Even if You Can’t Stand Your Ex, Put Your Child First

divorced over 50, di-curious,

Some couples go through a Divorce Over 50 and are able to stay quite amicable. Occasionally you even hear about a couple that gets along beautifully after their Divorce, functioning better as friends than they did as spouses.

Others, however, want nothing to do with their ex once the Divorce is final, preferring to never set eyes upon him or her again. That might be possible if the couple never had children, but once kids are involved, the see-no-ex approach becomes almost impossible. Events such as a graduation, wedding, or the birth of a grandchild mean the formerly married partners will be thrown together, no matter how much one or both don’t want it.

And if one or both spouses still have anger, bitterness, or other negative feelings toward the other, it’s going to be an uncomfortable situation. The question becomes, will it be uncomfortable for just the parents, or will it affect the child as well?

The answer to that depends on whether the parent or parents are willing to put their child’s needs before their own. Lisa Gabardi makes that point in this post, suggesting that parents envision two scenarios from their child’s point of view:

In one, while dealing with the stress of a big event, the child feels pulled in opposite directions by his warring and physically separate parents, forced to make choices about which one of them to acknowledge and approach first, ensuring that someone feels hurt.

In the other scenario, the parents put aside their own feelings, come together physically if not emotionally, and actually reduce their child’s stress since there won’t be any choices involving mom versus dad.

Obviously, the second scenario is the one we’d all want for our children.

The tough part, of course, is putting those negative feelings aside. In this previous post, it’s argued that hanging onto anger only hurts you, as your ex could not care less. You never have to forget, but offering forgiveness shifts power away from the spouse who hurt you, and gives it back to you. Check it out if you missed it the first time.

And yes, all this is easier said than done. But perhaps an upcoming big event with your shared child, and your desire to make it go as well as possible, can be the motivation that gets you to that place.