Real Divorce Stories – Katya Willems

Katya Willems: our guest on Smart Divorce PodcastIn this episode, Tamsin welcomes Katya Willems to discuss the way in which she has changed her working life since divorcing 5 years ago. She also talks about the part that taking expert advice has helped her to come through divorce with a positive mindset.

Director of Financial Planning and Chartered Financial Planner Tamsin Caine has a strong background of over 15 years within the financial services profession. She began Smart Divorce following her own experience with divorce; she now advises people in the same situation as she once was, enabling them to take back control of their life and finances. If you need any help with sorting your finances out during your divorce, please drop Tamsin an email to

Katya Willems is an Instagram trainer and coach. Katya believes that behind every business is a fascinating story. She loves digging in and helping her clients to understand why their story is interesting and how to translate that into Instagram content. Katya can be contacted at @easyinstamcr on Instagram and Twitter, by email or is her website


(The transcript has been created by an AI, apologies for any mistakes)

Tamsin Caine 0:06
Hello and welcome to the smart divorce podcast. This podcast is for you if you’re thinking of separating already separated or going through divorce. My name is Tamsin Caine and I’m a Chartered Financial Planner will speak to some fantastic specialists who can help you to get through your divorce hopefully amicably and start your new chapter positively. Now over to today’s guest. In this episode of the smart divorce podcast, I talked to cattier Williams. She talks to me about redesigning her life and starting her new chapter all over after divorce. She also talks about the massive benefits of using therapy to deal with some of the emotional issues of divorce. I hope you enjoy. Hello, and welcome to the smart divorce podcast. I’m delighted to be joined this afternoon by catchy Williams. Hi Katya. How are you?

Unknown Speaker 1:07
I’m very good. Thank you. Tamsin.

Tamsin Caine 1:09
I wonder if we could start off by you telling us a little bit about yourself and your current situation? Um,

Katya Willems 1:17
my name is well, you know, my name is Katya. We’ve already said that. And I live with my boyfriend in Hazel Grove, near Stockport, and we’ve lived together for about five years not got any kids. I’m 44. And I run my own business. I’m an Instagram trainer.

Tamsin Caine 1:37
Well, of course, we know each other quite well. So there’s danger that I know too much. But I’m sure we’ll get on some more as we talk. And how long ago did you get divorced?

Katya Willems 1:48
And I was working this out. I split up from my ex in 2014. And the divorce came through in early 2015.

Tamsin Caine 2:00
Okay, so. So five and a half years, I guess since since Yeah, calls came through? That’s ansem. That sounds relatively quick, actually. And how did at what process did you use to to do go through the divorce? Online divorce

Unknown Speaker 2:17
was very cheap.

Unknown Speaker 2:20
Was it easy?

Katya Willems 2:22
You know what it was really. What was really difficult was I bought my ex out of the house that we bought together. Because what happened was when we bought the house, he bought it in his name, because at the time I had absolutely terrible credit rating. I don’t now I’ve got a good credit rating, but I’ve been in a lot of debt. So I had this terrible credit rating. He bought the house in his name, but it was all my money as well. So getting his name off the house and my name onto it was so awful. And so drawn out and difficult. It was really horrible and stressful. That was the worst bit of the divorce probably in terms of practicalities.

Tamsin Caine 3:11
Wow. Was it awful, because if the lawyers that were involved, or because of the process or because there was the mortgage or something that was causing problems,

Katya Willems 3:25
it was because Halifax were awful. Absolutely. So awful. It was untrue. They bungled so many things. And it was a bit tricky anyway, because I think it’s quite a drawn out process, getting one names person’s name completely off their mortgage and putting a new person staying on. So that was always, I think, going to take a year, because each stage of it took six months, first of all, get my name on it, so that it’s a joint mortgage, and then another six months to take his name off. It does seem a bit silly that it took that long, but it wasn’t just that it took that long. That was just one element of it. And we accepted that but it was just that they just kept bundling things up. And which was really stressful. And it meant that you know, even in 2016 and two years after we’d split up, we were still in contact with Halifax trying to get them to finish this, you know, mortgage thing off and begin and I was still in contact with each other and it was a bit it was getting really nasty because he was frustrated because he was trying to buy a new house and he was getting aggravated with me because I was the only person that could hassle Halifax. My name was on it is wasn’t anymore. Yeah. It’s a very sort of unpleasant situation for the two of us to be in when we both moved on.

Tamsin Caine 5:01
Yeah, that sounds pretty horrific. It shouldn’t take that long to add somebody to a mortgage or remove them. It’s not a six month process at all. So yeah, just the very fact that you, you’ve mentioned that that was the timescales involved is a testament to, to what is to the situation that you went through? That’s pretty horrendous. And so let’s go back to stage two from the point that you agreed to separate with your ex. Can you tell us your story? So it’s not? You don’t need to cover the warts nor before that, but But what happened? After you decided separate?

Katya Willems 5:46
Yeah, we decided to separate and I think we were both kind of in shock, because you’re having to constantly rebuilding your life. And there’s so many practicalities with that. So a time. And bn, lived in London, and I lived in Manchester. And so but he’d come up at the weekends. And he was not ready to just straight move to London, because he was lodging in London. And for him. This was the house that I live in. Now. It was his home. And I think he found the idea of just suddenly moving to London into his lodgings just far too difficult. So he said, Look, I’m going to carry on coming up for like, another six months or so, you know, every few few weeks, a long weekends, because that is my routine. And I’m not ready to kind of mess, mess everything up yet. While he was finding his feet, and I think part of that was also we both still needed each other a bit.

Tamsin Caine 6:55
Because it carried on after you separated. Yeah, because although

Katya Willems 7:01
we were splitting up, been together for like, nearly seven years. And it wasn’t a horrendous breakup. It was just a kind of this isn’t working. So we were a bit we were you know, we we were quite a team and how we dealt with the divorce. And I think we’d always functioned very well on a logistical level. You know, when we have something sorted out, you know, house to buy or when we moved from London to Manchester. We were a good team in terms of how are we going to do this? What’s the best deal we can get the practicalities? So we kind of almost applied that to the the divorce, like what’s the cheapest way we can do this? What’s the most practical way that we can do this? I’m not saying that we didn’t argue and and that there were really very bad moments within that. But I think we were so used to functioning well as a team that just kind of carried on with the logistics of divorce.

Tamsin Caine 8:02
Yeah, I think even in the most amicable of divorces that where both parties come out the other end and and are able to remain friends or work together or whatever. There’s still a roller coaster that you go through. And and you’re never gonna have a situation or I’ve not come across it where you don’t argue at all about anything, because I think that would be highly unusual in this situation.

Unknown Speaker 8:30
Yeah, definitely.

Tamsin Caine 8:33
I think if you could manage that you probably probably getting divorces perhaps shouldn’t be the way forward Really? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And so, so you did it all. So he moved to London eventually.

Katya Willems 8:52
Yeah, he just went permanent in permanently installed lodgings. He he was already in he went from being a four or five day a week tenant to a full time tenant.

Tamsin Caine 9:03
Yeah. Okay. And in terms of, of what you needed sought out it was literally just the house there was no there was nothing else that was kind of in the marriage that needed to be discussed and, and sorted practically.

Katya Willems 9:21
Well, but I can remember. I mean, it’s quite a long time ago now. So I can’t remember the details. I mean, the only other thing was all the furniture and you know, crockery, TVs, things like that in the house kind of dividing all of that. took a bit of effort.

Tamsin Caine 9:42
Yes, it’s that’s tricky. It’s always who gets the boys and CD isn’t it?

Unknown Speaker 9:47

Tamsin Caine 9:52
So, how do you feel about everything now if you if you look back at the question Now how does how does it feel to you?

Katya Willems 10:03
I think we did remarkably well. And I really do, because my ex could be quite could be quite a difficult person at times. He was a little bit moody. And and considering he had that moody temperament. I’m amazed at how practical he was about the whole situation. And, you know, quite generous, really.

Tamsin Caine 10:32
That’s, I think, do you think it’s more easy if you’ve got both parties wanting to come out of it with their heads held high and, and not go into battle with one another. So the fact that you’ve said he’s generous, makes it must have made that easier? I think

Katya Willems 10:54
we kind of split up just because the move from London to Manchester, really sealed the deal in terms of this relationship really isn’t working. So I think it was quite easy to just be like, yeah, this hasn’t worked, because the move to Manchester worked for me, and it didn’t work for him. Yeah. So I think in terms of our self esteem, it was quite easy to be like, yeah, that’s the problem, that there was a lot more to it than that. But I think now it’s like, probably a great way of explaining it to people as well. The move hasn’t worked. Yeah. Yeah, I think there was a lot of reasons for us to be motivated to keep it really tidy. And also, I think we were both very, we were very aware that if we were sensible, and straightforward, we’d both come out of it with more money.

Tamsin Caine 12:03
I said, it’s something that comes up quite a lot, because there is the temptation to and I hear it quite a lot. I’m willing to take the other party for everything that they’ve got, because of XYZ, that and it’s like, well, it’s not everything they’ve got is everything you as a partnership have got. And if you go down that route, the costs of doing that are coming from one single part that is your Meritor worth. And there’s not, there’s not a legal ferry that comes and pays all your fees for you. If you decide you want to go and battle. So now, I think that’s a sensible plan. So since you split up, and I know this is something that we were talking about the other day, when we were walking in the hills as we do, and that things have changed quite dramatically for you since since your divorce, and it seems to have been a bit of a catalyst for you. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

Katya Willems 13:13
Yeah, I mean, I think that some of the changes were already happening, which is what really led up to the divorce Anyway, my move to Manchester really boosted my confidence. And, and I think, because I was being more confident of work, moving up here, and making such a success of a difficult move, just gave me a massive self esteem boost. So I was getting more and more confident, I was no longer the person that my ex married, basically. And then because we were divorced, I was able to go on and just build the life that I really wanted, and be a lot more daring and experimental than I would have been able to be to be if I’d stayed in the marriage. Because I think he was a more kind of conservative person than me, maybe. And I’ve got quite an adventurous spirit that I’ve probably been suppressing a little bit. And, yeah, so and i think i was about to turn 40 when we split up, I think was about 38 actually, and I think leading up to being 40. I think getting divorced, helped me to just go right, I’m about to turn 40 This is the ideal opportunity to carve out the life I want because if I don’t do it now, when am I going to do it? And it made me very determined to take some risks and try and build the life that I really wanted.

Tamsin Caine 14:52
Yeah, absolutely. Do you think that the divorce allowed you to be more selfish?

Katya Willems 15:01
Yes. And yeah, because in the marriage, I was. I wasn’t a pushover, but I was always trying to make everything good in the relationship, you know, trying to smooth things over, do the right thing, keep getting happy, and do what he wants to do. And I was like, What about divorce? I was like, right? It’s all about me now. You know, and even in my choice of boyfriend, I was very clear in my head that I wanted to be with someone who enhanced my life, or there was no point. And I was like, Well, I’d rather be single, unless this new person brings more to my life, because I was just very wary after my marriage. Yeah, being a bit puts upon really, in a relationship, I didn’t want that to happen again. And it was very fortunate find a very good therapist as well, which I think made a huge difference, because I was able to really talk things through with the therapist and what I was looking for in a new boyfriend, because it just didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

Tamsin Caine 16:21
Absolutely, it amazes me the number of people who I’ve spoken to during the course of recording these podcasts that if been to therapy, and yet, there is still this bizarre stigma about in the UK, certainly, about talking about having had any sort of counselling or psychotherapy or therapy or it, it seems to be something that we don’t discuss, but like money. And yet, and yet, so many people are doing it and finding it finding it helpful. And how did you go about finding somebody to talk to pay to, to find in the right therapist,

Katya Willems 17:07
I’ve got a friend who is a counsellor. And she sent me a kind of link to where, where I would find some someone in Manchester like her list of the kind of accredited therapists. And because she was a counsellor, and she knew me really well, she said to me, I think you need psychotherapy to go a bit deeper, because I’d have counselling before, but she didn’t think that I was addressing everything that was going on with me. So I went full psychotherapy, although I don’t think there’s a massive difference between counsellor and therapy. And yeah, and I, I got this list, ran a number on it, and talked to the lady. And because I’ve had counselling on a number of occasions before I, I did kind of interview her a bit, because I knew that unless she was right for me, there’d be no point in booking her. So we had a, this was actually before I split up with you. And I knew that the marriage wasn’t working. So I looked at this therapist went along for kind of trial session. And within that trial session, it became abundantly clear within about five minutes, that I had some help to end my marriage. Just hit me like a brick.

Unknown Speaker 18:32
That’s really interesting.

Unknown Speaker 18:35

Unknown Speaker 18:35
can you

Tamsin Caine 18:37
put your finger on? On what? What the clap sort of moment of clarity was with a question, or was it just an overall feeling that actually this is not right anymore?

Katya Willems 18:51
I think being in a safe space with somebody who was completely unconnected to my life, just asking me simple questions about, you know, is your marriage working? You know, it was just the ideal space for me to look at it objectively and face up to it. Because I think I’d been too scared to face up to it before because I sort of knew somewhere in the back of my head I knew and knew we had split up. Like all the signs have been pointing towards it for probably six months to a year. And but I had never articulated it. I think I was sort of building up to it and nudging myself forward, but I’ve never really faced up to it. And that just gave me the chance to articulate it and admit to myself that it needed to end and I was terrified to admit that because I knew that it would be a I knew It would be a nightmare. Well, I thought it had been a nightmare. And I was frightened. But I was also frightened. Forget, like I didn’t, I was worried that he wouldn’t be okay. And I almost felt too guilty to admit that it needed to end because I was concerned to him.

Tamsin Caine 20:20
Yeah, no, absolutely is those that feeling of fear and fear, feeling of guilt? are definitely things that come up when people are considering separation and and even after they’ve decided to as well. Kind of how are we going to manage to, to carry on in these two separate two separate lives? How have we got there? And it’s often have we got the money to do it? How are we so out the kids and maybe that’s not so much of a consideration in your case, but still the same, the same types of emotions there. And in terms of your kind of social circle ditch, the two of you have kind of joined friends and so on, that we’re going to need separating as it were.

Katya Willems 21:16
You know what, that wasn’t too difficult because I moved. Well, we I moved to Manchester in 2011. And we split up in 2014. So we’ve kind of had mutual friends in London. But they were mutual friends more because he’d become friends with my friends, and I’d become friends with his friends. But the move kind of sorted that out in a way, because his original friends that had been his friends before our marriage, work his friends, you know, after the divorce, and my friends that been my friends before the marriage stayed my friends, because because we were in different cities. I think it made it just easier.

Tamsin Caine 22:05
Yeah, it does sound like did you have any challenges when you told your friends?

Katya Willems 22:11
Not really? I think my I mean, this is family. I think my dad was a bit grumpy about his standard response to most things. Now, I think people are pretty good, actually. I think I remember I was initially really frightened about getting divorced, because I just thought it was mortifying, you know, that sense of failure, that you haven’t been married very long. And you invited people to this huge celebration of your marriage? And you said vows in front of people? Yeah, I initially felt mortified about that. But that was the great thing about having therapy was we talked that through and that all of a sudden, I wasn’t embarrassed about it. And so because I had the opportunity to look at it objectively, as a therapist, my family were pretty, you know, my broader family apart from my grumpy dad. Were pretty supportive about Ashley.

Tamsin Caine 23:20
Yeah, I think it I think the embarrassment thing is really interesting, because I think a lot of people fail. And we talked about this the other week, that, that there is this huge sense of failure, you know, of not being able to do something which on the surface, seems relatively straightforward. And, and you, like you say, you make these vows and you promise and at the time that you make the vows, and at the time you make those promises, you have every intention of going through with it. And you of course, say, I’m going to be with this person for the rest of my life, and you absolutely mean it. And then sometimes things get in the way, and things go in a different direction than you anticipate. And yet, we feel this enormous embarrassment and sense of failure. I wish, yeah, certainly just take a long time or therapy to come out the other side.

Katya Willems 24:19
Because as human beings, we change so much. Like, you may not be the same person you were five years ago, because of life experiences and just how we evolve such a huge expectation you’re putting on yourself to be able to stay with one person for a lifetime, when you’re both going to change a lot within that time.

Tamsin Caine 24:44
Yeah, absolutely. I always kind of think of it. If I look back, I was going to say fell up back of my life. It makes me sound about 100 which I’m not quite yet. But if I look back, it’s it’s or is almost as if that For chapters that, that open and close and and kind of move you on to the, to the next stage in it, it’s something that I often talk to clients about is, you know, this is an opportunity to design your next chapter, and very much in the way that you did, and, you know, you’ve got an idea that, that you want to move things in a different direction, do some different things and take, take some more risks and, and the divorce almost freed you up to do that, if that stop hard to say that.

Katya Willems 25:37
No, no, not harsh at all, just completely true. thing, the thing that comforted me about therapy when I was going along, and I was like, oh, what about him? She was like, well, maybe you’re holding him back by staying with him. You know, if he may, if you set him free by splitting up with him, he has the opportunity to find somebody who is going to make him a lot happier than you do. Yeah. And I was like, Oh, my god, she’s right. Because I wasn’t making him happy.

Tamsin Caine 26:20
Yeah, I think that was really important. Did Tim, did you discuss the changes that you planned on making in your life with your therapist? Was that was it it’s kind of a planned kind of release into this more risky world? Or? Or was that that kind of a separate thing.

Katya Willems 26:44
I probably discussed it a bit. And about a year after I split up with maybe about 10 months after a slow burn, I started getting some coaching from a life coach. And that really helped me with being more decisive about what direction I want to take my life in. And the therapist definitely fit into that as well. And it was, that was a good space for therapy for talking about my plans. But I think the coaching really helped me to carve out a new life.

Tamsin Caine 27:24
That’s brilliant. I do think that because we often talk about the new chapter and about designing your new life and so on. But I do think there has to be almost a pause for breath, to kind of work out who you are. And, and to figure the things that are important to sort at that minute and get your head sorted around the divorce. And then you can go right and now I’m ready to start my new, slightly more selfish world.

Katya Willems 28:01
Yeah, definitely. God, like get all the support, you can in all those areas, if you can have good people, because you don’t want people who’ve got, you know, vested interests. That’s why it’s like good to pay people. I sometimes I’m a little bit embarrassed about how much therapy counselling coaching I’ve had, because I’ve had a lot. But then I just think call it’s work though. It’s brilliant, and so good to get people involved who are outside of your circle, because they will be way more objective.

Tamsin Caine 28:46
Yeah, I think that’s it, that’s their area where friends can can cause more problems if you try and use them as, as therapists or counsellors, and they think, oh, you should have worked a bit harder your marriage or start making judgments about you, which is more easily done. If you close to her? I think so i think i think you’re absolutely right. I think paying somebody to take you through that who’s completely disconnected and not emotionally involved in your life is much more sensible. And so one last question, what one piece of advice would you give a friend who was in the early stages of separation?

Katya Willems 29:36
So I wrote this answer down. Wow. I wrote it will feel difficult, lonely, and impossible. But you’ll get there. Your life becomes infinitely better when you leave a relationship that isn’t working for you and it opens up a world of possibilities.

Tamsin Caine 30:01
That’s fantastic. I’m not gonna say any more from that other than thank you so much for recording this podcast with me. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you this afternoon.

Unknown Speaker 30:14
I’ve loved it.

Tamsin Caine 30:20
Thank you for listening to the smart divorce podcast. If you’d like details of our guests today or of myself so you can get in touch. Please check out the programme notes. Many thanks. See you again soon.

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