February 23, 2006


After Your Divorce: Creating the Good Life on Your Own. By Cynthia MacGregor and Robert E. Alberti, Ph.D. Impact Publishers. $16.95.

     Give the authors of After Your Divorce credit: between them, they cover in their own lives many of the variations on human marital experience.  Cynthia MacGregor, who has written more than 50 books, is divorced.  She has a daughter – who is also divorced.  Robert E. Alberti, a psychologist and marriage-and-family therapist, has been married to the same woman for 45 years.  But his parents were divorced.

     So the authors have all sorts of experience and expertise in matters marital.  Alberti is at something of a disadvantage in not being a woman – this is strictly a book for women, which is a bit of a disappointment in light of its plainspokenness and the fact that many issues it raises apply equally to men.  But MacGregor certainly presents a female viewpoint effectively.

     After Your Divorce tries, usually successfully, to offer sound and practical advice with a nonthreatening, even humorous style.  Hence a chapter title about starting to go out again: “The Other Dating Game: Kids 2, Dates 0.”  The book’s language and chattiness will go a long way toward determining whether a reader finds it useful or off-putting.  The information here is excellent, and there is a great deal of it: the 238 pages are really packed.  But not everyone will be comfortable reading about “Self-Defense When Dealing with ‘Buttinskis’” or, referring to children, “Don’t Make Them the ‘Puny’ Express.”

     MacGregor and Alberti have a stylistic habit of setting up straw men and knocking them down: “You may be tempted to avoid necessary conversations with [your ex] and, instead, send messages through the kids.  In a word: Don’t.”  Or: “There are some women who are ready to give in [to a sexual relationship with an ex].  The advice from here?  Don’t.”  Again, the ideas are solid, but the presentation may not be to all tastes.

     If you do like the style of this book, you’ll find it a treasure trove of clear, helpful, practical advice.  Starting with the process of divorce recovery, the authors take women through practical matters of life alone (food, finances, etc.), issues involving the kids (whether they are living with you or with him), and matters involving adults (your ex, your family, your friends, your potential new dates or mates).  The authors’ willingness to offer options for handling difficult situations is especially commendable.  “Don’t berate yourself for being human” if you are upset seeing your ex with a new wife or girlfriend, they say, suggesting you gear your response when you run into them to the level of discomfort you feel.  They even give specific examples of what you might say if you feel awkward – or if you don’t.

     Of course, this book is not intended or expected to address every situation or solve every problem.  An appendix on whether to see a therapist is particularly helpful – as is one on safer sex.  After Your Divorce can be very helpful indeed for women who want some straightforward, sensitive single-again advice – as long as they want it delivered in MacGregor and Alberti’s very casual style.

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