Broken marriages are bloody awful things.
Telling your kids that mum and dad are separating is a terrible grenade to throw into their lives.
And then there’s the toll it takes on you.
It’s a shocker all round.
But you know what helps? Damage control. And moving on.
Damage control means not slagging off your ex to your kids. It means never making them feel like they have to choose sides. It’s about having a positive co-parenting relationship. It’s about protecting your children as much as possible from the ugly stuff.
We cried when we told our kids our marriage was over. I cried again as I held my sobbing child a few days later, while they mourned “not being a family any more”.
And then I decided to put my pain to one side when it came to parenting. I saved my tears for when the kids had gone to bed.
I helped us become a different sort of family. A family that might not live together, but can still happily spend time in each other’s company.
Over the past five years, my ex and I have shared many meals with our children, co-hosted birthday parties, gone to the Easter Show en masse, sat side by side at endless school functions, attended parent-teacher nights as a team, headed to specialist appointments as a united front …
On Sunday, my ex asked if I’d like to have dinner with him and the kids for Mother’s Day. It was a little left-field, but I went with it. He’d even wrapped some gifts on their behalf. We went for burgers at a funky place called Milky Lane, where we laughed and chatted together for two hours.
It didn’t hurt a bit. I say that because it used to hurt, but I chose to suck it up for the greater good. And it was worth it.
While the first few weeks of our separation were a little fraught for the kids, they’re both incredibly well-balanced about their parents living apart now.
They see that we get along, but have no expectations that we will get back together.
One day they might realise that not all exes manage to co-exist so peacefully and understand that other kids who’ve survived parental separations haven’t had such an easy time of it.
But currently it just annoys them that we prattle so much to each other.
A few years after we broke up, it stopped hurting to spend time with my ex. That’s because I’d moved on.
I think a lot of divorced parents struggle to move on because of the roadblock of bitterness in the way of their healing. Being bitter is such a waste of this one life we get. I decided seeking happiness was a much better way to go.
I receive a copy of my ex’s family calendar every year and May 2019 features a photograph of my ex with his arm around his girlfriend. I used to shove the calendar in a cupboard, but I’ve stuck this one on the side of the fridge. I look at my ex with HER and simply think “you’re welcome to each other”.
I have so much good stuff in my life that I reckon they should be jealous of me!
Falling in love with DD is one of the best bits.
I was filled with so much joy yesterday afternoon because he’d finally started his long journey home to Australia. He’d texted in the middle of the night from Dallas to say he was touching down in Tokyo at 5.30pm. I found myself counting down the hours until a message would pop up on my phone.
I feel fortunate to have found a relationship that gives me such a buzz almost five years down the track. Hey, I even feel lucky to have an ex who invites me out for Mother’s Day dinner.
Don’t waste your energy – and your chance for happiness – on hating your ex. It might be hard at first, but I promise it will be worth it in the end. Hate is such a heavy burden to carry, joy is such a light one.
Song of the day: M People “Moving on up”