Reconciling as Parents
Three personal stories of women who got past pain and anger
Posted August 29, 2016
People sometimes look at me like I have two heads when I suggest that divorcing partners need to find a way to work together as parents. Their eyes, and often their mouths, say, “We’re getting divorced. Duh!”
I understand that reaction. As I have written in this blog and elsewhere, when we are hurt – and divorce is incredibly painful – our natural impulse is to hurt back.
You stub your toe on a chair. Yeoh! And what do you do? You kick the chair again, this time on purpose!
That’s really dumb if you think about it. Twice the pain for you; none for the chair.
But you don’t think. You react.
In my books for parents, I offer all kinds of advice about what you can do to counter your understandable emotional reactions in divorce, not for your ex, but for your kids (and ultimately, for yourself too).
Can you really do this? Yes, I think you can.
Recently, I have come across three moving personal accounts, all written by women, about their journey from pain and anger to finding a way to work with their ex again. Each woman somehow found her way past her powerful, sometimes overwhelming emotions. They all had problems with their ex as a husband, but they still found a way to reconcile with him as the father of their children.
The first is a column that appeared recently in the Washington Post. Jaimie Seaton tells an emotional story of how she got from the devastation of learning that her husband left her for his pregnant girlfriend to the maternal joy she rediscovered as she gradually decided to welcome him back into her life, eventually allowing him to camp in her backyard with their children.
The second is a “Modern Love” column from the New York Times in 2015. A trial lawyer who admits to being consumed by anger after her divorce, Lara Bazelon writes about how she dreamed of getting her ex on the stand, vindicating herself with a brutal cross-examination. And yet, they had children. And they once loved each other. She goes on to tell a beautiful tale about how their love was transformed.
The third story is by Brandie Weikle, a writer, blogger, and radio host who I met recently when she interviewed me about my new book. Brandie talks about her personal story – how she came to live next door to her ex. She also offers much more information and insights on her extensive website. Her materials include an interview with Jaimie Seaton, who authored the Washington Post column mentioned above.
I find these stories inspirational. I hope you do too.
Maybe I don’t have two heads. Maybe I am just asking parents to do something that feels completely wrong emotionally but is completely right for their children.