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Dating After The Divorce

The Early Show: Jeannette Trachtenberg
CBS/The Early Show
Jeannette Trachtenberg is filing for divorce from her husband of 30 years after recently finding out, she says, that he was having an affair with the marriage counselor they had consulted to work out their problems.

Will she ever be able to trust again?

Sheila Ellison, the author of "The Courage to Love Again," says if she can rid herself of the emotional baggage of the past , Trachtenberg can have a full new life and fall in love again. As The Early Show wraps up its weeklong series on divorce, called "Kiss And Break Up," Ellison has some advice for those like Trachtenberg who want to find love again.

Trachtenberg and her husband sought counseling after she suspected her husband of having an affair with his business partner's wife .

"I simply confronted him," says Trachtenberg. "I said, 'Are you or are you not having an affair with Margot?' And like most men, they're not gonna, you know,' fess up."

But Trachtenberg and her husband were not ready to divorce.

"We had two small children, two- and three-year-old. And we patched things up and moved on," says Trachtenberg. But the female therapist they chose kept bonding with her husband.

"She only brought us in for three sessions as a couple, but she counseled him continuously two to three times a week."

After more tell-tale signs of an affair, Trachtenberg confronted her husband, who denied it. He dared her to catch him; she hired a private investigator.

"The very first time that I did surveillance on Jeannette's husband, Jeannette's husband and the therapist were alone in his office," said Bill Mitchell, the private investigator.

Mitchell caught Trachtenberg's husband with the window blinds open.

"I was devastated, I cried, I blamed myself," recalls Trachtenberg. "If I could only turn back the hands of time, what could I do? And then, on the other side, I was angry."

"To find out that her marriage was taken apart and unraveled by a therapist, who she was paying to help fix it, now she deals with two issues of trust factor being taken away — swept away," says Mitchell.

Now, Trachtenberg wonders whether she can ever allow herself to be swept away by another man.

"I had one fella' that was the love of my life," says Trachtenberg. "I was 17-years-old … some 35 years later, through the Internet and today's wonderful computers, I just recently started to email him. And he emailed me back. And maybe one day we'll get together. I'll say, 'Yes,' I will fall in love someday, but it'll be different and with a lot of life lessons behind me."

Ellison says divorce can be a wonderful opportunity for a new beginning. The process of divorce helps one to learn to stand up for himself or herself. Most people give way too much, and they don't demand enough, says Ellison.

While it's healthy to take matters into your own hands and get at the truth, Ellison cautions against revenge because it is destructive and doesn't produce growth.

To trust again after a painful divorce, Ellison suggests following the steps:

  • Visualize the life you want
  • Identify your limitations
  • Identify your assets and abilities

Following these instructions will help a divorcee set a new direction in life.

If you have children from a failed marriage and you do meet a new person or partner, introducing that person to your children may feel awkward. To make the situation less awkward, Ellison suggests you casually plan some fun event for the group.

Don't tell your kids you really like this person, because they may resent that person.
Ellison says you should not give your kids too much power by making them feel they have a say in your relationship. The relationship is for you.

Ellison also suggests that you do not have the person take any parental responsibility, especially at the beginning. She says the whole idea is to have your life in order. Don't expect a person your are dating to save you and discipline your children.

Ellison also suggests that divorced people, especially single moms, attend support groups. She says there aren't enough hours for one-on-one therapy to get what you really need and not everyone can afford the sections. However, friends, family and people who can relate to your situation may give you the support you need.