Practice patience. Divorce, much like a marriage, tends to be a life-altering event. If you have children, your co-parenting schedule could mean spending days without them for the first time. As you begin to adjust to the altered shape of your life, you might experience a complex blend of thoughts and feelings ranging from betrayal and loss to anger, or even relief. To put it simply, divorce can throw your life into upheaval. Be patient and give yourself time to reestablish yourself, it can help to keep in mind that divorce doesn’t mean your life has ended. Rather, it signals a new beginning.

As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need to Know to Survive and Thrive After a Divorce or Breakup” we had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Kutrubis.

Maria Kutrubis, a certified transformational, inspirational, and parental coach who focuses on empowering people to reach their full potential in all paths of life, guiding parents through the intricacies of parenthood, creating work life balance and the unique dynamics of raising children with special needs. Her journey is a testament to the transformative power of persistence, visualization, self-awareness, and continuous growth. Her approach is marked by empathy, resilience, and a deep commitment to fostering positive transformations. Her mission is to empower parents with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to raise emotionally intelligent, resilient, and self-aware children who will grow into confident and capable adults.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

Of course! I was born in Greece in 1976, the youngest of three daughters to both Greek parents. My father, a Department of Defense Civilian, led us on a dynamic journey due to his military duties. As a result, I had the privilege of experiencing life in various locations, predominantly Greece and Turkey. Throughout my educational path, I attended American schools and universities, enriching my understanding in diverse academic settings. Eventually, I returned to Greece where I embraced marriage and motherhood.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From a young age, I found myself drawn to the uplifting principles of the positive thinking movement, thanks to my father’s influence. In the 80s, his nightstand was adorned with books by esteemed authors such as Napoleon Hill, Wayne Dyer, and Norman Vincent Peale, among others. Raised on mantras like “visualize positive outcomes,” “don’t worry about what you can’t control,” and “always give your best effort,” I deeply admired my father, and his philosophies struck a chord with me. Thus, I delved into personal development literature early on, developing a passion for offering guidance and advice to others.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

One of the most profound adventures of my life unfolded in 2000 with the diagnosis of my oldest son with Prader-Willi Syndrome. This unexpected journey catapulted me into a whirlwind of emotions, challenging me to activate every facet of my coaching and self-development knowledge. It was a roller coaster ride, filled with towering highs and cavernous lows, demanding resilience, adaptability, and an unwavering resolve to navigate through the storm.

The initial shock of the diagnosis sent shockwaves through my world, leaving me grappling with a torrent of emotions — fear, uncertainty, and a profound sense of loss for the future I had envisioned. Yet, in the face of adversity, I summoned every ounce of strength within me, drawing upon the tools and strategies I had honed through years of coaching and personal growth.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the memorable moments I recall took place during an event where I was invited to speak as both a parental coach and a mother of a young adult with special needs. It was my debut on stage, sharing my son George’s journey with a large audience. I had meticulously prepared index cards, my PowerPoint presentation was ready to go, and I was feeling confident.

As I progressed through my presentation and reached the slide featuring George’s photo, something unexpected happened. Emotions welled up inside me, and despite my initial resolve, I found myself momentarily frozen. With a smile tinged with tears, I addressed the audience, saying, “Okay, let’s skip this slide for now…” Surprisingly, they responded with understanding laughter, and I continued with my talk.

Reflecting on this moment later, I realized it was a humorous mistake, although tinged with emotion. I had overestimated my composure, thinking, “You’ve got this, Maria,” only to be caught off guard by a surge of feelings. The lesson I gleaned from this experience was the importance of embracing every situation with grace and humor, and striving to be authentically ourselves, even in moments of vulnerability.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“Parenting is not about making your children into who you want them to be but helping them discover who they truly are.”

I love this! It describes something which in theory sounds great but to do it requires patience, empathy, and resilience. This quote emphasizes the importance of allowing children to develop their own identities, interests, and talents, rather than imposing our own desires or expectations onto them. It encourages us, as parents to support and guide our children on their individual path, fostering independence, self-confidence, and authenticity.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Absolutely! Currently, I’m focusing on developing a series of online workshops tailored to address specific parenting topics, such as effective communication, boundary setting, fostering emotional intelligence in children, and creating harmonious family dynamics. These workshops will provide parents with practical strategies, tools, and insights to navigate common challenges and enhance their parenting skills.

Additionally, I’m excited to launch a new parental mastermind group where participants will come together to set goals, share experiences, and hold each other accountable for personal growth and development as parents. This collaborative environment will provide a supportive network for parents to exchange ideas, offer support, and celebrate successes, ultimately empowering them to become more confident and effective in their parenting journey.

I believe these projects will greatly benefit people by offering them access to valuable resources, support, and guidance in their parenting journey. By participating in the workshops and mastermind groups, parents will gain practical skills, build confidence, and strengthen their relationships with their children. Ultimately, the goal is to empower parents to create a nurturing and fulfilling family environment where both parents and children can thrive emotionally, socially, and academically.

Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?

In 2017, amidst the whirlwind of raising four teenagers, including a special needs child with Prader-Willi syndrome, I made a pivotal decision: to walk away from a loveless marriage that no longer resonated with who I was. Our once-shared life of 20 years had become a maze of routines and obligations, leaving little room for connection or growth. One morning, as I gazed at my reflection in the mirror, I uttered the words that would change the course of my life: “I can’t do this anymore.” Despite the familiarity and comfort of our long-standing partnership, I summoned the courage to break free from the confines of familiarity and step into the unknown. It was a huge leap, fueled by a burning inner desire that I deserved a life that aligned with my truest self. And so, with determination, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and unwavering authenticity.

After my divorce, I made a conscious decision to prioritize my children’s well-being and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Devoting myself to four teenagers through the transition and rediscovering my identity two decades into the marriage’s end were my primary focuses. By investing time and energy into fostering emotional stability for my children and exploring my own passions and aspirations, I aimed to build a fulfilling and authentic life post-divorce.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?

I believe the primary mistakes often made after divorce are twofold: firstly, insufficient emphasis on prioritizing their children’s well-being and stability, and secondly, neglecting the crucial process of self-discovery. Children should unequivocally become a top priority post-divorce because they did not choose the situation, may struggle to fully comprehend it, and often find themselves caught in the crossfire of parental conflicts, which can undermine their sense of self. Furthermore, it’s essential to dedicate time to rediscovering our authentic selves beyond the confines of a relationship or marriage. As time and circumstances inevitably change us, it’s imperative to acquaint ourselves with our evolving identity and aspirations, ensuring alignment with our newfound self and dreams.

People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?

Growing up within a Greek cultural background, divorce and the breaking up of a family unit are universally viewed with disapproval. However, consider the ramifications of children bearing witness to consistently unhappy adults day in and day out. Is there anything more concerning than the impression this leaves on them regarding the institution of marriage? Moreover, is there anything more disheartening than them internalizing the belief that personal dreams and passions must be sacrificed for the sake of marital stability? Yet, within divorce, there exists the potential for equilibrium if approached with civility and a focused commitment to the welfare of all involved. While it demands patience and resilience, achieving this balance is not beyond reach — it’s a matter of adopting a broader perspective, akin to “looking at the forest and not the tree.”

Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?

I suggest taking the time to discover your true self before reentering the dating scene. While long-term intimacy may offer comfort, it can also lead to stagnation. Remember, you attract what you embody. Knowing your own identity and desires enables you to make informed decisions about potential partners. Don’t rush the process — take your time. Most importantly, prioritize falling in love with yourself first. After all, how can others love you if you haven’t embraced self-love?

What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?

A crucial aspect that people going through a divorce should be open to changing is their understanding of themselves. Self-awareness is key to navigating the complexities of divorce and rebuilding one’s life afterward. Why we do what we do! This involves taking the time to reflect on personal values, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and aspirations. By deepening their knowledge of themselves, individuals can make more informed decisions about their future, set realistic expectations, and align their actions with their authentic selves. Cultivating self-awareness also fosters resilience and empowers individuals to navigate challenges with clarity and confidence. Ultimately, knowing oneself is the foundation for creating a fulfilling and purposeful life beyond divorce.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend, come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Sure! Number one: let go of bitterness and any harbored resentment towards your ex-partner for whatever reasons. By forgiving you can release yourself from the emotional burden of anger and injustice and move forward with a lighter heart.

Number two: Discover gratitude! Despite the pain of divorce, it mellows the heart of both parties to reflect on the positive aspects of their marriage, such as the growth they experienced together, the children they raised, or the memories they shared. Expressing gratitude for these blessings can help shift your perspective from one of loss to one of appreciation and assist your new separate lives.

Number three: prioritize co-parenting with harmony. You might be tempted to engage in conflicts with your ex-partner, especially regarding custody arrangements or financial matters. You can choose to prioritize the well-being of your children and maintain open communication and cooperation with your ex-partner to create a healthy co-parenting dynamic. Always keep in mind that it’s the children who suffer during these turbulent times. Your goal as a parent is to raise mentally healthy adults, who can use life’s challenges as learning lessons.

Number four: Embrace singlehood and your newfound freedom! Start new hobbies, explore new interests, discover opportunities for personal growth. Reinvent yourself and discover who you are! Fall in love with this new version of you! This could involve getting reacquainted with your dreams, traveling solo, taking up a new hobby, or pursuing career aspirations that were previously put on hold.

Number five: Practice patience. Divorce, much like a marriage, tends to be a life-altering event. If you have children, your co-parenting schedule could mean spending days without them for the first time. As you begin to adjust to the altered shape of your life, you might experience a complex blend of thoughts and feelings ranging from betrayal and loss to anger, or even relief. To put it simply, divorce can throw your life into upheaval. Be patient and give yourself time to reestablish yourself, it can help to keep in mind that divorce doesn’t mean your life has ended. Rather, it signals a new beginning.

The stress of a divorce takes a toll on both one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish?

In my experience self-care is paramount for preserving mental and emotional health, especially for parents navigating the complexities of supporting their children through the process. Engaging in regular exercise, meditation, positive affirmations, maintaining a balanced diet, and ensuring adequate sleep can all contribute to a sense of well-being and resilience for both adults and children alike. Open communication and validation of children’s feelings can provide a sense of security and reassurance, while creating a stable and consistent routine offers them a sense of normalcy amidst changes. Encouraging children to express themselves through creative outlets such as art, writing, or play can serve as a therapeutic means of processing emotions. Additionally, seeking professional support, such as therapy or counseling, can offer both parents and children a safe space to navigate their feelings and develop coping strategies for managing the challenges of divorce. While undoubtedly challenging, divorce can also serve as a catalyst for profound personal growth and transformation. By approaching the experience with an open mind and heart, individuals can uncover valuable lessons and insights that pave the way for rebuilding themselves and creating a brighter future.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?

I love Dr. Shefali’s “The Parenting Map: Navigate Your Child’s Mind, Body, and Soul Toward Their Authentic Self”, Dr. Julie Smith’s “Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?”, Jay Shetty’s “8 Rules of Love” and of course all time classic by Louise Hay “You Can Heal Your Life”.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire a movement based on Aristotle’s “eudaimonia” which encompasses a sense of wholeness, flourishing, and inner peace that arises from living in harmony with oneself and one’s surroundings. It encompasses more than just happiness in the conventional sense; it embodies living in alignment with one’s true potential, values, and virtues. In philosophical terms, eudaimonia is often associated with Aristotle’s ethical theory, which emphasizes the pursuit of excellence and virtue as essential components of a fulfilling life. It suggests that true happiness arises from leading a life of purpose, meaning, and moral virtue, rather than simply pursuing pleasure or avoiding pain.

Creating a movement centered around “eudaimonia”, could indeed bring about significant positive change for countless individuals. This movement would encourage people to prioritize holistic well-being, focusing not only on material wealth or external success but also on nurturing their inner selves and cultivating meaningful connections with others. Through practices such as mindfulness, gratitude, compassion, and self-reflection, individuals could embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and purposeful life. By spreading awareness about the importance of eudaimonia and providing resources and support for those seeking greater happiness and fulfillment, this movement could empower people to live more authentically and joyfully, creating ripple effects of positivity and well-being in their communities and beyond.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have a cup of coffee with Dr. Shefali Tsabary. She has inspired me to become a better mother with her book “The Conscious Parent”. I consider her spiritual philosophy in raising children amazing!

Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.