This past May, as the officiant welcomed guests to my wedding, I stole a glance at the first row where, sandwiched between our two daughters, my ex-husband sat smiling at me. Noting his presence with an awkward stare and crazed looks in their eyes, some baffled attendees whispered to me, “Ummmm…you are aware that your ex is here, right?”
The expectation when a couple goes through a divorce is that the hatred between the two parties should multiply quicker than Gremlins who were fed after midnight. However, after an honest and curse-free discussion about what went wrong with our marriage, my ex and I determinedly tiptoed around the hatefest and revived the friendship part of our relationship. With our new bond intact, we were able to pay attention to what mattered most.
Our first conscious decision was to focus on our girls. It’s easier said than done, especially during those moments when all you want to do is throw a dish at your ex’s head and call it a night. But if the focus isn’t on your deteriorated relationship, it allows you to A) save your dishes and B) be a better parent.
We agreed that our mess didn’t belong to our children, so talking shit about each other in front of them was off limits. Reminiscing over the gory details of your divorce has no place in your child’s world. Influencing a child to dislike their parent only reflects poorly on you. So, venting about your ex should be reserved for nights out at the bar with your girlfriends, which brings me to my next point…
Divorce deserves a few drunken nights with unrestrained conversation about the best way to banish your ex from the country. But be warned- it will get old quickly. Whether the divorce was due to lying, cheating, stealing, or just plain ole incompatibility, it simply doesn’t matter. Wearing your post-divorce hostility like a badge of honor prohibits you from moving forward. So have a few drinks, a few chat sessions with your girlfriends, and then move the fuck on.
The opportunity to display your readiness to move on will be presented to you during the “dividing of the assets” segment of the divorce process. My ex and I chose not to concentrate on “stuff.” Dragging your feet over petty bullshit like china or a bedroom set does nothing except increase your lawyer’s rate. And if you are being difficult on purpose to make your ex “pay” for what he did to you, congratulations on proving that you can be an asshole. But your ex probably already knew that.
Hence, the divorce.
Looking beyond shitty divorce behavior can be like trying to find a Hershey’s kiss in a sea of horse manure. But I’m here to tell you that it’s completely worth it. Through the divorce fog, my ex and I gradually grew into our friendship, which eventually extended to my new husband as well.
Today, when I look at the weird, but stable foundation we have created, I can’t help but smile, knowing that our decision to forgive, forget and accept has allowed our girls to be surrounded by love, rather than anger, distaste and bitterness. Our daughters can live with confidence, knowing that their parents and stepfather will always be in their lives…together.
*This piece was pubished on BLUNTmoms on October 5, 2015.
*This piece was also published on Reality Moms on September 14, 2016.