Divorce: Life After?

My spouse and I are heading towards separation and divorce, tremendously sad, but mostly not acrimonious. We have one adult child and another who will be going to college in a year. I'm curious to hear how others fared the first couple of years after separation/divorce. What tips do you have to ward off the sadness/pain/loneliness and eventually find happiness for yourself (and your kids)? Have you remained on friendly terms with your ex and even do things as a "family"? How do you make that happen? Any advice on how to maintain "friendship" throughout the separation/divorce? We both deeply want to remain on good terms, if not for ourselves, most definitely for our children. Thanks!

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RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

Hi there! Recently divorced as of last August. We have a young child in first grade. While it sounds like you won't be coparenting minor children, you might still find "The Co-Parenting Handbook" by Karen Bonnell helpful. It sets the tone for what life will be like post-divorce in terms of having/sharing children together, and the spectrum of options depending on your relationship with your ex. Me and my ex are on friendly terms, so we were able to separate slowly, which was helpful for our child. I also joined a divorce support group after my divorce was finalized, and it was exactly what I needed to heal after my divorce. Check out www.sasforwomen.com - they are based on the East Coast but my group has women all over the country. She hosts one for women contemplating divorce, and one group for women who have their divorces finalized, which I have come to learn are two very different stages. Best of luck, divorce is tough, life changing, heartbreaking and painful. However, you may end up, like me, happier on the other end.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

Yes, as many will attest - life can be wonderful after divorce, especially if both of you are able and willing to remain amicable for the sake of your children. Take the time for yourself - pursue dreams and activities that will steer your attention and focus; honor your emotions, but also allow yourself to open up to new people and experiences - the essence of life while we're still alive. There is more than one tree to plant, house to build and relationship to nurture. Most importantly, stay kind to yourself and allow time to work its magic.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

My parents divorced as soon as I finished college and were terrible to each other and it has caused so much tension, just recently they have started to be able to be in the same room. It has made my 20s and now into 30s so painful and I just wanted to reach out and applaud how you and your spouse are prioritizing your children and that will help greatly. I wish you all the best as you discover this new chapter. 

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

I think every divorce relationship is different - and what you want to happen, you can make happen as long as you are both on the same page. My son's dad and I have been separated for over 10 years and our relationship has had different phases. We both strongly wanted to be friendly and do family things, keep a real family life alive. We do many - we always attend kid events together, we tag team all the time on parenting tasks, and we have a family dinner every week (we have a teen - I don't know what life will be like after he leaves home). We often socialize with the same people. Sometimes it's easy and painless, but sometimes it's not. As we've been apart longer, we've grown apart. It just happens. If other people enter the picture, all bets are off. I can honestly say that we both put 120% effort in almost every day - we face MANY annoyances and frustrations and we just get over them and wade back in. We don't fight much about parenting, but we irritate each other over minor stuff constantly. It takes massive patience and a very clear vision of what you want. I just forgive and forget many times a week, and so does he. 

When I first left I was both really sad and really angry. It was brutal bc we had been together for 20+ years. I mourned for probably 2+ years - and gained 30 lbs, drank too much, etc. I advise to really keep an eye on all those lame coping methods, but grief is tricky. At least for me, I was really in survival mode and with a young child. I found that the more I stayed angry, the worse everything was. My emotions, no matter how much I tried to hide them, set the tone for our relationship. We both had many angry exchanges and I was mean - I regret my behavior from that time. Divorce is everyone's fault - the best path is to look inward and work on yourself. I finally got a grip and realized that the nicer and kinder and more generous I was, the more of all those things he could give - and our child was dramatically happier. I lead with that literally every day of my life in interacting with my ex. I try to do more than I need to, always be kind, always reach out, always include, always be generous - every time I let anger or disrespect rule me, it comes straight back to me. 

You can do it - but it is hard and stays pretty challenging as far as I can tell. I think it's worth it - kids need both parents well into midlife. Everything you do they will pay massive attention to - you're modeling just like you did when they were 5. Think empathetically about your kids and your ex, and yourself ... you can do it.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

I'm very sorry to hear you're heading towards the end of your marriage.  I never post on here but I wanted to share my experience that yes, it is most certainly possible to remain on good terms with your ex after divorce.  I went through a divorce 15 years ago when our child was very young. There was an incredible amount of sadness and some very real anger but after a few years of channeling a lot of patience, humility, acceptance, self-care, compassion, understanding, space, and time (to name a few things that got me through),  I now consider my ex to be one of my best friends.  When we separated we went through about a year of therapy together which in hindsight served as a form of separation planning and commitment to shared values.  We also agreed to prioritize our child and take all the remaining love we had for each other and pour into co-parenting with respect and putting our differences aside to show up for our child.  It was very hard work at times but now we're all one huge blended family.  Just last year I vacationed with my ex and child and my wife and our younger child together and it was really special for all of us.  

Not trying to give advice, just sharing my experience that I have been able to remain friends with my ex and to be honest it is one of the things in my life I am most proud of.

I wish you all the best during this time.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

I'm sorry you are in this situation. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. My divorce was finalized almost exactly a year ago—we had been married for 25 years of 38 years together. My former spouse and I had a long separation leading to divorce. We made the decision to proceed with divorce the spring semester of my younger child's senior year of high school. My older child was two years older and working.

I am happy to tell you that I am thriving. I started putting support in place long before the divorce occurred (family, friends, and professionals). My former spouse and I agreed to pursue a collaborative divorce process, as I strongly felt I needed the support of a divorce coach (mental health professional) as integral to our divorce team. The coach was essential to my ability to work through the divorce with integrity. While relatively expensive, the process worked well for me and I would not have done it any differently. For one thing, it allowed provisions for the children's support in the divorce agreement (at my insistence) even though they were over 18 (but far from launched) at the time of divorce. I was very lonely and sad at the beginning, but now I am engaged and happy. I have a healthy balance of being alone and being with others in many different contexts. While I have grieved the future we had planned, I've let that go and look forward to charting my future on my terms.

I had hoped to remain on friendly terms with my former husband. We began the process with the expressed goal of being amicable with and respectful of each other. We discussed what holidays and family events might look like. Unfortunately, my former husband is not able to uphold his end of the agreement. He will barely speak to me, and not in a friendly or comfortable manner. His behavior is untenable, as he asks the children to keep secrets from me, and engages with them only at his convenience. He is unwilling to coordinate with me on holidays and school breaks, leaving the children to choose between us.

Despite this, I am on good terms with both of my children (the relationships are better than they've been for a long time and improving). I have made it clear that I would never ask them to choose between their father and me. I do not disparage or speak ill of him to them, and I do not initiate conversation about him with them. I also don't sugar coat or ignore his behaviors when they talk about him—rather listen when they need me to listen, validate their feelings, and offer support including therapy if they'd like to engage in it. They see the work I am doing on myself to be in a better place than I was in my marriage. I am appropriately open and honest with them, and they respect me for that (which I am grateful they verbalize). It's a time of impactful personal growth.

You can only control yourself through this difficult process. While much is studied and written about young children and divorce, little is written about adult children. My former spouse's attorney recommended the book Home Will Never be the Same Again: A Guide for Adult Children of Gray Divorce. I read it and recommend it.

You can get through this with integrity and move toward a connected and meaningful future.

RE: Divorce: Life After? ()

Great answers to your post. 
I would add that often things are going swimmingly until one of you gets a new partner. Sometimes that changes the dynamic. My new husband’s ex was fairly cordial until we got together and now she is ice cold. 
good luck navigating all of it😬