Can’t we all just get along……… by avoiding each other?
Yes, you heard me right!
In the face of sociologic, psychological, and philosophic liberalism (not in the political sense), I would like to make a suggestion when it comes to attempting to make two of the least compatible people get along in this world …
… the ex-husband and the ex-wife.
Chances are, if they didn’t get along enough to stay married, then they are not likely to get along after their divorce. There is tension, there is vengeance, and, sometimes, it can be downright unlivable.
So, let me give you some anecdotal insight, for what it’s worth, and maybe it’ll help somebody along the way.
Society looks at the broken home and, more so, the broken family as an open wound that can never be healed. This opinion is often strongly held as part of a person’s religious views.
I am fully aware of how unpopular my opinion may be to some people. I will do my best to cover any questions that may arise.
Beginning with the two previously married people, we must examine why it is that their marriage came apart in the first place.
It is possible that some people just fall out of love and drift apart until they one day decide to leave the marriage cordially and on a friendly note.
However, the majority of couples that I have witnessed, in my life, who divorced did so for serious and very permanent reasons. Did they separate due to abuse, or adultery, or finding out that their spouse was not at all who they presented themselves to be prior to the marriage?
Maybe one of them fooled themselves into thinking this marriage would be the best thing for them only to later discover that it would rip them to shreds?
Maybe this isn’t news to some readers, but others need to realize that there can be very valid reasons for marital discourse and, eventually, divorce.
So, let’s say that …..
~ A couple splits, because of one *or more of the aforementioned reasons that you, hopefully, realize are valid reasons for divorce.
~ This ex-couple has children together.
~ They are now faced with the challenge of dealing with the harsh feelings of not wanting to be in a marriage together as well as how to handle visitation between their homes.
Taking it one step at a time, let’s first discuss the residual tension from the ending of the relationship.
In situations like these, each person is usually more upset than the other for different reasons than the other (follow me?).
It is highly likely that neither person was able to find a valid venue for expressing their feelings within the relationship, because they ended up getting a divorce (the obvious).
What do you think is going to happen when these two people try to communicate post divorce? …probably not hold hands and smile at each other (not in a caring way, anyways).
If at least one of them has a conviction to speak their mind indefinitely, there will be tension (to say the least) and lots of it.
This is not to assign a good or bad judgment to the person who avoids communication or the person who pressures the other into it.
It just is.
So, tension builds…
… and what about the kids borne of the relationship?
They feel it. They live it. It becomes a part of them.
And what has modern psychology pushed for ex-couples to do in a situation like this?
For the most part, the ideal has been set for the ex-couple to put their children’s needs ahead of their own and enlist in post-divorce family counseling for the sake of the kids.
So, here is where things might become a little too raw for some, so let this be the disclaimer.
I have to divulge that I have experienced this family situation, first hand.
Not with my oldest son’s father, thankfully. We and our current spouses are able to get along just fine. Yes, there IS hope!
I am speaking of my husband and his ex.
We found ourselves involved in an awful situation where his ex was not able to communicate with us without upsetting us and we were not able to communicate with her without upsetting her.
There were many (and I mean many) hateful texts, emails, phone calls, from both sides to the other.
And, in a blaze of hope, we all settled into the idea of family counseling in an effort to get along for the sake of the kids.
Can I say that it didn’t help us at all? Of course not!
The counseling really helped affirm me and my husband for the VERY first time (after years of fighting) to his ex, who is religiously testified against our marriage and surrounded herself by others who felt the same way.
And, for a short while, we were all able to get along.
I helped her with recipes that were healthier for her kids, made her an awesome birthday cake, and invited her into my home (it used to be her home). And, eventually, she invited us into her home, too.
All was well for a while.
But, eventually, the fundamental reasons for why we could not get along as acquaintances began to creep back into the newfound blended-family bond.
So, where did that leave us?
It left us all with a whole lot of nothing to show for our efforts, as the arguing and fighting began to occur again (still not placing blame more to one side than the other).
And, really, I wish that I knew then what I know now and that is the whole point of this long spiel.
I hope the following advice helps someone who is at their wit’s end trying to figure out how to get along with an ex of their own or their current spouse, but cannot manage it to save their sanity!
To put it simply, each ex (in this type of situation) needs to leave the other alone.
Of course, this can be much more complex. One of the exes may need to force the other ex to leave them alone by blocking phone numbers and email addresses. This probably sounds harsh, but, sometimes, people don’t know what is good for them.
Whether by cordial agreement or not, these exes need to stop all contact with each other, unless it is at drop off/ pick up times for visitation with the kids.
Also, there should not be any written notes exchanged between the exes. Each ex should take their own notes about the face to face meeting following the encounter.
They should minimize their face to face time, maybe even timing themselves, to ensure that only pertinent details about the kids and schedules are communicated during these times.
This has been the biggest life saver for our psyches and (I may be projecting by saying this, but) it seems to have helped her, too.
What happens if one of the exes blocks the other’s number from their phone and there is an emergency?
Honestly, I worried about this at first, too, but after I thought about it, I realized that the ex who is not having the emergency shouldn’t be the other ex’s first contact, anyways. They should first be contacting 911. It is likely that the ambulance, hospital, or a friend will also have a phone, which can be used by the blocked ex or appointed party to call, if needed.
Again, this might sound like a harsh thing to do (I really do understand that), but the benefits of creating such a technological distance far outweigh this potential circumstance, even for the children.
This is not even an issue, though, if neither person has to block the other to get them to stop making contact often.
How does all of this affect the children?
Well, honestly, they are a LOT happier now that mommy and daddy aren’t at each other’s throats at least once a week and seeing the discord right in front of them.
The tension is now very minimal, because there is not always a new reason to be upset at the other ex.
UPDATE: 2 years have passed and the lack of communication between my husband and his ex has been a blessing to us all. She has been able to mostly move on in her life and we continue to live peacefully.