Bill Ferguson, a former top divorce attorney now known as “The Love Counselor” for his work in taking the conflict out of divorce, recently talked with DadsDivorce.com about how to part ways as friends.
For the past 25 years, Ferguson has devoted his life to healing relationships and his work has been featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He created the How to Divorce as Friends web site to show you, step-by-step, how to end conflict, restore cooperation, heal your relationship, and if necessary, divorce as friends.
Ferguson talked with us about the cycle of conflict, healing the hurt, and restoring the love in relationships, maybe not as husband and wife but at least as one human being to another.
DD: How do you get over it: the hurt, the resentment, and move forward?
BF: In divorce, there are all sorts of hurt. The automatic avoidance of this emotion forces us to act in a way that everything worse very quickly. What happens in a difficult relationship is there is all this emotion being triggered but we don’t see the emotion; we only see the circumstances causing the emotion.
The first step to being free is to separate the circumstances from the emotion. The circumstance is outside of you and the emotion is inside of you. When you’re upset it’s a state of mind. It looks like the upset is caused by the circumstance and what happened, but it’s an illusion. The upset state of mind is fighting the illusion of what happened. What would happen to the upset if you were totally at peace with what happened? The upset would be gone.
So when you’re in that state of upset, we’re very destructive. Once you realize you’re upset and being destructive then that is the moment you start getting your power back. There’s the circumstance over there and then there’s the emotion in me. The moment you see that the two are not connected you instantly get the power of the situation.
DD: What is the key to parting as friends? What steps should a divorcing man take?
BF: One key is letting go. Trust that you’re going to be OK no matter what happens. If I know I’m going to be fine, it’s pretty easy to let go. If I don’t trust that I’ll be fine, I’ll be threatened, I’ll resist and I’ll do destructive things.
Also, feel the hurt willingly like a child. What does a child do when he’s hurt? He feels the hurt, he cries it out, and then he’s fine and back running around. If I’m willing to feel the hurt and emotion of losing my wife, the circumstance of her actually leaving won’t have power over me. The hurt is what forces us to be resentful, critical, angry, etc. The anger, blaming and resentment are ways to avoid the hurt and avoid looking ourselves.
You also want to always make sure the other person feels love. That’s key. What creates the conflict is not accepting somebody. You want to accept them and appreciate them exactly as they are and do everything to empower them.
DD: Why is it essential for divorcing couples to divorce as friends?
BF: A divorce can never end a relationship; the relationship is there forever. The quality of that relationship has a big impact on life, especially if you have children. If you want that relationship to be great, you have to take responsibility for that result. Make them feel loved, appreciated and accepted, maybe not as husband and wife but as one human to another.
Note: This is Part 2 of our Q&A with Bill Ferguson. Click here to read Part 1.
Bill Ferguson, a relationship and divorce expert and former top divorce attorney, created the How to Divorce as Friends web site to show you, step-by-step, how to end conflict, restore cooperation, heal your relationship, and if necessary, divorce as friends. From helpful articles to workshops and videos, from consulting to books, CDs & e-books, this site has everything you need to help you get through this difficult time.