I would have bet my life that I would be married one time and forever. I never imagined that I would be not married, as I am today, with four kids, and happy as one can possibly be. My life feels as though it has worked out as it should have, but the road I took to get here was not planned.
I am happy to say that I have a wonderful relationship with my ex. It was not always easy, but it has always been best-case scenario. We took the high road for the best interest of our children, we are committed to raising them together, and we share in all their important decisions. We are as respectful as two people can be, we attend all of our kids’ events together, we are welcome in each other’s homes, we communicate on a daily basis with kindness about kid stuff, and I actually think we have a decent friendship. I even like my ex’s wife. It’s totally ideal, the cookie cutter divorce; so the question is how the hell did we get here?!?
First of all, I didn’t do it alone, my shrink made me follow the rules. Developing a NEW relationship with someone you are used to living and breathing with a certain way can be tricky, but I believe it is the key to a successful relationship with your ex.
By successful I mean appropriate. You have to learn how to communicate effectively. It is indeed a different relationship than the one you had while you were married, and I don’t mean for the obvious intimate bonuses.
I am talking about developing a working relationship that is for your children and not for each other. I had to learn to let go, not to feel responsible for, or want to take care of, his feelings, and learn how to set communication boundaries. I think many things that were expectable in marriage, no longer worked in separation. I had to set boundaries, define what kind of behavior is appropriate, and communicate with respect. I was committed to making things as smooth as possible so we could raise our kids together and not make it any more painful than it already was on them. Fortunately, I had the same attitude in return from their father, which I am sooo appreciative of. He is a supportive, unselfish father who really made the best of a painful situation. I am very grateful for that. Most people can’t say that and I can only imagine their struggle. My kids were heart- broken; I was not going to make it an ounce more painful for them. That was part of my unconditional commitment to them. If only we could always love our partners that tenderly…
I was given a great book called “Making Divorce Easier On Your Child – 50 Effective Ways to Help Children Adjust.” Great advice for creating an effective relationship with your ex. I also read “Moms House, Dad’s House, Making 2 Homes for Your Child.”
Btw, for anyone who thinks that by getting a divorce you are getting rid of your partner, if you have kids THINK AGAIN. I deal with their dad more now than I ever did. We will be in each other’s lives forever.
I have to add that I do realize many women who are reading this are struggling with a nasty, painful situation. I am sharing my experience because I know that it is possible to make the best of a bad situation. It takes two, but the high road is the right road when it comes to raising kids. Nothing wrong with a little professional help either. I have turned to psychologists many times in my life searching for tools and support that I did not have.
I’m exhausted; I’m off to bed, leaving for San Francisco in the am to speak at Web 2.0 social media conference.
Part II “The Kids” coming tomorrow….