I was 30 during my first divorce. Now, at 45, I'm heading down the divorce path for a second time. Older? Yes. Wiser? Perhaps.
One of the greatest lessons I learned the first time around the divorce track is that the "til death do us part" clause in your marriage vows is tough to escape...especially when children are involved.
Divorce #1 was textbook and straight out of the Divorce chapter from "The Guide On How To Make Your Life Hell." We filled our opposing teams with high-power attorneys, accountants, mediators, therapists, and even a restraining order to really add interest. The irony? After all the bills were paid, the papers were signed, and the dust settled, it was just the two of us with our daughter left standing to figure out what to do next. I remember being somewhat dumbfounded that I hadn't thought far enough ahead to understand that at the end of the process, we were still parents together and needed to partner to raise our daughter.
Shortly after our divorce was finalized, my ex-husband and I had a cocktail and acknowledged that we had two choices: 1) move forward amicably or 2) move forward with a pledge to torture each other for as long as possible. Knowing that the latter choice would only harm our daughter, we put down our weapons and became friends. Admittedly, it took a few years to build a friendship, as it's hard to trust someone who you knew at one point in your life would have been happy to destroy you, but we made the effort. It took patience to let comments go by without sarcastic remarks. It took understanding to rework visitation so each of us could date. It took humor to stand side-by-side at events and be met with the "I thought they were divorced" stares. In the end, it was the deep love of our daughter that allowed us to find a way to move our fractured family forward.
Thirteen years later, he and I are still divorced but remain together for our daughter. We've shared numerous plays and dance recitals, gymnastics meets, vacations, middle school and high school graduations, and even dinners where it is just the three of us. Thankfully, our new spouses understand and support our decision to be friends.
As I move down the divorce path with my second husband, I recognize the potential road ahead. It could be filled with nastiness, bitterness, and ridiculous legal fees, and I've often said that you don't ever really know a person until you divorce him. Perhaps there is an inevitable part of the divorce process that requires figuring out who is to blame, who's the victim, who didn't want to have sex, or who spent too much money. But, I'd like to think there is a way to fast-forward to the place where the dust is settled and the children can be at the center of creating a new model for being a separate parenting unit that functions together without all of the animosity.
It's difficult to have a marriage end after years of trying, but I know that my second husband and I will have a relationship 'til death do us part. I'm hoping it will be amiable as I've learned there are no loopholes to the clause when kids are involved.
Kristy writes for Mommytracked, The Women's Conference, and Maria Shriver. For more, visit www.kristycampbellcreative.com
Follow Kristy Campbell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kristy_campbell