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Author Interview—Monique Honaman

Monique A. Honaman is the author of The High Road Has Less Traffic, a straight from the heart, inspirational and humorous guide to navigating love relationships and divorce. In the book, she shares her personal journey so that others can learn from it…but make no mistake, this is not some dry self help book.  This is a pull-no-punches, tell-it-to-me-straight and make-me-laugh-through-the-hard-parts read.

Thank you, Monique, for sharing your story with our PBS members.

PBS:      Have you ever written anything before? Why did you feel compelled to write this book?

I did feel compelled to write this book about taking the high road after I was forced to make a similar choice myself when I experienced a relationship implosion of my own, and suddenly found myself staring down the face of divorce. I quickly came to realize the kind of pain and destruction that divorce can inflict on others, especially on children. I decided that I would take my experience and turn it around to help other women who were in the same situation. I began to counsel women facing relationship troubles and divorce, and before I knew it I was fielding calls and emails weekly from women who were friends, or friends of friends, or friends of acquaintances. I found that there were certain pieces of advice that resonated with my newfound circle of friends. I decided to package my experiences and insights into a book that summed up my personal philosophy: that the high road has less traffic, less breakdowns, and more room to accelerate toward your destination. Given a choice, the high road is the best path to take in life, especially when dealing with marriage and family!

I love to read and when I was going through my divorce, I was looking for that book that would be that “girlfriend” who would really lay it on the line for me – who would be funny, raw, honest, smart, let me cry, and make me laugh. I couldn’t find that book, so I guess I took matters into my own hands. While I had written business articles in the past, I had never written (or attempted to write!) a book.

I sat down one night and just began outlining chapters of advice that told my story and how I dealt with my divorce. I thought about all the things I wish I knew, or all the things that people were calling me about. Things like how to tell your kids, how to tell your friends, why telling your mom is one of the hardest things to do, who you need to include in your support network (like a CPA and your gynecologist!), how to hire an attorney, how to adjust to those times when your kids are gone for the first time, how to find forgiveness (I joke about how I went from dropping the F-bomb, to finding a more powerful F-word in forgiveness!), how to start dating again, and how to learn more about yourself so you don’t make the same mistakes again. Before I knew it, I had 22 chapters outlined and it went from there. It was cathartic for me, and it’s been so helpful to others.
 

PBS:    While the idea behind the book is how to take the high road while navigating a divorce, it is actually full of information and ideas about how to manage a marriage and never actually reach that point. Comments?


Yes! When I began to write the book, I envisioned my audience would be women going through divorce. As it evolved, the thoughts began to encompass words of wisdom about maintaining healthy relationships, thoughts about the power of forgiveness in any context, thoughts about being true to yourself, and thoughts about taking the high road in every aspect of life. The response that I have received from both men and women, single, married and divorced, young and old, has been incredible. There are certainly portions of the book that are really relevant to anyone.

One of favorite pieces of feedback came from a married man who told me he read the chapter on making sure you do the little things in marriage. He told me how he made coffee for his wife the morning after reading my book and brought it to her as she got ready. She was thrilled. His message was this: it only took my 5 minutes, but the payback was tremendous. Another married woman told me as a result of reading the book, she and her husband had sat down and really discussed their finances and were able to make some joint decisions about saving and spending. Their communication improved greatly!

PBS:  What advice does your book have for women who are on the fence about what to do or who are facing the hard decision of making this huge change in their life?

My advice is this: relationships are hard work and need to be tended to on a daily basis. You can’t get lazy. Divorce is difficult. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s hurtful and damaging. I am not a proponent of divorce. I encourage people to make sure that they aren’t rushing to the decision to divorce. Often times people can rebuild their relationships, and frankly, make them stronger than they previously were because of renewed communication and intimacy.

On the other hand, there are those marriages which are clearly over. In those cases, I encourage both parties to ‘take the high road’ in dissolving the marriage. No matter how hateful or bitter things have become, these two people were at some point in love enough to exchange vows and get married. Too often divorce leads to low road behavior which is negative and hurtful to all involved … the husband and wife who once pledged true love, any children who may have been born from this marriage, the extended family, the friends … the ripple effect is tremendous. Taking the high road is the best way to get through this situation and still be to look at yourself in the mirror!

PBS:  We’ve all heard the saying “nice guys finish last”? Some might feel that taking the “high road” is just another example of women being expected to the “nice” one and not assert themselves or stand up for what they need. What are your thoughts on this?

I disagree! Taking the high road does not imply being a door matt that others can walk on. Finding forgiveness doesn’t mean you aren’t going to hold the other person accountable for their actions. It doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for certain behaviors. What is does mean is that you aren’t going to stoop to low-road behavior as well. Taking the high road means engaging in behavior that allows you to look in the mirror every day for the rest of your life knowing that you did what is right by yourself, your family and your friends. Being nice does not equate to being a doormat. You can be assertive, stand up for your rights, and take the high road all at the same time. This is not mutually exclusive behavior. I argue that you accomplish a lot more in life by treating others with respect and kindness, than with low road behavior.

PBS:  What advice can we give our children now, especially daughters, to help them later should they ever be in these types of difficult situations?

Great question. I don’t think anyone ever marries with the expectation that they will find themselves divorced in the future. That being said, 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce. The high-level advice I give to my children is that they need to always take the high road and be honest in everything they do. The practical advice that I will give my children is that need to constantly work on their relationships, that they need to always maintain some level of awareness of their financial situation, and that they need to maintain marketable, employable skills.

PBS:   If you find yourself already on the “low road” in a divorce situation is it too late to move over to the “high road”?  What happens if you are trying to stay on the “high road” but fall off from time to time?

It is never too late to get off the low road and switch lanes to the high road! It will make you feel better! People often tell me that it’s hard to stay on the high road when their partner is engaging in low road behavior. Yes, it is! But, if you stay focused on what’s important to you, you can avoid getting sucked into that behavior as well. I’ve found that focusing on being a strong role model for your children is often the motivation that people need to get on, and stay on, the high road.

Every study out there about how children of divorce fare in the future highlights the post-divorce interactions between their parents as being indicative of how well they cope with being “children of divorce” in the future. To me, that was all the motivation I needed to be sure that my ex- and I handled the divorce, and our post-divorce communications, in a high road manner. We will be forever bonded by our two children and they don’t want to see their parents not getting along constructively. The guilt that comes along with that is huge, and I don’t want my kids, who are innocent bystanders in this divorce, to have to deal with those emotions. The reality is that we now have to co-parent together, and it’s much easier to do that when we are able to communicate about our children constructively.

PBS:   Looking at you now, so pulled together and happy, it is hard to believe you ever hit the low point you describe…how long did it take you to reach this new, good place in your life?

Yes, I am incredibly happy now, and in a way I never imagined. And yes, being blindsided by divorce was clearly my low point. I was incredibly bitter, angry and hateful. I was emotionally fragile. It was difficult to concentrate. These are all incredibly natural feelings that every person has to navigate through. Kind of like Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s stages of death and dying, I believe there are natural stages of emotion that every person going through a broken relationship must also deal with. I also believe that there isn’t a specific timeline as to how long these stages must last. Some people go through these faster than others.

We can probably all think of someone who is holding onto a grudge for something that someone did to them at some point in the past. They can recall every single detail of the ‘infraction’ and they relive it and rehash it every day. That is so tiring and burdensome. It holds you back and keeps you locked in the past. And frankly, the person against who you are holding the grudge is moving on with their life and completely unaware (or doesn’t really care) that you are stuck rehashing this every day. It’s only hurting that person, not anyone else.

As I looked in my life, I did see a few people who had been ‘wronged’ in the past who had never made that decision to forgive. Decades later they were still holding onto bitterness and anger and I knew I didn’t want to live that way. I knew I would have to find forgiveness in my heart in order for me to heal and start moving forward. The decision to forgive was absolutely life-changing for me. Holding onto the anger and bitterness was only hurting me. Nobody else, just me! I learned that forgiveness is a selfish act. I made the decision to honestly find forgiveness in my heart and I felt better. I didn’t need anyone else’s approval or blessing to forgive. I felt the burden lift. I went from being consumed with anger, to being able to see the future and think more logically rather than so emotionally. Carrying around negativity and anger are not attractive features that inspire people to want to hang out with you! I know I would never have started dating and remarried if I hadn’t found forgiveness and begun to move forward with positive momentum.

PBS:   Was the decision to remarry difficult for you? What were your fears?

You would think the decision to remarry would have been a difficult one for me, but actually it wasn’t. When I met my husband, I immediately felt such a strong connection and we communicated so well, that any fears I had (and I did have them!) were immediately discussed and dismissed. You can’t (or rather, you shouldn’t) go through a divorce without turning the mirror onto yourself and learning more about who you are and what role you played in the demise of the marriage. This can be really difficult to do. It can be painful and raw, but it’s so important. I had taken a deep, introspective look at myself, what I contributed to relationships, and what I wanted out of relationships. Entering into a new relationship, and subsequent marriage, I was incredibly clear on what I wanted, and the importance of keeping that connection alive. I tease my husband now that I don’t keep things bottled up … any emotion I have gets expressed immediately … what I like, what I don’t like … and I encourage him to do the same. That level of communication is very healthy for our relationship.

PBS:   Do you have a mantra or personal pep talk you give yourself when things get tough?

Yes! I live by many mantras. I love quotes, and I have signs all over my home expressing certain thoughts that I choose to live by. In fact, every chapter in my book starts with a quote relevant to that chapter. Readers have really responded to these quotes and often email me telling me how much a certain quote has really spoken to them.

One of my favorite mantras that I rely on every day is: “I can’t control what happens to me, I can only control how I react to it.” My kids each have a plaque in their room that says: “Integrity is doing what is right even when no one is looking.” Lastly, I have a strong faith and love the verse from Jeremiah 29:11 that says “’I have a plan for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Please add your comments!

Monique will be reading the comments and respond to specific reader questions. We will choose from the comments to award 2 lucky winners an autographed copy of The High Road Has Less Traffic. Winners will be chosen at random.

Congratulations to Kaoru Y. and Adrienne!  They will both receive an autographed copy of The High Road Has Less Traffic!  Thanks for your comments…..

The High Road Has Less Traffic is available for purchase in the PBS Market

www.highroadlesstraffic.com

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20 Responses to “Author Interview—Monique Honaman”

  1. Jerelyn H. (I-F-Letty) says:

    Excellent interview, and sadly I have a friend that could use this book just now. Such good advise for such a devastating time.

  2. Shanan B. (yogimommy) says:

    Wow. I am currently separated from my husband and waiting for the money to finalize the divorce. Your story was very inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Monique says:

    Jerelyn, Shanan,
    Thank you both for your comments. Sorry to hear about your friend (Jerelyn) and your own situation (Shanan). As I said in the Q&A above, the ripple effect of divorce is tremendous, and I encourage you to continue to take the high road (and support your friend as she takes the high road!! Thanks for reading! Monique

  4. KAORU Y. says:

    Sounds like a v. interesting book! It’s always frustrating when things go wrong or your life takes a turn for the worst, but what might be worse is friends giving you advice that doesn’t actually help you in the end. The content sounds like issues that we can all relate to. Thank you for the Q & A!

  5. Karin C. (karinmichelle) says:

    After going through a heartbreaking divorce that was not my choice and being left alone with no money, very few personal belongings and no family, this book would have been a godsend! I look forward to hopefully reading this!

  6. Stephanie G. (thestephanieloves) says:

    Loved the interview, Monique! Can’t wait to read The High Road Has Less Traffic 🙂

  7. Kathy (chicklovelit) says:

    The book sounds just like what many women could use today. I also have been through a divorce
    and wasn’t sure what would be in the future. Of course, we all figure out it is a constant work in
    progress. I look forward to reading!

  8. Phoebe (1mom42) says:

    I have so many family and friends that think marriage is a cinderella story. This is the perfect bridal shower gift, open honest and life as it really is…hard but worth the travel on the high road!

  9. Monique says:

    Thanks everyone for your great comments. As your comments show, divorce is such an epidemic! I love the idea of giving the book as a bridal shower gift. There is a chapter early in the book that talks about the importance of focusing on your relationship, and always doing the little things. That chapter (and the one on forgiveness) have really resonated with people (and as I’ve heard, has served as a really great ‘reminder’ for many married couples). Thanks for your interest! Monique

  10. Lauren says:

    Very inspirational story. My mother took the high road during her divorce, and it allowed me and my siblings to maintain a good relationship with our dad. As I got older and learned more facts about the divorce, it really made me admire how strong she was.

  11. Monique says:

    Love all the great comments! Thanks!
    I invite you all to stay connected to all the High Road Less Traffic (HRLT) news by liking our facebook page at:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/highroadlesstraffic?sk=app_4949752878

    thanks!
    Monique

  12. Karen K. (stitcher2683) says:

    I am a few years down the road from divorce, and all along I’ve said “at the end of the day, I still have to live with myself- and if I’ve not behaved in an honorable way, that is something I will have to answer for- NOT him”. Your book sounds spot on and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for verbalizing these ideas!

  13. Bren (theroselady) says:

    I wish I had this book years ago when my ex and I first separated. I admit neither one of us took the “high road” during our divorce – he was too concerned with making sure his girlfriend was happy, and I was too hurt and angered by the discovery that the girlfriend existed. I have made a real effort not to badmouth my ex to our son, but it’s hard to present him as a loving father figure when he hasn’t even made an effort to be part of his only child’s life.

  14. Adrienne S. (adriennenicole) says:

    Wow! Wonderful interview. I am very interested in reading this book as my husband and I have been dealing with some very stressful issues for awhile now. Your response to holding onto grudges really resonated with me too!

  15. Teresa H. (m00nangel32) says:

    Hi Monique,
    I am currently straddling the fence, not sure which way my husband and I will end up. I saw your book and thought maybe your book would be an interesting read.Not to mention helpful right now. We are trying to make a go of it and work things out not only for ourselves but for our children. Its hard to get communication going again,although we are trying.Not to always want it our way , and give a little.Look forward to your book,great if i could win a copy but definitely will look for it in the store.

  16. Monique says:

    Very impressed with all your great comments, and I’m sending good vibes and prayers to those of you who said you are currently having issues and trying to figure out which way to go! Of course, always take the high road … you will always be able to look yourself in the mirror (like Karen said)! And if there are kids involved, they will thank you later (like Lauren said!). Thanks, Monique

  17. Diane G. (icesk8tr) , says:

    Wow, this would be a great book for folks going through tough times in a marriage. Luckily I am happily married, but I do have some friends who have gone through divorces and they are not fun. I think it is awesome that you took the time to write such a book to help others who are going through some of the things you have!

  18. Peggy F. (Joysong) says:

    Very helpful and encouraging. Thank you for sharing. I hope to have an opportunity to read the book and share it with others who will be encouraged and motivated to take the “high road.”

  19. Mary Lee L. (mspixie) says:

    Terrific interview. It sounds like a very worthwhile book for everyone to read. Thank you for the wisdom.

  20. Cricket B. (JiminyCricket) says:

    “Forgiveness is a selfish act”. Wow, what power in those few words, and so true!
    I admire a woman who has the ability to speak without condemning others.
    The honesty of someone who admits to having initial feelings of “hate, anger” and yet being able through Scripture(s) to come to a place in the road to make that U-turn, and seek the High Road is inspiring and full of hope for others. Thank you for such an eye-opening interview and for writing such a hope-filled book. I truly enjoyed reading a “how-to” book on finding and staying on the High Road. God bless you for your wisdom and sharing heart.

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