Staying Friends After Divorce
Couples reach the decision to divorce or separate for various reasons, and no matter the reason, it's often a hard one to make. Ending an intimate relationship is also a difficult process, and it might seem near to impossible that you would actually be friends with your ex-partner in the future. You might actually prefer not to see the other person again, but for ex-couples who have kids together, the truth is that you won't be able to avoid each other. The truth is that not only will you have to see each other at times, but you'll have to work together as partners in parenting for the sake of your kids. Staying friends after divorce might not be exactly like your other friendships, but having some level of amicability between yourself and your co-parent will be helpful as you work to raise your kids together. Here are some things to think about as you seek ways to stay friends after divorce.
Give It Time
Immediately following the end of an intimate relationship, emotions are often scattered. Anger, confusion, regret, and sadness are all commonly experienced, and it's not always easy to know how to handle it. Taking some time to work through your own emotions is an important step in ending a relationship that should not be looked over. Give yourself time to grieve the end of this part of your life. Spend time with close friends and family, and talk about how you're feeling. Letting emotions stack up inside without sharing them with someone can be harmful to both your emotional and physical health. You may also consider talking to a neutral third party, such as a therapist, who is aside from your relationship and can give you impartial guidance on how to manage your feelings. While seeing or talking to your co-parent during this period of grieving will be hard, it might be necessary when it has to do with the kids. In that situation, try and keep your mind as focused on the topic at hand. Resist the urge to start a conversation that could lead to more emotional distress or conflict. Save those conversations for a more appropriate forum, such as during a mediation or therapy session. Being friendly might be hard now, but being cordial at least is a healthy first step towards building a friendship into the future.
Take a Step Back
Part of ending a relationship means letting go of the level of closeness you once had with a person. This also means giving that person a new level of space. You shouldn't pry into the personal life of your co-parent when it doesn't directly affect you or your kids. Remove yourself from spaces that could cause you to spend too much time wondering about their personal life. If you share mutual friends with your co-parent, talk to those friends and ask that they don't plan events where both of you will attend, at least for a while. Keep the focus on your life, moving forward and achieving your goals. Once you've had time to focus on yourself and attain happiness in your own life, you may be able to re-open some doors and connect again as friends with your co-parent.
Think About The Future
As your kids grow up, you'll cross many milestones as a family. From birthdays and graduations to weddings and grandkids, both you and your co-parent won't want to miss a thing. Making it through these events will be much harder on your both if you cannot stand the sight of each other. Kids want both of their parents to be involved in these moments and part of the memories they take from them. They shouldn't have to worry about their parents being at each others throats on special days. Think about the future and how you want to spend special occasions. It's those moments that you are likely to find that you will share as a family. Staying friends after divorce, or at least being cordial to each other, is a good step towards being able to have those moments someday and enjoy them as a family.
Focus On Yourself
Ending a relationship creates a perfect opportunity to really focus on yourself and how you want your life to be. In a relationship, people often lose sight of what it's like to have needs or goals that don't concern their partner in some way. Take this time to consider your life now and how you want to live it. This might include some experimenting to broaden your horizons and reinvent yourself. Try new foods, learn another language, travel someplace you've never been, meet new people, and just allow yourself to be open to new experiences and opportunities. You never know how rewarding something might feel for your until you try it, and what you learn about yourself from doing all of this can help to improve your relationships with other people, including your co-parent.
Staying friends after divorce will certainly be something that will take time. It's not often that this will happen overnight as it requires time for wounds to heal and emotions to settle. Allowing yourself to have that time to recover, taking a few steps back, remembering that the future will include family moments, and really focusing on yourself are all positive steps to take towards being able to attain a friendship with your co-parent.