At the end of April, my divorce was finalized. It was almost one year in the making, from the day of our split.
We just had the best divorce ever. Easy transition to co-parenting, easy division of property and debts, comfortable being around each other every day, lots of communication and even chatting like friends. We are friends now, we always were, and we are always going to be.
Heck, we even celebrated and announced our divorce to the world of our friends and family (the ones close to us already knew) via this sweet courthouse #divorceselfie!
The Stereotypical Divorce
For many, the divorce process is an overall horrible experience. Anger, fights, trash talking, sadness, guilt – there are lots of emotions and trials one goes through. I can honestly say save some minimal fighting in the very beginning, my divorce was not this way, and my ex-husband would mostly say the same.
I absolutely recognize that I am in a very small minority of divorced and divorcing people who are on good terms with their ex. The stereotypical divorced person can’t stand their ex, the ex isn’t a good dad or mom, and so on. I lucked out – my ex is a great friend, and he’s a great dad.
I also recognize there are situations where being friends with your ex just isn’t in the cards. Coming out of abusive relationships, relationships where one party seems hell-bent on making the other’s life difficult – sometimes there’s no way to make it work.
Divorce has its difficulties even if you’re on good terms, emotionally it can take its toll on you as an individual. Even if there was no shameful or painful catalyst that initiated the divorce, such as cheating or abuse, you can feel burdened by the marriage ending, which was supposed to be til death do us part. Simply the end of an era or starting your life over again at an older age can bring its own struggles.
Many people do not believe you can have a friendly divorce. Even those closest to me said it would never happen. I’ve never been happier to prove my dad wrong, for one. Our circumstances certainly had a lot to do with that I feel – we fell out of the right kind of love, no one cheated, lied, or deceived the other. Ya, it’s painful in its own way to know the person you love doesn’t love you like that anymore but it’s not necessarily traumatizing or as dramatic as other reasons for divorce.
How to Have the Best Divorce Ever
In light of my recent Best Divorce Ever, I thought I would share some of the key things we did to keep things flowing smoothly and prevent ourselves from hating each other. Hopefully if you find yourself in a similar situation, keeping these things in mind will help you do so, too.
Know how and who you want to be
My soon-to-be ex-husband and I discussed the type of relationship we’d want to have for our son if something were to ever happen to us, even before our son was born. In hindsight, that feels like a bit of foreshadowing, but I think it’s important to know the kind of person you want to be towards your partner so you can make your actions match your goals during this stressful time.
When we decided to split, there was no question how we were going to treat each other – we were going to be friends. Yes, there were uncomfortable drop-offs/pickups for a bit, tense conversations, but after a few short weeks, it was effortless.
We committed to being co-parents, to being (as our son would say) “best buds forever” because for us, it was the right thing to do. My goal through co-parenting was to give my son two happy homes in which he could thrive, rather than one that wasn’t going to work out so well. I am a child of divorced parents, I know first-hand how anger and resentment can affect a child – I did not want that for mine.
Decide how you want to be with each other and commit to it. It certainly helped me let things go and transition into my new role in the relationship with my ex-husband.
You don’t have to be best friends. You don’t have to text each other the funny pictures and videos you find online. You don’t have to talk details about your dating life (when they don’t involve your kid). You don’t have to do things with each other. You do have to be nice to each other and have respect for each other because your child will always be watching or absorbing your emotions on this.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Small stuff is relative here – for me, it was dividing the literal things, possessions and debts. We knew I was going to stay in the house, as I purchased it solely before we’d married, even though he’d always lived here, too. I knew I didn’t care about retaining the decade’s worth of hunting and fishing junk he’d bought during our relationship. We kept what was ours, the things we’d came with and things we’d personally amassed while married. Neither of us really cared too much about being entitled to the other’s things – me taking half his fishing poles would’ve just been spiteful, no matter how much of our money was sunk into that stuff.
My ex-husband bought his own home, and with a home comes a lot of different needs. Living in our home for nearly ten years, we’d accumulated a lot of household items. We haggled a bit over the big ticket things like certain furniture, the lawn mower, and washer and dryer. The rest of the stuff, when it came time to sort out, the two of us went through my house looking in cabinets asking “Do you want this? Which one of these do you want?” It was simple for us, because they were just things to us. And truthfully, it was fun – we’ve come across a lot of stuff with memories attached, and it was nice to reminisce together because we shared many good times over our relationship.
Debt was a little more of a hot topic. For awhile I was ready to fight for what I wanted here. After some time had passed cooling off about it, we discussed what we thought was fair. The amount was truly small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, and was definitely not worth damaging our relationships fighting out down to the dollar.
Decide what is truly important for you to have as far as things go, but also look at the other person’s perspective and think about what is fair for both sides. How this settlement will affect your child(ren).
Have Your Best Divorce
The things mentioned above were truly the key to us having our best divorce ever. In the wake of high emotions, it’s easy not to consider them, or overlook them. Always keeping these goals in the forefront of my mind helped me stay focused on the relationship I wanted to preserve. Preserving this relationship is so valuable and critical to us, for the sake of our son – we want to give him the best two happy homes, and we cannot do that if we are bitter with each other.
Hope my best divorce story and advice helps you focus on what is important to you during what can be the worst time of your life.
I’m glad for you–and your son!–that things have gone so well! Once one or both of you remarries, I would love to see an update/refresh on your thoughts. Not because it won’t still be true, I’m sure it will! Just because you’ll have new wisdom and insights to share that I look forward to reading. 🙂
Thanks Molly! That would be an interesting perspective. I’m honestly excited for the day my ex remarries and has more kids, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s such a good dad who always wanted more kids, and it was me who didn’t. I hope he finds a new partner to build a family with if he decides to 🙂 Maybe a few years down the road, I’ll be able to do a follow-up for you!
The idea of remarrying is something that does concern me in our relationship. As I date, it’s important to me that anyone I end up with is fully comfortable and accepting that I have this kind of relationship with my ex husband. For the next 14 years while my son grows, maintaining that relationship is my priority and I hope that we can both find partners who are supportive of that.
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