How do you pick yourself up and move on after a divorce that came about because your spouse cheated on you?
On March 31 and April 1, a panel of four experts will gather at the inaugural Start Over Smart Divorce Expo at New York City's Metropolitan Pavillion to discuss this and dozens of other questions surrounding the role of infidelity in divorce. The event is one of many slated for Start Over Smart, a weekend-long expo dedicated to helping people going through divorce navigate the process and its aftermath.
Huffington Post Divorce Senior Editor Sara Wilson will moderate the April 1 conversation, called Moving on After Infidelity, where four experts will dive into the sticky, hotly debated topic.
"Stories about infidelity -- from our coverage of high-profile political scandals to our bloggers' personal essays about, say, being the 'Other Woman' -- always spark a huge amount of conversation on our site," said Wilson. "So when I was asked to put together a panel for the Start Over Smart conference, focusing on infidelity seemed like a no-brainer" (Wilson is also the editor of Huffington Post Weddings).
Wilson has assembled a collection of experts for the panel: M. Gary Neuman, a family counselor who has wrangled with the question of reconciling with your unfaithful ex; Tammy Nelson, a sex therapist and author of the upcoming "The New Monogamy: Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity"; Julie Metz, a writer who recounted her discovery of her late husband's five mistresses after his death in her bestselling memoir; and Pepper Schwartz, a national love and relationship ambassador for AARP and a sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.
The panel, said Wilson, is targeted specifically at the Start Over Smart audience of divorcees and divorce professionals. Panelists will touch on topics including how to regain your sense of self after cheating destroys your marriage, how to avoid being cheated on -- or cheating on a spouse -- again, the attitudes toward infidelity that exist in our culture, and whether it's even realistic to expect fidelity in marriage.
Schwartz hopes the conversation will provide an opportunity to help those who've been affected by unfaithfulness regain their trust in commitment.
"There are so many people out there who have chosen the wrong partner, but you can love and trust again," said Schwartz, who'll also lead a seminar on post-divorce romance at the expo. "The question you have to ask yourself is, how do you revisit the traumatic event in a way that helps you grow, rather than makes you bitter?"
Huffington Post's infidelity panel is just one of many that will enliven the two-day conference, the first of its kind in the U.S. (Huffington Post Divorce is a media sponsor for the event, which takes place at the Metropolitan Pavillion).
The expo is the brain-child of New York-based therapist Francine Baras and her mediator daughter Nicole Baras Feuer. In 2010, the mother-daughter duo visited a divorce expo during a trip to Paris and realized a conference with similar aims would work well on our split-centric shores, where the divorce rate still hovers around 50 percent.
"It's a great way to get people the information they need during a divorce, from the best way to divorce, to how to let your children know and how to manage your finances after the split," Baras Feuer, a recent divorcee herself, told The Huffington Post.
"We were surprised to find that something like this had never been done in the U.S.," Baras Feuer added. "We thought everything we'd seen at the Paris expo would really benefit people here."
A year and a half later, they've assembled panelists from a wide spectrum of fields who'll address nearly every aspect of life during (and after) divorce. More than 50 experts will dispense advice during panels and keynote lectures on keeping the costs of the divorce process down, parenting through divorce, handling the baby boomer divorce experience, and LGBT divorce.
Among the standout speakers are Jean Chatzky, the "Today" show's financial editor and author of the New York Times bestseller "Money 911." She will talk about handling finances post-split, and Cheryl Richardson, fellow New York Times bestselling author and radio life coach, will speak about starting to over and rebuilding after divorce.
"We're trying to take a very holistic approach to divorce," said Baras Feuer. "After a divorce, you want to feel good about yourself from the inside and out, so a lot of our panels are going to be focused on that." To that end, there's a workshop on post-split sartorial choices, a seminar on post-divorce sex, and one-on-one sessions with celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger, who has shaped the manes of Meg Ryan, Sandra Bernhard and Michelle Pfeiffer, where she'll be cutting and styling attendees' manes.
There's even a party (with scores of singles all gathered in one place, we'd be disappointed if there weren't) -- on Saturday night. Professional matchmaker Amy Laurent hosts a cocktail party at the same venue. Says Baras Feuer: "Meeting other people going through a divorce is a huge part of the expo."
The expo also will mark the debut of the Huffington Post Divorce's "The Moment I Knew" booth, a kind of confessional chamber where guests can share and record stories of the moment they knew their marriages were over. The booth, a tie-in to HuffPost Divorce's popular, user-submitted "The Moment I Knew" series, will be stationed on the expo floor throughout the weekend. Once the videos are collected, many will be uploaded to the HuffPost Divorce page for readers to watch.
It's the comprehensiveness of the event that endeared the idea of a divorce expo to panelist Schwartz.
"When I first heard about the expo, I really didn't know what to think," the sociologist said. "But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it's a really great idea. The fact of the matter is, people need a kind of a jump-start to revisit divorce and see if they're ready to move on. It's a traumatic event, but there's life after it."
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