Your kids are learning about life from how you behave, not how you tell them to behave. So behave honorably. Be respectful of your former partner. And love them with all of your heart when they are with you.
I'm watching my kids grow up from a distance, and it's painful. Sure, I have the standard possession order, the simple divorce equation for 80% of dads. But we're getting the raw end of the deal. Actually, divorce is the rawest end of the deal, but once that's determined, the only thing you can do is hope for maximizing your time with your kids. Still, it's not enough.
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.
As much as we wanted to remain in love and grow in love as parents, there were some fundamental shifts that happened in our lives and in our aspirations. What I learned from my first "touch" lover was that my needs for closeness are fundamental to my complete happiness.
For me, most of the time and energy has been redirected towards being a great dad and being present for my kids above all else. I'd like a relationship, and I'm still casually working the online dating options, but I'm not in a hurry.
The first time when we were making love during this period, that I noticed things were off, I caught her looking out the window, seemingly bored. "Are you okay?" I asked.
I am still in love with my kids and even the woman who brought them. It's evolved into something very different than I planned. And even as I hope for a co-pilot again, there will never be an astronaut who turned herself so completely inside and out to be a family together.
Suffering under massive financial hardship due to the initial divorce decree can be important for your survival and ability to thrive in your new life. Sure, you're going to court, but you had to do this in some form before to get divorced, and if it's absolutely necessary, at least make it as non-confrontational as possible.