While divorce is never a joyous event, it doesn’t have to be the worst thing that has ever happened to you. Instead of the end of your married life, you need to head into it as if it is the start of a friendship, or at the least, an amicable partnership of post-wedded bliss.
Three years ago, my husband of 13 years and I decided to call it quits. The reasons were not as important as how we were now going to raise our two daughters, ages 6 and 2, and how we were going to make the fact that we are forever tied by them a pleasant experience for everyone involved
- Forgive. Once you have decided that the marriage cannot be repaired, forgive each other for the mistakes you each made. That is often easier said than done, and definitely requires work, but your future can not be forged with grudges, anger, and resentment.
My ex and I forgave each other, agreed to leave the past in the past, and decided that we would never bash each other to anyone. When people ask us why we split, we simple say “Marriage is hard, and sometimes it doesn’t work out; we choose to focus on the positives now.” It is much easier to forgive if you don’t have to rehash the hurt a thousand times a day.
- Focus on your strengths. Once you can look at each other and not want to choke the other, you have to remember the parts that made you successful to start. Focus on the parts of each other that drew you together in the first place.
My ex and I agreed on how our girls should be raised. Our parenting style was the same, and we wanted to keep the raising of our girls a joint effort we both shared. So we focused on this early on, we discussed how to make the transition easy, how we would share custody, and focused on these details. The fact that we both have the same sense of humor has helped greatly to get us through the “awkward” moments. Being able to agree on the things we were in agreement with before the divorce made it much easier to discuss things we may not have been eye to eye on.
- Remember who is the most important here. It’s easy to be swept up in emotion and forget that it’s no longer about you. You had your shot; it didn’t work. It is now time to move on and not blow this for the kids.
We decided early on that it made no sense to have the kids sitting through Christmas, moping because they couldn’t be with both their parents, so we planned holidays together. The first year, we all just went out to dinner together, as our “family” Christmas. This was so successful and the kids liked it so much, it has since evolved into a traditional Christmas, held at my ex’s house (his place is bigger). We attend school functions together, and we try to have dinner together at least weekly, because its not about us, it makes the kids happy. Being able to do steps 1 and 2 have made step 3 much easier to handle.
- Don’t change the rules. A happy divorce is not something easily understood by most people. Some people are more accepting of this then others, but the constant we have is that we don’t change the rules to make other people happy; these rules are to make our kids happy, and keep peace.
When I started dating, it was very difficult for my boyfriend to accept the fact that I see my ex regularly, that we talk every day, that holidays are spent together with our kids. Time has made this easier for him to accept, and he understands what we are trying to do. I try to make it as comfortable for him as possible, but I am completely unwilling to change the rules for him.
- Communicate positively. Raising kids is a full-time job. If you are trying to do this as a positive joint endeavor, you have to talk. Even if the topic is unpleasant or you don’t agree, you have to keep it a positive conversation, focusing on solutions, not blame or name calling.
My ex and I have had times where we have had to end a conversation because we couldn’t keep it positive. We wait and get back to the topic when we both have had time to think and come up with solutions.
Divorce is not easy, but if you keep a goal in mind, and put your children’s happiness first, it can be pleasant. I like my ex much better now that I live across the street. Yes, I bought the house across the street, it makes my kids happy to have us close by, and ultimately that is what this is all about.