Give me hope - do you have a friendly relationship with your ex? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 05-06-2011, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
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What does that look like?  How did you get there?  How long has it been since you split?  Were you always amicable, or did it grow after hard work? 


How did you get to that place of being in a friendly relationship with him?  (Yes, I want a recipe, LOL.)  What things about your situation do you think made it possible for you to have a friendly relationship?


I'm assuming (of course) that there are good reasons why you split.  Is it possible to become friends with your ex eventually?  How can that happen?

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#2 of 12 Old 05-06-2011, 07:49 AM
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#3 of 12 Old 05-06-2011, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post

What does that look like?  How did you get there?  How long has it been since you split?  Were you always amicable, or did it grow after hard work? 


How did you get to that place of being in a friendly relationship with him?  (Yes, I want a recipe, LOL.)  What things about your situation do you think made it possible for you to have a friendly relationship?


I'm assuming (of course) that there are good reasons why you split.  Is it possible to become friends with your ex eventually?  How can that happen?

I do. It took a while to get there for sure. If you dig back a couple years in this forum, I have some posts where I'm ready to drop kick him into another dimension. But I would say we are a point where we have a friendly and functional coparenting relationship.

Lemme see...we split up a little over two years ago. One thing that makes my story different is that we were never married (though we lived together for a couple years) and while we cared about each other, we were never really head over heels in love. We had an accidental pregnancy, gave it an honest shot for a while and realized we weren't the one for each other. So I think that makes it much easier in the long run.

It was rough at first. He was struggling with alcoholism and didn't take the break-up very well. I always had my eye on a friendly relationship, but he didn't make it easy. The turning point came a year ago when he hit rock bottom with his drinking. Long story, but he took it as an opportunity to get into AA and make real changes. It was a long slow process but he's worked really hard at it and done really well, and that more than anything else has helped us get along. A few months ago he reconnected with his high school girlfriend and they got married three weeks ago. Crazy as it sounds, that's also really helped. DS's new stepmom is an absolutely lovely lady who has been incredibly gracious to me and sweet to DS. She parents in a similar way to me and I feel so comfortable knowing that DS is in her care when he's at his dad's. I really enjoy just chatting with her, and whenever we do drop-offs or pick-ups we spend a few minutes catching up. They actually asked me to be at their wedding (I brought a nice artichoke dip).

I think the single main reason that the three of us all have a friendly relationship is because we *want* to have a friendly relationship. Seriously, more than any other factor, just being motivated to have that functional and healthy coparenting relationship will help you get there and everyone will act accordingly. Barring that, I guess you can try to fake it till you make it. Some guys are so awful or abusive or addicted that there's no point in trying to do anything but protect yourself from them. But if your ex is basically a decent human being, I think it is possible to get to functional and maybe even friendly.

As far as advice goes, I would say the most important thing is to remember that the relationship is no longer about you and him. It's all about the kids. You're still in pain and grieving and that takes time to heal. But as you can, try to look at each interaction and think, "how will this impact my kids?" That means things like treating him respectfully even if you secretly want to punch him in the nose, picking your battles, taking the high road, and never ever badmouthing him in front of the kids or making them pick between him and you. You probably won't be ready to be buddies right after the split, and that's normal. But you can try to minimize unnecessary conflict. That might mean finding ways to communicate that work for you (maybe limiting it to email is best). It might mean taking a look at the things that are causing problems and looking for targeted solutions. It might mean choosing not to care about an annoying but not really harmful thing that he's doing. You basically have to scrap the marriage -- forget about the marriage -- and create an entirely new coparenting relationship from scratch. 

For me, one of the biggest challenges was letting my ex evolve. I had this image of him in my head that wasn't particularly flattering. But I know that I've certainly changed and grown in the last four years, and he has too. He's shown through his actions that he has grown and healed, and I've had to consciously work to update my perception of him.

And of course, you have to do your own healing from the divorce and at some point you have to move on. At the risk of sounding cliched, focus on taking care of yourself. If he takes the kids for a weekend, use that time to be with friends, take a class, work out, dip your toes back into dating, do an art project, whatever. Enjoy yourself and rediscover yourself as something more than his ex. The happier you are with your own life, the easier it will be.

Good luck. I really believe it offers enormous benefits to the kids if the parents can have a friendly relationship. It takes work and time to get there, but it is possible.

Jen, journalist, policy wonk, and formerly a proud single mama to my sweet little man Cyrus, born at home Dec. 2007 . Now married to my Incredibly Nice Guy and new mama to baby Arthur.
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#4 of 12 Old 05-06-2011, 08:38 AM
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My ex and I had a very ugly divorce.  He had two affairs (one with our housekeeper)  and moved out at the end of 2008.  So it has been only 2.5 years or so and was just terrible. 


It is a miracle that things are as they are now - which is relative calm.  I have no plans to be 'friends' with him and believe this is damaging to the children.  friendly yes, but friends no.


Why is being 'friends' with ex damaging to kids?  Because children desperately wish their parents did not divorce.  If you divorce and continue to fight, they wish you were still married and fighting.  If you divorce and are friends, they feel cheated that you could get along so well but did them the disservice of divorcing.  Why couldn't you have stayed married?  What is best IMO is a matter-of-fact relationship where childrens' needs and welfare are discussed calmly but where there are never cozy family situations.  (I have been invited to lunches and dinners with ex and kids and I politely decline, although I am very tempted to go). 


Some things I learned over the last two years: (with a lot of therapy)


1.  Be such a solid wonderful person that ex is scratching his head wondering why he ever wanted to divorce you.  The best case scenario for both of you is if you both are scratching your heads wondering this.  YOU CAN ONLY DO YOUR PART.  You cannot do this for him.  I work on never lowering myself  - correct upright behavior - do not fight anger with anger, etc.  He may still get angry but if you do not respond that way he might begin to react in kind.  For example - with an outburst from him about how this is all my fault with some name callling thrown in,  I say, 'I am really sorry you feel that way.' And I change the subject to what we really need to discuss. 


2. How do I get what I want in any situation?  Calm and Moderation.  Think about what you want and think about your responses to ex.  Pause, talk slowly.  What do I want?  I want my kids to know I love them and to believe their dad loves them.  I do not want them to grow up feeling guilty if they enjoy time with their dad or feel guilty telling him that they enjoy their time with me.  I want them to get a good education, have a healthy happy life, have friends and enough money to keep our life similar to before the divorce. I want peace in my heart.   So I behave enthusiastically with any activity that ex proposes for them and always check myself not to pick fights, never fight in front of them.  (I cannot control ex's end of this but the more I behave like a belligerent bulldog, the more he will be glad he divorced me and the nastier his behavior towards me - often in front of the kids).  I also believe that my behaving badly will cause him to stop child support payments.  My list of wants is for the kids.  I do not want revenge, bad feelings, him to suffer.  I need to focus on what is important in life.  Right now it's the kids.  They need him in their lives, they need his financial support too.  Kicking and screaming isn't going to get us there, calm and moderation will.


3.  Set boundaries - example:I  learned early on that when he came into my house after separation he would yell at me (in front of kids) about the house being dirty, dishes not washed... and he is with another woman, living in another house.  This is no longer his business.  So I set LIMITS.  He is no longer invited into my house.  I made a brief list of rules, like kids must wear seatbelts, kids must eat dinner if at his house past 7pm, kids must be in bed at 8, we don't enter eachother's homes unless invited, etc.  (We live in foreign countries 3000 miles apart from one another and not in the US and have no parenting agreement - so for you maybe this is already in parenting agreement but I had to make my own which was just 10 or so simple boundaries).  The boundaries are not meant to be 'mean'.  They really help clear things up and I made them short and simple.  He brings them home from visitation with a basket of dirty laundry and I do not have this on the list.  It irks me and I find it is a reason to fight.  If I had simply set this limit from the beginning it would have been one less item to fight about.   Also I have to watch myself and make the decision whether or not to bring up an issue like that.  I have to ask myself - if I ask him to wash the laundry will this get me what I want.  Is what I want clean laundry?  No - what I want is happy kids.  So I need to step back and react slowly where the boundaries have not been set or are not working.   In this case I choose to just do the laundry and pick other, more important battles. 


4.  Do not fight about things you agree upon.  For example on the above list I wrote that the kids must wear a helmet if on a bike.  Ex nastily said he already does that.  My response. "OK perfect.  We agree on that.  Let's talk about the next item then."  He also nastily says, 'these kids need to eat a healthy diet!".  I can only agree with this.  But when it is said so nastily it is provoking and you want to fight.  This is where taking a pause, really listening to what he said and responding, 'I totally agree with you.  Do you have any specific ideas or recipes you want to suggest?"


5.  Listen to ex.  Try to agree with a small part of what he is saying.  My ex complains that he has to work a lot and hard to pay CS etc.  I listen and agree with him.  After all it is true.  I do not have to argue about things I agree with.  Shaking your head and answering something like this with a 'no' isn't helpful.  My ex wants no guilt for what he did and wants to be listened to. I can give him some of that if it is going to get me what I want and need for my kids. 


6.  If ex makes threats:  'I am going to take these kids away from you'.  'I am going to stop paying CS'  'you are going to pay', etc... (I have heard ALL of these multiple times).  My response EVERY SINGLE TIME is some variation on the following, "I know you would never do that to your kids.  You are a good father and a good man.  You know that would hurt the kids and I know you would never do anything to hurt them.  I know you are a good man and would never have married you if you weren't".  "Deep down you know this is true of me too, even if you don't feel it right now."  This costs me nothing and he has nothing to come back at.  Don't give him anything to come back at.   You do not necessarily need to believe what you are saying and you do not need to be genuine.  In the beginning it was really hard for me to spit this stuff out but it actually is true that I wouldn't have married a man who I didn't believe was a good man, good father, etc.  This is about keeping the peace while you are being threatened, not about being genuine.


7.  Keep in mind,  'Every day is a new day'.  This may sound trite but it helps me.  When I make a mistake, yell at ex, say something I regret, rather than get down on myself and thinking he'll never pay child support again, I just get myself back on track and become that person again that I know he never would have wanted to divorce.  Another (seemingly trite) one is, 'this is all about you, it has nothing to do with me'  I use this a lot in every day life.  Ex is upset about something, I am able to realize that this really has nothing what-so-ever to do with me - Most likely he is mad at himself for screwing up his life.  I can very clearly see it has nothing to do with  me and can manage to react with calm and moderation because he really isn't talking to me, he's mad at himself. 


I hope that helps, I am not sure it if quite answers your question but this is how I have managed to re-route things back to relatively happy for everyone.  I needed all of the above also during very difficult, international, complicated divorce negotiations, where we didn't know what jurisdiction we were in, what the rules were regarding custody, division of assets, etc because three countries are involved and no lawyer wanted to deal with us.  Had I not followed the above, I think we would still be negotiating a settlement and therefore in limbo emotionally and financially.  


 I still have a long way to go as I am not at peace with him living with the affair partner and her child.  But our relationship has improved substantially and continues to improve.  And the kids are thriving.




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#5 of 12 Old 05-06-2011, 03:58 PM
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What does that look like?  How did you get there?  How long has it been since you split?  Were you always amicable, or did it grow after hard work? 

We got there gradually. We split 6ish years ago. No, it grew after hard work (both of us, separately) and having time to heal.


How did you get to that place of being in a friendly relationship with him?  (Yes, I want a recipe, LOL.)  What things about your situation do you think made it possible for you to have a friendly relationship?


I let go of a lot of expectations of how things "should" be. I've changed my life so that I am "safe" (as are the kids) regardless of his poor choices, and I don't try to rescue him from them anymore. I accept who his is, even though I wish he were different.


It's easier because, although he was abusive, he's stopped trying to dominate and control me. We are not at war over kids, stuff, or money.


Also, he has done a lot of work himself. Mostly with regards to communication. I can't emphasize how much this has helped. I wouldn't speak to him unless absolutely necessary if he hadn't.


He generally defers to me in matters regarding kid decisions. I do have to accept that he's going to spend his time with them doing things that I don't approve of -- and fortunately, nothing has been so dangerous or unhealthy that I have to stop it. No, it's not how I envisioned raising my kids, and I do care, but it's nothing a judge would order against, and it's not worth the energy because it ultimately doesn't matter that much.


This does mean that he does as he pleases and I take responsibility for everything (though he does pay child support -- not consistently, but when he's employed, he pays it). Yes, that's completely unfair. But that's who he's been for the 20 years that I've known him. I can accept that and focus on the things that bring me joy in life. Nothing I've done so far is going to make him into the man I think he should be, and I don't want to waste anymore of my life on that.


I'm assuming (of course) that there are good reasons why you split.  Is it possible to become friends with your ex eventually?  How can that happen?


He's more like a relative that I don't particularly like, wouldn't have contact with if we weren't related, than a friend. Again, for me the magic was letting go of expectations and becoming emotionally, financially, and socially independent. And that took a lot of time.

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#6 of 12 Old 05-06-2011, 07:18 PM
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Yes, I do.  No, it wasn't immediate and took some work.  So, there's hope!  I only read the original post, not all the responses, so hopefully this isn't too repetitive:


#1- Feel OK about things being bad between you, if you just broke up.  Esp. if you have kids, would you really WANT to have broken up their family, if it's possible for the two of you to be perfectly nice, considerate and friendly to each other, right after the break-up?  Wouldn't that make you wonder if you should still be together?  The heartache of those first couple years of adjustment after you break well as the periodic flare-ups later on, that remind you why you're a bad match for each other...are actually GOOD, because they remind you that the problem wasn't that you broke up, it was that you weren't right for each other in the first place.  That doesn't make the conflict any less painful.  But try to see it in its larger context.


#2- Put the kids first.  If all the things you and your ex resent about each other are in the past (or are financial/property issues that will get worked out soon), that past will grow further and further away and be less and less important.  If you constantly create NEW reasons for him to resent you, by bad-mouthing him to your kids, doing passive-aggressive things to make it difficult for him to exercise visitation or participate in things at their school, or by fighting with him in front of the kids every time he picks them up...those things will continue to fester, between you and your ex.  Not to mention, all those things are rotten for your kids.


#3- Try not to give tit-for-tat.  In each exchange, try to be the person and co-parent you know you ought to be - the type you wish HE'D be.  In the immediate sense, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you're in the right.  But more than likely, other people who influence him - his parents, your mutual friends, maybe even the kids themselves - will notice that you take the high road even when he's petty and may say something to him about it.  You may never know about this, but it may - over time - influence him, nonetheless.  Also, presumably this guy once loved you.  AND you're the mother of the kids he (again, presumably) loves.  So, unless you mated with a real monster, over time if he sees you taking good care of the children he loves and being reasonable, civil and cooperative with him, even in cases where he knows he's being a jerk to you... whatever burning anger he may feel toward you now will subside and he may even grow to appreciate you.  Meanwhile, the less you allow yourself to get caught up in "keeping score" in battles with him...and the less guilty you feel, about behaving badly...the easier YOU'LL find it, to let go of YOUR anger.


#4- Get it out of your head that he will ever be other than the person you broke up with.  If there was something seriously flawed about him and you broke up with him over it, it's a complete waste of time to keep feeling angry that he continues to have that flaw.  Put your energy toward mitigating how that flaw affects you and your kids, if you can.  Don't create useless conflict continuing to tell him what's wrong with him, or trying to convince him to change.


#5- The more comfortable, confident and happy each of you becomes in your lives apart from each other, the more you may realize that you were taking out your fears and insecurities about the future out on each other, by acting angry and hostile.  As those insecurities fade, so may the hostility.


As to how a good relationship looks?  My ex and I are both married now and very friendly with each other's spouses.  His wife hosted my baby shower.  My husband and my ex took my sons and step-son camping together.  My ex and his wife come to our house every Christmas morning.  Sometimes we celebrate part of Thanksgiving or other holidays together.  We ALWAYS invite each other to any birthday celebrations for our kids.  Sometimes we share a ride together, to the kids' events.  All 4 of us (parents and step-parents) e-mail/text/call each other regularly, to share info. and plan things.  We're flexible with our schedules.  If we say no when the other wants to switch things around, it's only because we already had something planned, never because we're being a stickler for the schedule and refuse to cooperate.  His parents still treat me like a valued member of their family and I arrange time for the kids to spend with them, as much as he does.  My parents are also still warm toward him.  Each of us tells the kids to respect the other.  While we may joke with the kids about differences between the two households (there are a LOT), we both reiterate that it's OK for there to be differences.  The kids know my reasons for doing things the way I do, but their Dad has his own reasons for doing things differently and he doesn't have to be exactly like me, for me to think he's a good Dad (and vice-versa).


...And things aren't perfect!  I notice sometimes that his wife makes a point, in public, of clarifying that she's his wife and I'm the twins' mother; or she'll get irritated when people accidentally call me Mrs. Ex (assuming I have the same last name as my kids).  It's awkward occasionally, but instead of getting offended, I try to see things from her perspective.  There are a lot of people who are significant in her life now, with whom I have a significant history and she doesn't want to fall into being regarded as #2, she wants to be recognized as The Wife.  OK.  That's not so bad.  And every once in a while, my ex and I will have a flare-up and I swear it hurts as much as it did when we were breaking up...and that makes me angry, because I don't expect to be that emotionally vulnerable to him anymore, yet suddenly there it is!  But now I have my husband and my life is with him and he understands the dynamics and is always on my side (even if he may occasionally, gently point out where I've been unreasonable).  So when I calm down, it's actually a relief to have had that bit of conflict to reinforce that I'm with the right person and everything turned out the way it should be.  My ex and I may get along wonderfully, but underneath it all the fact remains that we were not meant to be partners.  If we never broke up, we'd be making our kids miserable, fighting all the time and neither of us would have found our soul mates or been able to model for our kids what a good marriage looks like.  Plus, my ex and I are BOTH motivated to return to the civility and friendliness we normally share, so we don't hold onto conflicts.  


One last thought:  It'd be nice to say that my ex and I bridging our conflict and becoming more civil was an equal, two-way street.  But it really wasn't.  I think ME letting go of my anger over things he handled poorly and just accepting and expecting him to handle things that way prompted HIM to improve, LATER.  More specifically, he was irresponsible (not showing up for visits, paying C/S late), then he would compound the problem by consciously avoiding me, because he expected me to be angry and judgmental.  When he stopped getting that reaction from me, he stopped avoiding me and started realizing, "It's NOT that she's a b****.  I shouldn't miss my weekends and I should set up automatic payments, if I can't make myself remember my checkbook!"  Problem solved...regardless that I "gave in" before he did.


Good luck, Mama!

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#7 of 12 Old 05-06-2011, 07:48 PM
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I don't know if my situation counts, because I rarely see my ex, but I'll answer:


It's friendly in the sense that we don't fight when we see each other.  And actually we did go out for lunch after our final court appearance for the separation agreement (which we were able to complete with very minimal disagreement).  I'm not sure how we got here.  When our marriage was ending/first ended it was bad (he had an affair).  But after time I guess he felt ashamed and I felt sorry for him (his life is very messed up now).  I rarely see him anymore (he doesn't come to see DS, his choice) and he agreed to everything I wanted in the separation agreement.  I would love to see him turn his life around and become a father.  I would love that for him and for DS.  It makes me sad to see him how he is now.   


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#8 of 12 Old 05-07-2011, 12:18 PM
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Thanks for the original post as well as all of the wonderful responses.  


I am in the midst of a down-and-dirty custody battle started by my ex (we were domestic partners, not married)...I ended it last fall, and he sued for sole custody in January.  I have been dealing with many things, not the least of which are the decisions I am making for litigation positions that do not feel like they are in the best interest of the kids nor consistent with "good mothering" at least in the short term.  The facts are on my side and I think I will "win," but my ex is unwilling to mediate and this is going to be a long, expensive, horrid exercise in mutual character assassination.  My ex is so very angry that I am worried we will never get to a balanced place.


It is thus good to hear examples that help me have hope that over time, once we get through this, we can behave like civilized people.  I am trying to think of him as "Darth Vader" -- although he is strong in the dark side of the force right now, I still believe that somewhere down deep there has to be good in him.


Thanks again for the inspirational posts!

Mom to two terrific kiddos, affirming every day that the Universe is unfolding as it should and all is well...

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#9 of 12 Old 05-07-2011, 03:21 PM
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after 7 years we still dont.


but i have not lost hope.


i really do wish ex and i can be friends. it is sooo healthy for children to see their parents get along. go out for dinner together. do a thanksgiving together.


my dd really misses never ever seeing daddy and mommy together. she finally understands why we werent a good pair, but she still wishes we'd go out together sometimes.


one fo the reasons why i'd like to be back to being good friends, was because we were such good friends. there was a lot of things i'd trust picking ex's brain than anyone elses.


and i have never filled that hole.


however we do put our dd first. and are always able to work it to her advantage. we are civil with each other, but we do the most minimal of talking.

my friend inspired me on this. he finally at his college graduation gave his parents a piece of his mind in a polite way. and they finally reconciled. now they are friends to where they hang out together. so i am hopeing even if i have to wait another 20 years i am not giong to give up hope.

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#10 of 12 Old 05-07-2011, 05:14 PM
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I have a great relationship with one ex. But are split was amicable, we always had a good relationship, and are still the best of friends. He and I get along great as friends/parents just not as husband/wife. I can talk freely with him, we listen to each other, and we are both respectful of the other. Now my other ex is a different story and I truly do not think we will ever get along. I would prefer to keep my restraining order as a major boundary between us and do the best I can to keep the kids protected.

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#11 of 12 Old 05-10-2011, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by tccandlsccmom View Post

I am trying to think of him as "Darth Vader" -- although he is strong in the dark side of the force right now, I still believe that somewhere down deep there has to be good in him.




Mama, I think you'll be OK!

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#12 of 12 Old 05-10-2011, 07:33 AM
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I do.


We split five years ago.


For a year it was incredibly strained.  For some reason we got into a bit of a contest on who could have the most right to the moral high ground.  For this reason we behaved really well while we seethed and collapsed inside!


We had a difficult break-up - we had an indifferent and brother-sister-ly relationship for about 2years of our 3.5 year relationship.  Then we had an oops pregnancy.  We stuck it out to give things a chance, but meanwhile i developed feelings for an old friend of his, who was a friend to me and who supported me emotionally when DD1 came along and XP's inability to cope (which i see now was not voluntary on his part) meant i was on my own with it all and struggling.  We split after he realised how deep those feelings for this other man had become.  He was initially incredibly angry that i had fallen for someone else, even though at the time he could see that he was giving me nothing so it was unfair to expect me to accept things on those terms.  His struggle to come to terms with himself as a parent made him incredibly irrational and controlling and he escaped by smoking MJ (which i disapprove of at the best of times, let alone when one's newborn is 6 days old and one's partner is literally hallucinating with sleep deprivation).  There was an awful lot of anger, on both sides.


After a year things started to improve.  The "other man" and i began seeing one another, but i made sure DD NEVER saw him for the entire first year we dated (even though i'd known him 6 years and XP had known him 24 years).  I did not let them meet until DD was very solidly sure of who "Dada" was.  I think my respecting of their relationship made a big difference to XP - he couldn't imagine i was replacing him in her life, nor making things easier for me at any cost.  He saw through that action (and the dozens of others i performed) that i really truly valued her relationship with him, however *I* felt about him.


There have been bumps in the road.  We have had major disagreements about some things.  One ugly evening he refused to leave my home and i had to threaten to call the police and practically throw him down the stairs to get him to leave.  He had real problems with normal boundaries (and sometimes still does) and it caused me a lot of grief.


Now i would say we are good friends.  I don't "turn to him" but i NEVER could really, even when our relationship was happy.  He turns to me and DP though.  Dp was the "other man" and i think it has actually helped XP to see that we really genuinely were right for one another.  We had a baby last June and XP has loved being an "uncle" to her.  DP and XP took DD1 to her first pantomime together at Christmas, XP is over here at least twice a week, eats here at least once a week, we talk on the phone at least 6 times a week, often every day.  DD1 stays over with him Tues night/all day weds and Sat night/all day Sun and we meet up on a thursday afternoon and all hang out together.


My recipe is:


Remember with every WORD you speak and every THING you do that you are doing this for your kid, who you love and who you want to grow up ok.  However unreasonable XP was (and he really WAS sometimes) i held in the forefront of my mind that when DD was 3 or 5 or 17 it wouldn't matter how unreasonable he'd been towards me, only how well the two of them understood one another and how loved she felt by us all.  It really helped me find the strength i needed to rise above him when i wanted to do murder - i could always dig a little deeper for my kid.


Time heals IF YOU LET IT.  If you know something is painful then don't bring it up and deflect/walk away when it is brought up.  Often times with XP now when things come up that we KNOW we disagree about we will say to one another "we'll NEVER agree!" and then we forget it.  The unresolvable issues of day-to-day have become "not in my house" things.  DD has always been able to understand that some things Dada does Mama thinks are terrible and vice versa.  It works if you can let it be and accept that your control is very limited in a co-parenting situation.


When you're feeling a fight coming/happening ask yourself what "winning" will gain you.  XP is a really argumentative person, he has even me beat (and i'm pretty keen myself! lol).  For example i thought seeing DD2 born would be nice for DD1, but in the event i felt i couldn't "get into" labour properly while i had her there as i still had to mother someone.  So we took DD to XP's house.  He had always disagreed with her being at the birth, saying she would be scared by my sounds (which might or might not have been correct - in the event SHE wanted to go to Dada's so it was a no-brainer).  However, XP was *still* trying to get me to admit she shouldn't be at the labour when i was walking down the stairs, IN LABOUR, having left her WITH HIM.  It was like he didn't care about the reality of the situation, he wanted to hear me SAY "you are right".  When in fact i'd only ever said we were open to having her there and thought it would be good for her.  I just laughed at him and said "i'm in labour, she's at your house, i'm walking away, what more do you want?" and he admitted it was ridiculous.  It's easy to fall into the habit of fighting if you have fought a lot before/during the breakup.  Try to fight it.  Arguing with a non-resident ex is usually fruitless.  Even if they agree verbally they owe you nothing in terms of behaviour.  If they admit they are wrong what will you have gained?  Because of our usual dynamic it was really hard, and thus really valuable, for XP and I to learn this (and believe me, some days i'm DEFINITELY still learning!).


Hope can keep you going.  Imagine the scene at your child's graduation/wedding/whatever and how you want it to be, and then work back from that, the tiny steps that will get you all there.  Don't be sucked into the "broken family" myth that says everyone will be unhappy and combative forever and the kids will be inevitably harmed.  A few weeks ago we had a party and i introduced the men "this is X, DD1's father, this is Y, DD2's father, and make of that what you will" and it sure raised a few eyebrows but by the end of the day several people had spoken to us about how wonderful it was.  The hardest thing for me was accepting XP, warts and all, as a permanent member of my immediate family.  Once i'd done that actually getting along was easy.

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