Yes, divorce is hard. Trying to whitewash every single detail of a co-parenting relationship in some fantasy land haze would be of benefit to none of us. I am committed to owning my part in the divorce, always. And I am hopefully clear on my self-awareness when it comes to my own struggles with money, depression, communication breakdowns, and disagreements with my ex-wife.
We tore up the 50/50 schedule that I brought into the counseling session. We started again with the SPO and the non-custodial rights and responsibilities. And while I gave up a huge piece of my "dad time" that day, I've never stopped working to show up for my kids at every opportunity afforded me.
I felt like I had a pretty good idea of the way the divorce was going to go, once I agreed to actually get a divorce. We went, eyes wide open, into the negotiations about parenting rights, money, schedules, and I also felt like I had a cooperative soon-to-be wife who was not going to try to destroy me. The first part was true, the second part, well...
Keep the love of your children in your heart and mind and forgive even the egregious actions of your ex-partner. The most important conversation you can have in your relationship…
And I am happy for the healing in my family that has come from flipping all the negatives of divorce on their ass and finding the way back to love. Everything in my life is about love. And the love and support of my kids comes before all of my own needs and goals.
Allow the hurricane to arrive and blow away the old aspects of your lives. Reset your expectations and parenting lives around the love and support of your children. Then, even if things don't work out with the marriage, the closeness and love that you've established with your kids, becomes the strength and bond that guides your relationship even after divorce.
During my failing marriage, I got very good at listening for the sirens of destruction (I had done something wrong) and looking for an escape or some heroic journey to fix the problem. Both in my marriage and in this relationship, that was not the right approach.
But it's the kids who stand to lose the most from this imbalanced systemic approach. Dad is more than money. And mom is capable of making just as much money (let's table the fair pay discussion for the moment) as the dad. These old roles no longer fit the educated and compassionate couple. But the road to a good and healthy co-parenting plan is not a well-worn path.