Beyond Divorce – Staying in Love When the Marriage is Over

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“Every moment is a gift when you are open to what is appearing now.”

We’ve been very fortunate. Although Chris’ and my marriage was pretty rough, we’ve been able to emerge from that difficult time to be business partners and best friends. Now I’m blessed to count his wife among my dearest friends and I was so honored when she (not he) asked me to be the godmother to their children.

But how could that be possible? It’s not like Chris and I had this rosy marriage. Quite the opposite. Looking around at all the couples that never talk to each other again after they get a divorce, I can so understand how hurt they feel and why they wouldn’t ever want to see that person again. And especially when there are no children involved, why would you choose to be around someone with whom you experienced so much pain?

The Journey to Staying in Love

When Chris and I divorced in 1996, we made the commitment to each other to stay connected. Neither one of us wanted to go down the path of bitterness and blame. But our relationship truly shifted three years later when my friend Radhika told me that Byron Katie was coming to my home in your very favorite vacation spot, Fairfield, IA.

Radhika couldn’t stop raving about this woman so I went and was immediately struck. I was invited to join Katie and a group of people for lunch and over the meal she asked me all about my job as Marketing Director for Books are Fun, at the time the 3rd largest book buyer in the U.S.

Before the meal was over Katie invited me to quit my job, move to California and run her marketing activities. I was intrigued. At the time, Chris was on an extended meditation program in North Carolina. I called him and asked if he’d come to Washington, D.C. and Boston with me where this woman was speaking to help me decide if I should turn my life upside down.

We went and that time was remarkable. Both of us were blown away.

A few months later, I took over the role of Marketing Director for Katie, although I declined moving to California. Chris was the one who ended up going to California, moving into Katie’s home in Manhattan Beach. For the next year we helped her with her marketing efforts, me from Iowa and Chris from California. During that time we both completed Katie’s School for the Work and it was such a powerful experience, we both came away feeling like we had made major breakthroughs.

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The Work of Byron Katie

If there is one thing I can say was the basis of Chris and me being able to transform our relationship and make it better, it’s The Work of Byron Katie. Why do most people get a divorce? Because they blame the other partner for making them unhappy or miserable or destroying the marriage. As long as it’s the other person’s fault, then I don’t have to feel like I failed.

As we’ve shared in other posts, blame, shame and justification are the crutches that keep people feeling like victims. When there is no victim, than what would keep you from loving someone? Fundamentally, the cause of divorce is an attachment to false beliefs, concepts or ideas. The way to emerge from the unhappiness caused by those beliefs is to investigate what is really true for you.

The Work is a simple, yet powerful tool for self-investigation. It consists of 4 questions and a turnaround. For example, if you had the thought, “He’s a jerk,” you would ask these questions:

“He’s a jerk.”
“Is that true?”
“Yes.”

“Can you really know that that’s true?”
“Yes, I know it’s true.”

“How do you feel when you have that thought?”
“I feel angry, upset, distant. I feel like I never want to be around this man I love so much.”

“Who would you be without that thought (if you didn’t even have the ability to think that thought)?”
“I would be in love with him, feeling compassion for the pain he’s feeling that makes him act like a jerk.”

“Turn the thought around:”
“I’m a jerk.”

“Can you find three pieces of evidence that this is true?”
“I get upset by how he acts and can’t even see the pain he’s in.”
“I pull away and distance myself when he needs me most.”
“I told him I didn’t want to be with him anymore when that wasn’t true.”

There is no way Chris and I could have had the relationship we have without The Work of Byron Katie. If you’re hurting, it’s one of the best tools I can recommend to you. Just go to TheWork.com and click on “The Work.” You can walk through the whole process for free on the website.

If you want support and guidance from someone very skilled in providing personal attention, connect with our good friend Leila Reyes at ReclaimYourselfAfterDivorce.com.

Divorce is tough. Breaking up IS hard to do. But life continues and if you are open to redefining your relationship with your ex, you may discover there are ways you can support each other that you never dreamed of before.

With love

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Janet Bray Attwood

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