I divorced when I was in my 20s. It would be nice to be able to walk away from my ex and have that part of my life be a distant memory as soon as the ink dried on the divorce decree, but for those of us that share custody of a child with our ex, or work for the same company as the ex (both cases are true for me), you have to learn how to cope with this person in your daily life. Maintaining a good relationship with my son's father after divorce probably takes more effort than my marriage every did, so I remind myself of the "Big Five" regularly to make the best life for son and the happiest life for myself.
1. Leave animosity behind.
With divorce comes transition; you have changed your life and can now live the life you wanted. Why start this new chapter with resentment and hostility? Leave all the past problems and judgments with your ex in the past.
2. Forget about the stigma.
Being divorced at a young age comes with the assumptions that you rushed the marriage, you weren't mature enough for the hard work and commitment that a marriage takes, etc. Know that those judgments are only made by people who don't know you or your story, and never give those people the power of letting it bother you.
3. Keep the friends and family.
Friendship divisions and taking sides is one of the worst parts of divorce. My ex and I never required this of anyone -- we didn't want people to choose sides. Our families are still a vital part of each other's lives and we strive to keep it this way.
4. Be flexible.
Whether it be feeding my ex's dog when he is out of town or switching days with our son, it is easier on everyone to allow for changes in plans. Although I generally follow a strict schedule, there has been times where I need help and if my ex is there for me and I'm there for him it's a win-win.
5. Be respectful.
It's okay to vent at times and confide in close friends who know the intimate details of your messy marriage and divorce, but not everyone needs to know the particulars. If people inquire about why things ended, it's better to have a generic, "things just weren't meant to be" response, than to divulge too much information or talk negatively about your ex. It doesn't make you look like a good person to speak about someone so poorly and you never know what will get back to your ex through the grapevine. If this seems like a something you may struggle with, refer back to number 1.
Just because the marriage was tumultuous and the divorce was horrendous, doesn't mean it has to be a life-long struggle to deal with your ex. As time passes and you heart starts to mend, it will become easier to deal with your ex and let love return to your life again. Keeping a positive outlook and concentrating on your daily happiness will only serve you well. Start down that road today by restoring your relationship with your ex.
If you divorced in your 20s and learned a lot about love, life and yourself in the process, we'd love to hear your story for our series, Divorced By 30. Send us a 500-800-word essay or an idea for a blog post to firstname.lastname@example.org
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