Have you ever wondered what the Second Saturday Workshop is all about? After completing the experience, I’m ready to dish.
As the long-time head content writer for WIFE.org and, more recently, Second Saturday, I’ve written a lot on the TOPIC of divorce over the years. At this point, I would almost consider myself a “lay expert” on the topic.
But I have a confession. Until this month, I’d never attended an in-person Second Saturday divorce workshop. I have to admit that I felt a little like a hypocrite.
Even though I know that the people and non-profit organization behind Second Saturday are “best of breed,” how could I keep encouraging blog readers to attend a workshop when I’ve never done it myself? So, I decided to walk the walk. So, I signed up for the original workshop headed by Second Saturday founder, Ginita Wall in Cardiff, CA.
Or course, it’s important to mention that this article only represents my perspective. I can’t promise that you’ll have an amazing time at your workshop or come away filled with glorious insight. Your experience and takeaways will be different from mine.
A Few Things to Know
First: Second Saturday Divorce Workshops are Not Just on Saturday Anymore! Check out the Second Saturday Workshop Directory for the time and venue (in-person or online) near you.
Second: This article is about IN-PERSON workshops. Workshops are now available IN-PERSON and ONLINE.
How to Prepare for Your Second Saturday Workshop
Here’s some good news. You absolutely don’t need to prepare for your workshop (aside from making sure the kids have a babysitter). Come as you are. Whether you’ve just started to think about divorce or have researched the topic extensively, I think you’ll still get a lot out of the experience.
I will say, those at the starting point of divorce (in the considering phase or early phase of getting divorced) will probably benefit the most from the workshop.
It’s a good idea to come at least 10 minutes early so you can park and find the right room without feeling anxious. I suggest bringing a drink and maybe a snack, as the workshop can last up to five hours.
In a nutshell, you’ll meet people just like you at the workshop. I was actually surprised at how many people were attending my workshop and the diversity of the group. Attendees included people of all ages and backgrounds. There were young people, middle-aged people, and more than a few with silver hair. While the majority of the people at my workshop were women, several men were also in attendance, including a couple who were attending together.
How it Went
So, how did the Second Saturday Divorce Workshop actually go? Ginita began the workshop with a short introduction. She emphasized that the point of the workshop was not to convince any of the attendees to move forward with divorce. Instead, the workshop was merely meant to inform attendees about their options and what the divorce process could look like.
As the group was positioned as a “divorce workshop,” it would be easy to assume the speakers would encourage attendees to consider divorce. However, the information presented really highlighted how challenging a divorce can be, even when both spouses are on the same page. If anything, the workshop delivered a stark reality check for those moving toward divorce.
The first speaker was a local attorney who provided a timeline of the divorce process from a legal standpoint. She discussed different steps in the process, from filing for dissolution to preliminary disclosures and explained how the court tends to treat divorce cases (hint: they’re a big fan of mediation).
The attorney presentation was more than a little scary, so it was a good thing that a family therapist was our next presenter. After guiding the room through a relaxing breathing exercise, she gave us a quick primer on the decision areas of the human brain and offered useful advice on how to put ourselves in a higher mindset as we made important divorce-related decisions.
She also helped us understand how to keep our “stress cups” from becoming too full so that we could take care of ourselves and our families. This advice was great for navigating divorce as well as anything else life throws at us.
Ginita went next in her role as a financial planner. When she explained that divorce was likely to be the biggest financial transaction that the students in the class would ever face, it seemed to really strike home. Over the course of her presentation, Ginita reviewed the 12 financial pitfalls of divorce, including not having enough cash, not preparing, and overlooking assets. I’m sure everyone in the room was probably at risk of hitting at least one of those pitfalls, so the insight was super helpful.
The final speakers were two private mediators who help couples develop and agree on a settlement out of court. When they explained that an average litigated divorce in San Diego was taking roughly two years, my jaw almost fell to the floor. Everything about mediation seemed preferable to litigating, from working with your spouse instead of against them to seeking resolution instead of trying to “win” concessions. Of course, not every couple can avoid court, but I walked away from this presentation completely sold on the merits of at least trying mediation if possible.
Perhaps back-to-back presentations on the topic of divorce don’t sound like a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. However, I was surprised by how empowering the experience felt. First, every presenter took plenty of time to answer questions from the crowd. Some attendees kept to themselves, but many were happy to shoot up a hand and ask for clarification based on their situation. This ability to speak with local professionals felt like the real, hidden value of the workshop. Every speaker stayed after their session to answer more questions and chat one-on-one with attendees during the breaks.
Did I mention the breaks? Yes, we did get to stand up and stretch our legs for about 10 minutes between each session. During these periods, I discovered the second hidden value of the workshop. Camaraderie. The workshop students seemed to naturally gravitate into small groups outside the classroom to share their feelings and stories. It felt good to see attendees bonding and to speak to a few myself. Everyone was nice, understanding, and – most of all – compassionate to the other attendees. It really felt like our small group was bonding throughout the workshop.
Finally, every presenter also offered a free consultation to the attendees. Many attendees picked up their cards, eager to schedule time to speak more about their situations. While many professionals in the divorce space provide consultations, I felt there was real value in consulting with someone you’ve already met, listened to, and possibly spoken to during the workshop.
I get the challenge of putting on a divorce workshop. You’re trying to convince people to go to a workshop no one wants to attend. But talking about divorce is incredibly important, especially if you haven’t made up your mind about it yet. Even if you have, understanding just how incredibly difficult the road to divorce is may encourage some attendees to give couples counseling a try. I seriously wouldn’t be surprised if the Second Saturday Divorce Workshop had saved many marriages over the course of its 30+ years of operation.
For those who do decide to move forward with divorce, the Second Saturday Workshop will help them begin the process with clear eyes and reasonable expectations. The workshop also showcased the value of preparation and a willingness to work with your partner as much as possible to stay out of court. This workshop has probably saved couples millions of dollars in litigation fees and helped many couples untie their marital knot in a respectful and positive way.
I would definitely recommend the workshop to any friends or family members considering a divorce.
Want to attend a Second Saturday divorce group in your area? Find your closest workshop.