"You are the best ex-wife I've ever had. Ironically enough, you were also the best wife I ever had."
- My ex-husband (who has only had one wife, so far)
My ex-husband is FUNNY. I thought he was very funny before I married him. While we were married, he became much less funny. Now that we're divorced, I think he's hysterical again. Apparently, we should have left well enough alone.
We get along surprisingly well for a divorced couple. You hear a lot of stories about how one former spouse can't get out of the car when drop-offs occur or how you have to meet in some neutral location for kid exchanges (like it's some sort of seedy drug deal). There are custody battles and arguments about child support. Those things are all real and they are truly horrible for everyone involved, especially the kids who never really wanted their parents to be divorced in the first place. But, in our case, we get along fabulously well.
During our actual divorce we sat in the courtroom and waited alllllll day while couple after couple stood before the judge and requested an annihilation of their marriage ("annihilation" is SO much more fun than "dissolution"). We sat together (unlike most every couple there who typically sat on opposite ends of the courtroom) and, much like we did during the happy times in our marriage, judged the world. We used to call it "sitting on the couch, judging the world," because it's SO EASY to do! We mocked each marital defendant mercilessly, holding back our laughter as much as we possibly could while the court bailiff gave us the evil eye.
When it was finally our turn, the judge gave us each a measured look and said one of the most wonderful things that has probably ever been said in a courtroom full of miserable soon-to-be-divorced people: "If you two get along outside this courtroom as well as you did today, then your children are going to be fine." I got a little teary because, honestly, the one thing that I ever REALLY worry about is how this divorce affects my kids. If my kids ever start talking about how crappy their childhoods have been, I'm going to tell them that a COURT OF LAW said they were going to be FINE.
So far, it has held true. We agree on most things and we usually speak up if we have a problem (amazing what a little divorce can teach you). We co-parent effectively, with each of us keeping the kids 50% of the time. It's important to me that he be an active, involved parent and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way about me. And, so far (knock on wood), our children are growing up to be some pretty terrific people: balanced, even-tempered and happy, for the most part. Even though I know that they would STILL, after all this time, prefer that their parents be together, I hope they are beginning to understand that the way it is makes the best solution for our family.
So, if you have an ex-husband (or if you're serious about making your current husband an ex...I'm KIDDING!), you can follow these simple steps to ensure you have a smooth relationship to co-parent your kids effectively:
- Stop playing the role of the martyr. You know, it's the same role you worked on while you were married. You do all this work and you offer to do things he hasn't even ASKED you to do. And then you complain to your friends about how much work you do. It's easy. And it's fun. :) Remember, though, now that you're divorced, he cares EVEN LESS about your self-sacrifice. Stop doing that crap and put on your big girl panties. If there's something you don't want to/can't do then don't do it and tell him why, nicely.
- Keep your trash talk to yourself. Don't tell people all about his flaws. NEVER, EVER call him names, especially in front of your kids. Stop blaming all your problems on him. Be nice. This is a great time to start learning to accept your ex-husband for all that he is AND all that he is not. You don't have to live with him anymore and there must have been SOME reason you married him. Find those reasons and focus on the positive.
- Keep lines of communication open. You probably shut these down during your marriage. Well, now it's time to let the words flow. And let him know that you're open to hearing what he has to say. If you have children together, you are still involved in THE MOST important roles of your lives. And if you want to raise them well, you still have to be a team.
I'll offer this up, though, as a first step solution BEFORE you give up the fight:
Even if you don't think for a million years it will work, try it anyway. Be nice. And then be nice again. And again. You might be surprised.
Of course, he could still turn around and be a jerk. But at least you know YOU haven't been one. Which will make you an awesome martyr! Score!
How do you get along with your ex? Am I just nuts? Comments below are open!