire and Getting To The Other Side

Frank Garza: Of this 10-step process, which one did you find most challenging to go through as you were going through your divorce? Or if you would rather, what’s one of the steps that you see your clients have the most challenging time going through?

Olga Nadal: I can tell you for me, it is actually one of those that each person that you talked to will be a different step. In my personal experience, it was step number one, it was the acceptance. I just did not want to accept anything. I did not want to accept that my marriage was ending, I did not want to accept that everything was going to change. I just— the whole thing was like, “can I just go to sleep and when I wake up tomorrow I will still be happily married?” That was still my hope. There is this insidious voice inside of us that knows what is best for us and it will not shut up. So that’s when people come to me and they want the reassurance that they can walk the way back to their happy marriage. I say, “I do not know, you do know that though. Listen to that voice inside of you and if that voice keeps getting louder and louder and it says, `Nope, I’m sorry this has ended, you’ve completed this phase, then there is nothing that you can do to change that, so you have to accept it.” And then the other nine steps open up. 

I am never going to say that divorce is a walk in the park. I do not think that. There may be some very, very simple divorces for people, who have been married for two weeks, had no children, no finances together. It was like they went to Vegas and two weeks later, “Let’s get divorced.” Maybe that is an easy one. But for the majority of us, it’s a process, there is so much loss and grief and there is so much emotional disruption that we haven’t been taught how to handle and that is where, once again, if people get something out of my message, is that it doesn’t have to be that way. 

All that pain can be transmuted into purpose, into joy. All that suffering can be turned into empowerment. I actually feel that, very often, for the women— I work mostly with women. I do want to work with men, they just do not seem to be very coachable when it comes to divorce. They’re usually like, “I am just going to Google this, and I will get a lawyer and we will be done.” But women, I think that they have more access to their emotions and they understand that you have to work on these emotions, so when I work with women, it is very interesting that whole piece of acceptance.

It’s hard, but once they get that, then the rest of the process unravels so much easier. And I just love that for women, once they get past that acceptance, this is an initiation, this is almost like a rite of passage where this whole process can teach them the skills to be empowered. And for me, there is always a before and an after in a woman’s journey: before she was divorced and after she was divorced. And I may be biased, but the majority of my most bad-ass friends, the women that I admire the most, they went through the fire of divorce, and at the other end, there is this super powerful woman.

I want people to know that you can find the skills, find the knowledge, and find how to deal with your emotions. Even if it is your phone, it is like I was going through mine when I was 40 and those are gifts that will carry for the rest of your life and those are gifts that happen through this initiation that society tells us is so horrible, avoid it at all cost. And for me it is like, I don’t know. I think that there is a lot of beauty on the other side. So yes, the process; painful, horrible but so is childbirth. Nobody goes to childbirth with, “Yes, I am going to have the time of my life!”

But we are very excited once we get to hold our baby in our hands and then we go “Ah, I get it. I just had to get through the fire and now I have this beautiful, joyful life for the rest of my life.”

Frank Garza: Well, Olga, congratulations on writing a book. It’s such a feat. Is there anything else about you or the book that you want to make sure our listeners know before we wrap up?

Olga Nadal: Thank you for acknowledging that. I feel that writing the book was… it’s quite something. I wasn’t expecting it. I thought it was going to be like, “Okay, I’ve got all this knowledge, let’s just put it in writing.” But there was a lot of digging through my clients’ experiences and how to portray them and even the process itself. Yeah, it was fun and interesting and I just hope that it really lands in everybody’s hands that everybody gets a copy. Either because they are going to use it or because they are going to hand it to someone that will use it. And that will be my last words— my last words will be, if you are either going through it or you know someone that is going through it, or to be honest, if you are getting married, please get this book as well, just in case.

But I would say just know that there is another way, okay? I really do not want people thinking the traditional paradigm still exists. It does exist if you want it, but if you don’t then there is another way of doing this which has a lot less conflict. And like I said, it can empower you, instead of destroying you. Along with that, I will say, just try not to do it alone. This is not the process to go all lone wolf out there. It is complicated, and like I said, you are emotionally drunk and you need the right guidance.

Find the help, and the help can come in many forms or many shapes. Find the book, the podcast, the coach, the teachers, even the neighbor that did a divorce that was like okay, I respect what they did, go and talk to them. Just don’t do it alone, don’t think that this is something that it will be embarrassing to talk about or that you don’t want people [to know] because you feel that they are going to judge you. There are a lot of professionals out there that it is our mission, it is our honor to walk people from being unhappily married to being very happily living life on their own terms.

So, I just want everybody to know that whatever future they choose, if it’s staying in their marriage or if it’s divorcing, there is help for them. That will be my parting words. 

Frank Garza: Olga, this has been such a pleasure and I am so excited about your book and what you are doing. The book is called The Holistic Divorce. Besides checking out the book, where can people find you?

Olga Nadal: They can find me on my website, my website is olganadal.com, and in there I have the book and I also have the coaching and I also have, I created the Holistic Divorce Institute, where I train people to become holistic divorce coaches because I believe we are just on the precipice.

There is about to be an avalanche of people getting divorced in this way, in a holistic manner. I mean, there’s always been divorces, one in two marriages ends in divorce, but I think a lot of people are going to want to walk this path and there is only one of me at the moment. I want a whole army of people that are training the methodologies and the techniques that I have been blessed to learn and develop. 

If people are interested in either going through divorce or learning how to become a holistic divorce coach, Olga Nadal and then for anybody just curious about this whole new paradigm of divorce, I am always on Instagram @divorceforlove and they can find me there and then in there; I have resources, free guides, Facebook groups, the whole shebang. But if they just want a little bit of guidance, it is either olganadal.com or @divorceforlove. 

Frank Garza: Thank you, Olga. 

Olga Nadal: Thank you so much, Frank. This was so much fun.