Ladies, if you went through a divorce or are going through a divorce, I am sorry. Regardless of the reasons for it, it can be a stressful time. However, this stress should not become your children’s burdens. The divorce is between your husband and you, not between your husband and your children.
Ever since I was a teen, and since I myself became divorced, I have noticed some disturbing behavior among my fellow divorcees that is absolutely ridiculous. Ladies, please. Some of you are perpetuating the bitter/greedy/crazy ex stereotype. Please stop.
For those of you who are unclear of what I mean (and interested), read on. For the sake of simplicity, below is a list of unnecessary actions that I have witnessed or heard of from friends, fellow divorcees and friends of friends.
Bashing Your EX in Front of the Children
There is just no reason for this. Yes, the man may have been a gambling, cheating, unloving or controlling husband. Maybe he was even a lazy, irresponsible or despondent spouse. Got it. He was not a great husband in your eyes, which is likely why you got divorced. That means, your relationship with him is over. However, he still has a relationship with his children. His issues with you are not necessarily issues with his kids. A bad husband doesn’t always mean a bad dad. Let the kids form their own untainted opinions of their father. They deserve that right. If you need to bash him or vent, call your girl friends or a counselor, but stop warping your own children’s minds against their father. It only hurts them in the long run.
Expecting Ridiculous Sums of Money
Yes, there needs be a division of property, child support or whatever else is needed to divide assets and responsibilities. When thought of like a business dissolving, the division should be fair and equitable to both. One spouse should not tower over the other completely for no other reason than spite. Of course, the problem here is that the odds of the divorcing couple agreeing on what is fair are very low.
When I got divorced, I asked for much, much less than what everyone suggested, recommended, or allowed for retirement. I simply wanted fair (though I am sure any amount over zero was still not desired of course). To me, fair was some small amount of retirement since I did not have a retirement due to 20 years of frequent military moves that caused me to change my civilian jobs. So I asked for what I thought was reasonable, not what everyone said I should take. I was told, I was being “too nice” and “you can get so much more.” However, I did not want to rake the man over the coals, I just wanted a chance to retire one day before I was 100. So we negotiated.
The mentality of “take him for all he is worth” is way too common though. A military friend is paying his ex’s house payment, kids allowances AND child support. I don’t know the exact amount but I know it is nearly three-fourths of his check. He can barely live. How is that fair? To me, that just seems greedy, especially when this particular divorcee could get off her butt and get a job. Just because she didn’t work while they were married doesn’t mean she is incapable of doing it now. She is not mentally or physically handicapped, so there is no reason for him to have to pay her to stay home. Have some pride woman! Get a damn job!
Or, another divorcee who took one house in the split while also wanting equity in the other house the couple was paying on (which was purchased on a down payment that came from the husband’s mother’s will). And this is on top of wanting child support, half of all child school/medical/camp/etc bills, half of his retirement, and half of a business property she never even helped with. Oh wait, but there is more. She won’t even return jewelry that has been in his family for decades when asked. Funny thing is, this lady makes more money than the man. It seems a little one-sided from this view. But hey, he got out of a lifeless, controlling marriage, so maybe he did get the better deal after all.
But I digress…the point is, when you think about money, flip the situation. Would you think it was fair if it was reversed? Or what if it was your friend who had to pay?
Playing Games With Visitation Time
The unfortunate need for the child to rotate between the parents is merely a fact of divorce. It sucks, but don’t make it harder on your own child. Every child deserves time with their dad. If you have an ex who is trying to see his kids…LET HIM. Children without fathers miss things, desire that connection. Why would you want to take that bond from your own child? Unless your ex is an abusive person and you fear for your child’s well-being, let him be the dad he is trying to be! Sure he may make mistakes. But guess what ladies, we do too as mothers. And if he sucks as a dad, well, the kids will figure that out without your interference.
I have seen ladies agree to a visit time only to change it once the man arrives after driving for several hours. Another clearly badgered or manipulated the children so much that when the dad arrived, the kids opened the door to say they didn’t want to see him so he may as well go spend time with his ‘whore’ (a girlfriend they never even met yet and came years after the divorce). To me, this is an obvious ‘mom opinion’ being put on the children since they are under 10 years of age. I know children don’t always like the other woman at first, but when they have not even met her or been told about her yet (by dad at least), that language is clearly a problem.
But, I have seen even more! One woman took her kids and hid them from their father, allowing him to only see them for an hour a week in a park so that she could eagerly collect his money. Otherwise, she refused to tell the dad where they lived or allow any other visits. For the love of his kids, he took what she was willing to offer. So essentially, she kidnapped the children for no reason but still wants his money. (Yes, he is awaiting a court date on this situation.) This is just crazy to me, especially since this dad has no record of anything that would indicate such a restriction from his children. As a mom, this infuriates me to no end. This bat-shit crazy behavior will only hurt her own children.What kind of mother does this?!
Texting/Calling/E-Mailing About Things Other Than Your Child or Money
There is no reason to contact your ex about the past. It is over. Move on. Focus on the present and the needs of the children. Keep it professional and direct: What time can you pick up X? Does X have his backpack at your house? X said she was over at your house, is that true? Can you find out if something is bothering X? She seems sad and won’t talk to me, maybe she will open up to you. These are parental conversations with the goals of helping the child. So, there are good to have. Tag team parenting benefits the child.
Unfortunately, I have heard of less fruitful discussions: Why didn’t you ever do X with me (something referring back to 12 years ago)? X doesn’t want to see you, which I can understand! Did you enjoy your time in New York? How come you are now doing X? Are you happy now?
These conversations are pointless and should not be had. You are divorced and that means there is no longer any reason to hash things out, chat or discuss things (other than the kids). That is, unless you are trying to get him back… If not, and/or he is in a new relationship, just stop. Sending 18 texts in one night makes you look sad and rather pathetic. Again, save these rants for your girlfriends and counselor and maybe hide your phone the next time you drink a bottle of wine.
Creeping Around Ex’s House
If you still have access to your ex’s home for the purpose of the child, then don’t be a creepy stalker. Whether you have a key, garage door opener or merely enter with your child, remember your presence is for the child and the child only. That means you go in, help your little lovely get their things, see their room they wanted to show you, or pick up a needed, but forgotten item. That does NOT mean you leave notes in the house for your ex to find, sneak around looking at their post-divorce décor, take belongings that you wanted but forgot or remove items out of spite. This also means you have no reason to be parked outside of your ex’s house late at night, or ever, unless there is a child being dropped off/picked up.
I have heard about all of these and it is just weird and very disturbing. If you wouldn’t want him doing these very things at your house or to you, maybe you should not do them either. Just saying.
Follow or Bash Them on Social Media
Social media is nearly everywhere these days. It is almost unavoidable. However, it is possible to avoid stalking your ex or bashing them on social media. If you get the desire to see what they are doing or saying on whatever site, that is normal at first, but it should fade in time. When I first got divorced, I wondered and looked. Then, I had an AHA moment…what am I doing and why? I had no good reason or answer other than the habit of wanting to know your spouse’s thoughts/whereabouts, so I blocked my ex to remove the temptation. And after some time, the temptation was simply no longer there. So the point is, if you are an ex, what do you care what they are doing, how they are doing or who they are doing? Oh, and if you asked for the divorce, and you got it…why are you stalking and harassing them anyway? You didn’t want them. You got what you wanted. Now it’s time to move on and get your own life. Trust me, you will be much happier, if that is even possible in life.
As for the bashing your ex on social media…that is just trashy, immature and goes back to point one ‘Bashing your Ex in Front of the Children’ (see the first section). Hint hint ladies, the kids could see your posts, and if they don’t their friends will. And frankly, no one wants to read your drama on there anyway. Again, save these rants for your gal pals or therapist.
Show up at Places you KNOW your Ex will be at
You know your ex’s schedule and favorite places most likely. You were married after all. However, have some class and don’t purposely go seeking to “accidentally” run into him. Yes, maybe you love that place too. And if that is the case, and your motivation for going there is pure, maybe it can work for you both in time. Unfortunately though, I have seen/heard of the opposite. Divorcees who suddenly start to appear at their ex’s favorite restaurants, sporting events or community locations seems a bit odd when their pre-divorce attendance was slim to none. Think about it ladies. If you didn’t want to go while you were married, doesn’t it seem a bit odd that you are now a regular? I suggest doing some soul searching. What is your real reason for going there? If it is genuine and has absolutely nothing to do with him, than go on with your confident woman self. I’ll even give you a girl-power high-five for that matter. However, if you are going to just ruffle his feathers, find a chance to see him or take a peek at the new girlfriend…you really need to get a hobby, and a life.
I realize that some of these things are not easy, especially when the divorce is fresh and you are licking your wounds and adjusting. And depending on how long you were married, it will take a certain amount of time to mentally close that chapter of your life. So faltering in some of these areas at first is quite natural. (Well, except the creepy stalking things. Those should not come natural. Ever.) The point is to be conscious of you actions and words because your kids will be watching you. They need you to show them life is still OK, they are still loved and it is OK to still love their father. They need to see that their parents are still their parents and not two warring enemies.
Early in my post-divorce adjustment, I tried to be aware of my words and actions. I didn’t want to be bitter like some divorcees I knew. I also wanted the kids to have a healthy relationship with their father. When they would talk about time with dad, I would smile and say it was great even if it made me sad that I was not the one to give them joy or wanted that time with them. Sure, there was a petty, jealous part of me, but I had to step back from that part and be a mom. I had to be happy that my children were experiencing fun with their father. Or on the other side, when they would complain that their dad did this or that, I would try to support him. Yes, I tried to support HIM. I would tell the kids, Well, your dad loves you and is trying to make you work hard. Or, your dad may not always say things how you want, but you do know he loves you right? And, if there was something I just couldn’t support, I would stay silent (while biting my lip) and just offer a hug and an ear. I did not try to undermine him or degrade him. That would not have been helpful to my children, and it would have only made myself look petty.
I admit, I wasn’t always successful though. I had moments where things slipped. Like one day, my daughter and I were working on something and I said, why don’t you just do this? She joked, when did you get so smart mom? Without thinking, I replied, when I divorced your dad. As soon as the words escaped my mouth, I covered my face, ooops. I am so sorry. My daughter started laughing and said, Mom, you never say anything about dad so that was really funny. I will let you slide this once. Though I slipped, she had just told me that I was overall successful and she respected it. To me, that was a victory. I wasn’t clearing every post-divorce hurdle, but I was finishing the race strong nonetheless. My kids were happy and adjusting. They knew that both their father and I would be there when they needed us. They saw that it was OK to love us both and that they didn’t have to tiptoe around each parent by not mentioning the other. They were learning a new normal, like I was, and that we would all be OK again, just in a different way.
So, take it from me ladies, you can avoid the pitfalls above when you frame your words and actions around what is best for your kids. Just remember, you divorced from him, the kids did not. And, in time, you can all be a happy, nontraditional, dysfunctional family like most of us are anyway. So go on with your bad, super-mom selves and rediscover that woman you want to be. I just hope that woman is not the mean-spirited, bitter, hateful, greedy, creepy, stalker-like woman I have seen a lot of. Please don’t be her. We already have too many of them.