Marriages end. It is a reality. There are those of us that get married really young, those of us that marry for the wrong reasons, those of us that never bother to take the time to get to know our significant other, those of us who’s sexuality changes….etc. etc. For whatever the reason may be, marriages end.
It’s not a tragic part of life, it is a realistic factor of living in the 21st century and modern society. I truly believe staying in an unhappy marriage is a lot more tragic than not. We are meant to live, not simply exist. The tragedy is that people have the wrong idea of what love is, and they never bother to do anything about it, other than live miserably. Now that is tragic!
I met my ex husband when I was 19 and he was 20 during my 1st year of University. I think it is a fair statement to say that most of us are not the same people at 40 than we were at 20. 2 decades, lots of ups, lots of downs, children, illness, losing people you love, these things change a person and it’s often the case where couple’s don’t change in the same direction.
As was the case with Adam and I. After half of our lives together we realized we were really good friends, however, the marriage was getting in the way of our friendship. I know that probably sounds odd to you, and hey…that’s ok. What matters is where we went from that realization.
Adam and I maintained our friendship. I’m not saying the 1st year of transition was easy, of course it wasn’t. We have 2 beautiful daughters (at the time they were 6 and 11). We were determined to inflict minimal change and disruption on their lives. We stayed in the martial home for 1 year, taking turns staying at the house. The kids knew they had Daddy’s nights and Mommy’s nights. They didn’t have to move homes or schools, and by the time we did sell the house, they were used to the schedule and process.
And so without every actually discussing it, Adam and I were mindful not to badmouth each other to the kids (or anyone else but that is for my next blog). But we went a step above that. We were mindful to praise one another. I was always careful in those first few months where things are especially sensitive, never to contradict something the kids told me their Daddy said. I never said a negative word about him and I always reinforced any decisions that they told me he made as a parent.
When Adam started seeing someone and my daughters met her, they never heard a negative word out of my mouth about his new girlfriend. All they ever got from me was support for their Dad. This also goes for the other parent of your partners kids. I know Adams girlfriend never said a negative word about me before we became friends and similarly I would never talk negatively to my boyfriends children about their Mom. When my youngest told me that “Daddy and (his girlfriend) went on a date” and asked “Mom are you ok with that?” I smiled and said “honey of course I am, I want Daddy to be happy.”
You know why it was so easy for me to do this? Because I’m an adult. Because I recognized that yes we should not be married anymore and he deserves to be with someone who can make him happy. Because seeing my girls enamoured with the new woman in their life made my heart happy, because I could see genuine love and respect on both sides. I knew she was not trying to take my place, she has her own children. I recognized that she would play an important role in the lives of my daughters, and that made her important to me.
While again, I can appreciate that it is not easy, when you are dealing with children you must parent first. Always think before you speak or act, “Is this in the best interest of my children?” I can bet a lot of times the answer is no. Then don’t say it. Or say it when they aren’t around (and that doesn’t mean on phone to your best friend while they are in the next room – kids hear everything!). If you decided to be a parent you have a responsibility to be a parent first and foremost. This person is the person you chose to have children with. They will always be the other parent to your children. Like it or not you will be in each others lives forever now. And no matter how hurt, angry, bitter or jealous you are, you must know that negative speech and actions towards your child’s other parent will hurt your children. It is a form of emotional abuse.
Once Adam and I were able to work through the first year of separation, I can tell you that our lives improved considerably. Adam and I never saw the inside of a court room. I mean listen people, if you want to give your hard earned money (and your children’s money) to lawyers for a faulty family court system that is severely backlogged and rarely ever resolves anything….I don’t know what to tell you. To Adam and I this was never a question. We used one lawyer for the both of us, we hashed out our separation agreement at Starbucks, we went to get our Ghet (Jewish divorce) together in the same car…it can be done – and it was!
I can understand that not everyone can go through this process the way we did. I get that. However I highly encourage you to use a mediator or a coach that specializes in divorce. Please don’t throw your hard earned money away for nothing just because you are emotional. Take a step back. There are many resources out there that are incredibly less financially straining and incredibly more civil. Divorce Angels is a great resource, and can recommend some great options for you. There are options out there that do not have to cost you an arm and a leg and allows you to maintain a level of civility. Use them. I assure you this is the right choice in the immediate and long term future. This is not only the best choice for you, but it is the best choice for your children.
Corinne Bernatt and Adam Bernatt are a happily divorced couple that have remained friends and are committed to co parenting their daughters 100%. Recently they both decided they would like the opportunity to help other couples going through the divorce process amicably, and have formed a partnership with Michael Shuster, who specializes in real estate for divorcing couples.
To learn more about Corinne and Adam and their new partnership with Michael Shuster visit https://www.thedivorceangels.com/vendor/michael-shuster/.