This morning I received an invitation to my ex-husbands wedding. Yes, you read that right. My ex and his fiance have invited my boyfriend and I (as well as my brother and his wife) to his upcoming wedding. When I opened the invite, I felt a pang in my stomach. It wasn’t sadness or jealousy. It was happiness and a sense of pride. Happiness because I truly am happy for him that he has found someone(and an awesome someone at that) and pride because I am so proud of both of us for the way we have handled our separation and divorce since the very beginning. Not many people can or ever will be able to say what I just told you. We are not normal but one thing we both are, is HAPPY.
After two and half years, our divorce became final in May. Although we mediated, the process still takes forever. When we began the process, we thought that because we weren’t going to fight each other, it would be quick. But, no matter what the situation, it is impossible for it to take less than a year. If you’ve done it, good for you and please share your secret because I have yet to meet anyone that’s gotten through it quickly. Over the last two and a half years, I’ve had countless people commend me (and my ex) on the relationship we have with each other. The day the papers arrived from the courts, my ex stopped by my office so that we could share the moment together. You might think that’s weird but for us, it’s the way we chose to handle things from the beginning. There were fights, screaming matches, throwing things and people threatening to quit but at the end of it all, I learned a tremendous amount about myself, my ex and about making it less painful than it needs to be. So, whether you are miserably married and feel stuck, seriously contemplating divorce or in the midst of your proceedings, keep reading.
To Divorce or Not To Divorce? That is the question and the one with the hardest answer. Just like having a baby, you don’t really know what you’re in for until you’re in it. If you have a good man but he’s just annoying and pisses you off time and time again, figure out a way to work on it. If you’ve still got that lovin’ feeling somewhere deep deep inside you then find the things you fell in love with at the beginning and try to get them back… together. It takes two. On the flip side, if you fall into any of these then it might be time to call the attorney:
- you are oil and he is water
- he/she flat out sucks and you are at the point of hating each other
- the slightest things annoy the shit out of you – like the way he/she breathes
- you’re getting angry at each other just for sneezing
- you spend moments of your day thinking about ways to kill the other person if you could get away with it
So, if you’ve settled on getting out, the insights below just might help you and your ex to keep things civil.
Lawyers v. Mediators. There is a huge difference here – hundreds of thousands of dollars in difference. If you can’t be in the same room together and can’t stand to look at each other, a mediator will most likely not want to deal with you. However, if you can mediate, I highly recommend it. It’s not an easy process but it’s worth the money. Either way, divorce isn’t cheap and at the end of all the back and forth, you will both be down at least $50 – $100k – money which could go towards your kids and other things. If you go the lawyer route, and no offense to any divorce lawyers reading this, their job is to fight for you and fight hard. They will talk you into things that they think you deserve and only make you more angry at what he ‘isn’t’ offering you. The more they fight, the more they make. Bottom line, you may not win, but either way, your lawyer will.
It’s ALL About The Kids. If you share children, your ex will never truly be out of your life so why not try to keep things civil. You will always have to speak to each other regarding your offspring so try to speak kindly and if you can’t find nice words, just send a text and let them take it however they want to take it. If in the company of your children, try not to completely ignore each other or be nasty to each other… what lesson are you teaching your children if you can’t even speak to the person they love as their mother or father.
Cha-cha-cha-Changes. NOT! What you hated about your ex while you were together will still be the things you hate when you are divorced because people don’t change (and I fully include myself in this comment. I am still guilty of doing all the things that pissed him off when we were married). Take comfort in knowing that they have not changed and never will but a new person might bring out a better side of them…. and you need to just deal with it.
Moo000lah. During the process it all becomes about the money even if you go in trying not to focus on that. Don’t be selfish, at the end of the day, it should only be about the kids. If you left her because you don’t love her or found someone else, don’t skimp out on alimony and child support. If you left him for the same reason, don’t ask for what’s NOT yours. Just do right by each other or every month you will have a bad taste in your mouth.
Hugs. At the end of a fight or mediation session, hug it out no matter how angry you are, how much you want to kill each other or how sick the other person makes you feel. As silly as it sounds, it changes your emotional state and you can leave a little less bitter. (I know a lot of people are saying there is no fucking way this one is gonna happen). Trust me, it makes a difference and in hindsight, I’m thankful that he made me do this every time. When we signed our papers, a hug wasn’t enough so we went for a cocktail, took a picture, friended each other on Facebook for 5 minutes, shared the picture and then unfriended each other. You don’t need to be friends on Facebook – as much as we like each other, there is absolutely NO need.
Sharing is Caring. You made babies together, one of you probably will have more time with them than the other, which leaves one of you missing out on day to day things. Send a picture of your kid on the first day of school or in a new cute outfit or send a message about something funny that happened. You’ll appreciate the pictures or the messages when the roles are reversed. And if you can handle it, try to share a meal together once in a while…. for the sake of the kids. But, again, don’t be friends on Facebook.
Consideration. If you have a new love in your life and your ex doesn’t, try to put yourself in their shoes and think how you might react to certain situations like bed sharing, attending the kids events together or decision making. Tread lightly. You may be on the opposite side one day and wish they considered your feelings. And remember, don’t be friends on Facebook.
Moving On. Don’t rush the next relationship. So many people have asked me where they should be looking for men to date or get back in the game(Tinder, POF, Hinge, Ashley Madison… that last one might be why you’re getting divorced). I’m not saying don’t get out there. The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. (I wish I could credit the person that told me that because it’s a great line – feel free to use it). Enjoy your time alone and find yourself again. Chances are you got lost somewhere between marriage and kids, homework and soccer games. Take the time to find whatever it is you lost. It will set the stage for your happiness in your next relationship.
Be happy. For goodness sake you got divorced because you were miserable or he was miserable or you were both miserable. Find your happy place and wrap your arms around it because no matter how old you are, you have time to find an amazing partner to spend the rest of your life with and not make the same mistakes you made the first time. And if you have kids, one of the perks is your off time. I’m sorry, it might sound sad, but when you’re single and working or lunching or whatever it is you do, every other weekend ‘off duty’ allows for ‘you-time’ and time with your new person.
My ex and I have both moved on. We are both blissfully happy. We found new partners that are not only amazing, but respect our relationship and support it. We spend time together(yes, all 4 of us) with the kids and sometimes randomly run into each other at concerts or parties, at which his new partner and I can be found laughing and having a blast on the dance floor… together. It’s not normal but it works and not only are WE better for it, but our kids will be better for it as well.