The Friendly Divorce: Acknowledge the Love That is There:
(Provided by: How to Divorce As Friends, by Bill Ferguson)
We seldom notice the love that's present in painful relationships.

Once two people fall in love, the love is there to stay. You can't push it away even if you wanted to. The excitement and thrill of a relationship may fade but not the love. The love just gets buried by all the upset. We can't see it because of all the anger and hurt. Love is what makes a difficult relationship so painful. If some stranger rejected you or put you down, you wouldn't be so upset. When the rejection comes from someone you love, it hurts. People can love each other and still have a lousy relationship. Some people will fight and get on each other's nerves forever. Some people do cruel things to each other. This doesn't mean there's no love.

Now this doesn't make sense. How can you love someone and want a divorce? How can you love someone when you want to have the person shot at sunrise? We've been taught all these rules about love. When our actions don't match these rules, we invalidate the love that's there. So don't listen to what you have been taught. Don't look in your head for the love. Look in your heart. Look under the hurt, the anger and the frustration. You will see the love if you want to. The love is there. It is totally separate from your actions and your feelings. Allow yourself to see how much you still love the other person. Let go of your dreams for how it could have been. Allow the loss. Allow the sadness. Allow the hurt.

As you allow yourself to feel your hurt, the hurt loses power and begins to dissolve. When you fight and resist your hurt, the hurt turns into pain and seems to last forever. Little children are masters at releasing hurt. This is because they are totally willing to feel their emotions. When they feel hurt, they cry. When they finish crying, their hurt disappears. They bounce right back as though nothing had ever happened. So be like a child. Be willing to feel your hurt. Cry if you can. It's okay. Allow yourself to feel your hurt and notice the love that's there.

Once you acknowledge the love, the sting of a painful relationship loses power. The sense of invalidation and rejection fade away. You feel better about yourself and better about your life. You also become far more effective in your relationship. Once you tell the truth to yourself about how much you love the other person, you can then interact out of the love that's there, rather than out of the anger, the resentment and the hurt. When you interact with love, you change what happens in your relationship. The other person then begins to feel safe instead of threatened. Walls of protection come down. Often the fighting stops overnight. It's hard to fight with someone who's on your side. Now this doesn't mean you have to live with the other person or agree with that person's actions. There are times when living together just doesn't work. Some people will get on each other's nerves forever. It's okay to recognize this and go your separate ways, knowing that under the hurt is the love.

When you operate from the love, your relationship becomes supportive. When you operate from the anger and resentment, you create opposition and resistance. You invite pain and suffering. There may be times when it seems easier to come from the anger instead of the love, but it just doesn't work. When you get angry, look at the truth. You are angry, but you still love the person. It's okay to be angry. It's just not an effective way to relate. Remember:
  • It's okay to love someone and still want a divorce.
  • It's okay to love someone and not want to live with the person.
  • It's okay to love someone and be hurt.
  • It's just a matter of telling the truth.
What hurts the most is to love someone and then lie to yourself about it.

Mary's relationship with Bob had become so painful that she filed for divorce. She wanted to get as far away from Bob as possible. Then she saw that under all of her anger and frustration, she still loved him.

She didn't notice this before because loving Bob didn't make any sense. How could she love someone and want to leave him? This made no sense, but when she looked, she saw that the love was there.

She loved Bob even though she felt angry and wanted out of the relationship.

Once Mary saw her love for Bob, she realized that Bob probably had the same love for her. The moment she saw this, she started feeling her hurt.

She felt the hurt of losing her relationship and her dreams for how her relationship could have been. She cried and cried. Then, after she finished crying, she felt a wonderful freedom. Most of her hurt and invalidation had disappeared.

Her next concern centered on how to interact with Bob. She wanted to express her love for him, but she was afraid he would take it the wrong way. She didn't want to give him any false hope.

Finally, she decided to take a chance. She told him that she loved him. She loved him, even though she wanted a divorce.

At first, this was hard for Bob to understand, but Mary continued to express her love. Eventually, Bob understood. He then let go of his defensiveness and began to express his love in return.

Mary and Bob still got a divorce, but their relationship became an expression of their love and support for each other. Today they are best friends.
Action to Take
  • Notice that under all the hurt and upset, you still love the other person. You may not want to live with the person, or even see the person; but under the hurt, the love is still there.

  • Let go of your dreams for how it could have been. Be willing to feel the hurt and the loss. Don't fight the hurt or run from it. Allow it. Cry if you can.

  • Look beyond the other person's anger and see his or her hurt. Then look beyond that person's hurt and see the love that he or she still has for you.

  • Interact with the other person out of the love that's there instead of the anger and upset.
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