Miri already told us that no matter what you hoped, co-parenting is an unfortunate myth. That you are perpetually divorcing. What about the actual aspect of divorcing? Is there such a thing as a good divorce? In a surprisingly cheery article, the New York Times tries to convince us that this is so in Susan Gregory Thomas’s feature The Good Divorce. Thomas, who wrote the memoir, In Spite of Everything: A Memoir says that their kids troubles brought them together post divorce. Says Thomas:
My former husband and I were not good spouses. But we admire and trust each other. We do not do anything perfectly. We are stressed, we struggle financially, we’re not great at masking our feelings on certain days. We know there are more problems ahead, a lifetime of them.
Admire is a strong word and I question Thomas’s geniune story here. I wonder about the admiration aspect. Would LOD and Ask Moxie say they admire each other? They moved to Michigan together for the kids and for that I admire them. But each other? Seems to go against the grain of divorced couples to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are elements of the ex-husband that you can admire, but blanket trust and admiration seems reaching.
Even Gabriel Cohen who wrote Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky: A Buddhist Path Through Divorce talked about violent anger. Chapters include, “If Drinking Don’t Kill Me” and “You Aren’t My Sunshine.” This comes from a Buddhist!
I don’t think of myself as a particularly angry person. I have rarely demonstrated anger in any physical way. The only time i can remember getting in a fistfight was in sixt grade, when a bully pushed things too far and we took a few wild wings at each other.
In the darkest moments of my marriage I never contemplated doing any kind of physical harm.
But as things deteriorated, I got angry. Big time.
Yes, this sounds more like it. Okay, I’m not attempting to suggest that as divorced people, women, men, parents should stay or live in a place of anger because that isn’t healthy for anyone. I also think positive stories must be told to help those struggling heal and see that their are alternatives. I had one of those stories myself in Parenting Magazine a few years ago about my co-parenting experience with my ex. You can read that here. I don’t think anywhere in the article I pretend or try show that we led a perfect situation. In fact, the opposite is what I attempted to portray. It took a great deal of work to understand where my ex was coming from and I attempted to follow that process for my son.
But I see friends trying desperately to get along with their ex’s just to see themselves fall down the same rabbit hole of shame when it comes to their relationship with their ex. It doesn’t work in the long run. Of course it doesn’t work! You’re divorced. For me this is part of the acceptance of divorce. That there is shame involved, that there is hurt involved. Not that I ever subscribed to the Donna Reed book of housewives, no. But there is an element of life that you have to accept. I made an independent choice. I certainly didn’t fit into a mold of a woman who had an 18 month old son. And that’s okay… but don’t tell me I have to be happy about it all or worse, pretend to be.
Can there be a realistic discussion about divorce that includes the words: We get along? We have mutual respect and admiration? Tell me. I really want to know.