The country singer's new book, 'The Next Chapter,' is out now
In an excerpt shared exclusively with PEOPLE from her new book, The Next Chapter: Making Peace with Hard Memories, Finding Hope All Around Me, and Clearing Space for Good Things to Come, Kramer, 39, details how she and Caussin, 36, settled the divorce on their own terms and what he said to her afterward.
The country singer and actress married the NFL star in May 2015 in Charlottesville, Virginia, and they welcomed two kids together: daughter Jolie, 7½, and son Jace, 4, (she is currently expecting a third baby with fiancé Allan Russell).
Kramer and Caussin had a deal to write another book together about trust, but when they divorced in April 2021, she felt she had another story to tell. In The Next Chapter, Kramer details her journey of finding peace after a painful divorce.
One day My Ex came over to pick up some more of his stuff. We hadn’t been talking face to face. My lawyer was in communication with his, and the lack of control of what was going on had me spinning inside. I didn’t even know where My Ex was staying. I knew he was trying to find a place to live. During that time he asked to put the kids to bed a few nights; when he came over, I would just bite my lip. I hoped he would simply disappear from our lives forever. Then again, was that something I really wanted?
Suddenly, seeing him, I felt present in the reality of our situation. The divorce was happening, and the longer we both waited to finalize it, the harder it would be to move on.
The divorce itself and all my legal conversations and questions ate me alive at night. I was told not to communicate with My Ex about the logistics, but how could I not say anything? This was my life. This was my money, money that I had fought to earn for years. I was the girl who stole toilet paper from the Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill and ate frozen taquitos for a grueling year while I tried to make it in LA. I was broke for most of my twenties and in the red, accumulating debt. Somehow though I always managed to get out of the red. Work on Grey’s Anatomy, Entourage, and Friday Night Lights would get me out of the red just enough to take a breath for a month.
It wasn’t until I booked One Tree Hill that I was able to keep money in the bank. Looking back, it wasn’t a lot of money, but I felt I had made it, hit the jackpot. I remember the first time I bought something expensive: a three-hundred- dollar ring, portraying a bird that had opened the cage and I remember staring at it thinking, “this is me. A bird out of her cage after all these years.” I was with Sophia Bush, who kept telling me to buy it, that I could afford it because I was a series regular now. The price tag made me choke, though, and I kept saying I couldn’t afford it. In the end, I bought the ring. I was sick about spending that money for more than a week. Then one day, I looked down at the bird fleeing her cage on my hand and knew she found a home.
In the entertainment world there is no promised tomorrow. I could have a job today and be without it before I even know why. I’ve always been aware of this; since One Tree Hill, I have hustled to get work; I never want to be in the red again. I’m also very careful with money because I didn’t grow up with it. I worked from an early age. My mom was a single parent who worked three jobs, so if I really wanted something, I had to work for it.
With the divorce, I was afraid of being put in a situation where I could lose everything I had worked for. It was complete torture. As I watched My Ex pack up his whiskey bottles, so many questions ran through my mind. How much is he going to ask for? Is he going to fight the postnup? What has he said to his lawyer?
I should have stayed quiet, left it to the lawyers to handle, but in my true fashion I asked, “The money. How much do you want?” “I have a number in mind.” He said.
I replied, “Okay, so tell me.”
“We should let the lawyers deal with this.”
Point to My Ex. He was right, “We should let the lawyers deal with this” — but guess what? I didn’t want the lawyers to handle everything because I couldn’t handle the stress and anxiety of constantly worrying and losing sleep over what I would have left for money while everything got worked out in the discovery process in court. That could take a year — or more — and that meant I’d have to spend more money in lawyer’s fees. My Ex was also spending thousands of dollars on our credit cards on guns and golf clubs, and I needed all of that to stop. I needed us to be separate for good. I needed to eliminate all that stress.
That’s why I thought I should spend more and give My Ex what he wanted. At the end of the day, my peace of mind was worth millions, (well not millions, but you know what I mean), and something told me that despite my scarcity mindset, I should have faith that everything would come back to me this time in beauty, not ashes.
“Tell me what you want,” I said.
I choked. I actually was at a loss for words and spun around to him like he was the devil incarnate.
“You want half?” You want half?” I said repeatedly. I couldn’t believe it. He thought he was entitled to half. Then I said, “So, you’re fighting the postnup?”
“Yes. You forced me to sign it anyway.”
“I didn’t make you sign anything,” I said. “You knew what happened if you cheated again.”
Obviously, he didn’t care. Now that I knew his plan, I had to strategize one of my own.
After he left that night, I created my first-ever Excel spreadsheet. I made three columns. The first column, Some, showed what My Ex would get in the settlement if the judge honored the postnup that he signed after he was caught cheating for the first time. The second column, Half, showed how things looked if we split things equally and fairly. Then there was the third column, Everything, where he got every commercial project we had done together—every Instagram ad, every podcast episode ad, every penny of the advance for our book and then some.
I called him later that night to see if he wanted to review our options together. An hour later, he rang the doorbell. We sat in the bedroom, and I watched as he looked over the spreadsheet. He put down my computer and immediately brought up childcare. I figured this was coming and I was glad he was being direct about it. This is what it was going to come down to: either getting more time with the kids or getting more money. I wanted more time with the kids, and he knew that. In the end, I agreed to give him what was spelled out in the Everything column, and I walked away with more time with the kids.
We shook hands, and I called my lawyer the next morning. I told my lawyers what My Ex and I had agreed to, and asked them to draw up the papers for us to sign. I guess I might have won a better settlement and paid him less if we had gone to court, but he could have won, and then I would’ve walked out feeling like the girl at the Wood Ranch again. I didn’t play out those scenarios in my head, though, because I didn’t want to dwell on the what-ifs. I needed to be done, to start fresh. I had to believe that I made the right decision of not going to mediation sessions and, ultimately, court. My Ex and I are both fighters, and both of us would’ve gone down swinging, but that night we acted like adults and did what was best for the family.
As he was leaving, My Ex said, “You know, I never really loved you.”
He wanted to hurt me, and news flash, it did. I had taken massive steps away from him and toward a new future in the last few weeks, but hearing those words confirmed that little voice in my head that had been telling me that everything he did and said in our marriage was because he didn’t love me. That I had made it all up, that our marriage was just a great lie. I felt deep sadness for what we both had lost.
Copyright © 2023 by Jana Kramer. Excerpted by permission of HarperOne, an imprint
of HarperCollins Publishers.
The Next Chapter is now available for purchase.
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