It’s been over four years since Kathleen Christensen and her ex separated. Their divorce was challenging, fraught and exhausting. Using the collaborative divorce process, however, they were able to build a foundation for their new relationship as co-parents. Now, unlike with many traditional divorces, Kathleen is able to see the positives in her ex. In the final segment of Kathleen’s story, here’s how she described to me their relationship now.
I actually have warm feelings towards him now – not in the way of wanting to get back together – why fix something that’s not broken? This is working. I don’t think a couple’s relationship would work whereas the co-parenting relationship works quite well.
But I do have warm feelings. I can appreciate his wonderful qualities again. Not only does that feel better from my point of view, it’s also a gift to our daughter – to feel warmth between her parents.
It’s a big deal. It’s not perfect but it’s way better than our married relationship was. I never would have predicted we would be better for our daughter as a divorced couple but, in our case, we are. I keep thinking of the word ‘transformed.’ We didn’t end our relationship, we transformed it. We worked very hard at it. We’re doing what fits with our values and it feels good to be able to do that.
I never liked the phrase ‘Just do it’ for all kinds of reasons but we couldn’t ‘Just do it.’ I know divorcing people who are able to be quite cooperative and just work things out but we needed a lot of help and support and luckily we were able to access that.
It was expensive and that was a big downside. We spent thousands of dollars on the divorce – we didn’t exactly have that money but we made it work. I put some of it on the credit card and it was totally worth it. What’s more important than doing a good job parenting our daughter? I would rather have that than anything else I could have done with the money. It’s priceless.
The Divorce Coach Says
When Kathleen shared her story with me I was not at all envious about the difficulties in the divorce process she talked about, but I am a little envious when I hear her talk about her ex. My relationship with my ex is civil but I do NOT have warm feelings for him. In fact, there are often times when I find myself wondering, ‘What on earth was I thinking?’ What I’m learning from Kathleen is the value of honestly expressing your views and opinions. Sure, it might make for lengthy debates and discussions but if you can come to a compromise or agreement, then because everything has been out in the open, the agreement is more solid. And if you can’t come to an agreement, then so be it. It’s the ‘so be it’ part I’m always afraid of.
UPDATE: I wrote the paragraph above when I first posted this series in November 2009. I would still describe my relationship with my ex as civil and possibly better than that since we have cooperated so well through our daughter’s high school graduation. But I don’t have warm feelings for him! I’ve interviewed a number of women since Kathleen and rereading this post, it reminds me of Judy who managed to come to think of her ex as you would a college friend – still as a friend in her heart but just not the same. I think I yearn to get to that place because when I’m there, I won’t feel that my marriage was a waste of time. I will have accepted that it is what it was, and that I am who am today because of my experience.
Photo credit: almancy