He’s a good man. Smart, funny, generous, loyal. Oh, and handsome. He’d totally want me to tell you he’s handsome.
He contributes a lot of things to my life, for sure.
But one very important thing he’s offered is the opportunity to witness that co-parenting relationships can work.
I recently wrote a text to my former mother-in-law as we were arranging a phone call between me and the children. I wrote, “I wish you could see how Jack and his ex and their families navigate a post-divorce world. It’s, like, beautiful. They use common sense. No judges. Equal decision making. No emails sent where one quotes the divorce agreement to the other. They recognize what their parenting strengths are and allow each other to show them. Jack and his ex are not friends, but they seem to respect each other and their significant others keep appropriate boundaries. Their daughter is literally one of the most well-adjusted kids I’ve ever met. And her family—her parents, mainly—deserve the credit. Despite the pain and sorrow that surrounded Jack’s divorce, that child has never once been used as a weapon. And if I ever saw him do it, we would not be together for one minute longer.”
She never responded.
Jack, similar to me, separated from his spouse over three years ago. They share a daughter who is now eleven years old.
Their child–beautiful, smart, funny, and kind—is strong and secure and confident. She appears to welcome my presence in her life.
I don’t take that for granted.
Jack isn’t a “dwell on the past” kind of guy. Sure, I know some of the details of his marriage and divorce, but it’s never been something he’s perseverated on. I know enough to know that like all divorces, it was exhausting and painful and ugly and lengthy and divisive. You don’t just walk away from a divorce and shake it off like some dog who wandered in the path of a hose. But his family has walked their path to divorce, and while components may always linger, they have thoroughly and decidedly traversed into the real after-divorce stage of life. One that’s stable and calm, freed from preoccupation with past behavior and hurts.
It gives me hope, to see Jack and his ex co-parent. Not hope that my co-parent and I will someday get to a similar place, mind you. There’s no evidence that will happen. Hope in a general sense. You know, for other families of divorce. Jack’s ex and I text relatively frequently. Our relationship is easy and friendly and we can chat about a myriad of topics. Her family and her significant other are welcoming and helpful. I didn’t know her when she was married to Jack. I’m not going to judge how she was as a wife. I’m going to base my opinion of her on what I personally observe, and I observe her to be a loving, caring mother who has no interest in making Jack’s life harder. She is child-focused. Jack is child-focused. They’ve both moved on and they wish each other well. This good-will is reflected onto their child.
Your child will do as well as you do in a divorce. Clearly, Jack and his ex have found a place of balance.
Even if I can’t experience it personally beyond my peripheral role in their co-parenting experience, I’m glad I get to see it.
More importantly, I’m grateful that my kids get to see that life after divorce doesn’t have to be so hard for every kid.