The Friendly Divorce: Focus on Cleaning Up Your Relationship:
(Provided by: How to Divorce As Friends, by Bill Ferguson)
Once you establish an intimate relationship with someone, you will have a relationship with that person for the rest of your life. This is true whether you live together or apart. Even if you move to the North Pole, a part of the other person will still be with you. To the extent your relationship is supportive, your life will be more enjoyable and more productive. To the extent you have conflict, you will suffer. You will get upset any time you are with the person or even think about the person. You will become tense and frustrated. You will lose your happiness, your energy and your peace of mind.

When a relationship doesn't work, it affects every aspect of your life. Sometimes the fear and upset can be so consuming that you lose all your effectiveness. You can't move forward. Even your future relationships are affected. You carry the past wherever you go. Until you heal your relationship, you will never be totally free. The anger and hurt will follow you forever. The nature of your relationship also determines your ability to resolve issues. Couples who cooperate resolve their issues quickly. Couples who work against each other create a nightmare. When couples use lawyers and the courthouse to do their fighting, the situation becomes a disaster. Bringing in an adversarial attorney is like bringing in the heavy artillery. Everyone gets hurt. You make your situation much worse.

Whenever you take action to come out on top, without regard to the other person, you create opposition against yourself. The other person doesn't like coming out second best any more than you do. So whenever you do something to put yourself first and the other person second, you force that person to fight to protect him or herself from you. Then you have to fight to protect yourself from the other person. You create a cycle of conflict that produces tremendous damage and usually lasts for years. It's just like war. When you resolve issues by force instead of cooperation, you play tug-of-war with each other's well-being. The name of the game is survival. The motivator is fear and resentment.

When there is no focus on resolving issues, they don't get resolved. Conflict goes on and on with no end in sight. The damage and suffering become greater and greater.

People think that if they just fight hard enough, then somehow the issues will get resolved in their favor. It just doesn't work that way. Issues usually get resolved somewhere in the middle with both sides being disappointed. People spend a fortune in legal fees and lots of heartache to get what they could have worked out by themselves. To make matters worse, the divorce decree they've fought over isn't worth much. You can have a decree an inch thick, but it's only as good as the relationship. When someone is full of anger and resentment, some paper signed by a judge won't gain his or her cooperation. It won't make sure the decree is honored. If someone wants to get back at you, that person will find a way and the decree won't help one bit. So, as a legal and common sense strategy, it is very important to have your relationship work.

The more you gala the other person's cooperation and concern for your well-being, the easier your life will be. Disagreements get resolved quickly and everyone's well-being will be preserved. How you interact with the other person will affect the quality of your life from here on out. So put the focus on having your relationship work. If you decide to go your separate ways, a supportive relationship can allow you to part as friends. If you decide to stay together, a supportive relationship will certainly make your life a lot more enjoyable. Whatever happens, have your relationship work. Have it work whether you stay together or not.
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