The poll about does age matter is my first poll – I was excited to get the widget working and I’m even more excited to see that readers are participating. So far, the response is overwhelming that knowing how old the storyteller was at the time of her divorce is important. Point taken!
Bearing that in mind, Student Mama, is in her mid-twenties, has been married for about five and a half years, separated for about six months and has a five-year-old daughter. With the break-up still fairly recent, there remain lots of unanswered questions about how the future as a co-parent might work out. Here are a few of Student Mama’s current concerns.
When a child is small, there’s comfort in knowing that they’re not conceptualizing everything that’s going on. At the same time though, there’s so much emotion they’re feeling from the changes that they can’t really express. You can’t really communicate with them.
I went through a whole period of questioning my motives – am I doing the right thing by breaking up the family?Am I handling my ex appropriately? Are we, is she going to come out ahead on the other side?
We’ve been honest with her about what was going on and she’s been angry with both of us. I think she would like to fix things – she’ll say, “Daddy, all you have to do is go get a ring and marry mommy again.” So I know she’s trying to grasp what’s going on. I’m very in touch with her preschool teacher and about how she’s doing there. For the most part, it seems she feels safe expressing herself because she just tells people if she’s having a hard time. At home there’s more of a wall between us and I’m trying to work on that. The hardest thing is seeing how much it affects her and feeling kind of helpless.
My ex is still involved. We don’t have a set schedule yet but we’re trying to keep it consistent for her. She goes and stays with him probably twice a week and he comes over after work sometimes and hangs with her. My ex and I went Christmas shopping together and we’ve gone to our daughter’s soccer games – not in the same car but we’ve met and sat together.
What gets difficult for my ex and I is whether or not we’re going to continue with the divorce. I’ve put my foot down and said “I’m not going back to our marriage” but I don’t think he’s at that final closure stage yet. I don’t know if that’s rejection to him but there’s definitely been more strain on our relationship. There’s more arguing and more tension, especially around my decision to date.
I can’t say what’s going to happen in the future for us but I really would like to have a good co-parenting relationship. Doesn’t everyone want that? But for now I’m trying to stay in the present and not get too caught up in what I want because then I’ll start trying to push in that direction and that won’t be helpful until he’s ready to go there with me.
The Divorce Coach Says
My husband and I didn’t have a separation although we debated the question of divorce for almost a year while living under the same roof, living increasing separate lives. It’s hard to know whether it would have been helpful or not. However, I do think there’s a lot to be said for a period of separation when the decision to end the marriage isn’t accepted by both spouses.
I think such a period can help bring clarity to the situation and if the end result is divorce, I think there’s great potential for less contentious settlement negotiations because emotions may not be running so high. I love what Student Mama says about living in the moment and waiting until her ex is at the same point she is – undoubtedly easier said than done but I think she may be laying the foundation for a solid, cooperative co-parenting relationship. Another story that might be helpful to read is the Kathleen Christensen’s series in which she talks about Collaborative Divorce.
Photo Credit: Flickr: shlomif