Friday, October 9, 2009

What's Best for the Kids - Amicable Divorce

When I was living through the first few years of divorce from my children’s father, I couldn’t wait to have the girls grown up so I would never have to deal with him again. My first husband and I were married six years; it was a marriage rocky and wrong from the beginning but one that produced the loves of my life, Erin and Adrian. It took almost all of those six years to find the emotional willpower to end the relationship and become a struggling single mother.

Once again, I leapt into the unknown hoping for the best and things turned out better than I could have ever hoped for.

First I found the love of my life, the man with whom I have been married to for over twenty years and who helped raise the girls in a stable, happy environment. Second, the girls’ biological father has remained a constant in their lives who has lovingly co-parented with me, giving our daughters a wonderfully healthy concept of how life after divorce can work.

That is a huge accomplishment for me, one of the approaches of life I am most proud of, one that is so far removed from the way I, as a child, witnessed the outcome of divorce.

Estranged members in my family instilled a sense of fear in me. I recall two incidents. One uncle’s ex-wife was at our home visiting when one of the aunts said, “Quick! Go out the back door, he’s coming.” It was a mad shuffle and the ex-wife barely got out in time before her former husband came in. I got the sense it would have been horrible had the two encountered one another. Another time, when I was ten, I was visiting an uncle and his new wife in their home. I was awakened in the middle of the night to banging and screaming. The wife’s ex-husband/boyfriend (not sure of his standing) was outside the house shouting for her to come out. I’m not sure how the incident resolved itself, but the man eventually left, leaving me with a lasting impression.

For me, divorce was an option to avoid because it never turned out well.

I can’t say I made a conscious effort to make my divorce experience different, but my relationship with my daughters’ father looks nothing like that of family and friends. It didn’t start out that way; there was plenty of give and take, bruised feelings, and power struggles. Somehow, however, we made a conscious effort to get along for the children’s sake.

Our respective spouses have come to terms with the presence of exes in their lives. While I don’t spend much time with my first husband’s mate, he is much more present in my life and that is due to the fact we share children. It is no surprise to anyone who is the parent of a grown child that no matter what their age, there are still plenty of opportunities to be involved in their lives. My children’s father and I have many conversations regarding the choices, decisions, and outcomes our kids make. I can’t imagine not having that support system from him during the occasional crises we have encountered.

I am just grateful things turned out they way they did so our children did not have to be pawns in a messy breakup. I’m lucky to have such an extended family. One can’t have too many friends in this world, right?


AmyK said...

You are lucky. I think your relationship with your ex is a rare and valuable thing. Especially for your children. I commend both of you.

I was divorced after 4 yrs of marriage and 9 years of "relationship" when my daughter #1 was 2. Her sperm donor (am I bitter) only saw her twice after that. For me, it was the easiest possible circumstance. For my daughter, my heart aches. He went on to have other children but he missed knowing this very special little girl and now a wonderful woman.

Donna B said...

I agree with Amy, you are very blessed to have an ex spouse mature enough to see the wisdom of parents staying involved in their children's lives.

I have learned with my ex husband, that despite being willing to compromise, communicate and disclose feelings, if the other partner is not, the intimacy and communication will always be at the level of the least capable.

You have a wonderful spirit and attitude!