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Disrupting Divorce: Conversations for Women

Jan 31, 2020

In this episode, we discuss helping women transition through a divorce and ways to support them through this using the 3C approach of communication, communing, and community.

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Rhonda Noordyk:            This is the Divorce Conversations for Women Podcast. I'm so glad that you're here. I'm your host, Rhonda Noordyk, Founder and CEO of the Women's Financial Wellness Center. I am passionate about educating and empowering women who are going through divorce. I want to help you go from chaos to clarity. The purpose of this podcast is to provide women with educational tips, tools and resources as it relates to the divorce process. Be sure to check out our website at

Rhonda Noordyk:            Alright, well, thank you so much for joining us for another episode of Divorce Conversations for Women. And I am really excited to be able to have a conversation today with my friend Sheryl Brown. She is the CEO of Females and Finance. And we met several years ago when I was in the industry as an advisor and have just stayed in touch, right? And so, I want to thank you for joining us today.

Sherly Brown:                  Absolutely. I'm excited to have this talk today.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Me too. Me too. So, as I was thinking about where to kind of take this conversation today, I think what would be most helpful, and I know that's something that you, up until recent maybe have kind of kept close to the vest, but a little bit about your story, because I know that when you shared it with me a couple of years ago, I remember being on the phone pretty surprised at how challenging your situation was. Yeah, let's start with that. Share with us a little bit about your story.

Sherly Brown:                  Yeah. So here I am, gosh, 30 years into working in financial services. And I remember always being a good wife. I was somebody who, of course, I made a very good living. I was entrusting my ex-husband to pay the bills and we had a lifestyle. And I remember, he had gotten really upset with me that I was traveling a lot, I needed to quit my job. And so I did. And it was a job I actually enjoyed quite a bit. But I quit my job to be home more. I also have grandchildren, and I just thought I needed to be more present.

Sherly Brown:                  And so, when the last paycheck hit, it was May 30 of 2017, so I'm not employed anymore. That means I'm 100% dependent on him. And I remember, I was at a Michaels Arts and Crafts store with my two grandsons, they were fighting over a doughnut and they're twins. It's funny how you remember things, the details. I remember it was a sour cream crunch doughnut that I had bought at the grocery store and there was one left and they were twins. I remember reaching down and breaking it in half and saying, "Here, you each have a half, we're good."

Sherly Brown:                  And the phone rang and my husband called to say, "I don't want to be married to you anymore." I remembered in that moment, Rhonda, I literally said, "You know, I'm with the children right now. I'm going to need to give you a call back, I need to get them home and I want to talk about ..." I'm trying to stay professional and together and not alarm my littles, because they're always looking at you. And any mother listening knows that all children, their feelings fester off of their moms. They will look at their moms and if mom stays calm, they stay calm.

Sherly Brown:                  And it's amazing how even in a moment of angst, there's a lot of times where we're able to reach a level of calm in order to keep children, grandchildren, everything happy and safe for them. And inside, I'm like, what? And so I did, I took them home, I told my son, I have to see you later. I didn't even say anything to my son at home. And I waited. And it was hours and hours. He wasn't there. And it was hours. And I thought, you call me and you say this and you don't come home.

Sherly Brown:                  Well, what had ended up happening was he, in hindsight, a couple days later, I don't know why it took me 48 hours to put the lightbulb on. I should check the bank accounts, like he's not here, what are we doing? Yeah, he had emptied every bank account. He had cash boarded every credit card. He had got on a plane and had left. So he wasn't leaving me, he left. I think that term is really interesting to Rhonda, I remember sharing this with you. I said, they make it always sound so kind. No, someone left me. No, it was so much harder than that. And when I went through realizing that I had no money, I had nothing, I had no job, I had no husband. And so, I went into a full panic and depression, a little bit of one I would say. And I think rightfully so, I think you're just sort of, oh my gosh, what happens now?

Sherly Brown:                  And my son will tell you that I was sitting at the house once I realized all the money had been gone and what he had done because every account you go to you, you have like this conversation in your head, you say, no, no, no, no, no, no, I'm wrong. Like you're still being that wife. You're still thinking no, no, no, no, no, this isn't happening to me. And then after I realized everything, I went down to the kitchen and I was sitting there. I immediately started acting like a crazy woman and I was unplugging the fridge, unplugging the TV, because I didn't know how I was going to pay the electric bill. I had no money, what was I going to do?

Sherly Brown:                  And so, I kind of went into hiding for about a week because I think the other part of it and you working in financial services will appreciate this, how do you tell colleagues? How do you tell three years, three decades of colleagues that this happened to me because I became that proverbial woman that people talk about. And it was me. And so, I didn't tell anybody for a very long time because I was so embarrassed to say, this happened to me. What was I going to do? And I have to also say, my father is pretty wealthy, he does well for himself. I could have very easily gone to my dad and said, I need you to bail me out. But I realized had I done that, my children would have expected me to do it for them and I don't know if I would have ever been in a position to do that. And I also thought it was really important for my children to see me pick myself up and move on, what was going to happen from here.

Sherly Brown:                  And you know what, you learn a lot of lessons from this, and people such as yourself, you were one of the people that I had found after it had happened and said, hey, that's me, I'm that girl now, I'm that lady. It was pretty awful.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah. Yeah. I think, unfortunately, with that, and I don't think that it's, it is what it is I guess. And that is, we as women I think feel that sense of, what could I have done differently. All of that, right? And you're like, what could you have done differently? He took it before you even knew he was going to be taking it. So there wasn't really, knowing what you know, there isn't a whole lot that you really could have done because he had access to the money. There's only so much that we can do when you have somebody who's going to do things that aren't right or take advantage of people or whatever. There's only so much that we can do, right?

Sherly Brown:                  That's exactly right. And there's a lot of shame. I dove into Brene Brown books to understand shame better because I couldn't believe how the conversation I was having with myself, I would never have with a client. I would never have with a colleague such as yourself. But yet, for me, it was okay to sit there and say, you're so dumb. Why would you do this? All these things I said and I have to tell you, it was people such as yourself who are experts in the space who were like, you got to stop. You can't do this to yourself.

Sherly Brown:                  And once I made the decision that I wasn't going to be a victim anymore, but I want to say this to anybody listening, it is 100% okay to grieve, to be angry, to eat a box of Oreos, whatever you got to do.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Totally.

Sherly Brown:                  But when your pity party is done, you need to have that friend, that confidant, that expert, that Rhonda that says, okay, now we're done with that, and now we pick up. Because if you don't, I feel like it would have robbed me of getting a lot of just the "ahh" out early on. I think it was really helpful to kind of go through that process. It definitely helps when I talk to people who've gone through divorce now. I understand.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah, absolutely. So how long did it take for the divorce to be final?

Sherly Brown:                  Yeah, so you make concessions there too. So generally what happens is you can have a consensual divorce where you're both saying, yes, we want to get divorced and you go in, you get this and you get that and you sign the papers and you go to a judge. That can be as quick as 90 days. If you decide to get an attorney and they get an attorney and they go and wrestle it out, I'm sure I could take forever.

Sherly Brown:                  So I made the decision, after speaking to my dad and speaking to a few other people that I was going to do a consensual, but meant for when he did contact me and I was able to sit down, I decided, okay, here's what we're going to do. I will take this amount of debt and you take that. We made a total arrangement of okay, this is, it was amicable. And he signed his part and I signed my part. And I have to tell you, ladies, sometimes they don't show up to divorce court. And in my instance, I got divorced by myself. And I have to tell you, I was so angry about that. Out of all the things that I was angry about, I wasn't angry that he took the money, I wasn't angry that I got left. I was angry that you couldn't show up at the end to just close the chapter.

Sherly Brown:                  And the judge that was there that day, she could see it in my face that I was so upset. And she says, "Don't you worry, you're getting divorced today." And I was like, "Thank you." Because I needed somebody to understand and she got it.

Sherly Brown:                  So you're not always going to get a great maybe a divorce person there. But I went with my best friend and I have to tell you that there are things that people don't talk about. And I looked them up and they don't really talk about the actual process of going into the courtroom. And that day when you do a consensual divorce, you're there with many other couples, some are sitting on opposite sides, some are actually sitting together. But when you're the only one and this may possibly happen to somebody listening, the hardest thing for me was, when you think about the actual act of it, it's quite easy. They call your name, you get up, you walk over to this lectern, you agree with them that you are who you are and your date of birth and all this stuff.

Sherly Brown:                  You have these people looking at you, and the whole time it is a very natural feeling to feel judged. I remember standing up there by myself, and you can't really in my situation, see my friends. I had to stand there by myself. And I think it was probably the biggest, my girlfriend, her best friend, my best friend's name is also Sheryl. She said to me, "It was the one time that I saw you stand up there by yourself. And you literally had to just be courageous. And you had to stand there." She's like, "I knew you were bristling, and I knew you were ..." And I'm a professional speaker, Rhonda, I have no problem getting in front of a group of people. But man, when it's for this and the reason and you're by yourself, I think I was most angry in that moment.

Rhonda Noordyk:            It's interesting. And you're right, nobody really does talk about those details. It's kind of like labor. Everybody kind of like, you know, you gear up to it and you're like, why didn't anybody told me about this part? But one thing that you said that I just want to make sure that we clarify is each state's different as far as how long you have to wait from the time that you file, so like in Wisconsin, so 120 days, Missouri, 90. So just make sure that you check in your state how many days that, what's the soonest that you could get divorced.

Rhonda Noordyk:            And like you said, there are always those unexpected things that are going to happen along the way. And I always say, okay, how can we plan proactively for the things we know are going to happen also knowing that there are going to be, there's going to be at least one, okay, at least one surprise where you're like, did that really just happen? And there probably will be more than one.

Sherly Brown:                  Oh yeah.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Women go into these situations really still, and I think this is a real strength of women, but in the divorce process, it can be a challenge, and that is I'm going to believe the best in the person. I'm going to believe that he's going to show up at the end. I'm going to believe that he would put the money back into the account. We bring that sense of belief in the goodness of people. And unfortunately, I think that, yes, it's a great skill and it's a great attribute and one of the reasons why I love working with women because we are pretty positive and really want to believe the best in people.

Rhonda Noordyk:            But in situations like yours, you also have to say, I want to believe the best in this person. However, I need to plan in case they don't show up at the end. I need to make sure I've got my friend on board. We still have to do the planning because I think we go in with blinders on not taking the opportunity to plan ahead if we just believe the best in people, and it really becomes now a gap and a sense of vulnerability.

Sherly Brown:                  And it's much like, you likened it to labor. And for those who don't have children, weight loss, let's pick another one that's pretty common. When you lose weight, you think you're going to look like the person in the magazine or the advertisement or even the television. And you don't. I can tell you that as somebody, I remember, I lost 117 pounds, and I remember thinking after not recently, this was about 10 years ago, I don't look like the person on TV. I was so disappointed in the end product because you know what, nobody wants to talk about that. Nobody wants to talk about that. They want to talk about, was I healthy? Absolutely. Was I more athletic? All the things were positive. But they don't talk about aesthetics.

Sherly Brown:                  And just like divorce, even in all the stuff that I didn't research on, no one talked to me about walking into that courtroom and what it was going to feel like and how alone and how you stand and you're feeling like people, you literally have a judge and you feel like you have people judging you. What I will tell you is this, that if you can get yourself to the point where you get there and you can stand there and try to stand there not in anger, I think that was the thing that probably was my salvation because I wasn't angry until after it was done, like what, he didn't show up. What I was I felt a sense of peace that I had made the right choice for me or for my family.

Sherly Brown:                  My children are all grown at this point. It's interesting because, during that moment, you are kind of feeling very vulnerable, like, all these people, they all know that I'm not good or I'm not ... And it's amazing, goes back to that talk that you have with yourself and how you speak so sharply and harshly to your own person, the person you spend the most time with the world. I would never have said the things to my friends, to you, to others that I said to myself. So really practice that part.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah, absolutely.

Sherly Brown:                  I will tell you too real quick, I want to say that, one of the things that when I got divorced, and you're welcome to ask me questions about it, won't offend me at all, but one of the things that I agreed to was therapy. I went to a therapist every Friday for 52 weeks. Rain, shine, no matter what, I went. And I'm on the road a lot. Probably a third of the year I'm on the road. So I was face timing from hotel rooms because that was probably the single most important part of my mental of getting better. I learned a lot about myself in that year, and it's the reason why I'm able to talk about it so openly today and not be so, I think I told you, I'm better, not bitter. And I was pretty bitter.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah. And rightfully so. Right. Right. So I've often said, everybody that's going through divorce needs to have a core team of people. A therapist, a financial expert, and an attorney. And you can dial in the level of support, right? And if you feel like you need to go once a week, then you go once a week. If you feel like you need to go once a month, you go once a month. But whatever that is, it's the sliding scale. And I think, you know what, making that commitment out of the gate I think is really, really valuable. You don't realize how much stuff you're going to have to work through until you start going through it.

Rhonda Noordyk:            For the people that are listening, the average divorces a year, that's 52 weeks, could be sooner, could be a little bit longer. But you're like, one year of our life is a small blip in the grand scheme of things. And if you were to commit to saying, hey, listen, I'm going to commit to whatever the amount is of therapy and support so that I can become a better person, so I can navigate through this, and ultimately, so I can leave the bitterness behind and move forward. I think that's fantastic. And clearly, it has shown up in your life the results of that because you're in a very different spot in a really relatively short period of time, right?

Sherly Brown:                  Yes. Oh, I credit it 100%, I tell people. And you know, I have to tell you too, part of what I learned about going through therapy was that I learned how to have a grown-up argument. That sounds a little crazy but I learned how to have grown up arguments. I learned how to speak to myself more kindly. I also learned how to actually like myself, which I think there's a lot of people who don't do that. And in your 52 weeks, maybe 112 weeks, it maybe five weeks, everybody's journey is different. But I committed to that. And I will tell you, it was not inexpensive in the sense that every session cost me $80 so I got 11, 12 out of my first, I got 12 covered by my insurance, and then everyone after that was $80. And some people might go, and that might be more expensive for some people and I get it.

Sherly Brown:                  Go less, go to a church, go someplace, ask around where you could go. Sometimes it might be, and I want to tell you this too, you can have the best friends on the planet, they are not the best therapist for you. You need somebody who's 100% objective because I was part of the problem too. I'm not going to sit here and say he was, I learned about things that I did that I was like, I didn't think of it like that, oh, gosh. It was worth it to me and now today I have better conversations with my children. I have better conversations with myself, with my family. I have learned boundaries. Oh, I had no boundaries before. I literally just before we were talking, printing out the 2020 holiday calendar for my, those are my boundaries. I'm not working on those days. It really will teach you a lot. But there's a lot of unknown things too that I found out going through this that shocked me.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah. Totally, totally. Well, I want to take just a really quick break. This has been so fun. And I want to then come back and I want to share with our listeners where you're at now. And you've kind of touched on this, but if there were three things, kind of bullet point list of things that you would share with women that may be contemplating divorce, maybe find themselves papers being served now, maybe they're the ones who are going to be serving, let's just come back to that in just a moment.

Rhonda Noordyk:            I just want to thank everybody for listening to the Divorce Conversations for Women Podcast. If you are considering, contemplating or in the midst of divorce, be sure to check out our website, In particular, we have an online course called Courageous Contemplation. So if you find yourself contemplating divorce and want to make sure that you are knowing all the questions to ask and preparing ahead of time, make sure that you check that out.

Rhonda Noordyk:            All right, so, let's dive back in here. So share with us where you're at now. It's a couple of years later and you have-

Sherly Brown:                  It is.

Rhonda Noordyk:            ... lots of things have happened.

Sherly Brown:                  So, part of what happened was I, my children sat me down a couple of years ago and they were like, "Mom, we think you're so amazing that we just can't keep you to ourselves, we want to share you with the world." I said to my son, I go, "Are you sick of inviting me to dinner?" He says, "We kind of are. So, you need to go date." He goes, "Even if all you do is just get out there and you get to talk to people in that way."

Sherly Brown:                  But my kids and I know I told you this, they like to do fun things. And so, they decided to gamify it a little bit, and they said, I'm too picky. So, each of the children put me on three different dating apps and got to pick three men for me to go on dates with. And I went on nine colossally awful dates. It was terrible, terrible, terrible. But, it was interesting because you do get to get out and talk to people, and I highly encourage you to, within reason go out with people who definitely because part of their concern was for me, finding the exact same person to go out with that was my spouse, my ex-spouse.

Sherly Brown:                  And so, I was deleting the apps and just to show you how incredibly random life truly is, I was deleting the apps, I got to the last one, there were these pictures of the gentleman across the top, and I thought, gosh, he's really an attractive man. And I clicked on it and I thought, it's going to tell him I did that. And sure enough, the next morning, there was a message from Darryl and it says, "I think you're too pretty to go out with me, but in case I'm wrong and you're normal," it was the and you're normal, what signified to me, you've been on colossally awful dates too. And so we did. And I tell everybody, he's my best online purchase. We got married December of 2019. He's great.

Sherly Brown:                  It's interesting because he too was in a very long marriage and I was, and both of us had reasons that fell apart. In the end, we both have a lot of respect for one another that I didn't have in my first relationship. And respect comes in forms of things like, the little things of noticing that bringing the mail and the stuff that just seemed really, he and I both had gone through things like the five love languages and really knowing who we are because I got to tell you, I'm almost 50 years old Rhonda, I'm really not changing. I'm just not going to change.

Sherly Brown:                  And so, what I found out that was really important to me were things like words of affirmation. Good job, Sheryl, I need to hear that. And physical touch, hold my hand, sit next to me at the movies or on the couch. That was one of the things I learned in therapy. If these are the things that are important to me, you have to have an absolute zero tolerance, no budging away from them. And so, we found out that our love languages matched. Not always do we get along. I tell everybody, do I love him every day? Yes. Do I get along with him every day? Absolutely not.

Sherly Brown:                  But yeah, you just have to, we both had gone through therapy, we both had gone through a lot of things. And my kids adore him. In fact, my son always says, "We kind of like him sometimes more than you." I'm like, "What? I made you. You wouldn't be here." I also, when I was sort of at the bottom of the barrel when I got divorced, I decided to start this company. I was working with a lot of women who worked in financial services. I felt like there just wasn't really good representation at events at speaking, subject matter experts in articles, podcasts, the whole nine.

Sherly Brown:                  And so, Female and Finance was birthed from a spot of I'm already at the bottom, we're going to work our way to the top. So it's 100% grassroots movement. 18 months afterward, we went from zero members to 2500 members, you're a member of. And it's a vetting process, actually vet every woman who comes through the program. Much like you do as well with the clients that you're working with and the people who come through, it makes a big difference. One of the things that I've learned in therapy was, going back to that I'm almost 50 and probably not going to change, I'm not an association, I'm a business. It's my party and I get to do what I want. So, people have said to me, they're like, you don't take everybody. No, I don't. I learned that. No, I don't.

Sherly Brown:                  So, you really can come and take a really bad thing that happens and given the right formula of self-care and asking for help, asking people to help you be strong when you can't, people loving you when you're not your most lovable self. I had to ask everybody, be patient with me. But then also putting yourself into things that make you feel good. Pick up the projects of the stuff that you had to put on hold for somebody else. I didn't have to do that anymore. And so, today, I'm not happy every day but I'm happy most days, and I'm happy most of that whole day.

Sherly Brown:                  I think that's the other thing too, is life is short. If you're in a situation where you're contemplating a divorce, there's a reason why you are. And the other thing too, talking about boundaries. Right after I got divorced, I announced it on Facebook because if you don't, people start, I asked very specifically to people, please do not mediate my divorce. I don't need you to go talk to him and talk to, I don't want that. You can be his friend, you could be my friend, but do not mediate our divorce.

Sherly Brown:                  And sure enough, you're going to get those ones who think they're the people, and I got this box in the mail and it was, this is the part that got me, it was a box in the mail with books about how I could be a better wife. And I remember being so angry. And I was talking to my friend Jenny, who lives in Chicago, my other friend, Anne, who's in Boston, and they said, "You take that box, and you package it and you send it right back." And actually, Anne was like, "Print that page that said, do not mediate my divorce from your Facebook and put that in the box." And I did. I did. I did.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Good for you.

Sherly Brown:                  It was. It was very scary. For anybody also listening who your tendency is to be a nurturer, and you want to take care of people and not rock the boat and let's not, you know who you are listening, you know, that was probably one the most empowering moments of my life because I packaged it up and I sent it back and said, thank you but no thank you. Can you imagine, but that happened.

Rhonda Noordyk:            No. And you know what, there's always those things. Everybody wants to try. And again, they're all coming from a position of wanting to help but it's like, listen, at this point, he has left.

Sherly Brown:                  There have been decisions made and there have been actions and there need to be consequences. I think that I think that when you're the person on the outside because I used to be that person, I was married and I would see people get divorced and go, ooh, you know. It is really, really interesting to be on the other side of it because now when people say, when you say, oh, I'm divorced, they're, oh, I'm sorry. I'm not. Don't feel bad for me. And my daughter, my youngest daughter has autism. And she's fairly high functioning. And she dislikes the fact that when she has to disclose she has autism, people go, ooh. I thought the best thing she ever said one time was, oh, you don't need to feel sorry for me, I have a 139 IQ, I'm fine. She wasn't trying to be smart. She was being very ... I think that's exactly what it is. It's like don't feel sorry for people but people don't know what to say. Right, Rhonda? They don't know what to say.

Rhonda Noordyk:            No, they don't. They don't.

Sherly Brown:                  They don't. So I forgive them for that, and I think anybody listening, you're just going to have to forgive them too because they do mean well. They don't like change because everything else worked a certain way and they knew how to work through that flow and that flex, and now they don't and they're feeling angst too, what do we say to so and so, what do we say to so and so. If you don't know, read some books, go online, check it out, lots of therapists have written on this. But for the person who's going through it and they are saying things that don't feel, there's a lot of grace that needs to come with that too. You just have to know that they don't know how to go through your divorce either just like you don't.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Well, and I remember, I believe it was Sharon Sandberg when she lost her husband. And she said the one thing that she really valued, and that she would advise people to say is, how are you today? How are you today? Knowing that it's going to change every day. And just asking a question versus trying to save the situation or provide unsolicited advice. And again, I tell my clients, I say, okay, everybody that has gone through divorce wants to share their experience. However, you've got to be willing and able to not listen to all the noise because what's going to happen is, you're going to have 30, 50, 100 different opinions and now you're going to be more confused on what direction to go. And each situation is different.

Sherly Brown:                  You could interject, even if it was a divorce, we could say, that's having a baby, that's breastfeeding a baby. That is whether you decide to homeschool or put your child in school. That is whether you decide to let your child drive a car at 16 or 17 or 18. It doesn't matter because everybody's going to want to. And so for me, mailing the box back meant I'm not accepting, I've asked you not to mediate and you did. You did not respect my boundary. It felt strangely empowering. It shouldn't feel that way but it did. I just felt so good. So everybody's going to have their box. And you're going to have the ones who judge you for like it's your fault that you did something.

Sherly Brown:                  And to that, I think part of what shook out from this was we definitely had the, his friends and my friends, our friends, our friends was the hardest part to navigate in the divorce because I'm living my life, I just recently had to say something to somebody, like, I'm living my life and I'm happy, please quit going back and telling my ex-husband from two-plus years ago what's going on in my life. And so I made a decision Friday night when my kids were here to anybody who was friends with my ex-husband, I literally had to delete them from Facebook. And they're people are like, I don't think there's anything there. But my personal life, I want to share it with people like you, Rhonda, who are my friend, and you're not going to pick up the phone and call my ex-husband.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Well, right. And it's part of your moving forward.

Sherly Brown:                  I had to make a choice.

Rhonda Noordyk:            And it's part of your moving forward too. Let's be real, he left. So at that point, it's time for you to be able to heal and move on. So I love the, I guess for the women that are listening, what's that box that you need to mail back? Whether it's a text message, an email, Facebook, or something physical that you get. It is okay for us to set those boundaries and enforce the boundaries, enforce the boundaries. Because I think, you know what, if you would have kept the box, you would have felt frustrated.

Sherly Brown:                  It would have signaled it was okay to not respect my boundary.

Rhonda Noordyk:            That's right. And even if you didn't keep the books, let's say you just donated them, there's still that aspect of like, it was okay, right?

Sherly Brown:                  Yeah.

Rhonda Noordyk:            So, I think that was a very bold and important action to just say, hey, I'm serious. This is not okay. So I love that.

Sherly Brown:                  And I wasn't angry. Anybody listening, you have to separate yourself from it and you have to, and that's what I did. I learned that because I went to therapy, and she warned me, people aren't going to know how to navigate this. You need to be prepared for that. I was so fortunate to have Kay in my life during that time and meeting with me every Friday, and as I moved into my new relationship with Darryl. She was helping me navigate things with him that I didn't even think about. It's not perfect. I still have things that come up from the past. When you're connected to somebody for a quarter of a century, you have some baggage, some habits. But he's also understanding that and helps me sort of go through the journey of that.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah. Well, and one of the things that we're going to be launching in the new year is an initiative called Simple Support. And it's actually going to be an initiative for friends, colleagues, people that know somebody who's going through a divorce, and what is it that you can do to support them. And every single week, we're going to give them a simple thing that they can do, say or do to support their friend. And I'm excited about that because to your point, women, men even, they don't know what to say. And so then they say things that are stupid. You're like, why did you just say that? Like, no, this is not helping the situation, right?

Rhonda Noordyk:            But I also think too, if the average divorce is a year, that's a long time for somebody to feel like okay, well, I've heard the story a few times, I don't really know what to say, I still don't know what to say. I mean, it's the fifth time I've heard this story because the friend needs to vent but I still don't know what to say to it. And so, if we can empower the people around the person that's going through divorce, I think it's going to be really helpful.

Rhonda Noordyk:            And to your point as well, I think, again, you've got to have the professionals in that inner circle to be your core team of people. And then yeah, your friends are also part of the journey but you need them to be in the role that it makes the most sense. They're not an attorney, they're not a financial expert related to divorce, they're not a therapist. So have those people and then have this great support network in addition to that that can listen and support you.

Sherly Brown:                  I love that. I wish I had had that because real quick, I know one of the things that, I had experts, financial experts who said to me, who were CFPs, who had been insurance and investments like yourself, etc., had said, right after I got, was looking at my assets, they said, sell your house. You don't need to be a single woman living in a four-bedroom house. FYI, those who do not know me, I am not a DIY-er. I don't have fun going to Home Depot. I don't go to Lowe's. I don't go to Menards.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Which is why on your social media you're like who staged this.

Sherly Brown:                  Yeah. I do have an entire thing, if you go to #whostagedthis, I totally laugh at people who set these signs up for sale and I'm like, yeah. I'm not crafty. I'm the person who calls and I hire someone to do stuff. And yet, do you know expert advice, how many, 10, 10 financial service people told me, sell your house. You need to sell your house. You're not going to be able to keep up the pool, you're not even mowing the lawn, sell your house. And you know what all my friends, don't sell your house, you need to hold on to that. And who did I listened to? I listened to my friends, and I held on to that house for two years longer than I should have. And I struggled, Rhonda. Mowing a lawn and taking care of, I failed chemistry in school, I should not, I repeat, I should not be taking care of a pool. I had a 30,000-gallon pool that had to put a cover on by myself. No, no.

Sherly Brown:                  And so, I love the fact that you have a simple support program like this because what you need to do is advise those individuals. They do need to know the right words, and the right words were to listen to your financial service professionals. They know what's best for you. My friends love my heart and they don't want to, like nobody says man, let's go help Sheryl move this weekend. Literally no one wants to help you move. Nobody wants to move. The one regret that I have is that I didn't listen earlier on. And we should.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah, absolutely. Well, and I think again because it is emotional. And we know that our friends are coming from the right place. We tend to listen to them sometimes. But you're right. And the house is always one of those big challenging pieces. But I have several clients right now that are in that spot. They've got large homes, and a pool, all this stuff. And it's like, okay, well, either you're going to have to do all this work yourself. When do you have time to do that? Or you're going to have to hire somebody to do those things for you. What do you want that to look like?

Rhonda Noordyk:            And so, I think for the people that can really take a look at the logical aspect while acknowledging the emotion, hey, it's never going to be easy to sell your house, to move, to start over, to do all those things, acknowledge the emotion but then also say, okay, logically what makes the most sense and move in that direction.

Sherly Brown:                  And I have since then since I did sell my house this year, it was interesting because I was a little somber, a little melancholy about the whole process. But do you know that the day that the money hit my bank and I paid all my bills off? Like I am 100% debt-free. That sounds a lot better than that house ever made me feel. I was like, I wish I had done this, you know. And I went back to every one of those people, a shout out to an Eric Brotman out there, shout out to Barb Provos, Judy Hoberman, they were all like, sell that house, sell that house, and I didn't and I should have because they were like, no matter what you do it, you can always get another one. I mean, you can always, and you can always buy. And then it is more yours.

Sherly Brown:                  And even the therapist was like, "I really highly recommend you sell that house." Kay was like, "What do you mean you're not selling the house yet?" I'm like, "My friends." As soon as she started to say "my friends said," she's like, "Oh, right there, stop." So I love that your organization and your firm is providing these kind of resources because they're just so valuable to the person going through it.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah, absolutely. So, I know you've shared a few things that I jotted down as far as tips. So self-care, super helpful. Don't be afraid to ask for help. But again, asking the professionals for help and then relying on your friends for additional support. Pick up projects, right? Invest time in things that bring you joy. Anything else in addition to those things that you want to make sure that the gals listening-

Sherly Brown:                  I would say that for yourself, so the three things that I want to make certain that we talked about today was one, therapy. Everybody deserves, do not feel ashamed for it. You don't have to tell anybody you're doing or you can tell everybody. It's you, it's your life, your business, your time. But it is valuable to just be able to say to someone who's not going to sit and eat pizza rolls and watch Harry Potter with you at night, this is how I feel so they can give you objective advice. And then from that objective advice, do not go to Facebook and say, well, my therapist, don't do it because she's doing that specifically for you. And so I think therapy is important.

Sherly Brown:                  Anger. The sooner that you can let go of anger, people say to me, they were looking back at pictures, you know how Facebook has that memory where you can go back and look, when you look at pictures of me today where I'm so much lighter, not in weight, that is for sure. But in your face, and you can see like, when you let go of anger, there's a weight to it. There's such a weight to it. If you can find it, and I'll tell you, it's hard, you got to practice it every day because something will set you off, a bill. That's my super favorite part of this whole divorce is random bills appear that you had no idea but you have to pay them and you want to be angry. And instead, I have to be like, you know what, I'm going to pay this and then I'm going to move on and then just go on.

Sherly Brown:                  When you do that, it's not Pollyanna-esque to do that. You are literally giving yourself permission to let go. And when you do that, your brain's free, your shoulders are free, your back is free, your waist is, you let it go. And I would say the other thing that from a practicality standpoint, the number one thing that I learned from this that I hope every person learns, separate your credit card debt. Do not commingle your debt because when I go back to what we first talked about, Rhonda, when we sat down and we divided up who was going to pay what, what I did not know, he did, I did not, was that when you have commingled debt such as credit cards, which seem to be the easiest, and you get divorced, it doesn't matter, TransUnion doesn't care about your divorce. Equifax doesn't really give two hoots about your divorce. They want the bills paid or they penalize you.

Sherly Brown:                  So all he did was, yeah, I'll take all this debt and he didn't make one payment. I paid all that debt too. So not only did I get the stuff that I said I would take, I got his. And that could make you very angry, very angry. Yeah, I try to remember. But I think what I took away from it is it's become like my five minutes soapbox with people now. It's like, don't you get credit cards together, don't you get credit cards together. Keep them separate.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah, that's huge, that's huge.

Sherly Brown:                  And I know you talk about this with the ladies who come through. I know you do, but I didn't know that 30 years in financial services, there I was signing away for cards and stuff because I had very, very, very good credit. And I sold the house, paid all that off, I'm done. And it does make you lighter and stuff, but don't commingle your debt.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah.

Sherly Brown:                  I don't even care if you're happily married, don't commingle your debt.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah, absolutely. I think those are, I mean, such valuable tips that you have. And I love the fact too that when you look at from a timeline perspective, all this stuff hit the fan two years ago, almost two and a half, three years ago.

Sherly Brown:                  Two and a half.

Rhonda Noordyk:            It does not have to be like decades where you are struggling, decades where you are frustrated, decades where you are bitter. It doesn't have to be that but you have to go through it. So either you go through it as fast as you can and get through it and do the grieving and deal with emotions or it's going to linger.

Sherly Brown:                  It will. And it will eat away at you. It is like a cancer, which I don't want to ever make it sound and take light of something that's very serious. But it is an emotional cancer that will just keep eating and eating and eating. And I think that for me, I just ripped that band-aid. Because otherwise you just peel a little bit and a little bit more and a little bit more and it's just not worth it.

Sherly Brown:                  But, for me, the end result was that I would much rather have walked away from, I had to give up the two new cars that we had, I sold my house. I did all of these things, there's a moment, and especially if you're a little bit more materialistic, i.e., me, it was humbling to say, okay, you know what, I can't have these things right now. And so that meant that two years ago, I gave up cable. It meant that I gave up fancy cell phones. I literally just upgraded my iPhone to something more current. I gave up a lot of those things.

Sherly Brown:                  But now today, oh my gosh, I can go on places and I think I don't need any of that. It's just stuff. I have really come to a whole other side. And the things I own, I like them and I kept them and I keep them nice, but I don't feel like I need to go do retail therapy if you will. And I think that's what I was doing in my marriage. I was like, I'll just buy this, it'll make me feel better.

Sherly Brown:                  Just try to keep yourself, get through it fast, know that your friends love you, they're not your best therapist though. And then just try to not let anger become you.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Yeah, absolutely. You know, I'm so glad that we had an opportunity to chat today, and that you could share a little bit about your experience because I do remember.

Sherly Brown:                  I've never talked to anybody. You are the only person I've told all this stuff to.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Oh my gosh. I remember when you and I chatted, and I was like, no way, oh my gosh. So, I'm so glad that not only you are willing to share because I know that there's a lot of women that are listening that will be benefiting from your story and your encouragement and your tips, but also that you're in a different spot. And so, I just really value you taking the time to share with us today. And certainly, we will include your name and contact information in the show notes if anybody wants to reach out to you. I just want to thank everybody for listening today. Certainly, if you want to connect with Women's Financial Wellness Center, be sure to go to And Sheryl, I hope you have a great day and thank you again so much for joining us.

Sherly Brown:                  Thank you.

Rhonda Noordyk:            Thank you so much for listening to the Divorce Conversations for Women Podcast. I have enjoyed being your host. I trust that you have taken at least one thing that you can apply to your life today. If you'd like more information about this episode, please feel free to check out the show notes. And if you'd like to connect with the Women's Financial Wellness Center directly, please visit



Contact Information and Other Resources

Our guest today was Sheryl Brown

Sheryl has been working in financial services for more than 30 years. Today, with more than 2,300 members, she runs one of the larger networking communities for other women who work in financial services, called Females and Finance. And in 2020, she will be opening a financial services partnering firmed called Unified Financial Network where she plans to work alongside other financial service professionals in not only providing access to insurance products for fee-based and fee-only advisors, but also helping commission-based professionals get connected to new and different products to strengthen their overall offering. 

Sheryl Brown

CEO | Females and Finance | (636) 233-4200

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Our host of Divorce Conversations for Women Podcast is Rhonda Noordyk, CFEI

Rhonda Noordyk's relentless pursuit of financial justice for women going through divorce drove her to leave the financial industry in 2014 to open The Women's Financial Wellness Center. She was in search of a better way. She used her knowledge, passion, and experience to build a leading-edge business model. The intention was to create a business that provided a safe place for women - especially those in a vulnerable position - to find their paths, find their voices and find the financial confidence they need to lift themselves out of seemingly hopeless situations. Since starting the Women’s Financial Wellness Center, after a 10+ year career in the financial industry, she has helped alleviate financial vulnerability for thousands of women.

​In addition to being the Founder & CEO of The Women’s Financial Wellness Center, Rhonda is also a professional speaker. While her platform is women’s money wellness, it is not just about money. Her topics include: assertive communication, boundaries, leadership and overcoming financial myths. Her speaking experience includes: GE Healthcare, UWM Women’s Leadership Conference and Marquette Law School. In addition, she has appeared on Fox6 News, Real Milwaukee, and Morning Blend. Her dynamic and inspirational style leaves women with a sense of empowerment.


Rhonda Noordyk, CFEI 

CEO | The Women's Financial Wellness Center | (262) 522-1502

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Visit the Women’s Financial Wellness Center for a full directory listing of experts. Be sure to reach out if you would like to connect personally with the Women’s Financial Wellness Center. You can visit our website or grab a complimentary 30-minute consult.

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