How to transform from a hapless ""ex-wife"" into a self-sufficient matriarch, capable of assuming full responsibility for oneself and one's children. According to psychologist Kahn (The Kahn Report on Sexual Preferences, 1981), post-divorce healing is similar to that following the death of a loved one in that the old life must be set aside for a new one. The divorced woman, however, particularly when children are involved, often has to maintain contact with her ex-husband; unless she keeps him at arm's length, says Kahn, she can get trapped in the ""ex-wife syndrome."" She may surrender to her ex too much control over child-rearing, finances, her life choices. She may fantasize she'll get him back--or get back at him. She may wallow in self-pity or short-circuit potentially positive opportunities. A series of checklists here enable divorced women to pinpoint their particular hang-ups. With this knowledge and sheer willpower, they presumably can mend their ways. The major step is to establish ""rules of order,"" which involve dealing with an ex primarily by phone, in writing, or through a lawyer; requiring appointments for visits; and, above all, eschewing social and sexual relationships with the former husband. Through scenarios and case histories drawn from her client roster, Kahn demonstrates how these rules can work in many situations. Padded, and freighted with hostility toward ex-husbands, but strewn with nuggets of useful hard-nosed advice.