So now you are divorced. You may have been divorced just recently or you may be divorced for several years. Now what? What does your life look like with children from the previous marriage and your ex? Is it what you imagined? Did you ever think how things would be? If you are like most, you did not even think about this because of all the emotions that were overwhelming you at the time. You probably just wanted to move on with your life. I want you to think about what you can do today to make things better for you and look at your children and your ex as a unit and how you can improve the relations between all of you. Even though you are divorced, it is OK to talk to your ex. You both made a decision to split up or now you recognize it was the right thing to do. That does not mean that you have to be enemies or you are not allowed to converse ever again.
My dream is one day my children will attend a Thanksgiving Dinner or even a Sunday afternoon brunch with their divorced parents, and the parents' significant other, who perhaps are remarried. Also there are the siblings, step-children, half-siblings and who knows, maybe the ex-in-laws, but that might be pushing it. Everybody is getting along, laughing, joking, talking and sharing. Is that even possible? Wouldn't it be a great goal? If you said no, you probably still have anger from the divorce and need to go to therapy. You may be suppressing that anger and don't even know it's there, but it comes out in other ways. You may think this feeling towards your ex is needed and very much normal. I want you to know you are only hurting yourself and this anger can turn into health issues for yourself. Many studies have proven this. You owe it to yourself to get to therapy and rid yourself of this anger and resentment.
For the past three years, my ex-husband has been living outside the family home yet he has always been welcome to spend time with our children anytime he could, sometimes he'll cook them dinner, per my request, to off-set the cost of dining out. Not to mention sometimes when the children are busy with homework it can be too disruptive to sit in a restaurant or travel to his place way up town.
Also, in these past three years since he has been living up town the idea of Christmas came up. Christmas morning has always been more of the family tradition, therefore my ex shares Christmas morning and the entire day. In the past, as a family we typically spent the day with my Italian family, he's Jewish so it was never a debate, but since our separation I have refrained from travelling to my family's dinner and instead have had dinner with just the four of us, spending the day together.
My daughters, who are teenagers now, embrace and find peace and comfort on this holiday that for many years was a tradition of childhood magic, but now a day that symbolizes buried hatchets and restructured relationships. It may take a few Christmas dinners but I believe that my ex and his new relationship, me and my new relationship and all of our kids will one day break bread together.
How is this done? By rising above the pain and anguish of the loss and betrayal of what was a dysfunctional marriage. Equally both ex spouses need to take responsibility for what went wrong. State your regrets, apologize and forgive. We apologize for our behavior and forgive each other for the hurt and mis-understandings. Admit it was wrong and appreciate that you are both alive to be with your children and be in their lives and watch them grow up. The next step is put the past behind, wish each other well and move on to what each feels is the next best thing. Albert Einstein stated a truth I believe, "We cannot solve problems by using the same thinking we used when we created them". The marriage is over and we need to raise our consciousness to a higher level not only for ourselves but for our children and to hopefully relate in a new way in a new loving relationship.
About Author / Additional Info:
Visit the web site at http://www.mediationandcounseling.com to find out the next date, time and place for the next free workshop on parenting, mediation and support groups for separated and divorced people.
Dana Greco is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and family psychotherapist in NYC.