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Positive divorce?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for some inspiring stories about positive divorce/separation relationships.  I know that it can be done, I really want this for myself.  So often things turn bitter and angry, it seems.

 

DH wants to separate.  I don't think things are so bad.  I posted earlier looking for advice on what to expect.  DH has asperger's syndrome, so his thinking is really black and white.  He has made up his mind on this and I don't think it will change.  We are good friends, although there is really a lack of any marital aspect of the relationship or deep emotional intimacy.  We do argue on discipline and parenting stuff, but are basically on the same page.  His parents divorced so I think he just has that as a pattern.  Mine are still together (and have come through some really really rough times) so it just seems strange to me that he would throw in the towel without trying more.  But basically, he doesn't want a marriage.  He wants to be alone to focus on work.  Relationships are extra hard for him. 

 

So, my question is, given that we really are friends and have good communication and feel a lot of warmth for each other, can I expect that we can go through this in a positive way?  We want to stay friends and be good parenting partners.  I am very stressed about financial things since that is one area that we don't see the same.  I hope that we can avoid hard feeling there, but once you get a lawyer and start the process of who gets what, how is it avoided?

 

I'm most concerned about our 4 year old daughter.  She will not expect this at all since our home life is basically harmonious with just the occasional blow up. In her eyes her world is secure and stable.  How can I make this as positive for her as possible?  I imagined that we might even go help him move into his new place, have him over for dinners and bedtime a lot, etc.  (If I can keep a smiling face and not cry through the whole thing).  

 

Has anyone walked through this and felt really good about it in terms of their relationship with ex and in terms of minimizing the impact on children?  I'd love to hear that it is possible and how to do it!

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 13

I really don't have any past stories to tell, but can suggest divorce mediation rather than through attorneys for a possibility of a more positive outcome...

post #3 of 13

Mine has been fairly positive. We broke up after nearly 10 yrs of being basically happily married. Like you, we also had different views on divorce - it's very common in his family and very rare in mine. We handled things with the kids as the most important part. He moved into the house next door (which became available at the right time) and we kept his visits to as close to when he already saw the kids as possible, including them continuing to have breakfast with him nearly every day for over 3 yrs until he started dating someone. There has been some nastiness from his side at times - his stepfather was abusive and his dad can be a jerk so that's his modeling and he falls back to it when he feels stressed or attacked. Aside from that, we are amicable for the most part and the kids have had very little impact from the divorce.

 

gotta get the kids to bed but I'd be happy to answer any specific questions

post #4 of 13

I don't have suggestions on keeping things positive but I can share my thoughts:

When I separated from my stbx I wanted and believed things could be 'positive' (i.e. no aggressive behaviour, no unexpected things thrown in my way - his way...) but I soon realised that it is impossible to predict the actions of the other person, nor can you have expectations on how the other person will react to a change like this (for example, you can't FORCE the other person to act in such and such a way) ...I believe my hopes for a positive divorce were (in MY case) naive, and I basically wanted to desperately avoid anything messy or aggresive confrontation, etc...which is probably why the whole process has been going very slowly - I was afraid to just jump straight into it. I was kind of walking on eggshells to keep the peace.

So I guess my advice is HOPE for a positive divorce, especially if your communication is very good with your stbx, but don't expect to be able to predict exactly what his behaviour will be like.

Plus, I'm sorry you're going through this! Big hugs to you!

hug2.gif

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubelin View Post

Mine has been fairly positive. We broke up after nearly 10 yrs of being basically happily married. Like you, we also had different views on divorce - it's very common in his family and very rare in mine. We handled things with the kids as the most important part. He moved into the house next door (which became available at the right time) and we kept his visits to as close to when he already saw the kids as possible, including them continuing to have breakfast with him nearly every day for over 3 yrs until he started dating someone. There has been some nastiness from his side at times - his stepfather was abusive and his dad can be a jerk so that's his modeling and he falls back to it when he feels stressed or attacked. Aside from that, we are amicable for the most part and the kids have had very little impact from the divorce.

 

gotta get the kids to bed but I'd be happy to answer any specific questions

So glad to hear this!  I would love if DH found a place super close by.  I'm afraid if he is too far away he won't come by much.  But this is the kind of relationship we are hoping for.  We had a great therapy session yesterday.  I think I am coming to terms with all of this and that we can make it work well.  

 

I discovered that there is a whole field of law called Collaborative Law.  They handle separations with the specific intent of helping everyone get their needs met and feel good about stuff.  That is a huge relief.  I was afraid once we started talking to lawyers it could start to set us against each other.  But now I'm feeling hopeful that we can do this!  

 

I also hear what you are saying, anon_abroad.  My DH has aspergers so I am SO used to walking on eggshells and finding out that what I thought he understood, wasn't understood.  So, I am hoping for the best, but also trying to keep my eyes wide open every step of the way.  

post #6 of 13

Oh, I did want to add that we have never had family dinners or anything like that. We do both go to school functions and have done some birthday things together (my kids have birthdays in the same week) but our lives are very separate and have been from the beginning. The thing I've liked most about him living next door is that we only need to have minimal contact in dealing with exchanging the kids - it only takes a quick phone call to say the kids are coming over and they walk themselves across the yard.

post #7 of 13

I'm an example of positive divorce. My exh and I got divorced 1 1/2 years ago after being separated for a year. We both knew it was over and we hashed everything out and filed ourselves, no lawyers involved. We actually still live together as room mates and share household costs and what not. It works for us, our girls love that they still live with both of their parents and we are better off as friends than as a couple. We do dinners, beach trips, mall trips, parks, pool time.. pretty much everything together still, so I think for us this is the best possible situation that could have happened.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  These stories are so encouraging.  

 

Hippiemomian and Rubelin, what did you all tell your children?  And what ages were your children?

 

We have a 4.5 year old and a newborn.  DH will stay in our house until the end of the year, we will just start to split finances (basically, he will just start paying me half of the household expenses, which until now I paid 100%).  He has already been in his own bedroom for years, so we have physical distance already.  He wants to wait until he is ready to move out to say anything to DD, which makes sense.  Everything is very harmonious right now since he sees light at the end of the tunnel.  I wish that we could just stay living together, like you Hippiemomian, so that he could still be a part of daily life for DD.  But a large part of his leaving is that he needs his own psychic space.  He already participates very little in the family and has lots of time to himself.  

 

He wants to just tell DD that daddy will sleep at another house.  I thought that we should let her know that we still love each other and love her and we are still a family.  But he doesn't want to say that.  He is afraid it might raise the questions in her mind that aren't currently there.  He thinks it would leave her realizing that we could (one day) not love each other or be a family.  Just not sure.  

 

I do feel really hopeful that by separating we will be able to have a strong friendship again, something that we have lost over the years.  We were friends for 10 years before marriage and have been married another 10+ years.  So we have over 20 years of history together.  I think we can maintain the thread of warmth and love for each other.  My biggest BIGGEST sadness is how this is going to effect my daughters.  Our newborn won't ever know anything different, but our 4.5 year old is going to loose that daily life interaction with her daddy (who she adores).  We both want this to have as little effect on her as possible which is another reason to really strive for a harmonious divorce.  

 

I'm just curious how you handled it with your children since the divorce was positive.  What did you say to them?  

post #9 of 13

I'm sorry you're going through this, mamaruga. I am not divorced but want to chime in as a child whose parents divorced when I was 3 or 4 and they kept it really positive for my brother and I.

 

My parents argued and fought a lot before they finally divorced but I was young enough that I really don't remember it. I remember my parents sitting me down and telling me that they were not going to be living together any more but I was 3 or 4 and my brother was 1 and I don't remember being sad or any other feeling about that talk. That's not to say I wasn't, because what kid wouldn't feel something but hopefully the fact that it wasn't enough to make a strong impression in my mind, or leave a lasting traumatic memory will give you hope that your daughter will make it through this just fine.

 

My dad ended up moving 300 miles away to be closer to his parents (he needed their support to get through some hard times he was having) a few years after my parents divorced and that made a much bigger impact in my brother's and my childhood than the actual divorce did. My parents always stayed amicable in front of my brother and I and never said negative things about each other. It honestly wasn't until I was an adult that I started to piece things together and realized that they of course had some negative feelings/heightened emotions towards each other but they never showed that in front of us and I am so so thankful for that. Also, my dad frequently traveled to our city on business and he would often stay at our house, sleep on our pull-out sofa and it didn't feel weird at all. I love that my mom made that happen even though it was likely an awkward situation for her. My dad lived in southern CA and we went on a few family trips to Disneyland together. While it felt a little fake in the sense that we weren't a "regular" family going on a vacation together, it was great to share those experiences with both parents.

 

My dad was always available to me whether it was on the phone or making a trip to see my school programs, driving all night to be at my bedside when I woke from an emergency surgery I had to have, etc. and I never ever felt like I wasn't loved or was missing something hugely important that other families had.

 

It sounds like you and your DH are really trying to do what's best for the kids in this case and as long as you both stay focused on that, I'm sure you'll all come through fine, even if everything doesn't go as amicably as you hope between the two of you.

post #10 of 13

my XH moved out just after the kids turned 3 & 7 and the plan was made right around their birthdays. We just told them that Daddy was moving into X's house next door (they already knew the neighbors were moving) and that they'd have breakfast with him every morning and would spend Sundays with him, just like they did now. 

 

I agree with your STBX that there's no need to mention emotions in any of that. Especially if you already have separate bedrooms - which we'd also had for a few months by that point - it's just letting them know that Daddy is getting his own space. All that matters to the kids is what is going to HAPPEN in their lives; where everyone is going to be and who they will spend time with at the various times in their day/week.

 

I also must clarify that the divorce was not negative for the kids, but it wasn't exactly positive for me because it wasn't my choice and I was very heartbroken from it. I kept my emotions away from the children and kept a happy face for them. It was the hardest thing in my life to lie to my kids during that time, but I think it was the best thing for them. It would have been better had I not been in such a dark place emotionally, but we weathered it.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rubelin View Post

 

I also must clarify that the divorce was not negative for the kids, but it wasn't exactly positive for me because it wasn't my choice and I was very heartbroken from it. I kept my emotions away from the children and kept a happy face for them. It was the hardest thing in my life to lie to my kids during that time, but I think it was the best thing for them. It would have been better had I not been in such a dark place emotionally, but we weathered it.

 

This isn't my choice either.  DH (I still can't write STBX) sprung this on me just 10 days postpartum and it came so completely out of the blue.  Being in such a fragile time, I'm finding it hard to keep the happy face.  I'm doing my best, but there are days that I just cry and don't know what to tell my daughter when she asks why.  Luckily I had so much help in the first few weeks postpartum that I was able to get a lot of time to myself for the major meltdown.  I'm much better now and starting to come to terms with this, create a new picture of what life might be like, etc.  But I still have these moments of huge grief.  

 

Did you find it hard to not cry in front of your kids?  Like, for me, at dinner, or other family moments, I suddenly realize that our sweet family will soon no longer be like this.  Then I start to tear up.  I just can't seem to stop it.  My daughter can tell something is up, but I just don't know what to say.  I really want her to feel that her daddy and I are in this together and it is a positive change, but I just don't know what to say when I am not feeling that.  And, we won't tell her until it is time for the physical change.  There will be a lot of weeks or months before that point where I need to figure out what to say.  Hopefully by the time we get to the actual moving out part I can honestly feel positive about it.  

 

Caseykn, thanks for the story.  It is so great to hear about this from a child's perspective!

post #12 of 13

I cried every single day for at least a year and then I'd miss a day here and there and at some point it got to where it was just a few days a week here and there. I've always been sensitive but have gotten more so as I've aged, so the crying isn't always sadness but there is a lot of that. If I could feel it coming when the kids were around, I'd just walk to the next room or turn away from them. It was often in the car and I always have music playing when I drive, so they barely knew then. If they asked why I was crying, I'd just tell them I was feeling sad but not go into the reasons why.

post #13 of 13

My girls were 1.5 and 4.5 when I left. Thankfully they were that young because the leaving part was very traumatic, for me at least. We had been arguing for a couple of months and things escalated and got out of hand and that is the night that I left. I went to go stay with my now DP and left the kids there with him. To this day I regret that decision, but it is what I had to do to get out of a bad situation. I had no money, no job, no anything and I knew they would at least be cared for by him. There wasn't a whole lot of explanation at the time it happened.

 

2 months later I got my youngest DD back and my oldest, who was now in school, stayed with him. 2 months after that I moved back down to where I was from and got them both. That was in November and the following March we all (me, DP {female}, exh, DD1 and DD2) moved in together. By that time the anger and resentment had subsided and while awkward at first we all found a rhythm living together. It has been that way ever since.

 

I talk to my girls alto about it now though. They ask why Daddy and I aren't together and ask all sorts of questions. I explain to them that sometimes two people don't get along in a marriage anymore and they are better off as friends. They know he and I love each other (in the way you love a parent of your child) and we are friends. The answer seems to be working for them right now.

 

Even though it was my choice to leave, there was a good chunk of time I spent grieving. It is sad and it does suck, but my kids are so much better off now. Exh and I get along, we frequently spend time together with the kids, we co-parent beautifully, it's really, really nice to have that still.

 

I think it is possible, you just have to know that it will hurt, but it will get easier. I am glad that I have him in my life still and that we are able to still be 100% there for our kids. I know our living situation isn't ideal and maybe a little weird, but the 5 of us make it work and it's our dysfunctional little family.

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