There are three styles of divorce:
1. Ugly and destructive
2. Polite but business-like
3. "Let's stay friends!"
Like most people, we wanted to spare our children the pain as best we could so we chose option number three as best for us.
We figured we could rise above the pettiness we witnessed with other divorcing couples; we'd be the same mature, kindhearted individuals we used to be during the pleasanter part of our marriage. Uh, not so fast!
As always, I make these lists so people might learn something from my mistakes.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
1. There will be false hopes. The children appreciated our friendly nature but wondered, "Mommy, if you guys are so nice to each other, maybe the divorce was a mistake. When will you get remarried? Can I be flower girl?"
2. Drop-off and pick-up times will get dragged out. Sometimes for hours. "Mom, come inside and see what I just hung over my bed last night!" or "Daddy hasn't eaten and he's starving, can he stay for dinner? Garlic chicken is his favorite. Pretty please with onions on top?"
3. Old wounds will resurface. Once inside the ex's place of residence, it's impossible not to spot things that trigger a strong reaction. "Oh, flowers? Who sent those?" and "Why did you move our family portrait from the dining room to the bathroom?"
4. There will be "control issues." "I would appreciate it if you didn't bring that new guy you've been seeing to little Jared's birthday dinner next week." To which you'll need to issue a polite reminder, "That new guy is my current husband." You get the idea.
5. There will be hurt feelings. Staying friendly with your ex will elicit insecurities and a host of imagined scenarios for any third party you are seeing. "Have they both really moved on or could there be some unfinished business they might work out over a cocktail one night?" Is it fair to subject someone else to these plaguing kinds of thoughts?
6. Blurred boundaries will abound. How "friendly" is this divorce? Birthdays are celebrated together and school and sporting events are attended? What about traditional holidays? Will a family crisis or any problems with children be resolved together? Our children begged us to take a cozy ski trip "as a family." Hmmm.
7. Extended family will be confused. In-laws will wonder if they should include your ex on special occasions. Most will take their cues from you and keep the relationship just as friendly. This translates to sticky situations if you ever want your privacy at events that they host... not gonna happen. Also if you decide to change the status of your "friendly divorce" you cannot expect others to turn off their own feelings like a light switch.
8. You could feel violated. Your ex will have their own private peep-hole into continually viewing your life, if they so desire. Especially if you rely on them for favors. Going on a trip? Be wary of asking them to water plants and feed your dog -- the temptation to snoop is extremely inviting.
9. You could feel taken advantage of. The same inequitableness that exists in all friendships is likely here. One ex keeps asking the other to switch custody around to accommodate their crazy work schedule. Support payments will be late, and you'll be expected to look the other way because you're playing nicely, etc.
10. Exes know each other's hot buttons. The more extraneous time you spend together, the greater the chances that all the old issues which were a major source of the divorce in the first place will resurrect. Fun times!
What style was your divorce?
For a humorous blog on staying friends with your ex, check out the author's website HERE.