I was the only one in my Child Impact Program that had finalized their divorce. As we went around the room introducing ourselves and giving our "brief" bio, I realized how lucky I was. Almost everyone, once they started talking, was desperate to tell their story and be heard. When my turn came, I was cheerful and brief. It turns out I had the class record for the fastest split. We filed in December and were done by the end of March. It could have been sooner but I wasn't expecting it to be that easy so I picked a later date. "How did you do it?" everyone asked.
First, in a way, I was lucky. Even though we have two children, we don't have a great deal of money or possessions. There simply weren't any assets to fight over. I had met with a lawyer well in advance and knew what I could ask for. The law was clear on child support and the rest wasn't worth arguing over.
Second, this was his second divorce involving children and since he had the same job, the visitation would be the same as before. We took that as a given.
Third, I was ready financially, emotionally, and physically. I had all my ducks in a row, refused to take any bait for an argument, and had also apologized to my ex-husband for any pain I may have caused. My support systems were in place and I had time marked out time to exercise and meditate so I could work through the inherent stress that this kind of life change brings.
But the best thing I did, which I shared with my class, didn't cost any money, time, or grief. I simply changed my husband's name in my contact list to "Co-Parent." It's the new politically correct term for your ex. Brilliant! I learned this early on in January from a recently divorced friend who told me what to expect from the Child Impact Program. It makes so much sense. From that point on it became all about the children. There was a complete shift in the dynamic of the relationship. Our weekly meetings became less emotional, the tone changed, and the focus was clear.
Now, a year after my divorce, whenever the name "Co-Parent" pops up on my phone, I'm reminded that it isn't about me. My new role in the relationship is to communicate (as clearly as possible) what is needed for the children. Any emotion I might have is secondary and for the most part behind me. And most importantly, does not enter the conversation. The reach of that simple switch also goes beyond the name I see on my phone. When I reference him in conversation as "my co-parent," I can speak respectfully on behalf of my children about their father. The negative connotation of "my ex, their dad" is taken out of the equation. When I told everyone in my Child Impact class what my "secret" was, several people pulled out their phones to make the change. The instructor said she was going to add that tip to her discussion on co-parenting.