Want to improve the quality of your life during and after the divorce process? Stay tuned … to this edition of Frank Relationships.
HOGAN HILLING, “WHEN DIVORCE DO US PART: HOW TO LIVE AND LOVE AGAIN
Guests: Hogan Hilling
Date: March 30, 2014
Frank: Want to improve the quality of your life during and after the divorce process? Stay tuned to this edition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at: franklove.com. You can also download the podcast of this and other archive shows on iTunes or with your favorite podcast app.
As always I’ve got in the studio with me, the Rev Coach, La Tonia.
La Tonia: Good morning.
Frank: Good morning co-host. How’s it going?
La Tonia: It’s going pretty good.
Frank: To start off, what’s your website?
La Tonia: It is rebirthinternational.net.
Frank: And what do you do?
La Tonia: I am a spiritual life coach and life strategist.
Frank: Alright, there we go. For those of you that are not up to speed, she’s got the juicy spirit thing going on for the ladies.
La Tonia: Yeah.
Frank: What you got to say about that?
La Tonia: We just did a live call last night. It was really hot. We had the folks talking about all kind of stuff on the call from last night. The Juicy Yo was the thing we did.
Frank: The Juicy You.
La Tonia: Yeah, it was nice.
Frank: Can you give me a tiny, tiny bit?
La Tonia: A tiny bit? We were talking to women about reclaiming their sensuality, sexuality, and of course their spirituality as one, rather than having it fragmented and broken apart. We talked about a lot of relationship nuances.
Frank: Got you.
La Tonia: Dating and marriage and keeping it hot.
Frank: This was a call?
La Tonia: This was a call–preview call, so folks could kind of get a sample of what Juicy Spirit is. We consider you a brother butterfly.
La Tonia: Yeah.
Frank: I’m down it that.
La Tonia: Okay.
Frank: And so for folks who wanted to participate, it’s not too late?
La Tonia: No, it’s not too late. We’re doing a couple of rounds of Juicy.
Frank: What do they need to do?
La Tonia: Just go to my Facebook site. It is facebook.com/RebirthbyLaToniaTaylor and all the details are there about The Juicy You.
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Today’s guest is the author of revolutionary book of hope for divorcees titled, When Divorce Do Us Part: How to Live and Love Again. He’s appeared on Oprah and ABC’s documentary, The Story of Fathers and Sons.
You know when you appeared on Oprah, you have come a–
La Tonia: I know.
Frank: That is–
La Tonia: Like really.
Frank: We have a superstar in the building.
La Tonia: Right, we should have an after show with him, just for the two of us.
Frank: Okay, so we can really–
La Tonia: Right.
Frank: Pick up some new-yeah, just in case there’s something that we missed.
La Tonia: Yeah.
Frank: Got you got you. He’s also the author of five fatherhood books, served as a facilitator for the Saint Andrews Divorce Recovery Workshop, provides consultation services for spouses in a divorce process and is known as The Divorce Guru.
La Tonia: What a title.
Frank: The Divorce Guru, that’s right. That’s a heck of a title and you know the interesting thing is, some people would see that as negative.
La Tonia: Right.
Frank: What is good about specializing in divorce? Hey, but you and me, we’re not there.
La Tonia: We’re a little different.
Frank: Yeah, we’re a little different. Our guest today is Mr. Hogan Hilling. Welcome to the show.
Hogan: Hey, good morning Frank and good morning, La Tonia. How are you?
La Tonia: Good morning.
Frank: Okay, what’s–
Hogan: Thanks for having me and I’m glad to be part of different people.
Frank: And we’re glad to have you. What’s good about divorce?
Hogan: I can only speak for myself and for me it was an escape from my unhealthy relationship with my then spouse and the divorce was really about me and creating a new happier and healthier relationship with myself.
I found out in my marriage, what was happening. I didn’t know for about 10 years that when you’re in love and you want to stick the marriage out until death do us part and I didn’t realize that for about the last 10 years of the marriage, I felt as though my spouse was killing my spirit.
La Tonia: Yes.
Hogan: And then what I did was, for me, I guess I found divorce to be liberating. Other people find out when looking at divorce and getting stuck in a victim mode.
Frank: How long were you married?
Hogan: I was married for 25 years.
La Tonia: Wow.
Frank: What do you think changed at that 15 year mark where your spirit began to be sapped or killed?
Hogan: There was really a lack of communication going on in the marriage and I would say probably after about 10 years–looking back now. At the time I saw these behaviors and I thought back to what the whole divorce vow thing was for better or worst and it just got worse and worse and I kept thinking, “Oh, I can make it better. I’m going to save the ship,” and then it got to the point where it’s interesting. I was the stay-at-home parent and my wife was the breadwinner. I lived a very unconventional life.
In addition to the role reversal, it seemed like she was taking on the role of the man. I was the one that actually initiated to go to therapy and she didn’t want to go and I continued with her being as I went through therapy, my therapist gave me some news I didn’t want to hear.
He said I no longer had a marriage and I had to make a decision on whether to except the marriage the way it was and stop complaining or do something about it and start my new life and I decided on the latter.
Frank: Was that because she had informed him that she didn’t want to be in the relationship anymore or had she stopped completely going to therapy and he just concluded that by his communication with you?
Hogan: She stopped going to therapy and he concluded by the information that I was providing him. A deciding factor was my wife had admitted to some deceitful behavior. We also experienced financial infidelity where she was taking money out of the joint account that I didn’t know about. I take responsibility for that. I trusted her to control the finances. I tried to resolve those issues and they weren’t getting resolved and I would go to the therapist and we would talk about it.
It finally got to the point that she wasn’t going to change her behavior and it was time for me just to make a decision on which way to go.
Frank: Do you feel as though your divorce was her fault?
Hogan: No, I take some responsibility for the conflict in the marriage. I will say to some degree, there’s got to be some responsibility for that. I mean, how much infidelity, whether it’s financial or sexual are you going to take and how much abuse? I jokingly said, “We need to amend the marriage vows,” because according to the research I did, some psychologists have said that it’s not good to stay in an unhealthy marriage.
If that’s the case, I’m not setting a good example for my children is what they say. So, that’s why I think the divorce gets a bad rap and we can go into that a little further. I just can tell you, just from the unconventional decision that I made from the response that I was getting from the people asking me, “Well Hogan, how can you have such a positive attitude? You’re supposed to be miserable? You just filed for divorce.”
Frank: Give one of those unconventional decisions you made besides just getting a divorce.
Hogan: I didn’t blame. The anger–I really squelched the anger down. I didn’t get angry at my ex-spouse for her behavior. That was her responsibility. Now it was my responsibility to play the tit for tat game, to stay away from the trap that most people get about the guilt, the anger, the fear.
La Tonia: Yeah.
Hogan: Just trying to get back, trying to get revenge. For example, in my case, I knew going in if I filed for divorce, I was in the position of stay-at-home mom who stayed at home and took care of the kids, I knew if I filed for divorce that I had zero money, I would have no health insurance, I would have no place to go to. Instead of saying, “Hey, you know, the reason I’m in this situation is, because of my wife,” I just said, “You know, I made this decision and yeah I have zero money, I have zero health insurance, but I’m out of an unhealthy relationship and I have a huge opportunity to start a new life.”
I go back to the philosophy that I decided to take on is that one of the most amazing things I discovered about myself was that I had the power to choose and people forget about that. You actually have the power to decide how–how do I explain it?
Frank: How to participate in a divorce process?
Hogan: Yeah, you know, the divorce process is not about my ex-spouse, it’s about me.
La Tonia: Right.
Hogan: It’s about me changing my behavior and what I found out was that, God gave us the greatest power we could ever have.
Frank: And that is?
Hogan: That’s the power of choice. If you think about it at a spiritual level, God gave me the power to choose whether or not to bring Him into my life or not to bring him into my life. That’s an amazing power to have, so you look at that and you, and I said to myself, “I have the power to choose the people I would like embrace into my life.”
I no longer wanted to embrace my ex-wife and you have the power to choose not to embrace dysfunctional people and that’s one of the chapters in my book, is to emancipate yourself from dysfunctional people. In divorce you lose half your friends for a couple of reasons. One, is people don’t want to get caught up in the middle and also people have negative attitude about it. Some people think that it’s contagious.
La Tonia: Right, that’s true.
Hogan: But it’s not. And you also have the power to embrace healthy, rational successful people. So, I can go out and create my own new network of new people, which is difficult to do, because you go through a transition of isolation, but you’re moving forward. Then, you have the power to choose to make positive choices that improve the quality of my life. I have the power to choose to learn from our mistakes, then I probably choose the best for my life.
Again, it’s all about, “How can I improve my life,” and not about focusing on-it’s interesting, during the marriage, you’re trying to control a lot of stuff and you can only control what you can control. What I was doing, I was trying to help my wife and control my wife to get her to move forward with me in our relationship. She didn’t want to move forward and when you file for divorce, I see so many couples trying to control the other person.
La Tonia: Right.
Hogan: They focus so much on trying to control the other person that they get out of control.
La Tonia: Right.
Hogan: And I decided, “You know what? This is a process, it’s about me and once I get the decree, the divorce is over.”
La Tonia: Right, well hold on, before you get there, did you all have a fight in court? Since she didn’t want the marriage, was there kind of tug of war?
Hogan: This is a great question and it goes back to how unconventional I was. Given the behavior of a lot of guys–I’ll just use guys as an example–is when we went to the court, it was interesting, because the courts are a little bit bias towards the moms. When my wife was introduced as a school teacher, the first thing that came out of the Judge’s mouth was, “Oh so, you’re a school teacher. I have great respect for teachers and yada, yada.” I’m thinking that’s inappropriate for the court, because you already showing a bias.
Hogan: And I don’t need that, because I’m a guy. Most guys–that would kind of lit the fire for them to blow the fuse and I decided, the only time I’m going to speak is when I’m spoken to and the only time I’m really going to speak is through my attorney, because that helps keep my emotions in check.
Then introduction, so then first thing came out of my wife’s attorney’s mouth was-oh, they started accusing me of stealing money and hiding it, because from their prospective, they thought, “Well, how can Hogan file for divorce, when he has no money?” I have to backtrack now, because when I was in therapy and decided to file for divorce and this is one of my biggest pitches when you go through the divorce process, is win the divorce process with integrity and this is what I mean.
The therapist was aware that my wife at the time was stealing money, so when I told him I was ready to file for divorce, he said, “Hogan, you need to start taking money out of your account without your wife knowing, because you need some finances to move forward.” I didn’t blink an eye. I said, “I’m not going to do that? Why would I participate in behavior that I didn’t approve of?”
Hogan: And sometimes therapist–for the most part, 90 percent of the advice they give you is good, but there’s that 10 percent, where sometimes they’re really not–he did with good intentions, but I decided, ‘You know what? I’m a man of integrity and I’m not going to do that.” Well, I didn’t know at the time, but it paid off, because when my wife started accusing me in court that I was stealing money, her attorney kept drilling, “Oh, he’s got it. We have to find a way to find it,” blah, blah and my attorney defended me and said, “Mr. Hilling did not hide any money, etc.,” and I kept quiet and the judge finally figured it out. The whole tone of court proceedings changed from that point on. Not only from a judge’s prospective, but from my wife’s prospective, because the next thing my attorney asked for was the financial statements from my ex-wife.
She didn’t want to open that door, because she knew if I opened that door that it would show how bad it was. I told my attorney, I said, “You know what? I don’t want to go there.” I said, “You know, I just want to get out of this marriage. I don’t care where the money went. I’m not living in the past anymore, I’m moving forward.”
La Tonia: How important is therapy and that type of personal work on yourself to you, I would say prior to the divorce and during?
Hogan: I think every person should go to therapy. It was very important, because it helped me take a better look at myself. Now, the therapist can only do so much and it’s up to the person to empower themselves to say, “I’m going to look in the mirror,” and the only other tip I would give is that interview three different therapists. I think it’s a good thing to do. Just like with attorneys, you need to interview three different attorneys, because you’ve got to remember, you’re the one that’s writing the check.
Frank: Right. You’re the boss.
Hogan: And you’ve got to feel comfortable and you have to figure out, “Am I getting good information from this therapist. Is the information I can use?” I don’t just go into therapy and just keep moving on and on. If you’re not making any progress, whether you hire a therapist or whether you hire an attorney and you’re not going to where you want to get to– first of all, I got to figure out where you want to go and I think the second thing is, you have to take that responsibility with the therapist. You have to decide, “Am I communicating my thoughts and feelings properly,” because it goes back to marriage. Part of the communication process is not just about your wife, it’s also about you.
La Tonia: You started therapy when you were trying to save the marriage, correct?
Hogan: Yeah, I would say when my oldest son became a teenager, that’s when I went to therapy. I had actually dragged both my ex-spouses and my oldest teenage son into therapy and they finally went and then wanted to continue therapy, I kept going and my ex-wife and teenager would not go anymore.
La Tonia: I can relate to that as a spiritual life coach and actually doing so much work around spiritual psychology, when I was getting my divorce–or decided-no, when I first decided, I actually chose therapy. I did it for a different reason though, because I didn’t want to recreate. I needed to see what it was in me that created this. What was it, coming from that point of view? So, I didn’t want to leave this and go and recreate it again somewhere else. I wanted to get the lesson, because that’s a big part of spiritual psychology is, getting the lesson that the relationship brought to you.
Did you do any of that type of introspection of looking at what lesson or what opportunity for healing it was for you?
Hogan: Most definitely, I totally agree with that, because, let me back. When I went to therapy with my oldest and my wife, then there was a period where I was going to therapy where the therapist had told me, “You need to start changing your behavior, because-” what’s that definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So, I followed his advice and I went back. I just started changing my behavior and what was interesting was my wife came up to me and said, “You’ve been so quiet.” Before I was just a ranting, raving lunatic and now my therapist is telling me, “Calm down, do this, do that,” and all of a sudden I was changing my behavior and my wife actually went up to me and said, “What’s wrong with you? How come you’re not-you’re obviously shut down,” or whatever. And I explained to her, I said, “Oh wait, one minute you’re telling me that I shouldn’t speak up and now I’m not speaking up and now you’re still mad at me.”
I was getting these conflicting messages from her. What that thought me was that, “Okay, I’m changing my behavior and they’re not changing their behavior,” and that went over for about three or four year process. Then, it took me three or four years to figure this out and say, “Look, I’m changing my behavior and now the two people that are making this family dysfunctional are still dysfunctional. It’s interesting–
Frank: You said the two people. Who were the two people?
Hogan: My teenage son and–
Hogan: My ex-wife.
Frank: And you also said a few minutes ago, you talked about two ex-spouses. Do you see your teenage son or your teenager as being one of the ex-spouses or did you have another?
Hogan: Oh no, I didn’t have an ex-spouse. I’m sorry, when I referred to ex-spouses or spouse meaning sometimes I flip flop, because I’m talking in the past. No, it’s just my wife, Tina and my son Grant. What happened was, I also went to Al-Anon and I didn’t tell my wife and my son that I was dong this, because there were drugs and alcohol involved. And the interesting thing I found from Al-Anon was that they taught me that I was dealing with two addicts and what was really interesting about this, my son was a drug and alcohol and my wife, who had actually admitted she was the enabler. They were feeding off each other and what was interesting in both of them were exhibiting the same behavior: the lying, the stealing and unethical behavior.
I’m like, “Wow, I am dealing with two addicts and do I want to live with them,” and I decided, “No, I don’t want this in my life.” After I got the final decree I looked back at myself and again, it was about me and I said “You know what? I was an enabler by being in the family,” and I needed to remove myself from that. And when I look back on my life, I’m going like, “You know what? I was responsible for embracing these dysfunctional people.” And it wasn’t just my son and it wasn’t my wife, it was all the other dysfunctional people. Some of them were my friends. Some of them were my relatives–
La Tonia: Right.
Hogan: And it was a wake-up call and I talk about this in Chapter 14–emancipate your ties to dysfunctional people. Now, your friends you can just get rid of and no longer have contact with them, but what I mean by emancipate, was you can do that from a mental prospective. I can be around my wife, I can be cordial, I can be around all the other dysfunctional people that they have. I can be cordial, say “Hi.” I can be friendly, but it doesn’t mean I have to have the same deep relationship that I had with them before.
Hogan: And that’s the difficult part. I just know how to remove myself mentally and say, “Oh hey John, how’s it going? Life going good for you. “Oh yeah.” I can have a conversation.
Frank: What made you–
Hogan: Anger for me is gone. I have just said. Let me just make one other point. The other thing that I did for me too was–what was it? I think one of the biggest mistakes people make through the divorce process is that they think the anger, the fear, the guilt, all that stuff just goes away. It doesn’t. I’m walking through my new healthy, happier life and there are moments when all that stuff comes in. What I’ve done is I have found the spiritual strength to say, “Okay, it’s here and now I have the power to throw it out of my life.”
Hogan: It’ll never go away. I’ll have that scar there, but I’m not going to let that scar grow. I’m going to keep it small.
Frank: Why did you fight it out in court? Why didn’t you, since you were not blaming her and you were just kind of taking the, “I am not the victim by being a stay-at-home dad” prospective, why didn’t you just accept whatever she was offering and going about your life?
Hogan: Because it for better, it was me taking control of my life. There were certain things that I felt that I should get based on legal. You have to look at this from a business prospective. The court, they don’t make judgments on emotions, they only make judgments on facts.
Frank: Well they do, based on–I mean, if you just listen to what you said about your wife being a teacher and how the Judge initially was showing some level of bias towards her, you do know that they do make some decisions based no emotions, but that’s certainly not all that you can present.
Hogan: Well, most Judges have to look at what’s legal and what’s not legal–
Hogan: But they also based on emotions. I do agree with that. If you temper your emotions, I’ll just use this as an example, because this is what happens in court a lot of times. Guys blow up, they get angry, they start getting out of control, talking on the phone, yelling at their wife for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter. If you exercise control in the court, the judge is going to go look, “Oh wow, the million guy that came into court acted like idiots–”
Hogan: “Look at this guy, gentleman Mr. Hilling, he’s very composed and you know what, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he’s being very respectful, not only to me, but I see he’s being respectful to his spouse.” He’s going to figure that out.
Now, am I entitled to some things? Yes, but if I say what I feel I’m entitled to in a very in structured legal manner through my attorney–and one of the things was, I didn’t think I was going to get any money out of this and my attorney pointed out, “Well you can get some money. This is what you can, this is what you’re entitled to.” So, if you’re out of control, you start throwing outrageous numbers out or you start saying, “Well, I don’t feel my spouse is responsible for just half the debt, she’s responsible for 75 percent of the debt.” That goes back to the tit for tat.
What is your objective? Is your objective to keep this divorce process going and nitpicking through the whole thing, either through emotions or dollars? In the end, it all evens out to me and most of divorces are not million dollar cases. I find that you’re fighting over $1,000 here or for $10,000 there. You were doing this stuff while you were in your marriage.
La Tonia: It’s true.
Hogan: Why do you want to do it through the divorce process? You’re trying to escape? You’re still focused on the past. What happened was, I did get a little bit money. I got some retirement. I got half my retirement money and then my lawyer advised me, “You can also get some spousal support,” and I looked at my wife’s finances and I looked at my finances and I go like, “You know what? I’ll just take the retirement money and not make this complicated. Not just for me, but for her.” It was gong to be an extra $1,000 that I could get from her. I said, “You know what? Is that extra $1,000 was [–what’s that involve] 27:50 for me emotionally?” I was making the choice to say “money is not the issue.” That’s incredible power I gave myself.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships. We’re talking with Hogan Hilling, author of a revolutionary book of hope for divorcees titled, When Divorce Do Us Part: How to Live and Love Again. Hogan, please tell me how I can find you and your book.
Hogan: Sure, just one quick story about another unconventional thing that I did.
Frank: Oh, you got plenty of time. I want to hear about how we can find you, your website and all that good stuff.
Hogan: Oh yeah, thedivorceguru.com or hoganhilling.com
Frank: Now, what inspired you to write the book, When Divorce Do Us Part?
Hogan: I decided again right after I filed for divorce, I asked–going to people I could trust at the time, because there was such an alliance that went towards my wife at the time and I talked to my attorney and therapist and they suggested that I attend this Divorce Recovery workshop in New Port Beach, California. It’s been around for 30 years and actually other churches model off of that across the United States. When I went in there, I enjoyed reading the book they had going through divorce and they also had these open discussion groups at the end of each session. It was a six-week session.
When I went to the Divorce Recovery workshop there were 110 people there and I really felt like, “I’m not the only one.” But again, Orange County has got the highest divorce rate.
Hogan: And as I–
Frank: In the country?
Hogan: Yeah, it’s got one of the highest divorce rates in the country.
Hogan: And so I went to the Divorce Recovery workshop and as I was going, every time I went there, one of the things they encourage to do is they gave you an exercise where they’re trying to help you focus on, “What are some of the good things that’s going on in your life each day,” and I sort of recognizing, “I’m moving forward,” and every time I went back there, I would come in with a positive attitude. People would ask me, how it’s going. “What have you been doing,” and I would share how I progressing, not only emotionally, but also with the legal system.
My divorce process only took seven months. Anyway, people not only kept picking my brain at the Divorce Recovery workshop, but then I started attending some divorce meet-ups and the same thing happened. A lot of people were picking my brain, because I had written four of the books at the time.
Writing proved to be great therapy for me and I wrote down all of my emotions as I was gong through the process. To make a long story short, I was looking at this and I was going like, “Oh, you know what? This could be a book,” and I called my literary agent up and I gave her the titled and she said, “Oh wow, that’s great. Keep writing.” So, I kept writing and the book got published.
Frank: I can relate.
Hogan: Interesting-yeah, go ahead.
Frank: I can relate to the therapeutic side of your experience in just writing. I have found it to be the same. When I write my blogs, often my ideas and concepts around different things would get refined, and especially as I went back and forth with my editor.
She was asking me questions that caused me to go deeper. It was a great experience. Did you have a similar experience with your editor? How did you refine your ideas, because we can’t all get it together on our own, in my concept?
Hogan: I think you can to some degree. You need help along the way, but at some point you got to help yourself. For me writing, what happened with me and let me preface it with this. Right after I filed for divorce, my wife wanted to meet with me and I said, “No.” I said, “The only way I’m going to communicate with you is by email.”
Hogan: And the reason I did that was because every time I would have a conversation with my wife there was a communication problem going on, whether it was either the way I was communicating or the way she was communicating or this proof served me well, especially in court was, because oftentimes you have spouses getting together and they verbally communicating with each other and the emotions get the best of you–
Hogan: And you start saying stuff that you regret. I took a look at myself, “You know, Hogan–” she knows how to push my buttons and the best way for me to deal with it in the beginning was, to only do it by writing. Back to your point, what I did was, I would write something and then I would read it and go like, “No, that’s not what I meant to say.” You know what writing is. It’s about rewriting to make sure that you get your point across. So, I understood that process, so that was helpful for me. But the other thing I did was, I would look at this and I go like, “Okay, who can I trust to read this before I sent it?”
Hogan: You better remember when you’re writing this and you put it out and you hit that button, it stays in Cyberspace forever.
Frank: That’s right.
Hogan: So you better be sure when you click that button that somebody–this is where you take control again. Who can I trust? I’m going to trust this person to read it. And one of the people I trusted was a woman that I had met and it was a strictly platonic relationship. I said, “This is what I want to say to my wife,” and she would look at that and she’d tell me, she goes, Hogan, you’re talking like a man.” She says, “Let me change this so that when you’re talking, you’re talking like a woman, so when she gets the message, she hears it in a woman’s voice, in woman’s language.”
Frank: That’s powerful.
Hogan: And she was absolutely right. Yeah. But for a guy to put his ego aside, that takes work. Trust me, I’m saying this stuff, but it wasn’t easy when I was doing it.
Frank: I can relate.
Hogan: Part of me really wanted-yeah.
Frank: I can relate to the importance of using email and text messages strictly to communicate when communication is an issue, because you can easily refer back to them and say, “Hey,” even six months, a year later, “No, that’s not what I said. What I said was this. Here’s the email. Read it. Let’s not even go back and forth and let’s not play like we have amnesia, either one of us. It’s in writing and it’s alive and in front of us.”
La Tonia: So, I have to ask a question though to the both of you guys since you’re in a different club, right? Frank, has How to Gracefully, “grace” being the keyword here, Exit a Relationship and you’ve talk, Hogan, about being positive, so I’m wondering why isn’t the positive infectious in the process?
Frank: It’s funny you asked that. It is.
Hogan: I will-go ahead. You go first, yeah.
Frank: First thing he said awhile ago was that “divorce was contagious.” He said that “people see often divorce as being contagious” and it sounded as though he didn’t think it. Well, I think that Hogan said he didn’t think it was, but I actually think it is. Divorce is contagious and that’s not a bad thing.
Often when you will see your friend and their partner, they split and then you somehow start to question, “Hey, I’m going through the same thing they went through and they seem to be doing alright,” or they are letting go of the concept that we have to stay together no matter what and you could began to say, “Maybe it’s time for me to let this go too,” and I’m not saying one demands the other. Your friend divorce, you divorce, but I am saying, it is contagious, but not in a bad way.
La Tonia: I meant for the spouse though.
La Tonia: Meaning, if you’re positive, if you guys are so positive, why isn’t it infectious to the spouse that you’re divorcing, if you’re positive?
Hogan: It is, but I’ll give you an example of that. And again, if I change my behavior, eventually the other person will change their behavior, because–and this is the perfect example. When I had that positive attitude and I found out when I changed my behavior and I’m going to use the communication thing as an example, is when I drew that line and said, “I’m only going to communicate by email,” it also force my ex wife to go through the same process that I was going through.
She had to be careful about what she was saying, because once she got the message, once it was on print, it’s forever, so I cannot manipulate anything that I’m writing. So subconsciously, she’s changing her behavior. Now, that’s not to say she’s completely change her behavior, because she didn’t through the divorce process. What I did was I changed the communication between us. She didn’t even realize that what she was doing this.
Just follow me for a minute. She’s changing the way she’s behaving, it’s not the way she wants to, but she’s changing, because of the way I changed. So, as we’re going through the divorce process, she tried several times to say to me, “Hogan, I would like to meet with you for a drink,” blah, blah, but here’s where the power is interesting is I know I’m not going to cross that line, because once I cross that line, she’s going to change back to her old ways, which she would do–is manipulate, because through the whole divorce process, she was spreading rumors about me. Even though I changed my behavior, she was spreading rumors, but when it came to communicating with me and her, there was this barrier that she couldn’t break. She could only communicate through email, so she was very, very cautious.
Well, at the time you’re doing this, you’re the positive person. You don’t see these things going on. It’s just like when you’re raising a kid. You’re telling them certain things that you want in a partner, but you don’t see the results until they’re 17 or 18. You never know, right?
What makes my book so special is that a year after the final decree, I meet my son at a Valley ball tournament and out of the blue, my wife comes over to me and she says, “I’m sorry.” I got an apology and I turned to her and I go like, “Wow.” I was just so shocked. I said, “I forgive you.” I said, “You know what? I don’t want you beating yourself up anymore.” I said, “Look, it’s over. Thank you. I accept the apology.” The next day, for two days, I walked around aimlessly. I was so confused, because at the same time, I was hoping I would accept an apology, I wasn’t prepared to handle it. I walked around and I’m going like, ‘Wow. I never thought this would happen. Now I’ve got it, what do I do with it?”
Frank: When she changed you almost didn’t know what to do. You changed and it led to or it affected her. And she changed and when she changed you weren’t sure what to do.
Hogan: Yeah, but then resentment came in and I’m going like, “Oh, my God. Now you tell me that-” and she was specific about what she was apologizing for. She said, “I’m sorry for the deceitful behavior. I’m sorry for taking the money out,” blah, blah and resentment came in. She wasn’t there I and I’m thinking, “You know, this could have been resolved like five years ago.”
Hogan: And now I’m angry, because I’m angry. I go, “No Hogan, stop doing this.” I just emailed her back and then she said, again she goes, “Can we meet and talk?” I said, “No, you know, look.” I explained to her, “This is really tough for me.” When I wrote down and I said, “This is very tough for me. Would you please give me some time to really think about this?” I will tell you through the divorce process, she was very amicable, very cooperative and even after the apology, she was very cooperative.
La Tonia: She must be pretty cool now, because you’re sharing very specifically about your story. So, she got–
Hogan: Yeah, and in a nutshell here’s what happened. This went over several months and I’m going to give the Readers Digest version, is she sent me an email. I never met with her, because again, I didn’t want any emotions coming in the middle and all of a sudden thinking, “Oh, you know, she really is apologizing,” and I didn’t want to get emotionally involved, because what she wanted, she wanted me back, emotionally. She stated that in the email. She said, “My life isn’t complete without you.”
That means, “You want me back.” She goes, “Yeah,” and so, I didn’t meet her face to face, because I had to look at me and say, Did I want to go back there?” And then, through the emails, what I did was I started asking her specific questions to see how committed she was to earning my trust back and the answers that followed up, red flags came out.
She had told me that she stopped going to therapy and I go “that’s a red flag,” because I knew she wasn’t in a place-yeah, was I grateful for the apology, but the 10 words that I didn’t hear from her was, “Hogan, what can I do to win your trust back?” The fact that she didn’t say that was huge for me and then when I tried to draw it out, I started thinking to myself, I go like, “Wait a second Hogan, that information should be volunteered by her.” I’m enabling her again, because I’m trying to draw her out to get her to share what she’s going to change about herself.
Frank: What is your relationship with her and your son now?
Hogan: We’re still friends, but it’s not intimate. Actually, I also got an apology from my oldest son.
Frank: Yeah, how old is he now?
Hogan: Within months I got two apologies from the two people that were dysfunctional in my marriage all because I changed my behavior and it took time. What was your question, Frank?
Frank: How old is your son now?
Hogan: He’s 25.
Frank: Okay, so it’s been awhile.
Hogan: Yeah and he’s still doing drugs and he’s still drinking alcohol. His behavior hasn’t changed one iota. Yeah, he’s apologized to me, but his behavior doesn’t change. He’s still my son, I still love him, but he’s not a part of my life, because I’m not going to bring in a dysfunctional person into my life.
Frank: Would you happen–
Hogan: And I hoping someday–
Frank: Do you have your book?
Hogan: I’m hoping some day-go ahead.
Frank: Do you have your book handy?
Hogan: Oh, yes.
Frank: Alright, I want to play chapter one. I want us to kick back and forth around our chapter ones.
Frank: We got my book, How to–
Hogan: Let me share one more thing. This is not hard for me. It breaks my heart that I can’t have an intimate relationship with my son, but an intimate relationship requires the work of two people and if one person is not working at it, what’s the point? I mean, it’s hard. It’s very, very hard.
Hogan: It’s no different than a friend. If you have a friend who is doing drugs and alcohol, you should be out of there in a split moment, but a lot of people don’t even do that.
Frank: Well, you might be doing drugs and alcohol with them. You guys might be right there together. Alright, chapter one, my book, How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship, is titled, We May Break-up, and the point that I’m make here is by discussing that we might break up, we can head off a lot of the acrimony that may creep up later on in the relationship if we decide to split, because sometimes one or both partners go into the relationship or end the relationship with the attitude that, “Hey, we were not supposed to break-up, this was never supposed to happen,” but being able to have the conversation that we may break-up early and if necessary over time. Not everyday, but you may say it to each other, “Hey, do you understand that this is possible?” You may say that to one another.
La Tonia: So, no false promises?
Frank: Right. No false promises once a year or once every five years or something like that. Any thoughts on that, Hogan?
Hogan: Oh yeah. I totally agree. I know in our marriage, we didn’t really talk about it that much. We only talked about what, if the other person is gong to die. I know in my case, I found out this after I filed for divorce is, a friend of hers came up to me and I didn’t initiate this. This is voluntarily given to me and said that my wife thought I’d never leave her and part of it was that hold, because I was a stay-at-home parent and she was the breadwinner. The typical the role reversed model that you often see with other couples with men, the breadwinner.
I think that’s a great. I think you should talk about it. In fact, I talked to another good friend of mine and he says, he does that a lot with his wife and they keep assuring themselves, “Oh, I’m not going to leave. I’m not going to leave,” but that choice has to be discussed, because I *(inaudible) 47:40 to other couples that divorce, where they kind of look at each other and go like–and they both say at almost the same time, “You know what? I’m not in love with you anymore.” There are a lot of divorces where people both realize for whatever reason it is, it could be nothing. There’s probably no fault at all in those situations where during the marriage they just lost love for each other. I think that happens and you have to accept that that could happen.
Hogan: And that could have probably been the case in some respect to our relationship. It’s just that we didn’t talk about it.
La Tonia: Well, you talked a lot about enabling and recognizing yourself as an enabler. Let’s bring it out of your story a little bit and talk to our listeners about how they can recognize signs of an enabler in a marriage. What are some of the signs?
Hogan: I think one of the things that I look back on is my wife tended to enable the kids a lot and the reason that I’m admitting this is because my wife admitted when she went to therapy that she was a great enabler. When the therapist told me to change my behavior, I was very disciplined with my kids where I drew a line and said, “You don’t cross that line.”
For example, we had situations in the house where if the kids misbehaved, if I would tell them–and I went over these rules with my wife and I said, “You know, these are the rules and I need you to back me up and if you discipline the children, I will always back you up,” and that wasn’t the case with her.
The scenario would be, if I disciplined the kids and took the TV out of the room, within an hour or two she’d put the TV back in right in front of the kids. So, that was undermining my role and at that time I would set her aside and I would put my foot down and say, “You shouldn’t be doing this.”
The therapist say, “Hogan, maybe you should just kind of sit back,” and I sat back and whenever the disenabling was on I didn’t say anything. For example, one time when I cooked dinner, my wife came in and my oldest complained because he didn’t like the food and he wanted an In-N-Out burger, so she went out and got on an In-N-Out burger and so she undermined me again and I didn’t say anything. I went back to my therapist and I said you know, “What’s going on here,” and I go like, “Well, I’m trying to change my behavior and I’m not getting the same results,” and I should have put my foot down with my wife. I should have stood my ground and I should have found a way to resolve that situation, because by me being submissive, I became an enabler.
Frank: Okay and when is it appropriate to just simply say, “It’s not worth me fighting about? It’s not that important to me,” if that’s the case.
Hogan: If that’s the case that’s what it is. At that point and time my wife didn’t want to go to therapy. That should have been a huge red flag for me and then when I came back and I started going back to putting my foot down and she still was not responsive, then at that time it would have been my responsibility to say, “Do I want to continue with this marriage or leave it?”
I was so fearful of leaving it at that point. To be honest with you, that’s when I should have left. Sometimes you go through regret when you go through the divorce process, because I did. I go, “How did I do this the last 10 years,” and I could have easily turned around and said it was her fault. I said it was my fault. I stayed in the marriage too long. It wasn’t my wife’s responsibility for me to stay in there. It was mine. I got beat up for 10 years and I was the one that was doing the beating up, because I stayed in the marriage.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships. We’re talking with Hogan Hilling, author of a revolutionary book of hope for divorcees titled, When Divorce Do Us Part: How to Live and Love Again. Hogan, please tell me how I can find you and your book.
Hogan: At thedivorceguru.com and also at hoganhilling.com. And again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank: What’s your opinion about premarital agreements?
Hogan: I think that’s something that is personal to the couple. If they bring it up, I definitely think it needs to be discussed. Again, at that point and time you have to determine whether that’s going to be a good way for you to go, because you have to take some responsibility for going into a marriage. And getting back to what you said-communication. I think if one of you feels that you need a prenuptial, I think you should bring it up, because the way the person reacts will say a lot about whether or not you’re making the right decision, I believe.
Frank: Do you think it could have benefited your relationship?
Hogan: I don’t think so, because there were other issues that we were involved in there and let me just share just this one little insight that may have a significant effect. I hope you give me time to tell you the Harley story, because it really encompasses everything that I talk about. We have a child with special needs–
Frank: So, you don’t have just one son? You don’t have just one child? We’ve only talked–
Hogan: I have three.
Frank: Three? Okay, we’ve only heard you–
Frank: Talk about, I think, the oldest. But got it, you have three. Okay, go on.
Hogan: Wesley, 24 now and Matt is just 20. So, I have three boys and Wesley was born with a rare generic disorder and when I found out about the diagnosis–in the special needs population 80 percent of the men abandon the child either through divorce or just even in the marriage and it’s interesting, again, unconventional. My wife did not want to go to parent support groups. I went to parent support groups. I went through some therapeutic program within the parent support group. I accepted Wesley for who he was and my ex-wife is still struggling with the guilt, anger, spiritually, God, etc, etc and that played a little bit into it.
So, even if you do the prenuptial, you don’t know what’s going to happen during the course of the marriage. There are going to be things that come up that may change the way you look at your spouse.
Frank: Well, one thing I do want to say is and you said the Harley story was your son or we’re about to get into some–
Hogan: No, when I said Harley, I met Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Frank: Yeah, I was waiting for the story.
La Tonia: Yeah, Harley.
Hogan: Yeah, okay, alright. One of the other unconventional things I did was after I filed for divorce I went and celebrated. I went on a trip for three days and two nights away by myself. At the time I think I just needed to get away and what I realized those three days I was away, I didn’t realize at the time, but it gave me time to just be away from everybody, because everybody’s feeding all this garbage about what you need to do, what you suppose to do.
At the time you had all these dysfunctional people and you don’t know what to do, so I went over there, went by myself, cleared my head and I actually went for the thought process, “What do I want? Where do I want to go,” and laid out a game plan. Most people want to go through divorce, don’t even have a game plan and plus you’re adding on uncontrollable behavior, no wonder everything’s going down the tube.
I’m gone for three days and I lay out this game plan and for the first time in 25 years, I realized I did something for myself. All the 25 years I was doing something for my wife, something for my kids where I really didn’t think about me at the time. And then, as I was going through the divorce process, things were going so well and people at the same time were going, “What are you doing celebrating divorce,” and I started doing my research. Actually, there are divorce parties out there. I don’t know if you knew that or not.
La Tonia: Yeah.
Frank: Oh, yeah.
La Tonia: Absolutely. Of course, absolutely.
Hogan: Yes, so then once I got the final divorce decree after seven months–and you’ve got to remember, I’m a guy that didn’t have a whole lot of money and I got little retirement money and I used to ride motorcycles. So, I thought to myself, “You know what? I always wanted a Harley. You know what? My financial situation’s in dire straights, but I need to do something that’s going to help me move forward,” and I said, “You know, I’m going to go get this Harley.”
I go to the Harley shop and I lay out a game plan for the payments I can make. The guy sells me the motorcycle, It’s a Harley Davidson Road King, the biggest Harley you could find. I’m six foot six, by the way. The Harley is sitting in front and I’m getting ready to go on it after I purchase it and some guy comes over to me and he goes, “Hey, brother did you just buy this beautiful Harley? I go, “Yeah,” he puts his hand out and he goes, “Welcome to the brotherhood.”
I’m going like, “Oh, my God, I have a new family,” because when you divorce, you lose a sense of family. I’m going, “Look, wow. I’ve got a new family.” I get on the motorcycle and I hadn’t ridden in years and I’m riding down the street and the motorcycle’s coming the other way and this is a ritual motorcycle people have. You have this high sign. You put your hand down below your waist and you put your hand out and as I’m riding down all these people that ride motorcycles come and get me. My family’s getting bigger and bigger and the next thing I know, I start riding a Harley and then I decide–at the time I was writing a book and I joke to people and I said, “Yeah, I bought this Harley and it was the best thing I had between my legs in a long time.” And every time I got anxiety attacks, I would get on the Harley and I’d drive, because I didn’t have to worry about traffic, I could drive out in the canyons and everything like that and I’m almost done with the story.
So, what happened was, I’m writing this book and I came up with a title and it was, Divorce Heaven and my agent didn’t like it, the publishers didn’t like it and I said, “Okay, you know, I need to get away for awhile. I get on the Harley, I’m driving in the middle of the dessert and all of a sudden, I start thinking about the wedding vows and “till death do us part,” and I go, “Okay.” I’m thinking, “When divorce do us part,” and then this beachy song goes off in my head and it was “How to Mend a Broken Heart,” and there’s a line in there that says, “How to live again,” and it said, “When divorce do us part, how to live and love again.” Well, I got the title while I’m riding a Harley and so, I acknowledged the Harley in my book, by the way.
Frank: Got it, alright. One thing worth noting is that, I don’t want our audience to accept the things that you said about your ex-wife as fact or your son as fact. Neither of them are here to defend themselves, but we certainly respect your relationship to everything that you have noted along the way.
Hogan: Thank you.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Hogan Hilling, author of a revolutionary book of hope for divorcees titled, When Divorce Do Us Part: How to Live and Love Again, and founder of the divorceguru.com, an exclusive membership-based coaching service for spouses in the divorce process.
Hogan, last time, please tell me how I can find you and your book.
Hogan: At thedivorceguru.com or email@example.com . There is no “s” behind the g. Oftentimes people will do that.
Frank: Okay. Along today’s journey we’ve discussed enabling, the good part of divorce and choice. I hope you’ve learned as much as I have about winning the mental game of divorce in our conversation with Hogan Hilling.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or franklove.com.
On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, and my engineer, Jeff Newman, keep rising. This is Frank Love.
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