I guess it is best for me to want the best for my ex-wife. I am happy that she’s remarried. I am happy that she’s been paid all of the child support that has allowed her to remain in the nice house and thus keep the kids in the nice school district. And I’m still a bit baffled when she takes adverse positions against me and against the “best interest of our children.” And in many ways, I do want her to be happy. At least while my daughter is still under her roof.
Dear Ex-wife, I Do Wish You Well
And even as I write those words I wonder why the sentiment has never flowed both ways. I wonder why my ex-wife has taken adversarial positions against me at nearly every turn. But, what I’ve learned, I don’t have to understand my ex-wife or her actions. I don’t have to ask her for any feedback or appreciations. And I don’t need to wait around for her to apologize for making the terrible choice she made. I don’t need anything from my ex-wife. I would like her to be happy. I don’t see how I would ever take any actions to make her life more difficult.
That was not the case with her. From the beginning of our cooperative divorce she lied, she connived, she planned her exit to maximize her returns and eliminate her liabilities. You might think this is how anyone would play the game of divorce, but it’s not. BOTH PARENTS are equally important after divorce. And when my still-wife suggested we do a “collaborative divorce” she wasn’t asking so we could work out a balanced plan. She asked for my agreement not to sue her for custody issues, parenting schedule issues, or money. Her ask for a collaborative divorce was not about collaboration, it was about getting me to agree not to sue her and then going for the jugular.
In a divorce, both parents should be concerned that the OTHER PARENT is also not harmed in the divorce. But that’s not the way it plays out in most states where the mother gets a huge advantage at the moment she files for divorce. In my state, Texas, mom’s get 70% of the kids, they get a hefty child support payment, and the preference to keep the kids and mom in the marital home. This is just how it goes. And my then-wife consulted with her attorney then asked me not to get an attorney. But as we entered what I considered to be fair and honest negotiations about the divorce, my ex was clear that she was going to get exactly what she wanted. There was no collaboration. There was no cooperation. The only thing I got out of the collaborative divorce process was the Standard Possession Order and the normal child support payment, based on previous income statements. Statements and bank accounts that I openly provided.
Of course, my then-wife knew she was going to “go for divorce” for months before she informed me. All that time, she was lying to me. As we were going to couple’s therapy, she was lying to me. She was faking the idea that we were working on our marriage while she was working on her plans for the divorce.
And Absolutely Nothing Else
As we moved through the years of our divorce, I imagined her fire and brimstone attitude would mellow. I figured we’d end up as friends. We did not end up being friendly at all. There’s no reason for that to happen. But perhaps her anger is still burning her up inside and she likes to have me to point to as the scapegoat for why her life has not ended up the way she imagined. She certainly married an interesting man. (SEE: “Dear Step Dad” Let’s Cooperate) Or perhaps she’s mad that this blog and this record of her indiscretions exists. I sort of get it. And then I don’t get it at all.
I hope my ex-wife and her challenging husband are happy as they travel around on vacation. Perhaps she’s unlocked a happiness with him that she doesn’t share or show. And really, that’s none of my business.
What I do hope for is her eventual release of me from the cauldron of hate. I don’t think my kids could possibly live in her house without feeling that poison. I’m not sure my son’s current teen angst has anything to do with her anger, or just his anger about the divorce, but I’m thinking… Full stop. I have no business projecting any of this.
What I can project is my own moment of joy. As I was talking to a friend today about my divorce, I found myself still curious about why my ex-wife has obstructed our friendship at every turn. All these moments I would love to be sharing as parents have become moments of ennui. There’s no friendship there. Certainly, there is still love. But there is so much anger mixed in with the co-parenting relationship, that any communications with her become opportunities for her to vent at me.
So… I don’t communicate with her at all.
But, what a miss for our kids. When my daughter had a migraine headache last week, I had no one to call. I had no way to offer my daughter, or even my ex, help or comfort. That’s what you call a consequence of being a hurtful co-parent and shutting out the other parent from normal and caring contact. It’s not Parental Alienation yet, but it’s as close as it gets. Okay, so my ex-wife and my daughter are the losers in the closing of that offer of support. I’ve got to continue to be bigger than her hurtful isolation. I’ve got to trust that my daughter will reach out to me when she needs me.
And, the Kid Gloves Come Off
I’ve been writing this blog for six years with the expressed intention of being positive 100% of the time. I have not always succeeded. I have tried. And as I recently released a book of material from that “other blog” I am revealing a bit more of the vitriol I have been dealing with for nearly the entire nine years of my divorce. Why why why? That is no longer a helpful question. The judo move for me was to get over needing any contact or any support from her as a co-parent. And while I still believe the positive road is the high road, and I believe that being a better dad and an open co-parent has been the best option for me, I am tired of carrying her load too. With the release of that book, I am dropping the facade that keeps her brutal actions hidden behind a curtain of courtesy.
I’m done. My kids are old enough. And my ex-wife can now fend for herself and her feckless husband. They are not friends of mine. They are not the best parents. And, I am no longer going to be silent. Even as I work to keep this blog 100% positive, I will continue to call a black kettle black. There is no call for being a shitty co-parent. It hurts everyone. Somewhere, inside that dark heart, there is the mother of my children, and I am sure a place of tenderness. I don’t have to look for it, nurture it, or expect it.
I am responsible for my actions alone. And my actions as a divorced dad have been 100% honest, 100% open, and 100% mom/kid-friendly. Her actions… Not so much.
Welcome to the more-real Whole Parent.
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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- The Four Simple Rules for Dads Getting Divorced
- Single Dad Survival Guide: “Dear Step Dad” Let’s Cooperate
- Dear Ex, I Will Forgive You, But I Will Never Forget What You Did
- Humans of Divorce: Why Child Support Should Be Cooperative
- Deadbeat… < What’s the First Word That Came to Mind?
- Nine Years Into My Divorce: Finding My Single Parenting Superpower
Here are my books on Amazon:
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Sex Index: Getting Our Love Languages Right in the Bedroom
- Here Comes the Darkness: Surviving and Thriving After a Mental Illness Diagnosis
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue
- The Storm Before the Divorce: When One Parent Wants Out, That’s the End