Holly was married for four years and during that time she lost herself, giving up her love of travel and exercise. She describes her ex as very controlling, even down to what they ate and the clothes she wore. Away from the marriage, she’s found herself again and rediscovered her love of travel in a big way.
My son and I went on a tour with a monk to Burma and Thailand. There were just 15 people – most of them were Japanese and my son, who was about 10, was the only child. We traveled to these monasteries, met monks and meditated in places that most tourists can’t even get to. It was just amazing.
The idea started when I went to hear this prominent Burmese monk speak, His Holiness Gayuna Sundima Cealo I was having a real issue with my son because we live in a very modest neighborhood of a very wealthy town. We live around a lot of wealth and a lot of my son’s friends had the best of everything. It’s very non-diverse and not everyone lives this way. Not everyone in the US lives this way. He was at an age where he wanted a better skateboard, a better game-boy and video games and there were lots of wants going on. When I went to hear this monk, I asked him, how do I speak to my son about gratefulness and he had a couple of suggestions. When I was leaving the room, he said, through an interpreter, ‘You bring your son to Burma,’ and he said it like three times. So as I’m walking out the door, I’m thinking there are a few other places I’d go before Burma but it planted the seed. Six months later between saving the money and all the arrangements, everything fell into place.
I didn’t have enough vacation time at my work and then a couple of months before the trip I was suddenly informed I had an extra week of vacation. I didn’t want my son to miss school and then it turned out that the two weeks of the tour happened over Thanksgiving break so he wouldn’t miss much school anyway. I didn’t have the money at the time to pay for the trip and again, a couple of months before the trip, out of the blue my boss said, ‘I want to give you a bonus but I can’t give you cash. What can we do for you?’ I said he could pay for my plane tickets to Burma and he said OK. Everything just fell into place.
The biggest obstacle was I needed permission from his dad. If you’re a divorced parent in the US and you travel internationally with a minor you need to have permission from the other parent. He had verbally agreed which is why I started the process but when I was making the visa arrangements, his dad refused to sign the consent waiver. This was all the way up until a week before our trip. Finally, I convinced him to go to counseling to get him to sign the consent waiver. Everything was planned. Finally he signed and we went.
Since then I’ve been to Paris and taken some other trips that I planned a lot for because I didn’t have the stress, the limitations and the controlling interest of somebody else. My ex isn’t a bad person, he was just threatened by my growth. Unfortunately, because I need his permission to take my son anywhere for two weeks and he makes it so hard, I’ve stopped asking.
The Divorce Coach Says
To me, Holly’s story is one of faith – faith that even the improbable can happen, if you believe in it. Maybe as her son grows older and is able to express his wishes more, they’ll be able to take those two week trips.
If you’re in process of getting divorced now, you can draft your parenting agreement to hopefully avoid some of the problems Holly has. My parenting agreement gives either parent up to two weeks of uninterrupted summer vacation time. And with my family living in England and South Africa, I knew I’d want to travel overseas with the children so our agreement also says that either of us can travel out of the country with the children without the other’s consent. The agreement requires non-traveling parent to sign whatever official paperwork is required.
Now granted, my ex could still make the process difficult but thankfully, to date he has not. He’s also been flexible around the timing of vacation. Two years ago, my niece in South Africa got married. Naturally I wanted to go and to take the kids. The difficulty was that the wedding was in September – my daughter had just started her high school freshman year and my son, his first year at middle school. We could have gone for a short trip so they missed little school but South Africa is a long way from Colorado – usually it’s 30 hours travel door-to-door with no delays. Instead we went for almost three weeks, with the full support of my ex who appreciates the educational value of travel. It was a wonderful trip and a special time connecting with my family who we don’t get to see that much.
Obviously, my parenting agreement is tailored to our situation and I wasn’t concerned about my ex trying to leave the country with our children. That does happen though and the U.S. State Department has a website devoted to how to prevent parental child abductions.
Photo credit: eGuideTravel