From Ex to Sex - Seven Questions on Surviving Divorce

Sharing Their Own Experiences, "Still Hot" Authors Give Irreverent Advice

Sue Mittenthal and Linda Reing. Courtesy Sue Mittenthal and Linda Reing

What would you do if you suspected that your husband was cheating on you? Some women would get even by having an affair. Others would opt for divorce.

Sue Mittenthal and Linda Reing did a little of both. They each ended their respective marriages, then collaborated on a snarky, irreverent narrative detailing what every woman needs to know to get through a divorce.

The result, Still Hot: The Uncensored Guide to Divorce, Dating, Sex, Spite, and Happily Ever After, reveals that you can survive the split with your sense of humor and your self-esteem still intact.

In an email interview, the authors answered seven questions about infidelity, divorce, and dating again with a mixture of good advice, edgy wit, and tales from the sisterhood of newly single women.

A lot of women go through their marriages with blinders on. Like the military, they practice a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. So how bad - or how obvious - does a husband's infidelity have to get before they rip off the blinders and scream, "Enough is enough!"

When you've trusted your husband for 20-odd years, it may take being hit over the head with a sledge hammer to jolt you into reality. In an extreme case of complacency, our friend heard her husband's Blackberry buzzing by the bedside at 3 a.m. Reluctant to wake him up, she checked it and read, "I love you baby." Her reaction was to worry that some lunatic was stalking him, rather than suspect the truth -- that the lunatic was his girlfriend!

Technology is the big giveaway these days: his suspicious new screen name, a telltale email, or you find him crunched in the closet, whispering on his cell phone while pretending to select a tie. Once you're on your toes, you'll notice charges to 1-800-FLOWERS on his debit card statement, or large cash withdrawals from the bank account, or that he's on a crash diet and suddenly uses hair volumizer and Crest whitening strips.

So many of the mid-life 'self-improvements' a man undertakes when he's trying to find himself seem laughable. What equally dumb things do women do when they're in the same circumstances?

Women may overdo the Botox, and they often start dressing like their teenage daughters. Our newly separated friend got decked out one evening in an Abercrombie mini-skirt, tank top, footless tights, and platform flip-flops. Her teenage son sized her up and wisecracked, "Is there a dance at the middle school tonight?" Bottom line: You've gone waaaay far if your 18-year-old daughter yanks on the belly chain you bought at Claire's and says you look like a skank.

Two years ago, when an old friend from college was contemplating divorce, she gathered evidence and shared it with a couple of select friends for moral support. In a sense, we were her benchmark for normalcy; she showed us what her husband was up to, and asked us, "Is this weird or acceptable behavior? Am I making a fuss over nothing?" (Trust me, the stuff was pretty creepy.) Do women contemplating divorce typically do this - enlist friends for guidance and support?

Once you find incriminating evidence, you need support, reality-testing, and legal advice.

Most women turn to their sister, a few trusted girlfriends, or a chat room. But it's important to choose the right confidante, and we underscore this in our chapters, "Give this girl an A," and "Give this girl an F." For instance, the A girlfriend will never leak your secret suspicions. But if you tell the F girlfriend, she's likely to block your cart at the Stop and Shop and bellow, "How humiliating! My heart bleeds for you!"

What are the five most common things women rediscover about themselves when they begin to fly solo again after so many years as half of a pair (albeit half of a dysfunctional pair)?

  • You can refill the propane tank on your gas grill without blowing up your house and car.
  • You look hotter in a pair of Diesel stretch jeans than in your ex-husband's Zeta Psi sweats, size XXL.
  • Once you have sex with a guy -- if it's good -- your perspective will fly out the window. He could be Hannibal Lecter, and you'd dreamily tell your friends, "He's a keeper."
  • You can enjoy your own company. On a Saturday night, you're content to pour yourself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, order in Mu Shu Chicken, and read any book that's not titled What Men Want.
  • Sex can actually be fun.

If you were to chart the trajectory of a woman's sense of self-esteem before, during and after divorce, what would it look like?

It would look like a check mark. During your marriage, your self-esteem is high, but it's very much tied up with being a wife and mother. Without even realizing it, you define yourself as one-half of a couple. When the marriage crashes, your self-esteem plummets: you feel like a loser who couldn't hold on to her man. Every woman you see is wearing a wedding band. She may weigh 350 pounds; she may shuffle behind a walker; she may even have a mustache. Regardless, she has a husband, and you don't.

After you've recovered from the divorce and rebuilt your life, your self-esteem soars, and this time it's based on something you can always count on: yourself.

You can take care of yourself. You can be happy with or without a man. You can survive anything. And most important, you're still hot!

What's your best advice for women who are beginning to date again after a 15-20 year hiatus? What are some 'must-dos' and some 'avoid-at-all-costs'?

DO take the time to get to know yourself as a single person -- and build a life that's filled with friends, family, and satisfying interests -- before diving head-first into your next relationship.

Otherwise, you'll turn off Mr. Right with your neediness, and you'll fall prey to Mr. Wrong because you're desperate.

On a lighter note, here are a few essential First Date DON'Ts for the new divorcee from our book, Still Hot: The Uncensored Guide to Divorce, Dating, Sex, Spite, and Happily Ever After.

DON'T boast to your date about your legal strategy to snag 80 percent of the marital assets.

DON'T badger him with questions like, "So why did your marriage end? You were shtupping the babysitter, right? Right?"

DON'T warn him that if you start weeping over the guacamole, it's only because you forgot to refill your Zoloft prescription.

DON'T mention that you're looking for a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship. Or for a friend.

DON'T complain about how your ex used to stink up the bathroom.

DON'T get totally bombed. Or barf on his shoe.

I'm contemplating a business venture - T-shirts/nightshirts for divorced women with slogans like, "I'm Not With Stupid Anymore." Are you willing to invest?

We'd prefer to invest in shirts that say "Still Hot" or "You Wish." These slogans take the woman's focus to where it belongs: off the ex-husband and onto herself.