Divorce, especially one that comes after a decade or more of marriage, can be a draining and emotional experience. You may feel prepared to fight your spouse in court, because you want to win. You may hope to penalize your spouse for bad behavior in marriage, but that really won’t help your case in court. It also won’t help your family in the long run. Don’t get too caught up in the emotion of divorce.
Unless your spouse is abusive, you should start thinking now about how to rebuild a relationship after the divorce dust settles. You will still likely see each other many times a week to exchange custody.
Even if you avoid awkward handoffs, you will still need to see one another at special events, like birthdays and 8th grade graduations. While your ex-wife may not be your favorite person, you should still strive for healthy interactions for the sake of the children.
Feeling stuck in the middle can hurt your kids
If you and your ex both complain about one another to the children, it can create a lot of unnecessary strain on the kids. Negative talk can strain your children’s opinion of their other parent. It can also make them worry about how you talk about or think about them. Concerns about criticism from a parent could lead to withdrawn behavior or even anxiety.
Even if you aren’t directly venting to your children about your ex, if they see you fighting, they will likely still worry about it. They may feel like they need to take one side or the other. No matter how strong your emotions may run during a divorce, you should do everything in your power to shield your children from those issues. Keep angry discussions for a time when the kids won’t be around or awake to witness or overhear.
Try to work together to create a unified front
It is not uncommon for children enduring the divorce of their parents to act out in a variety of ways. Fault lines in your relationship are weak points that children can manipulate to get away with inappropriate behavior. You and your former spouse should discuss issues like bed times, socialization, homework and other critical expectations for the children. Consequences and enforcement are best if they remain consistent from day to day and parent to parent.
If you both can focus on helping your children thrive, that can actually provide you with common ground for a more amicable relationship as you move forward. Not only will it become the foundation of a successful co-parenting relationship, but it can set a positive example for your children about working together, compromise and the real meaning of family.
By striving to do the best you can to protect and support your children during divorce, you and your ex can also help yourselves move on after the end of your marriage.