Years ago my common-law spouse and I ran a thriving jewelry business. We made rings, bracelets and pendants from precious metals and gemstones. One day I noticed our suppliers were billing us for diamonds and gold we didn’t use. I learned my partner had traded the materials for cocaine.

I fled from my home with the kids that very day, but dealing with the separation took many agonizing months. I wish I had read Cathalynn Labonté-Smith’s new book.

Break Up, Make Up or Shake Up: Redefining Relationships in Retirement, Isolation & Crisis guides the reader through the legalities and practical concerns of divorce or separation. The book is directed toward older women who feel their relationship is failing. It also offers helpful advice for people separating from same-sex partners.  

Labonté-Smith lives in Gibsons, so Coasters will be familiar with many of her references. But the advice—although concentrating on Canada—would be useful on a global scale. She compares divorce law in Canada, the U.S., and the major English-speaking countries, and she includes detailed lists of resources for most of them.

Lists are what make this book so valuable. The author provides critical questions to ask yourself about your relationship, questions to ask a lawyer, what to pack in a to-go bag (I wish I had thought of that!) and necessary financial documents, among other lists that can smooth the path to and through a break-up.

She also shows how to salvage a breaking relationship and put it back together in a productive way. Case studies show real people going through break-up trauma and coming out ready for a new life ahead. Fascinating!

Labonté-Smith wrote the book during the height of the Covid pandemic, and fittingly, she covers the isolation that led to a bumper crop of divorce proceedings. As the pandemic shifts into the past and the world opens up to new beginnings, Break Up, Make Up or Shake Up can help you find one.