This post isn’t specifically for divorced people; it’s for pretty much anyone who has had a serious relationship end. However, I’m going to give me take on this topic (which is having a divorced ex and kids with that person).
I don’t think anyone would deny the concept of having an Ex is just freaking weird. No matter your current relationship with that person, it’s just a little strange. Not only do they know pretty much everything good about you, but since you’ve broken up, it’s pretty evident that things went south and they’ve pretty seen the worst of you. I think that’s why I wanted to post this. I’ve seen people that have wonderful (as much as possible) relationships with their ex; on the contrast, I’ve seen others that literally terrify me. Hahahaha.
Ok. I'm going to leave to get some coffee....
You guys want some coffee?
Will both of you be alive when I get back?
As an Ex, you pretty much have as much ammo you could ever want to destroy each other. You know the inner workings of each other. You know how each other’s minds work. You know what makes each other tick. However, on the flip side, you know how to calm them down. You know what makes them happy. You have mutual happy memories together. (Again, this is for me mostly and I know every situation is different. I’m talking in general here. If it was a serious domestic abuse case or something serious, please know I’m not referring to those types of situations). I’m just saying in general, there are good and bad things we can focus on.
There just seems to be two ways of handling things here. Use the bad for hate or use the good for love. Especially, if there are children involved. When I look at my kids, I can kind of gauge how I’m treating Crissy. They need to see their dad treat their mom with love, respect, and honoring her position as their mother. I mean, she’s not my spouse anymore, but she will always be their mom. Seeing my kids loving their mom and keeping that relationship as tight as possible is one of my main goals. I wanted to just kind of share what I do to keep as much peace as possible in that relationship and those interactions. Now, I screw it up from time to time just like anyone would. These are just my tips for myself that I have found produce the healthiest (ex) relationship and mental state for myself.
1) Think about my kids.
That’s pretty much always at the top. As I said earlier, kids should never hear anything negatively slung around about either of their parents. My kids are pretty uniformed about the situation and I tend to always keep it that way. As they grow older and begin to ask questions about what happened between mom and dad, I will probably mostly touch on things I could have done better. If they want to know specifics about things from mom’s view point, I will provide short, brief answers, but encourage them to talk to their mom. I really don’t want my kids to ever hear me talk about their mom. Even if they might not know all the facts, they will know that dad and mom freaking love the crap out of them. It’s our job as parents to make sure that is clearly evident. Also, how refreshing must it be to be able to share a fun story about mom or dad with the other parent and have it received with equal joy? Kids shouldn’t be scared to talk about their parents.
2) Don’t harp on bad memories or regrets
The kids of course are my number one reason to keep things friendly. However, this tactic is probably my best way of ensuring we look forward. Now, let me just say this. I know some of you might be thinking that you have memories so bad you could never move past them. I get that. I still wake up sometimes from dreams that I’m reliving certain events. There are horrible. But it’s our choice to allow those things to shape and define the relationship we choose to make. Even if there is no relationship or communication at all, I think it’s so healthy to find some kind of peace in your mind about whatever happened. It’s like that little life lesson.
Whatever you do, make sure right now that you do NOT think of a blue rubber duck.
Don’t think about that little blue rubber duck.
It’s pretty much impossible to do that. Just to shut off thoughts entirely; however, it is possible (for me anyway) to change my pattern of thinking.
Let’s think about a delicious taco.
See how yummy that looks. J
Whenever, I have negative thoughts pop into my head about Crissy, I immediately try to pray and replace those with some positive ones. At first, there was so much negative, it seemed almost impossible to replace bad memories with good ones. I kept at it. I thought about funny stories and little things like that. Granted, I don’t advise doing this if you are still in love with this person. If you haven’t moved on, you might be torturing yourself. Hahahaha. This stuff is just for couples that are clearly not in love any longer. Also, I don’t try to “love” memories of us as a couple. I try to replace bad things with memories of her being a good mom and a good friend. That really helped me move her in my mind from “my ex who drove me crazy” to “the mom of my kids and one of the best friends I have ever had”.
3) Just accept that sometimes it’s a one way street
Fortunately for me, Crissy and I have found a bit of common ground and some of our friendship back. It’s not like it was and never will be. But it’s nice being able to work together for the kids and for our own emotions. But that was not always the case. There were times I felt I was forgiving and fighting to keep peace by myself. That junk sucks. Seriously, it is the worst.
It took me a long time to learn that I’m just responsible for myself. As long as I was doing the best I honestly can, I felt peace. If I said something rude or lost my temper, I apologized. If I felt hurt or betrayed, I just forgave her. Some things, I might never receive a specific apology for. That’s totally fine with me, because how the heck I am not for forgive. Everyone has done crap to other people. True forgiveness is refreshing to the forgiver. That won’t erase the scars, but it can erase the bitterness. Ask me how I know.
I remember one day a year or two ago, I was super hurt and upset about something that had happened. I was talking to my friend Nicole and she gave me an analogy that I think about quite often to this day. I was describing a particular incident and how much of a gaping hole I felt from it. She told me this little story about a tree. When it was younger, it got cut up and damaged. At the time, the scars took up a huge part of the little tree; however as the tree kept growing the scars never shrank, but they seemed smaller and smaller compared to the massive and healthy size of the tree. I try not to let things in the past stump my growth. Really personal, spiritual, and emotional growth is one of the best things I’ve found to make those scars seem smaller in my life. That, in turn, results in a better outlook on the relationship with Crissy and a brighter hope for the future as we continue to co-parent our children.
Be blessed and know you're awesome!