The Next Chapter Begins
Jana Kramer has never been shy when it comes to sharing intimate details of her personal life, including her relationship with her ex-husband Mike Caussian.
The couple, parents to Jolie Rae, 7, and Jace Joseph, 4, divorced in 2021 after six years of marriage. They previously separated in August 2016 due to Caussian's infidelity, a marital issue they openly discussed.
But in The Next Chapter, Kramer is reframing the discourse around her relationship with Caussian, whom she refers to as the "Ex" throughout the book.
"We never shied away from discussing our problems or our decision to stay together, so when the marriage fell apart, the shame was immense and all-consuming," Kramer writes. "I was cast as the eternal victim, and he, the perpetrator. These two roles neither captured who we really were nor gave us a chance to evolve beyond them."
Kramer acknowledges that their marriage had issues that went beyond Caussian's cheating, which became a scapegoat.
"That idea was the greatest lie of our relationship: If there weren’t epic infidelity issues, we would be the happiest, most loving couple, all sunshine and butterflies," she shares. "It was the lie we told ourselves during every fight and every time we made up."
Ultimately, Kramer admits, "It’s obvious my needs weren’t being met. The infidelity just highlighted that more."
Owning Her Part
While Caussian's indiscretions were an easy excuse to point to, Kramer admits to her own faults in The Next Chapter.
"My therapist would say, 'No, Jana, your ex’s choices were the reason your relationship ended.' That may be largely true, but I know he started to feel like a prisoner," Kramer acknowledges. "I was so afraid of losing my family that I dug my nails in deeper to protect myself from getting hurt and to prevent him from hurting me again."
While she tries to not blame herself for his actions, Kramer writes, "'I did hear a lot of times, 'If you didn’t do this, I wouldn’t do that."
In hindsight, Kramer continues, she "can sympathize with My Ex on how he felt like he couldn’t do anything."
The Final Straw
Despite co-writing a bestselling book, The Good Fight, about saving their relationship, Kramer and Caussian's marriage was crumbling. And it only worsened when the couple temporarily moved to Vancouver in February 2021 while she was filming a movie.
"We were both frayed from COVID fears, and frustrations about our marriage were at a boil," Kramer writes, revealing they got into a heated argument over Caussian purchasing a $500 watch without discussing it with her.
Things didn't improve after they returned home, with Kramer recalling their final fight before she filed for divorce in April 2021.
The breaking point? Laundry.
After Caussian failed to put wet clothes in the dryer when she asked, Kramer detailed their argument, which included Caussian allegedly throwing the items at her, causing her to fall.
"Against my will, I started to cry," she continues. "In true Ex fashion he said, 'That didn’t hurt. Get the f--k up.'" He continued to antagonize said Kramer, writing, "That was his superpower: mocking me."
After spending the night in the guest room, Kramer woke up and felt the urge to check Caussian's iPad.
"There it was. My reason," she reveals. "I found emails to another woman, sent from an account I had no knowledge of."
Caussian denied it when Kramer confronted him, and she demanded he get out of the house.
The Dreaded D-Word
Though he initially denied the accusation, Kramer says Caussian eventually "apologized for sending inappropriate messages to other women, swearing up and down that nothing physical had happened."
Kramer then claims that Caussian confessed to another indiscretion: "He revealed that he physically cheated on me while he was working on his problems at a therapy retreat center more than a year earlier."
While she was devastated, Kramer was also exhausted and decided to file for divorce. She recalls sharing the news with their couples' therapists, "who didn’t sound that surprised," Kramer writes. "They reminded me of instances when My Ex would struggle with empathy or exhibit bad behavior, like the time he nearly flipped over the coffee table in one of their offices out of rage."
Still, the decision to serve Caussian with divorce papers was a difficult one for Kramer, who locked herself in her bedroom crying when it happened. She then immediately posted the news on Instagram to stay resolute.
"I knew that if I didn’t put the news out there right then, I would have let My Ex come back in, somehow, some way," she admits. "If I put it out there, then there would be no way I could take it back. How could I? I would have looked like a fool, yet again."
E! News has reached out to Caussian for comment.
Her Fear of Being Alone
“Like my character Alex Dupre on One Tree Hill said, 'I hate myself when it’s quiet.' I never related more to a character than in that scene."
Kramer opens up about learning to be okay without being in a romantic relationship.
"I used to think being alone meant I was weak, or not worthy enough to have someone around," she writes. "Now I see being alone as a place and time to find myself, learn about myself, be still, and lean into my faith."
The Whine Down podcast also admits "forgiving myself was harder than forgiving My Ex."
Feeling angry at herself for staying in the relationship, Kramer acknowledges, "that I wasted years of my life, resources, and time on a man who was not going to change and never wanted to, and that I let my children see us fight in unhealthy ways."
Ultimately, Kramer was able to absolve herself, coming up with a helpful acronym to share with others.
“Instead of beating yourself up for doing the same thing again by loving the same kind of man again or repeating patterns you promised you wouldn’t, give yourself grace and say out loud, 'AFGO,'" she writes. "What is 'AFGO?’ I’m glad you asked. It’s 'A F--king Growth Opportunity.'"
Moving On and Messing Up
After her divorce from Caussian was finalized, Kramer believed she was ready to date again when she crossed paths with former Navy Seal Ian Schinelli, whom she refers to as "Seth" in the book, at a children's birthday party.
The pair dated for six months, which Kramer recounts as tumultous after she claims that she discovered he lied about cheating on his ex-wife while looking at his phone. ("Side note: if you have to look through someone ’s phone to find truth or answers," she adds, "you’re not in the right relationship.")
The experience, ultimately, was an enlightening one about her behavior when it comes to love.
“I didn’t realize I was starving when I met Seth. I thought I was at this highest high of self-realization," she shares. "But this had been a pattern in my life, and I wish I had seen it then: I’d do mountains of self-work to change and grow as a person, only to choose the wrong guy in the final hour. I would give all my newfound goodness away to the first guy that met my loosely held 'criteria.'"
While there were "red flags" early on, Kramer stayed in the relationship because she "became consumed with not wanting to look like a failure, and I worried I wouldn’t find anyone better," she admits. "I wanted the relationship to work because I wanted to prove to myself that I had grown."
After their breakup in April 2022, Kramer's therapist offered her a silver lining, telling the singer, "At least you figured it out sooner and left. That’s your growth."
Her "Lowest Low"
Kramer admits to "spiraling" in the weeks after her breakup with "Seth," which included a tabloid publishing a tell-all interview with her ex. For the first time publicly, Kramer shares that she struggled with suicidal ideation.
"Bawling, I sat down on my bed, then grabbed my gun case out of my night-table drawer," she recalls. "I opened it and stared down at that gun in my hands and cried the loudest I ever have. I wanted the noise to stop. I wanted my brain to stop. I wanted the messages to stop. I just wanted it all to stop."
After putting down the weapon, Kramer called her friend who owns Onsite Workshops and admitted she needed help. She went the next day, writing, "I don't think I've ever driven as fast to a place as I did there."
Reflecting on the experience in a session with her therapist, Kramer had to come to terms with the that she was struggling.
"I continued to say I love my kids more than anything in this world and that I would never take my life," she writes. "But I had to own up to the fact that I did grab the case and open it because I was desperate. I was crying out for help."
E! News reached out to Schinelli for comment but has yet to hear back.
Help From a Friend on the Hill
After her divorce, Kramer got help from a familiar face, revealing a powerful text message she received from her former One Tree Hill co-star Hilarie Burton Morgan that read, "I hope you are feeling relief right now, you don’t have to carry everything yourself."
Kramer recalls thinking, "'Wow, she is so right,' and what a relief it truly was."
Her Original Plans for a Second Book
On the heels of the success of The Good Fight, Kramer and Caussian had signed a contract to write a follow-up book about learning to trust again prior to their split.
"After our divorce, I figured I would never write another book," Kramer admits. "How could I possibly try to write again when my first book would always be there as this physical example of everything I had gotten wrong? As it turns out, I was meant to write a book about trust all along, but I was meant to write it alone."
But her editor initially wanted Kramer to wait until she was in a relationship to release a second book.
"Even though she meant it kindly, I said the biggest no ever," Kramer explains. "I told her how important it was for me to write this book while not in a relationship."
A Farewell to Remember
After her divorce from Caussian was finalized, Kramer memorialized their marriage in a session with her longtime therapist. "
We wore black," she recalls. "We had a funeral for my marriage, and I read a eulogy to say goodbye. We lit a candle, and I buried my marriage in that office."