My husband and his ex had an awful breakup nearly 10 years ago and have had a high-conflict relationship ever since. Their initial post-breakup custody agreement took three years to write, and was never finalized until it eventually ended up in court... where it took another year to finalize. Since then, I don't think they have ever come to a decision without several angry/frustrated/rude/threatening emails back and forth, and the big issues have almost always involved lawyers. From my perspective his ex seems controlling, difficult, uncooperative, unstable, spiteful. (I'm sure she'd have plenty of adjectives for my husband, too.)
So, imagine my surprise this month when the two of them came to an actual agreement about something. There was no arguing, no threatening, no quoting past emails as evidence of prior wrong-doing. And it was on a big issue, too. Granted, it is an issue (a change in travel arrangements) they have been disagreeing about off and on for the last two years... but this round of decision making happened smoothly, and there was even compromise from both sides in order to come to an agreement.
Honestly, I kept trying to find something to disagree with in the final agreement, or some unfairness to her proposal that she was hoping to slip through the cracks. But, even as cynical as I am, and as hard as I tried to find something to argue with, I couldn't find anything that didn't seem altogether fair and agreeable. She wasn't even rude or condescending, and didn't write it as though she had given everything and he'd forced her hand.
It seems like a miracle. My fellow step-mothers who are part of high-conflict drama between their husband and his ex will surely appreciate this amazing moment! Honestly, I'm not sure I can keep from waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am trying to be optimistic that we are paving a new path to a future where every word doesn't have to be carefully chosen, every sentence isn't carefully examined, every communication isn't part of a large and complex strategy to get something the other person doesn't want to give. Perhaps this is, truly, the way of our future.