Relationships are ever evolving and changing.
Sixteen years ago today, I got married.
While things did not go as either of us planned, we have a beautiful daughter, along with an abundance of love and friendship.
Our family of three was made four when my ex-husband got married and his new wife joined our crazy train. I say crazy train not because of any animosity, but crazy because raising a child is always full of twists and turns that make parenthood—married, divorced, single, or with a partner—crazy and exciting.
Life doesn’t always turn out as we plan, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Change makes life exciting, even change we didn’t plan. Even though I am not married, I still have a partner (now two!) in raising an amazing, precocious, smart, funny, witty, crazy little human.
When marriages end and children are involved, everyone is still family. Just a new version. Couples with children in the midst of divorce or separation seem to always forget that, in most situations, children bind us together forever. Unfortunately, what most people only see is right now and what’s happening to them. They don’t take into consideration how children are affected by fighting and arguing or even fake smiles and underlying tensions that come with parents trying to be martyrs.
Many people ask me how we do it. How we manage this family and raise a child that no one would ever guess comes from a “broken” home. My answer is love and respect for each other, along with healthy boundaries.
We have dinner together. We talk about the hard stuff together. We celebrate together—successes, birthdays, and holidays. We communicate and support each other. We focus on helping each other out and, above all, always show up for our daughter and each other.
We may not always get it right, but we do our best. Divorce is hard enough without the ugly connotations it has attached to it.
I grow tired of hearing how we are supposed to act and treat each other. My journey has proven to me that the end of a marriage doesn’t have to be full of contention. Some of the best advice I received was twofold: never act on an impulse, because you will regret it, and always do everything in your power to make your child feel safe and loved.
Sometimes marriages don’t work. It’s not anyone’s fault. Sometimes relationships, and yes, even marriages, run their course. It doesn’t make anyone bad. Does everyone handle it like they should? Most times no. But it’s a hard and stressful situation.
Most people judge without ever having walked in those shoes.
My parents did not know how to handle it. Being married almost 50 years, they tried to advise me using antiquated notions and ideas of divorce. Like all parents, they wanted to help me and advise me. They wanted me to be okay, when I wasn’t. It was hard and uncomfortable for them. They were at a loss and wanted me to cut off my ex.
It was hard for me to understand their anger, but what I learned with them is that when my family changed, so did theirs. My divorce affected not only me, but my family. They too didn’t know how to move forward.
If you know someone going through a divorce or separation, please be supportive. Listen. Don’t try to tell them how they should feel or act. Hold space for them. Because the dust always settles, and all it takes is support to get thought it.
I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful for those who stood by me and trusted my decisions. I am proud of the people who love and support my little family. I am happy that I can say my daughter is surrounded by so much love from her whole giant family.
It takes a village, and I’m proud of those who are in my tribe.