Ladies Night Out

A newly formed group offers practical help and emotional support to divorced women

It’s a fact: Approximately half of all couples who tie the knot in the U.S. this year will end up divorced. No matter whether the separation is acrimonious or completely amicable, the process of breaking up a marriage takes a toll on both parties. But for women, navigating through the legal, financial, practical, and emotional issues that a divorce brings on can be especially difficult.

Kris Dufresne knows this firsthand. “I went through a divorce myself,” she says. “It’s like having a death in your family. You go through the same stages – anger, grief, sorrow. But with a death, everybody is rallying around you, supporting you. In divorce, they’re choosing sides. It affects friendships, your extended family – every aspect of your life.”

The experience spurred Dufresne to form the ExWife Factor, a networking group of separated and divorced women based in Dutchess County. Since last October, the group has been meeting one evening each month to “socialize, offer information and resources, and have fun,” says Dufresne (who is now remarried and lives in Beekman). The casual get-togethers are held in LaGrangeville at the Links at Union Vale, and include appetizers and drinks from a cash bar. Each meeting’s agenda features guest speakers, which so far have included an attorney, a personal trainer, a comedian, and local beauty expert Marlene Weber (who gave several attendees makeovers on the spot).

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Most importantly, the meetings allow women at various stages in the divorce process to connect with, help, and encourage each other. “Women need a system that offers support,” says Dufresne. “Many times, you feel isolated and alone. You realize that you’re not when you meet others who are going through the same things you are.”

Dufresne is quick to point out that the ExWife Factor “is not about male-bashing” and isn’t a “support group” in the traditional sense. “It’s a nice, fun environment. We’re out for the night, it’s relaxed.” So far, the feedback she’s received from participants has been nothing but positive. “Several women have thanked me for starting the group,” she says.

Dufresne hopes that recently separated or divorced women will “see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel” by interacting with those who have been down the same road. “I want to empower women to make good decisions,” she says. “And I want them to know that it’s going to be okay. Divorce shouldn’t define who you are.”

The next meeting of the ExWife Factor takes place on March 13 at the Links at Union Vale. Scheduled speakers include Greg Bayer of Omni Financial Advisory Group (who discusses how to go about creating a blueprint for a financial future), and Ondrea Lynn of Body and Soul by Ondrea (who teaches secrets of healthy cooking). For more info, call Dufresne at 845-416-3863 or visit


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