I was recently asked the following: Does the time ever come when you can see your ex’s name or photograph and just not have a deep visceral negative reaction? When you see you received an email from the ex and your heart doesn’t sink to your feet? That when the kids talk nicely about the other parent you don’t feel angry and jealous? That when you bump into him / her in shul or at the store that you aren’t overcome by a haze of rage?
My answer was a resounding “Yes”. That time does come, but it doesn’t come on its own. You have to work towards it. It’s called letting go of the past, and embracing the future. Moving on. Forgiving. You will never forget, but you need to forgive in order to move ahead.
My ex and I have been divorced for a few years. It took a while to move past all the hurt and anger and resentment. I had to want to move past it. I had to want to not be a bitter vindictive ex wife looking to make her ex husband’s life a living hell. There are women and men who do not want to move on. Their raisons d’être are all about making the ex suffer for what happened. I just wanted a peaceful life, a life where I could raise my kids in a positive environment. You cannot undo the past, but you can improve your future.
Even since we split we were never rude or nasty to each other. We were always hyper aware of how we spoke or communicated with each other. Behind the other’s back I am sure neither of us was so saintly. I think it was on the second Yom Kippur since our split, I came to a point where I just wanted the pain to be over. I needed to let it all go so I could move on with my life and be a person that I could be proud of. I spoke to him after Yom Kippur and we made our peace with each other. We both promised to continue to put the kids first, and just move on with our lives without blame. The past would stay in the past. Thankfully we are both on the same page, I know that isn’t always the case.
I won’t say it’s easy. You don’t forget the hurts. There are times that you do get angry and mad. But when you have truly moved on, their name in your inbox or on your phone shouldn’t send you into paroxysms of anxiety or rage. Letting that happen means you haven’t taken back your own power, that you haven’t allowed yourself to even begin to heal. When that visceral reaction happens over and over, you are giving your power to your ex. If you are no longer together, you need to let that go.
Caveat / Disclaimer: Of course, moving on is so much easier when both parties wish to do so. When the ex is hell bent on making life miserable – it brings other things into the equation. When you have moved on, and the ex sends multiple texts, faxes, emails, voicemails etc just to tell you how disgusting you are, then I think there is justification for your blood pressure to rise upon seeing their name on caller ID. I don’t know what I would do in such a situation…..
What helped you to move on? What advice can you give people starting out on this long road toward co-parenting / co-existing with one’s ex spouse?
I know that many of my readers are or have been divorced and are co-parenting to some degree with their ex-spouse. I was curious to know how you communicate with each other and how that works for you.
My ex and I communicate primarily through email. We don’t use the kids to pass messages. When it’s something urgent concerning the kids we will talk on the phone (like when Squiggy broke his leg), but we try as much as possible to do it all by email. There is less chance of disrespectful dialogue that way. We have learned to be straightforward and to the point in our emails. Extra unnecessary verbiage just doesn’t help. He is not my friend. Nor am I his. We ONLY communicate about the children. There is nothing else that needs to be talked about. We both have blackberries so we know our message gets to the other person immediately.
This email communication really cuts down on arguments and actually gives a written record which could be useful. The only problem with email is tone. Sometimes you read something into a sentence which totally isn’t there.
So how do you communicate? Does it work for you? Do you think good communication will only work if the other party is on the same page as you and willing to be civil too? What do you wish would change? Does your ex use any communication opportunity to remind you of why your marriage ended? To go on about your failings as a husband / wife / parent ad nauseam?
ETA – how long were you married? How long have you been divorced? Are you or the other party remarried? More kids? Step-kids?
Part One of the Series is here.
The children ALWAYS come first, no matter what.
Let’s say you are the custodial parent, and you have a responsible job with people depending on you at the office. The school calls with an emergency – your son / daughter got hit in the eye with a hockey puck and needs to be taken to the ER. But you have an important pitch meeting in an hour. What do you do? Call non custodial parent to deal with child emergency so you can go to your meeting? Or cancel meeting because your child comes first? (If you are out of town on business it’s another matter, but arrangements would have to be made for you to get home asap). OR you are getting ready for work, the kids are getting ready for school, and the radio announces a snow day (cause for great celebration in our house, I will attest to that), that school is cancelled. You are expected at work – what do you do? Insist the other parent take time off work so you can go to work? To me it’s a no brainer. Kids are home, in your home, therefore you miss work. If this happened at a time when they were physically staying with the non-custodial parent, I would expect that parent to also miss work, as the children are physically in his/her custody at that time. What if one of the kids was sick and couldn’t go to school – you’d stay home? Right?
As with everything when both parents are still involved in their children’s lives – even if you are the one taking care of them, if the kid is going to the ER – you need to inform the other parent, if the kid is sick, inform the other parent – the other parent, custodial or not, has a right to know everything about his / her child.