Divorce is sad.
I can’t imagine anyone looking forward to it like a prize at the end of something. While it is technically the end of the marriage, it’s the beginning of so very many other things.
No one stands at the altar thinking of the day they say “it’s over,” but I promise you that on the day it’s over, they flash back to the day of “I do’s” and so many other days before and after that.
Divorce itself doesn’t make things better. Especially not right away. It’s not a magic word that waves like a wand over your life and sets things back to the way there were before.
Divorce is undergoing a life-saving operation and finding out at the last minute that all the anesthesia’s been drained from the hospital.
A friend recently suggested to me recently that I write about divorce, because it’s something my ex-husband, new husband, and me do “well.” Yes, long after the divorce is finalized and you leave the bowels of the courtroom, divorce is a continuous action. The action of separating yourself from what once was, and reconfiguring yourselves in a new cats cradle-like fashion.
Popular culture calls this separating and coming together again in the midst of divorce “co-parenting,” as if it’s an option, or some sort of buzzword to print out and hang on our walls as a motivational poster. But, the reality is, unless there is a parent who is completely absent, co-parenting is always what’s happening. Unfortunately, the “co” isn’t a weight that’s always evenly carried, and, no matter how much weight is on your shoulders, it always feels like twice the load.
Because it’s not just about making joint decisions. It’s about making joint decisions with a person with whom you can no longer live with, and maybe can’t even look at. Making decisions for the loving creations the two of you created when you once, likely, loved each other. There’s the weight of the decision, and the suffocation of the life you’re no longer giving your children—the one you thought you were going to.
Whether this ends up being a good or bad thing for your kids is something I’ll talk about in another post, and something the kids might not sort out until they’re on a leather couch in their therapist’s office twenty years from now, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.
What I’d like you to consider is coming along on this journey for me while I talk about the strings of divorce, of first marriages, of second marriages and blended families. It is something that must be handled with the utmost respect and care, and something I’ve studied and stumbled in for four years now.
But, what I can offer is this: On Christmas day 2016, my ex-husband and his girlfriend brought the kids to my house (the reside with me full time but were at his place this Christmas Eve) around ten in the morning. My parents were there, as was my husband. The six adults all sat and stood around the living room while the kids opened their presents from Santa and my parents, and we exchanged gifts with each other. Each other meaning me and my husband exchanging gifts with my ex husband and his girlfriend.
If you told me even 3 years ago that we’d get them a Costco Membership gift card and they’d buy me a necklace and Charles his favorite vodka, I’d have asked you to get your head examined.
What happened on this Christmas Day wasn’t a decision. It was the culmination of a million little decisions that have been weighed and calculated every single day for the last four years.
And I want to talk about it.
We’re far from typical: We’re blended, we’re loving, and we focus on the children. Some of these things aren’t even happening in nuclear families, but that’s not the focus of this series.
Doing divorce well.
Come with me, and we’ll learn more together.