How many people open up about what it is like to find out that your marriage of 27 years was turned upside down because your spouse had an ongoing affair with a young blond? Amy Koko is an open book; literally, in her book "There's Been A Change Of Plans – A Memoir About Divorce, Dating and Delinquents In Midlife." She is honest, humorous, and inspiring! She also shares many stories on her blog, appropriately named Ex-Wife New Life.
DivorceForce had the opportunity to speak with Amy. The following interview is a great read for anyone, not only people affected by divorce.
DF: You write about hearing the news that her husband is in love with a blonde, thirty-something Swiss pastry chef and trying everything from thong underwear to a mini-facelift to save her marriage. When a spouse decides to go that route can a "mature" person really compete?
AK: Honestly, looking back, I now know, a mature person wouldn't try to compete. A mature person would evaluate what was happening in her marriage, survey the damage that had been done and ask herself, "Is my marriage worth saving, can I move on and forgive the affair?" And when you answer, be truthful with yourself. Living a life of checking cell phones and reading emails when he's not looking, is no good for you or your marriage. So, in answer to your question, can a 50 year old compete with a 30 year old? I have a daughter who is 30. No, I cannot compete with that nor do I want to. Look, I did the facelift, I bought the thongs…in the end he left anyway and I still have a little tingling above my left ear! (Don't ask where the thongs ended up.) If you feel that is something you need to do in order to save your marriage, then I believe your marriage is over and as hard as it is, time to move on and reinvent your life.
DF: By your own admission, you were a mess for a period of time after the initial shock of hearing of you ex's affair. In your own words, you "Caused my friends to run the other way if they saw me in the grocery store." How did you get your life back in gear? What was the progression? How long did it take?
AK: Hmm…I am "a mess" when I forget about a dental appointment and have to reschedule. I am "a mess" when I have chipped off my acrylics and my nail girl can't get me in for 2 days. When my husband told me he was having an affair? I was a crazed lunatic. I walked off a tennis court midgame telling my partner, "I just can't do this." I screamed. I cried. I demanded answers that I did not get. I have to say that it was after I finally filed for divorce and realized where my life was heading that I began to settle down. I began doing things like going back to school, volunteering at a local TV studio, and of course, eventually dating. I began to take control and that is key. I can't put a time frame on it, it's been years and every once in a while I still get a pang of sadness, but my life is full and much, much different than I pictured it when I was 25! It's better!
DF: You write with a bit of comedy, sarcasm. Is that what you feel (a happy go-lucky nonchalance) or is that what you need to express to deal with "angst"?
AK: When I was going through my divorce I wanted someone who had been through it before to commiserate with. I read book after book. One book told me how to breathe my way through it. One book was written by an actress who was able to return to her Park Avenue apartment and her job on a top rated TV show. It was a good book, but come on, what does that have to do with me? So after I had come through on the other side and continued to meet so many women going through the same process, I decided to write my story of how it feels and what you go through. I didn't decide to write it funny, these are the words that came out! I can't tell you how good it felt to get it down on paper and make sense of the whole journey.
DF: You are now conducting writer's workshops for others dealing with divorce. How and why has writing been so important to your own transformation?
AK: For me, writing has released the sadness and anger that was boiling down inside me. Just getting the words out is such a weight off. It also helped me make sense of it all. I was able to look at the timeline, what happened when and how I was feeling at the time. It helped me to see why I acted like I did at times and how far I have come. So now I feel like it's time to give back, to share what I've learned – the techniques and tools of writing to unblock feelings, unleash creativity, give power and confidence. And with that confidence, it's easier to come to terms with your experience and help plot a new course, a map for the future. And they might even come out with a piece of writing they will be proud of! (You can check out my retreat info at www.amykoko.com/workshops.) I still write on a daily basis, it still works for me. I am passionate about getting the message out to women everywhere, LIFE GOES ON! Yes, it's scary. Yes, it's hard. But it's better than being in an unhappy marriage, I can truly attest to that.
DF: How is your dating life going? Are you ready to put on a thong for an older man that appreciates a beautiful mature woman?
AK: I had a very good time dating, and got into some crazy situations, which I write about in my book. (Told kids not to read that chapter.) Let's just say I got my money's worth from those thongs!
I am now in a long-term relationship with a lovely man that I met on a well-known dating site. It can be done if you go about it in the right way. We have been together over 5 years now and have 7 kids between us! I had a lot of fun, and met some very nice men but more importantly learned a lot about myself in the process. The key is to know what you want this time around and not to settle for less. That's a big take away from this whole experience. Don't settle. Don't let things happen TO you. Make things happen FOR you!
Amy Koko was married for 27 years with four children when her ex told her he was having an affair. She puts the whole story out there, in detail, at www.amykoko.com . Her memoir and blog is about moving forward, getting through the anger and finding happiness and humor even in tough times.