One positive parent can make 100% of the difference. I'm not perfect, and occasionally I want to lash out when she does something that seems unreasonable. I don't. I never do.
My ex-wife and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. But one thing we've kept relatively clear over the last 5 years of divorce is THE KIDS COME FIRST. Always.
I will be in the process of recalibrating my life in relationship to my ex-wife probably for the rest of my life. Even after the kids are off and doing their own lives, there are always collective contributions that need to be made, adult advice that needs to be given, and we will never fully separate from the relationship.
Still, I'm not sure where her playful person went. I was offering new ideas while I was also trying to accommodate her "clean house" and "stable bank account" requirements. But I don't think she ever put a LOVE LIST together.
She asked me not to write about her or the kids, ever. But, I'm sorry, that's the only way I can talk about what's going on for me at this amazing juncture in my life.
Down has become the new up, and I have become a new single dad, still committed to his kids, and in many ways, to his ex-wife as well. We are still a family, still connected, even when we're not together.
I don't want to return to an intimate relationship with my ex-wife, but the intimacy we share in raising our kids is more important and deeper than any of our feelings of loss or anger. We have to get OVER our emotional divorce in order to get INTO healthy divorced parenting roles.
If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably argue with the counselor and my ex-wife and negotiate something a bit more even. You will be advised not to do this. "It's easier for everyone if you just accept this plan, it's been working for families for years."