Episode 102 - New Life after Divorce with Bill Butterworth
In this episode, Leh and Todd interview Bill Butterworth, a professional speaker and author of the book New Life after Divorce. Getting through the divorce process is difficult enough as it is. Most people have a tough time facing the demise of the marriage. For Bill Butterworth, he was also fearful that this was the end of his career, because he was a professional speaker who gave presentations on marriages! When Bill finally worked through his divorce and its aftermath, he decided to write a book. He not only managed to get through the process, but actually grow and become a better person as a result of the tragedy. In his book, he explains how he did it. It is a great resource for anyone who is dealing with a divorce or has recently been divorced.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether and Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether and Tharp radio on the new Talk 106.7. Here you will learn about divorce, family law, tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis and from time to time, even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level. If you want to learn more about us, you can always check us out online, in atlantadivorceteam.com. Well, Todd, I'm-
Todd Orston: Excited. You're excited.
Leh Meriwether: I am super excited today.
Todd Orston: You're really stepping it up a notch.
Leh Meriwether: I am.
Todd Orston: All right.
Leh Meriwether: Well, that's because we have a very special guest with us, today. We're actually going a little bit ... I wouldn't say off-subject, it is on-subject, but were going beyond just the law today. We're going to be talking with Bill Butterworthutterworth. Now, Bill is an award-winning communicator, whose talks, columns and books are providing education and encouragement to people throughout North America. As a writer, Bill has written or ghost-written over three dozen books. The one we're going to be talking about today is New Life After Divorce. Bill himself has actually been through a divorce, and I can't wait until we get into his story, and he has some great things to say to people that are in the middle of a divorce, who have just gone through a divorce and is struggling to get through it.
Leh Meriwether: Bill maintains a heavy speaking schedule made up of conventions, banquets, conferences, retreats, businesses, churches and school-sponsored lectures. His audiences range from the corporate world to church congregations. Not only has he been warmly received at such churches as Willow Creek Community Church ... I can't talk today.
Todd Orston: Take your time. It's just radio, so it's fine. Nobody's judging you by your words, it's fine.
Leh Meriwether: ... Saddleback Community Church, Saddle Mountain community church. He's also addressed such corporate clients as Disney, Microsoft, Federal Express, American Express, Ford Motor Company, 27 teams in the National Football League, 14 teams in the Major League Baseball, six teams in the National Basketball Association, and in the world of public speaking, he's been honored with the Hal Holbrook Award, presented by the International Platform Association. Bill, thanks so much for coming on the show.
Bill Butterworthutterworth: Hey, it's my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me, you two.
Leh Meriwether: I'm really looking forward to talking about your book. I've had the chance to read it, and as I said in the email I sent to you earlier, I can't believe I didn't read your book before, because, gosh it could have helped so many of our clients with ... We're not normally involved in that process as lawyers, but still, I like to help as many clients as possible.
Bill Butterworth: Yeah, you know, it's one of those books that you kind of wish you never have to write. You would rather not be known as the guy who wrote the book about his divorce. I think there are higher compliments than that, but having been through a divorce now, it made me realize that perhaps I did have some things that I could share that weren't covered quite the same way in other books. As you read in my bio, I have done a lot of speaking and counseling and things of that nature, did a lot of marriage and family types of subjects. And then to go through a divorce, it's like, well, okay, I'm supposed to know how this all works, theoretically, academically, professionally, all those really cool words. But when you deal with it personally, it adds a whole deeper layer of meaning to it. These days, when I talk about this subject, my professionalism or academic background or theory seems much less significant than, let me just tell you what it was like for me and how I got through it.
Todd Orston: Just jumping in for a second, everybody, the one thing that we find, everyone can get through a divorce right? If it's filed, they're going to get through it. The important thing-
Bill Butterworthutterworth: Exactly.
Todd Orston: The important thing, I'm sorry to interrupt, is how you get through it.
Leh Meriwether: Right.
Todd Orston: How successful, emotionally, not just did you get the toaster? It's what are you or how are you and who are you, as a person, when you come out on the back end of a divorce.
Leh Meriwether: Bill, the plan is to talk about your book, give people a taste of it so they go out and read it, especially for those that are struggling with their divorce in the middle of the holidays.
Bill Butterworthutterworth: Right.
Leh Meriwether: But I want our audience to know where you were coming from before the divorce started because your life experiences have placed you in a unique position to help others. I also think that those going through a divorce or who have gone through a divorce will better appreciate the advice that you have to give today and in your book, when they better know your story. Can you set the stage for us?
Bill Butterworthutterworth: Sure. I'd be glad to. I grew up in the Northeast. I grew up in Philadelphia and was raised by a wonderful mom and dad who made sure I was in church every weekend. I was pretty much a rule-obeyer. I was the kid that I didn't get in a lot of trouble. My plan was a typical Philadelphia kid's plan. I was going to go to Penn State. I was going to major in business and then eventually run IBM. My senior year of high school, God really got ahold of my life, and felt like I was called to ministry.
Bill Butterworthutterworth: Rather than going to Penn State, I went to a bible college where I studied and then went on to seminary and finished up there and began an active role in public ministry. It's kind of one of those weird things. I did everything that a pastor has done, but I've never actually pastored a church. I've taught at a Christian college. I've worked at a parachurch radio ministry, and I've been a guest speaker and writer in Christian circles for years, but I've never actually pastored a church.
Bill Butterworth: Nonetheless, it was kind of that squeaky clean life. Met a wonderful woman and we got married and had all these kids. We ended up with five wonderful kids. The world was just going my way. Everything seemed to be moving right along. The speaking schedule was increasing and the opportunities were coming along just fine.
Bill Butterworth: Then my wife said basically she didn't want to be married to me anymore. At the time, we were living in California. That's called the issue you want to be married, she doesn't. That's irreconcilable differences. I have to say, because the follow-up question is always, "Well, did you see this coming?" I have to say, as I've had years and years to look at this, it's like, no, not really. I know lots of happily married couples who still have their issues, who still have things that they need to go through. If you think you have a flawless marriage, I would like to welcome you into the Land of Denial. We all have issues that we deal with. I knew we had issues, but I didn't know they were going to be to the extent that we were going to have to get a divorce.
Bill Butterworth: It just bottomed me out. If dealing with a divorce on the personal level isn't bad enough, if you had paid attention earlier, what I did for a living is now totally in jeopardy. I've never heard of a group who would contact a speaker and say, "Hey, I hear you just went through a divorce. We're doing a married couples enrichment weekend. We want you to come and be our speaker."
Todd Orston: It's a little risky.
Bill Butterworth: It's as bizarre as you can get. Not only did I go through this emotionally, but it knocked me out of work, and I was a very unhappy camper for quite a while while I was trying to get back on my feet and get my head together.
Leh Meriwether: You've got going through your ... All of a sudden you're floored by this divorce that's been filed, which you didn't see coming and now, not only are you worried about your marriage ending and family life changing but career possibly at the end. How were you wrapping your head around this?
Bill Butterworth: There was a lot of confusion. I always like to make clear whether someone really has any kind of interest in spiritual matters or of God, something like a divorce always brings God back into a person's mind, whether they've ever thought about Him before or not. For a lot of people it's an anger issue. They're angry at God. "God, why did you allow this to happen? I thought you were good, and I thought you were loving, and I'm a mess. Why would this happen?" That's understandable. God is big enough that he can handle that issue. With time, I think most people come to an answer that is sensible.
Bill Butterworth: I have to say, I never really questioned God. It wasn't like, "God, what are you doing?" It was like, "Bill, what are you doing? What did you do on your end to create this, and how can I learn from this so that I don't have to go through it again?" That sounds pretty mature. To be fair, it took me a while to get there. I was pretty much a blubbering mass of blubber for quite a while trying to make sense of this. My poor kids, it was like they didn't want to be in the same room with me because they didn't know what to do with me, I was such a sad sack.
Bill Butterworth: I remember going into the kitchen one night and coming upon a conversation that I was not supposed to be hearing where basically two of my kids were saying, "I don't want to go in there. You go in there. I don't want to go in there. You go in." It's kind of like give this to Mikey kind of thing. Nobody wanted to deal with the old man. I did have to kind of regain my bearings. That's what a lot of this book is about-
Leh Meriwether: Hey, Bill.
Bill Butterworth: ... was trying to move through these different stages of grief that are very well known.
Leh Meriwether: Hey Bill, can I put you ... We've got to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to walk with Bill through the process of how he got through this. Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether and Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether and Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online, atlantadivorceteam.com, but I didn't want talk about us because we have with us on the phone Bill Butterworthutterworth, a world renowned author and speaker. He wrote a book called New Life After Divorce. We are going through with him ... that's what we're going to do, go through with him how he got through this divorce because before he thought everything was just fine, and he was actually a speaker who spoke about marriage. He's now facing the end of his marriage and worried about the end of his career, but he was able to get through it and wrote an amazing book about how he did it.
Leh Meriwether: I do want to say this, Bill. One of the things I loved about the book was that you never put anything negative about your ex-wife. It was focused on how you handled the whole situation ... how you handled it and how you took ownership for what you could take ownership of and then not worry about the things that were beyond your control.
Bill Butterworth: I really appreciate you saying that. That was a very important part of doing this book is this was not some kind of a dump-the-truck-on-somebody-else type of thing. For those of your listeners that are in the midst of a divorce or are already divorced, especially if you have children, to put their other parent in a bad light is not really the way you want to play it.
Todd Orston: You're right, and we tell our clients that all the time. I think most people deep down understand it. What's impressive is a lot of people, unfortunately, they succumb to those negative feelings, and they immediately engage in that negative behavior. If I have a question, my question to you is how'd you get beyond that? How did you ... This was thrown at you. You didn't want this, and it's natural to have some negative feelings, but you were able to rise above it. I think that's fantastic, and it's a testament to many things. Really, I'm curious as to how you even were able to put those negative feelings aside, focus on the positive.
Bill Butterworth: I hate to reduce it to a formula, but I've been asked that question so many times that actually I crafted that as the first three chapters of this book. It's just a little three-point outline that, to this day, is still very important to me, and it goes like this: I need acceptance from myself. I need help from others, and I need healing from God. Now I am years from my divorce. Now as a happily re-married man of almost 20 years, I can still say to you I wake up every morning and realize I have three really important needs. I need acceptance from myself. I need help from others, and I need healing from God. It's the kind of thing, it just never really goes away. No matter what your marital status might be, it's just kind of a good reminder of important issues in life no matter where you are.
Leh Meriwether: You broke your book up into four main parts, and unfortunately, can't go through the whole book in just an hour, but I did want to touch on some of the ... I wanted to sort of give a map, roadmap, for the next three segments. One of the things I wanted to touch on is I Need Help From Others, The Advantage of Time, Distance, and Wise Counsel, The Personal Power of Forgiveness, Dating May be Different When You're Not a Teenager. I'd like to end the show with specific advice on how people can get through the holidays because that ... you pointed out in your book, you gave an example of Valentine's Day, how certain holidays can be especially painful. That's what we're looking for. Now, you dedicated a whole chapter to seeking help from others. Why is that so important?
Bill Butterworth: Especially for someone who is in the early stages of recovering from their divorce, there just seems to be the tendency to pull a blanket over your head and pull the whole world in around you. I remember feeling embarrassed and worthless and inadequate and just a mess. While I'm in the midst of that, there's five kids that need some attention. There's a career. There's other relationships. There's things that are going on and yet somehow I was trying to convince myself that I could handle that all by myself.
Bill Butterworth: It wasn't some amazing revelatory moment, but I can remember specifically waking up one day and realizing, wait a minute, I needed help just parenting five kids when I was happily married. We're outnumbered. The math is all wrong here. Why am I so reluctant to seek help from other people now that I'm in this single again state, which I actually needed more help. I gradually started trying to get folks to maybe help me with maybe a carpool. "I'll pick up your kids this day if you'll pick up my kids this day," just trying to get back into a routine where regular times of life can kind of take place.
Bill Butterworth: I know we'll talk about this later in the show, but the importance of having friends in your life, of other people, accountability people, people who can call you on your stuff. "Look what you're doing. You're in a pity party again. You're not getting any help. You need to man-up and ask for it and see what we can do here." I think that's really important to do things like that.
Leh Meriwether: I like how you said man-up. Not to try to take away from the ladies, but in your book, you wrote how the feeling of asking for help leaves people feeling like, "If I ask for help, that means I'm worthless or incompetent or inadequate." You're actually having to toughen up to ask for help because that's the right thing to do. That's really powerful. One of the things I also liked about in the book was you had mentioned that, hey look, at this new season of your life, maybe it's a perfect time to simplify the schedule. We see people fighting over custody arrangements because the kids are involved in so many extracurricular activities.
Bill Butterworth: Yeah, and that's wise counsel. I think if your listeners are in a happy stage of their life, they can do this on their own as well. That is, there are so many more opportunities to fracture the family schedule these days. It's good every now and then just to kind of take a breath and chart it all out and say, "Are we really ... Is it necessary to be involved in everything that we're involved in or can we scale back a little bit, or how can we make this a little more doable in our lives." That's good advice.
Leh Meriwether: One of the other chapters that I really liked was the Advantage of Time, Distance, and Wise Counsel. You probably should break that down separately. We only have, just to give you a heads up because you don't see the clock in front of us, we only have three minutes left in this segment, but can you just touch on what is the advantage of time and distance?
Bill Butterworth: I think when I was in the early stages of recovering from my divorce, I was desperate for a mathematical equation. I was married so many years and so I will need to grieve so many days, weeks, months, years before I can get on with my life. I wanted it to be all quantified. The more I realized how this all breaks down, everybody has their own calendar. People are going to grieve for different time lengths in order to do all their work. Once that's achieved, they create what I'm calling distance and it's not as painful because it's not right upon you like it was when it initially happened. There's a little bit of a newness and freshness in your life that you didn't have before.
Leh Meriwether: One of the things I liked that you said in there that was revealing hearing it from your perspective was that one of the constant things that was going through your mind, both during and after the divorce, was that it will never get better. It will be like this forever, and life will never be good again. Here you are a testament that that's not true.
Bill Butterworth: That's correct, and I did think that big time. I should have went out and bought a giant poster of Eeyore to just have as my role model. "It's another bad day. It's going to get worse," that kind of thing. Of course, we impact that so much just by our own personal thinking. If you wake this morning and say, "Hey, let's have a really lousy day today," chances are you're going to get your wish. A lot of it is how you approach the day. Again, with some time, with some distance, the light at the end of the tunnel reappears.
Leh Meriwether: That's good stuff. I know that we're going to get into this a little bit later just talking about the different stages of grief that people have to work through, and that's one of the things that I think the importance of time and distance are. It allows you to work through those stages of grief and the further you get away from it or get through this and get away from the event of the divorce itself, the better you'll be. I think that's such an important message that yes, you're feeling bad now but just hang in there because it will get better. We have had a few clients in the past year that unfortunately ... clients and opposing parties that committed suicide in the middle of the divorce. They couldn't get beyond that. I think we had six last year between our clients and the opposing party.
Leh Meriwether: Up next, we're going to talk about why it's important to have wise counsel and why time and distance alone are not enough.
Leh Meriwether: Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether and Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether and Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online, atlantadivorceteam.com.
Leh Meriwether: Today we have Bill Butterworthutterworth on the phone with us. He has an amazing story about how he went from being a professional speaker talking about marriage to being blindsided and just devastated by a divorce but getting through it and coming out with a new life. His new book is New Life After Divorce. I guess I need to bring it a little more upbeat. This is supposed to be positive. I ended the last segment talking about suicide. I wanted to mention that because ... I know it was down but ...
Todd Orston: Because we always like our listeners to cry into the segment.
Leh Meriwether: The point is Bill's here to talk about how, look, you may be feeling like that but you'll get through it. Actually, this next question I have for him is, I think, very helpful for someone that may be struggling with that. I noticed that in that chapter you coupled time and distance with wise counsel. Can you explain why time and distance alone weren't enough and that how you used wise counsel to get you through this dark chapter of your life?
Bill Butterworth: Yeah, I'm glad to do that because that's a very important part of my story. Having been a counselor, it was amazing how reluctant I was to actually seek any counseling myself. I always thought that the only people that went to counseling are really the sickos, the people that are just so messed up that they just can't figure it out on their own.
Bill Butterworth: I came upon an analogy that I feel really good about that's a little bizarre, but nonetheless, it makes the point. While I was going through all this, I'm at the house with the kids and the hot water heater goes out. I mean, we've got a puddle of water in the laundry room. I am not the kind of guy that works well with my hands. At best, I can simply hand the tools to the right person. That's as good as I get.
Leh Meriwether: Todd's good at that, too.
Bill Butterworth: We called the plumber, and the plumber came out. This plumber was a fascinating guy because he spoke of his plumbing partners as human beings. He comes out and he tells me the hot water heater, "Well, she's gone. She lived a good life, but she's passed." He says, "We're going to have to replace her." He's going through funeral arrangements of what to do with this old hot water heater and how to put the new one in, and I'm completely at a loss because I don't know anything about plumbing.
Bill Butterworth: That's when it hit me: I had no reluctance whatsoever in picking up the phone and calling the plumber when I needed help with plumbing. It's the same way with dealing with problems that come up in my life that are really beyond my ability to make any sense to them. Now I'm a huge believer in counseling because I believe what a counselor brings to a life situation is a second set of eyes and a wise voice who can say, "Do you realize that when you describe the situation in a certain way that you were ..." and then they can help you see an insight that you would never see on your own. We do it with medical doctors for physical ailments.
Bill Butterworth: I think when we deal with it emotionally, a counselor can be very, very helpful. I recommend finding a counselor the same way you find your boyfriend or your girlfriend. Go on a few dates, see if you and the counselor click. If you don't, then go see another counselor until you someone who seems to be really helping you, but get the help that you need that's beyond what you're able to do. As I like to say, there's wisdom in calling the plumber.
Todd Orston: I'm glad you clarified that because I thought you were going to say we should find therapists at the local bar or dance club. No, I love the analogy, and even more so because unless, I guess, the flood is really, really bad, your judgment's not clouded by emotion, whereas with divorce, not only do you need help just because you need help, but your judgment may be off. You're, unfortunately, being affected. You have been affected by the emotions in the divorce. Getting that help, absolutely. I think it's ... really, it should be mandatory. Everybody should have someone that they can talk to that can really help work them through the pain that they're experiencing.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah, a professional in particular.
Todd Orston: Yeah.
Leh Meriwether: Because sometimes some of that help isn't so helpful.
Todd Orston: We've talked about that on the show as well.
Leh Meriwether: I do, Bill, I want to emphasize this one point because you made a point that I think people miss, that, look, if you go to a counselor and you to counseling but you say, "Oh, that counselor didn't help me," it may have been that counseling didn't help you, it's just that particular counselor didn't help you. I've had people call in and say, "Well, we tried marriage counseling." I'm like, "Explain that to me." "Well, we went to one person, and they just didn't seem a right fit." I'm like, "Then why didn't you try someone else?" That is so critical that people want to give up on counseling because the counselor might not have been the right one for them.
Todd Orston: Also, both parties need to be ... They both need to want it. It takes two to tango. Sometimes one party is going there because they really desperately want to fix what's broken, but it becomes very clear the other party doesn't want that.
Leh Meriwether: Yeah. Such good advice to get a second ... go try out and find a different counselor because, reading your book, the counselor made it a huge difference in your life.
Bill Butterworth: Absolutely.
Leh Meriwether: I like how you shared the part about the counselor pointed out how just deal with the things that you have control over and you've just got to ignore the rest. You can't let it create anxiety.
Bill Butterworth: Right because if it's out of your control, it's out of your power to change it. All we can work on is the stuff we have in our own basket. That's one of the very important truths that the counselor helped me with.
Leh Meriwether: I want to ask this one question. We weren't going to go into accountability groups and establishing good relationships. That's extremely important, as laid out in your book, but I have a question for you. Many people that are going through a divorce, they already are feeling rejected by their spouse, and I can imagine that they don't want to reach out to establish any sort of new relationships or accountability groups because there's this fear of rejection again. What do you say to the person that's afraid to reach out and build valuable relationships that can help them get through this tough time?
Bill Butterworth: The bottom line is that they will thrive from having other relationships in their life. As difficult as it is to have the courage to reach out to other people and get involved in groups, and a lot of churches and community groups offer divorce recovery programs that are really, really beneficial. I can't recommend highly enough how important it is to engage in a group like that, especially early on because now you have a group of people that have empathy because we're all in the same situation. We can speak about a situation and it's not foreign to the people that are around us. We all understand one another. We can pick up tools that can help us learn and grow in our lives, and it's really a significant time.
Bill Butterworth: What I'm saying is it's tough to do it, I realize. Especially if you're, by nature, more shy and introverted and you weren't really a back-slapping person to begin with, it can be really, really tough. If there's somehow you can screw up enough courage, maybe it's just make one friend and let that friend be the person that helps push you into other situations. I had an accountability group with four or five other guys. They were a life blood for me because they kept me sane. Whenever I was mopping around, they were there, and they were free. I didn't need to pay a counselor to get the boost. It was just guys who were really looking out for me. I think, again, there are programs that are out there that really, really can help.
Leh Meriwether: I want to touch on ... We only have about a minute and a half left of this segment. Let's get it started but then we'll finish up in the next segment, the Power of Personal Forgiveness. Todd and I have both personally seen the power that forgiveness can bring to someone, but they may not listen to us because people tend to say, "Well, you've never been through a divorce. You have no idea what it feels like," and it's true, but you've been there and you have learned the power of forgiveness. Can you break down for our listeners and explain what forgiveness ... Well, let's talk about what forgiveness is first.
Bill Butterworth: Forgiveness ... Actually, I'd rather start with what forgiveness isn't.
Leh Meriwether: Okay.
Bill Butterworth: Forgiveness isn't forgetting. It's not that you will never ever remember anything that ever happened because you forgive your former spouse. It's not emotional. It's not a feeling. It's like I've got to stir up enough emotion to be able to say I forgive you or whatever. It's not even necessarily fair. A lot of divorced folks think, "I'm not going to ask for forgiveness of my former spouse. They were the one that messed up." Even though it's not fair, it's important to do it. You're not approving the behavior of the other person. It's not going to be easy, but it may not be as hard as you think. Where I really like to begin with forgiveness is the statement if we choose not to forgive, it will keep us stuck in our paths.
Leh Meriwether: Great advice. Hey, up next, we're going to continue to break down forgiveness and learn what we can do to help get through the holidays. Todd, while we're on a break, let's take a moment to speak just with our podcast listeners.
Todd Orston: Great idea, Leh. First, thank you for listening. If you're a client of ours, thank you for taking the time to educate yourself. It really helps us help you.
Leh Meriwether: I wanted to thank those that recently took a moment to review our podcast. We really appreciate it. If you feel like you're gaining a value from this show, please take a moment to post a review. The reviews help others find the show, which allows us to help even more people.
Todd Orston: If you're not sure how to post a review, our web masters put together a simple explanation on our web page. You can find it at mtlawoffice.com/reviewit. That's M as in Mary, T as in Tom, law office dot com, slash review it. Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether and Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether and Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online, atlantadivorceteam.com.
Todd Orston: We're in the last segment, and there's still so much more to unpack here. We have Bill Butterworthutterworth with us. He has an amazing story. He's written a book called New Life After Divorce. He was actually a speaker speaking about marriages when he was just completely caught off guard by his divorce, but he has worked through it and come out to a better place. He wrote a book about how he did it. Where we left off, we were talking about the power of forgive ... the personal power of forgiveness. You were explaining what forgiveness is not. I guess what we have left is what forgiveness is and how can it free you when you do forgive.
Bill Butterworth: Right, and just to repeat where we left off, to not forgive is to remain stuck in your past.
Leh Meriwether: That's powerful.
Bill Butterworth: For the person who's hearing these words who's still just churning inside over how could this have happened to me, and how could my former wife or my former husband have been so ugly to me or so cruel to me. I'm just so angry at that person. Those are very normal feelings, but they are feelings that have to be dealt with. The way to deal with them is to move towards ultimately the place where you can say to that former spouse, "You know what, I forgive you." Not only that, perhaps the bigger assignment is to say to that former spouse, "I want to ask if you would forgive me."
Bill Butterworth: I don't like the idea of when a couple splits up that one is just this lily white innocent party and the other one is the devil. We both contribute our stuff to both the good parts of it and the bad parts of it. Owning your own stuff is very, very significant. It's so liberating to get to that point where you can say, "You know what, I need to ask you to forgive me, and I want you to know that I forgive you." Doing it, why you would do it or how you do it I think is summed up in a phrase that forgiveness is an act of the will. It's not an emotional thing. It is a volitional statement of how you feel about life, that, "I'm ready to move on in my life, and in order for me to do that, in order for me to get unstuck in my past, I need to say to you that I forgive you, and I want to ask you to forgive me."
Bill Butterworth: Again, for many of us who have a spiritual template in our lives, the idea of understanding that God forgives us and since God forgives me, I can forgive myself. personal forgiveness is really significant as well. There are certainly people who are listening who feel like, "My problem isn't asking my former spouse to forgive me. I'm trying to forgive myself because I was a real idiot. If I had it to do it over again, I would certainly behave myself differently." God can forgive you, and reaching that place helps liberate you to be able to forgive in the same way.
Leh Meriwether: Well said. Hey, all right, you have a lot more detail on that in the book, and I strongly encourage people to check that out because it is so powerful to move past where you are by learning how to forgive. It's an act of will. It's a choice that you made, not necessarily a feeling that you have.
Leh Meriwether: All right. I wanted to touch on Dating May be Different When You're Not a Teenager because this, boy, if people were to take your advice in this chapter, we would have a lot less cases, I can tell you that, because some people just jump into the next relationship, get remarried and they never learned. What is it that people need to be thinking about when entering into the single world again?
Bill Butterworth: I always begin with the protective phrase, me giving advice on dating is about as significant as me giving advice on brain surgery. I didn't date very well as a teenager, and then I become middle age and I'm dating. I did learn some things along the way, and you're kind to highlight them, but it's things like get your personal house in order first. It's the old phrase, to find the right person, be the right person. Rather than just setting your goal, I'm going to go online and find the most perfectly matched ...
Bill Butterworth: Are you going to look right to them? Work on your own stuff, which includes what I call a healthy identity, that you have a good self-image because you're working on your own life. You're taking care of yourself physically. You're taking care of yourself emotionally. You're taking care of yourself mentally. You're trying to be a good mom or day if you're a parent. You're a good friend. You're a good employee or employer. Your identity is spread out in a variety of ways that works.
Bill Butterworth: Again, friendships are really important. It's a friend who will say to you, "You've really jumped into another relationship really quickly." There's a term for this. It's an old basketball term. It's a rebound. The problem with a rebound is you're really not ready to date. That's another one of those questions. There's no magic formula. If you were married so long, then you can date the 30th of December at 8 p.m. It's not that mathematical.
Bill Butterworth: You want to avoid both extremes rather than, "Man, I'm just going to jump right into this." I'm embarrassed to say my kids had to say to me eventually, "Dad, have you ever thought about dating, maybe getting on with your life? What do you think? We're here to help you, big guy." If that's the case, you need to know that's maybe something you should look into. I always advise go slowly. Don't jump into something. Be very honest with the people that you're dating.
Bill Butterworth: Probably one of the most significant things I offer is this whole idea of know your non-negotiables. Know what it is that you are not willing to compromise on in order to date this other person. I didn't do a lot of things right but I knew that there were certain things that I realized would not help me in a relationship with a woman, and so I looked out for those. Again, me giving dating advice is pretty comical for those that know me personally, but I have to say, I met the most wonderful woman. We're coming up on 20 years here. She has just been the highlight of my life, and my kids love her. She's great with them, and she's great with the grandkids. You name it, I think I learned my lesson.
Leh Meriwether: Oh wow. Great story. Hey, we've got three and a half minutes left. Can you give some ... The holidays are around the corner. Can you give some advice for people that are just coming off a divorce, how do you get through the holidays?
Bill Butterworth: I would say the key word to me is to be proactive. I have a sad story of my first Christmas Eve where the kids were going to be with their mom on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I made no alternate plans. I just sat around like a bump on a log. It had ugly written all over it. I say that for not only for Christmas, but as you mentioned, we thought about it for Valentine's Day or 4th of July or whatever. Whatever you used to do, admit that it's not going to be the same way anymore. You're going to have to re ... shift it around, but develop new traditions and develop new activities. Make sure that this year is the first year you host the All Atlanta All-Night Christmas Eve Bowling Party at the XYZ Bowling Lanes because you're busy. You've got other people that ... There are plenty of other people that don't have any plans for Christmas. You can help one another by creating your own party.
Bill Butterworth: As much as possible, don't be a downer with your kids. They want Christmas to be just as good as it can be. My first Christmas, I told my kids, "Well, Christmas is over-rated. It's very commercial. Jesus was probably born in a cave. Let's celebrate with rocks," that kind of thing. That's just a horrible way to spend Christmas. Without being fake, be as upbeat as you can and help the kids understand that we're all dealing with this, and we're going to try to be as positive as we can.
Leh Meriwether: I had never even thought about that until you just said that.
Todd Orston: What, giving rocks to your kids? I can tell you right now, bad idea.
Leh Meriwether: Have you tried it before?
Bill Butterworth: If you go to my website, I sell rocks.
Todd Orston: Nice. Do you have a buy one, get one free?
Bill Butterworth: Yeah.
Leh Meriwether: The advice of planning something when you know the kids aren't going to be there, to plan something around with people, that's some great, practical advice. Thank you so much. Hey, Bill, we're almost out of time. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Where can people find you online?
Bill Butterworth: billbutterworth.com
Leh Meriwether: Awesome. That's easy to remember.
Bill Butterworth: Yeah. Everything you need to know about me is on that website.
Leh Meriwether: All your books are on there, too, right?
Bill Butterworth: That's correct.
Leh Meriwether: The book that we're talking about is New Life After Divorce. I know you've written lots of other books. I didn't have time to go into them on this show, but you can order his books wherever they're sold. I know I got my copy on Amazon. Bill, thanks again for coming on the show. This has been fantastic. Hey everyone, thank you so much for listening. If there's any part of this show you want to go back and listen to again, you can listen to it in iTunes, and you can even listen to it on our website, mtlawoffice.com/podcast.
Todd Orston: This audio program does not establish an attorney/client relationship with Meriwether and Tharp.