Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

Love is a merciless cycle with more white knights and horses’ asses than a mall carousel.  And there’s no getting off.  We woo, become two, screw…and someone says “we’re through.”  A heart is broken.  Tweet and Repeat.  When soaring high amid the heart-shaped clouds of Cupid’s fleeting bliss, the heart pays no mind to Newton’s Law of Physics.  But once the “gravity” of a breakup hits us, we have no choice but to free fall and come crashing down on Newton’s grim prediction… “What goes up must come down.”  If only we didn’t have to “come down” on a bed of meticulously filed, dagger sharp nails piercing not only the heart, but our entire body…one gut-wrenching teardrop at a time.  Turning us into a human shish kabob all too eager to throw ourselves onto a flaming grill and end our bleeding heart misery.  Supposedly, the pain we feel is only heartache.  But in actuality, the pain of a broken heart hurts everywhere.  Does it not?  When the object of our affection personally digs a great divide into the heart we’ve given them, we feel physical pain.  Inexplicable pain that no amount of “There’s lots of fish in the sea” or “That jerk didn’t deserve you” band-aids can cover up.  We’re “stuck on” the ex.

Screw the band-aid!  Anyone up for a tirade?

A broken heart leaves us coiled up in the fetal position crying hopelessly, cursing Stupid Cupid, and threatening to shove that magically sharpened arrow up his virginal baby smooth bare tuckus.  Rejection has a tendency to breed cynicism, no?  But baring the fangs of our inner cynic is a human knee-jerk reaction to the security breach of our too-vulnerable heart.  And usually the only retaliation we get.  The heart is our lifeline.  It pumps life into our body.  Broken heart, broken body.  And our body feels that break mentally, emotionally, AND physically.

So yes, love hurts!

But why?

Scientists studied party-pooping participants who were recently dumped, so the pain was fresh and frenzied.  The lucky lotto winners had their brains picked apart and studied by modern technology.  Brain activity was monitored while enduring physical pain from being burned with a hot probe.  And then again while enduring emotional pain from gazing upon a picture of the ex and regaling the experimenter with the low-down on how they were dumped.

FUN and FUN!

Though beneficial for the furthering of science, the details of the study beg the question:

WTF did these poor souls get paid for their participation?  Enough to pay for fallout therapy or just enough to drown the pain in Jose Cuervo, pass out, and send Jose packing down the porcelain throne?  First class ac’commode’ations.

Poor souls aside…what they found was that our brains don’t discriminate based on race, sex, religion, hypocrisy, emotional dismemberment, or a slashing from Jack the Ripper.  When it comes to pain, the human brain is all-encompassing.  These studies show that intense emotional pain activates the same neural pathways in our brains as physical pain.  So whether we suffer emotional or physical misery, our brains can’t differentiate.  We simply feel pain.  No wonder a broken heart is so crushing and debilitating.  We don’t know if we’ve been dumped off or bumped off.

Nor do we care.

So why doesn’t the brain distinguish between emotional and physical pain?  Because evolutionarily speaking, being alone is bad for business.  Experts suggest that we evolved to feel actual pain at separation to prevent our demise.  Many, many years ago, we were roaming the predatory wild and needed to avoid becoming an all-u-can-eat buffet for beastly, dragon-breath patrons.  In order to survive, we needed a buddy…a partner…a more appetizing distraction to enable our getaway, just in case a patron is doubly ravenous.  Being alone was dangerous.  So our brains evolved to send physical warnings to our bodies when we found ourselves all alone in the world.  Warnings in the form of pain.  Ouch!

Pair…or Beware!  😉

This is why we suffer so much when rejected…not only by a lover, but by our peers as well.  We know that as long as we fit in and blend in, we’re a shoo-in for survival.  We have an innate animal instinct to survive.  At all costs.  So when we find ourselves staring down the barrel of rejection with our one and only’s finger on the trigger, we hurt as if we’ve taken the literal bullet.  The realized risk of solitude and slaughter triggers a primitive fear that manifests itself as physical pain.  Our minds have convinced our bodies that rejection is more like dissection.  When cast aside, our protective layers are peeled away and our vulnerable insides picked away.  So, like every good romance story perpetuates, Together…GOOD…Alone…BAD!  There’s an old adage:  “The best way to get over an old love is to find a new one.” Out with old…in with the new.  Once we find a new love, we have a partner to brave the wilds with.  We’re no longer alone…no longer at risk.  We are two!  Over you.

All is good.

But in true cyclic form, and as Newton predicted, we’ll inevitably come crashing down and feel the physical pain of rejection once again.

And when we do…we can drown our pain at the end of lonely street at Heartbreak Hotel, where the hearts bleed and the tears flow.  Or…we can claim that vacancy at the Bates Motel, where the showers beckon…and the psychos bludgeon.  We won’t know the difference…apparently.  Pain is pain…to the brain.

Hotel? Motel?

Love is Hell!

Chick Hughes

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” ~ Winston Churchill

Photographer: Suat Eman

Bad health leads to doctors.  Doctors to health insurance.  Health insurance to stress.  Stress to bad health.  Round and round we go.  Nothing revs our ailing engines more than America’s five-star health careless system…a system riddled with fickle coverage loopholes, high premium sinkholes,  deep deductible manholes, and pre-existing condition hellholes.  Notice the common denominator?  All holes leading to the big daddy…the health insurance Black Hole!  We pull money from our asshole, throw it down the insurance black hole, and end up digging our own financial hole.  The holes are many, and regardless of our tap dancing talent, we fall in repeatedly.  When faced with failing health, we’re forced to take a crash course in the crooked ways of our greedy private insurer’s coverage plan.  If we weren’t sick before, we are now.  If only we could fund our ever-rising insurance premiums with the money our sue happy lawyers won on our behalf for the emotional suffering inflicted by the complications of “our policy.”  You know…give them a taste of their own “money.”  Tell them where they can stick “our policy.”  If only we had a choice!  We may not have a choice when it comes to going to the doctor, but we may have a better health care plan already in place that can help us avoid the doctor…one free of loopholes, sinkholes, manholes, and hellholes…one secured by our better half.  A happy marriage?  Could it be that Dr. Love is our best insurance policy?  That marriage actually promotes our health?

Medicare, Medicaid…Medimarriage?

All experts agree…YES!  A happy heart is a healthy heart!  Countless studies confirm that a happy marriage helps keep our bodies healthier and private insurers poorer.  But scientists say marriage itself isn’t the key.  That it’s the relationship or commitment — not the institution — that keeps us healthier.  A matter of how close we are as a couple.  The intimacy we share, rather than the space.  A disconnected, stressful marriage is, in fact, worse for the heart than single or divorced life.  Stress is the bearer of bad health.  It manifests itself physically via high blood pressure, low immune system, depression, gastrointestinal problems, rashes, or emotional disorders like anxiety.  And let’s face it…avoiding daily stress is about as easy as making actual eye contact with Jessica Rabbit.  Her eye color is as much a mystery to us as the elusive stress-free day.  Marriage itself can create extra stress, but a stable loving connection with our sweetie combats that psychological stress and keeps it from physically running amuck in our bodies.  How?  L.O.V.E.  Love lowers the stress hormone, cortisol…less stress translates into a happy heart.  It boosts our immune system and reduces heart disease.  Those who are happily married are healthier, less stressed, and live longer than those unhappily married, divorced, or single.  The happier the marriage, the healthier the spouses.  The more hostile the relationship, the weaker the immune system.  When stress takes over, our body falls apart.  But when love is the artist, it’s a “work of heart.”

Psychologist John Gottman says the benefits of a happy marriage are “better health, more resistance to infection, fewer infections, and a reduced likelihood of dying from cancer, from heart disease, from all major killers.”  And those benefits are consistent across age, race, education, and income groups.  Love is a universal band-aid.

Interestingly, for singles or unhappily married adults, having a network of supportive friends didn’t improve health.  Only when the heart is involved…when we have that unconditional bond of love…only then does it reduce our stress hormones and promote better health.  What does that mean?  Marriage is all heart!  🙂  When our heart is happy, our bodies reap the benefits.  When our heart is unhappy, our bodies pay up…as do our wallets.  The sicker we are, the more insurance costs…until eventually, we’re “too sick” to cover.  Yes, apparently there’s only so much “sick” the private insurance companies will tolerate.  Health coverage only for the healthy?  Hmmm, corporate sarcasm perhaps?

Some scientists speculate that the reason we’re in better physical health when in a happy committed relationship is that our spouse inspires us to drink less, smoke less, get regular health checkups, and have better nutritional intake.  Well, isn’t that obvious?  But there’s more to it than that, right?  Even infants thrive with loving skin-on-skin, heart-to-heart contact and deteriorate without it.  Maybe everything begins and ends with the heart.  Our heart thirsts for a connection, a bond, an unconditional love.  When that thirst is quenched, our bodies thrive.  But when that thirst is denied, we deteriorate.  We need love like we need water.  Without that bonded love to ground us, we fry when handling life’s electric stress.

Our heart/body relationship seems to be like any other…surviving on the give and take.  A loving bond gives the heart what it needs.  The heart reciprocates, lowers stress, and keeps the body healthier.  Give and take.  The heart may regulate the physical body, but love regulates the heart.

So, next time you’re stressing over the latest in “hellthcare,” or getting one too many doses of daily stress…slow down.  Find your better half.  Cuddle, connect, and let love medicate you.  Look into your sweetie’s eyes, and say, “Do you need a checkup?  Possibly an XXX-ray?”

“Lay back…the doctor is in.”   😉

Chick Hughes

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” ~  Mother Teresa

ohsuzicue

You, me and debt make three.  When we think of infidelity, we often think of an affair.  But torrid sexual infidelity is now in direct competition…going bone to buck…with the one thing that can screw us harder and longer than a lusty lover…financial infidelity.  What precedes infidelity?  Flirting.  Most of us, at one time or another, have engaged in a little innocent flirting.  We’ve flirted with our sexuality…exchanged heated glances with strangers or enjoyed an exciting sexual tension with someone a little too much.  We’ve flirted financially…indulged in clothing, purses, or gadgets we’ve neglected to share with our spouse, or secretly kept the occasional $20 to treat ourselves.  These seemingly frivolous flirts may cost us a short-lived argument, but the spat will soon pass and we’ll get to keep that trendy new outfit, cutting edge gadget, or flirty ego boost all to ourselves.  Therein lies the motivation for the flirt.  However, when we graduate from a flirt to a full blown fling, the resulting argument won’t be so short-lived, and the only thing we’ll get to keep in the end is debt…whether it’s regret we owe…or money.  So what  can we do to prevent a financial fling?  And which fling is worse?  Financial or sexual?

Financial infidelity is “the secretive act of spending money, possessing credit and credit cards, holding secret accounts or stashes of money, borrowing money, or otherwise incurring debt unknown to one’s spouse, partner, or significant other.”  While both men and women are offenders, women seem to take the lead…probably because more often than not, women handle the household finances.  Some offenses may be minor…sneaking $10 to buy a scarf and passing it off as a long time closet hermit.  Some may be moderate…charging a “today hot, tomorrow not” $200 gadget and willing it to have an “invisible to wife” app.  While neither of these are marriage breakers, all lies — or omissions of the truth — can be damaging to a relationship.  But that’s just cosmetic damage.  Damage be damned.  To completely total a relationship, one may open up a secret charge account, incur debt in the tens of thousands, wipe out a savings account worth six digits, take out a second mortgage, stash money in a secret bank account, or gamble away his marital home, possessions, and future.

All of which can, and do, happen.

Money is the number one reason for marital disputes AND divorce.  Studies show that 60% of participating respondents consider hiding credit cards or major purchases serious “moving” violations.  A 2005 survey completed by lawyers.com and Redbook magazine interviewed nearly 2000 married/living together adults.  While most respondents considered a romp in the hay more treasonous, just under half claimed they’d prefer their spouses bone around with another, rather than buck around with their finances.  A separate study found that well over half of participating subjects considered a secret bank account reason enough for walking papers.  Divorce lawyers and marriage counselors agree that more divorce cases stem from differences in finances than affairs.  It seems money divides and conquers us more often than sex…whether it be an overabundance of financial flirts or one major financial fling.   Just what does that say about our marital priorities?

Double dip in the nookie bowl, you stand to lose an arm…but double dip in the money bowl, you’ll lose an arm AND a leg.

How does one get swept away in the sultry seduction of a financial fling?  Our over-spending can be attributed to many things:  an attempt to keep up an image, an effort to prove self-worth, an inability to say “no” to kids, an attempt to maintain a lifestyle we can no longer afford, a grasp at a false sense of power, or a struggle to satisfy some form of gambling addiction.  And then there’s America’s most popular reason for over-spending…plastic pleasure.  Buying with credit not only provides us immediate gratification, but its phony money disguise is just too seductive a temptation for some.  Plastic allows us to buy and enjoy now, and pay later…but, for those who abuse plastic pleasure, later is as relevant to their wallets as a training bra is to Dolly Parton.

Regardless of the reason, we seem to be as enticed by the sweet sins of financial fornication as a teenage boy is by whatever “secret” Victoria is hiding beneath her glossy pages and lacy unmentionables.

Financial counselors have some suggestions on how to avoid the financial fling:

* Don’t refer to money as “mine” or “yours.” Instead alter the mentality to “ours.” Our money, our problem.  “Mine” and “yours” sets us up as divided, rather than united.  United we stand, divided we fall.

*  Keep be NO secrets or lies when it comes to money. One dirty little secret leads to another dirty little secret until you have a dirty dozen secrets…leading to a down and dirty divorce.

*  Jointly write out a budget. A plan of action provides us a playbook for our financial future…a defined set of no-no’s and go-go’s.

*  Allocate each partner “blow money.” As little as $20/month gives us a sense of autonomy and allows us a much needed guilt-free indulgence.

*  Remain actively aware of all finances. A person who remains in the dark when it comes to his financial standing is making his bed for inevitable financial crashing.

Finding ourselves the victim of a financial infidelity can have devastatingly tangible consequences.  If a marriage ends, not only are we forced to start over emotionally, but we must do so without a monetary leg to stand on.  After being financially raped, we have no money to start over with.

So, which is worse?  A sexual fling can ruin a relationship, end in divorce, and have lawyers fighting over assets…who gets the house, the cars, the savings account, the investments, etc.  Once it’s all said and done, the heart will take a year, maybe two, to heal.  On the other hand,  a financial fling can bring the same brutally painful outcome…but with two differences…there may be NO assets to fight over, and financial ruin, or bankruptcy, can take 10 years to heal.  Ouch!

Seems there’s only one thing that drives us more than sex….cold, hard CASH!  So, when it comes to marital moolah, be straight…don’t fornicate, lest you contribute to the climbing divorce rate.    😉

Chick Hughes

“My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” ~  Errol Flynn

elvinstar

Yours…  Mine… Ours.  “Our” marriage, “our” kids, “our” exes, “our” baggage, “our”……..happily ever after?  Here’s to hoping.  Blending together two families who each have their own set of family dynamics, daytime dramas, “well-meaning” grandparents, sappy traditions, unbending belief systems, and set-in-stone parenting styles is most often good in theory…but may feel like captive torture when played out.   Now throw in two exes, their new spouses, and more extended familial “strangers”…and what do you get?  Kids who don’t know which way is up, who to direct their anger at, or if anyone even cares that they’re angry.   To them, it may seem the adults are so busy being angry at each other…who’s listening anyway?

How do we, as parents, manage to successfully blend two families AND keep our children from feeling like the forgotten luggage we’ve tied to the bumper and drug along behind the moving vehicle that is our new life?

The modern blended family is quickly replacing its traditional competitor.  Divorce, followed by remarriage, is the new normal…whether our kids are ready or not.  And let’s face it…they’re not.  Kids are creatures of habit, rejecting any semblance of a new life.  After years of emotionally bonding with BOTH of their biological parents, they’re now thrust into the middle of a divorce…they have no idea how they got there, or why.  What they do know is it wasn’t their choice.  They then realize… their vote doesn’t count…it never did.  And now that the divorce is inked and official, mom and dad want to remarry.  Granted… blending a family is about as challenging as publicly disciplining our two-year-old, tantrum-throwing, eardrum-piercing, who-is-this-child? toddler without having “someone” accuse us of child abuse.  Amateurs!  But, Yes…it can be done…and Yes…it can be successful.  🙂

When thrown into a blended family, our kids typically act out and become rebellious, difficult, and withdrawn.  Unfortunately, we get angry, seek punishment, and get our heels so deeply dug into the punishment muck…we can’t get out, step back, and gain perspective.  We can’t examine what the thoughts, fears, and insecurities are that drive our kids to behave in such a way.

After having the cold ice bucket that is divorce dumped over his head, a child has already recoiled and felt the disappointment of parental letdown.  His safe, protected cocoon has been split and he’s been peeled out, limb by limb- against his will – into the harsh “elements” that make up life.  Reaction:  self defense… a.k.a. withdrawal, lashing out,  and self-imposed isolation.  This rebellious, difficult, withdrawn hoodlum –  who has hijacked our precious baby’s body and is now using it to wreak havoc in our new life- is simply hurt, frightened, and keeping his guard up.  If his guard is up, he can’t be let down again.   He feels powerless in the changes that are affecting his life…acting out is HIS choice… the only thing he CAN control…he will exercise it.  His self esteem, confidence, and security have taken a hit, and our job as parents is to do whatever we can to restore that which he has lost.  That means giving him space to express his disappointment, grief, and anger.  That means encouraging his continued relationship with BOTH parents.  With the steady love and presence of both biological parents, our child will adjust to his new blended family more quickly and have higher self esteem.  He needs this like he needs air to breathe.   Our kids need to know that though we couldn’t make it work, they are more important than the conflict that ended our marriage.  Knowing this, for kids, makes all the difference.  All too often, our emotions and resentments from the failed marriage dictate our behaviors, our attitudes, and our words when it comes to our kids and their relationship with the ex.  Though we may think otherwise, our body language is sometimes louder than our words.  So, even when we’re biting our tongue, we’re yelling criticisms from the rooftops.   Whether we’re tackling discipline, parental swap, or trying to help our kids cope…here are a few things to consider:

—-Drop kids off…never pick them up:  While it may seem harmless and more convenient to pick them up when doing the parental custody swap, try to avoid it.  Picking them up conveys the subtle insinuation that we’re taking them from the other parent.  Yes…sounds silly to an adult.  But to a child, it feels like a threat from one parent to another.  And once again, he feels caught in the middle.  “Do I go with this one, or stay with that one?”  A child’s mind in this situation is always one of self-blame.  “If I go with him, will it hurt her?  If I refuse to go to avoid hurting her, will I hurt him?”  When we drop them off, we send the message that we’re giving them permission to go have fun.  Kids are amazing little people who strive to please both parents ALL the time.

Routine:  A great way to give kids the predictability they crave is to create a special routine just for them.  For example, after every visit away, on the first night of their return to us, we might make their favorite dinner or dine at their favorite restaurant.  Kids find comfort in routine.  A traditional coming home meal, or any consistent routine we may choose,  can provide them a small security in an otherwise scary world of unknowns.

Verbal praises:  While kids prefer hugs and more physical contact from their biological parents, they prefer verbal praises from stepparents.  They may, in time, become more comfortable with physical praise, but in the beginning, keep it verbal.  It respects their personal space, allows them to slowly take us in – rather than our cramming ourselves down their throat –  and lets them call the shots where our connection is concerned.  Little choices like this give them a sense of independence and help them adjust.

Time alone:  There’s a time for the whole family to be together…and there’s a time for us to treat our biological kids to some one on one time with just us…no stepparent…no stepbrothers or sisters.  This strengthens the bond that has taken such a blow.  When armed with an intact bond with his biological parent, he doesn’t feel he’s being replaced.  He feels he is “sharing” his parent, rather than having HIS parent “stolen.”

Rules respected and followed:  Rules, as well as consequences, should be as similar as possible between the homes.  If our child doesn’t complete his homework and loses video game privileges while at our ex’s house, those consequences should be enforced at our house until punishment is complete.  Consistency and respect between the homes will provide security, keep expectations clear, and rob him of a loop hole with which to play one parent against the other.  Trust me…given access to a loop hole, he’ll jump right through.

Biological parent disciplinarian:  The last thing a kid wants is another bossy know-it-all.  When a blended family is in its beginning years, the biological parent should do most of the disciplining…allowing the stepparent to play the role of friend or counselor.  If a new person comes barging in, takes his parent away, changes life as he knows it, AND has the nerve to discipline him, the only thing he’s creating is a brick wall with no means around it.  That bond will never happen.  A child needs time to get to know us, develop a relationship with us, and come to respect us before he will take kindly to discipline of any kind.  If we stomp into his world beating our chest and barking orders, those orders will only bounce off that brick wall and smack us right in the face.  None of us enjoy having our words thrown back at us…do we?  😉  Once a bond has been established, discipline will be accepted and respected.

Kids so often carry around the burden of a divorce between their parents, wondering what they did to cause it, or what they can do to fix it.  Remarrying and introducing a blended family to them will be difficult – there’s not enough candy in the world to sugar coat that sour note.  But, the good news is children are resilient…and given time and room to grieve, they’ll come around.  Children who experience divorce and blended family life, children who are encouraged, and, above all, loved…these children learn adaptability and develop the compassion and empathy needed to embrace outsiders, making them more accepting, more flexible adults.

We’ve ordered this blended family.  We’ve added many ingredients to our tall glass of new life.  It WILL be stirred by the many variables butting heads in our glass.  However, with love, patience, and understanding, our blended family will withstand the stirring and remain strong…and unshaken…in the face of adversity.   Drink it in.

Chick Hughes

A glimpse into the mind of a child:

“My mom cries when I tell her about Dad’s girlfriend. I can’t help it if I like her just a little. She’s nice to me.”
Twelve-year-old girl

Dad left so suddenly that if I don’t take care of Mom, she might leave me too.
Eight-year-old boy

“Dad couldn’t really be as bad as Mom says he is.”
Nine-year-old girl

“My dad left because I wanted to ride my bike my way, and I told him to go away. He did and divorced my mom.”

“If I go live with grandma can you and dad stay married?”
Seven-year-old girl

evenementy

Gone are the days of “Leave it to Beaver”…a time when families were supposedly nauseatingly happy, the kids were a little too mild-mannered and obedient, and the parents were blissfully unstressed and free from the bondage of disagreement.  And can I just say…

What the hell was that about anyway?

When has life ever been that simple?   When was marriage ever easy?  When were kids ever obedient every second of every day?  And when were women truly content staying home all of their lives without any ambition or dreams of their own?  NEVER.  Life has never been easy… more repressed maybe, but not easy.  Thankfully, repression AND oppression went out of style years ago, along with that hideous, clunky wooden piece of furniture that brought the “Beav” into our living room.  Real-life adults are actual people with actual problems, rather than the brainwashed, robotic “Stepford Wife”  and the always dutiful, never over-worked, never over-stressed husband depicted on tv.   I much prefer a down to earth parent who owns his problems…how his relationship with his wife is suffering because of the long hours he works to make ends meet, how his wife is distant because — well, he’s not sure why, how she feels resentful because he actually gets to leave the house that has become her prison every day, make his own money, and be productive (rather than watching one day roll into the next washing dishes and behinds), how his kids are acting out because they sense the uncertainty in the household.  While certainly not ideal, they’re honest and very much the reality of our everyday lives.  Families are complicated… and synonymous with dysfunctional love.  Couples marry, divorce, remarry, and struggle to resist the urge of hiring a hitman to take out their “mistake”  every day.  But, instead of surfing the net hunting for the perfect hitman, we have to learn to make peace and co-exist.  Easier said than done, right?  We may have better luck convincing a  top modeling agency to grace the cover of Vogue with our tired faces, dark circles, and stress-induced extra pounds?  So, once divorce has taken hold and each remarries, how do we maintain a manageable relationship that allows us to co-parent our little look-a-likes?

Co-parenting after a divorce is about as fun as tossing our cookies on the tilt-a-whirl after overindulging on hot dogs, chicken on a stick, cotton candy, and popcorn at the county fair.  It was delicious going down…wickedly vile coming up.  Though it’s very difficult to make peace with the ex after a divorce, it’s also the healthiest and most essential thing for us to achieve…not only for us, but for the kids as well.  Hate requires much more emotional energy than forgiveness…and forgiveness is a way of life our children will hopefully emulate… if we display it.

When trying to co-exist, co-parent, and co-operate with our ex, there are a few R’s we need to practice:

Respect:  This will be difficult, but may also reveal our true maturity level.  We’re both parenting our kids, so keep it that way.  We should never disregard our ex’s opinions or feelings about issues with the kids.  On those issues we don’t have a particular opinion about, we should ask our ex what he/she thinks about the situation.  Always include the other on major decisions with the kids.  If we ask for our ex’s input on what should be done, rather than dictating what we’re going to do, our ex will feel validated and included in his/her kids lives.  Result: emotional walls will remain down, and communication will be fluent.

Restrain:  Keep our emotions in check where our ex is concerned.  Kids are extremely perceptive…so those little sneers we entertain on our faces when our kids are slamming us with information about their week away are not gone unnoticed.  They notice…and take note…of our opinion… and follow suit.  Remember, we may have chosen to move on from our ex, but our child will never move on from his parent.  The last thing we want to do is sabotage the relationship between ex and child.  Also, our kids are not our messengers.  They’re not responsible for informing our ex of his late child support or any other point of contention we may feel the need to “share” with our kids.  They’re kids…allow them to be.  They’re allowed to love our ex…and sending hateful messages back and forth only tells them they should choose sides.  If this is what you’re angling for, be prepared…when they’re older and wiser, you’ll lose.

Reply:  Take advantage of modern technology.  EMAIL!  We should communicate with our ex through email as much as possible.  This way, our kids won’t be watching as our emotional floodgate falters and threatens to wipe out everyone within earshot of our conversation.  Also, our ex will be less likely to “push our buttons” over email.  We’re much more rational through email than face-to-face confrontations.  When face-to-face, emotion runs the show, tempers flair,  and words become weapons.  Unfortunately, those weapons usually hit an unintended target…our kids.  The less emotion and shotty glances, the better.  So remember:  EMAIL…don’t raise hell.

Rebuild:  Regardless of who wronged who and who said what, we must accept that our ex is not solely responsible for our breakup.  While it’s easier to point a finger, rather than claim our own contribution, we must let it go and own our responsibility in the breakup.  The sooner we do that, the sooner we release some of the resentment…and the sooner we move on.  To rebuild, we have to do away with what our marriage was…and embrace what it is now.  Treat it as though it’s a whole new experience with the focus on the kids’ well-being…not on what did, or did not, happen between the two of us.  The marriage has been bulldozed.  Now it’s time to clean up, do away with the rubble, and rebuild our relationship from the ground up as co-parents.  A relationship “renovation.”

Trying to bring together adults who would rather forget the others exist is a difficult feat, but a necessary one if there are kids involved.  We all want a safe home with a white picket fence to keep our kids safe from “outside” dangers.  But a divorce will tear down that fence and leave our kids open to three danger doozies:  fear, doubt, and insecurity.  The only way to keep our kids feeling secure and loved is to forgive, rebuild, and mend those fences.  Otherwise, not only did we fail with our marriage…we’ll fail our kids as well.  Mend a fence…save a child.

Chick Hughes

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes