As we head towards the holiday season, we're almost at the end of 2014 can you believe it?
We're heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Christmas commercials are starting already. Mercedes Benz, seen you a few times. Who buys a Mercedes for somebody for Christmas?
Or who puts a bow around a Lexus?
Anyway, let's talk today about the gift that keeps on giving. Doesn't matter if it's the holidays, or if it's February. Doesn't matter if it's July. You're sitting in your office and the phone rings, and you see it's your ex-husband or ex-wife. You think to yourself, I'm having a beautiful morning until this point. What could they possibly want? It's got to be something about little Johnny or little Amy.
Then again, it's not my weekend with the kids, so maybe something happened last night she needs to discuss. You pick up the phone. And then the gift that keeps on giving comes at you. You have a discussion.
All the feelings come back, the frustration, the anger, the lack of communication, the absence of empathy. All of it. If you think about it, the reason why you're not together, a lot of the time, is a loss or lack of communication and understanding.
You were probably once very much in love with that person. There were probably events or things that happened in your relationship that caused the break up. One of you probably left the other, and it still stings. That pain doesn't go away easily. That's the reality of a relationship. Both of you have probably done work on yourselves to have some sort of relationship with each other. You need to for the sake of the children.
Yet there's always that thing you were never able to work out during your marriage. Maybe it's a feeling. Maybe it's the way you speak to one another. Because each person needs to be spoken to in a language they understand, a language that makes them respond favorably. We all speak differently; the way we phrase, accent, compliment, love and criticize. Even though we all speak the same language. The tonality and the approach are crucial in a relationship. Often times they are the "make," or "break."
It could be many different things. And now, because you're no longer in a relationship, no longer married, you don't need to work on that issue. The issue that probably pulled you guys apart and now keeps coming up like a gift that keeps arriving every day. You talk. The conversation gets heated almost instantly because you get triggered. Back to the frustration you felt with that person when you were together.
The conversation that should be about the children turns into a difficult dynamic between the two of you.
And what about the children? How are they affected by this dynamic?
A friend of mine admitted something today to me today. He said something today to me that really was hard for me to hear. I do appreciate his honesty. We were talking about work. The conversation turned to what is going on in my life personally. He admitted something to me that was really interesting. He is split with his wife for a long time, since his kid was four.
At first whenever his kid would come over, he would say, "Daddy I don't want to leave you, I don't want to go back to mommy."
The interesting part is, he would always say to his kid: "You know spending time with mommy is really important, we no longer live together and building a relationship with both parents is very important."
But deep down it made him feel good being chosen. It made him feel good that on some level, his son chose him.
You see he was an amazing father. He dedicated his life to his kid. He didn't work, spent all the time nurturing and loving his son. Deep down as a human being he felt good about it. Now he never would admit it to her, never even talked about it and never said anything to his son because he knew how detrimental that was. But deep down it felt good.
We are only human. It feels good deep down to have your kid tell you something that makes you feel wonderful. Special. Think about that within the dynamics of your separation. Your divorce. Maybe your kids like spending more time with mom, or more time with dad. Maybe they are having a difficult time transitioning from one house to the other.
As much as it feeds your ego and feels good, it's better to keep it to yourself. Do what's best for the kid, like my friend did. If it's possible, kids should be at home with both parents. One parent is usually certain they are the better parent. And maybe they are. But as long as the other parent isn't abusing them, or putting the kids in danger, it doesn't matter.
It's an energy thing. Kids can feel it if one parent has a need to be with them. If one parent feels validated when they're parenting. Kids are incredibly perceptive. It's natural. Parents should be with their kids and the family should be together. Unfortunately, the dysfunction in the relationship could not be worked out. No matter how hard you tried. Maybe you don't understand each other and don't speak to each other in a tone the other one needs.
People are sensitive. Words can be tender and loving or angry and hurtful. Many marriages and subsequent divorces get into an unhealthy communication cycle. Of relating to their ex and it becomes the gift that keeps on giving.
Whatever dynamics failed in the marriage, are failing in the current communication between the two of you. The frustration with your ex is manifested every day, because you haven't worked on the issue. You're divorced. Game over. But, you are raising children together, so you are forced to deal with your ex every day. The gift that keeps on giving.
Both parents are very important. There's nothing more important to a daughter than her father. The relationship she has and forges with him is going to shape her relationships with men in the future. It's very important for a son to feel his mom's love, and it's important for a son to understand women. The dynamic with his mother will help shape his future relationships with women.
A mother's love to her daughter is beautiful, until the daughter becomes a teenager and suddenly can't stand her mother (a brief but painful cycle). It's pretty much the same for a son. His dad's not the Super Hero he thought he was. Not as strong as he needs him to be. He starts to rebel. I've been there. I've seen this dynamic first hand.
The gift that keeps on giving is the toughest thing. The fight -- that marriage fight that you still get into, because you still frustrate one another. Because you have unresolved issues between the two of you.
The unresolved issues will keep coming up until they're faced head-on. Until you really listen to one another and take the time out. Yes, granted, both of you have your own lives. You've got the kids certain times. You have to be social with other people. Some of you may be in relationships.
Think about how you felt that day in the office when the phone rang. You picked it up, and got into a marriage fight, even though you're no longer married. The dynamic between the two of you, like any friend, needs to be altered, changed. You need to start hearing one another. Even if it means going to a marriage counselor when you're not married. This relationship is vitally important. Being able to discuss the kids honestly is important. Being able to co-parent together is important.
The gift that keeps on giving. Time to unwrap each other, and work on that. Otherwise, you're going to be stuck in that endless cycle. The endless battle that reminds you of why your marriage didn't work out. That reminds you why your family's not together. It reminds you of that pain and you can't move forward.