12/03/2013 04:19 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2014

Advice From a 'Broken' Family During the Holidays

The holidays can be hard for people from "broken" families. Our family is facing a happy holiday season, living proof that broken doesn't always mean defective.

Our family was broken. But as we've put the pieces back together, we've created something better. Our family is improved because my ex-husband and I realize two things:

1) There is enough love to go around. Love is infinite.

2) We are still a family. My ex might not be my legal partner but he is still part of my family.

When we physically separate from another person, the relationship is not over. In her book Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says: "Relationships are eternal. The 'separation' is another chapter in the relationship. Often, letting go of the old form of the relationship becomes a lesson in pure love much deeper than any would have learned had the couple stayed together."

Divorce might change the shape of the family, but when you and a former spouse share children, you are tied together for the rest of your lives.

Before the divorce, my family was a like blanket that kept my children warm with its love. After the divorce, my family resembles a quilt.

But a blanket and a quilt still serve the same purpose.

A quilt is defined as a thick bed covering made of patches. Our "broken" family is made up of patches from my family, my ex-husband's family, extended family and dear friends.

Our quilt is messy. There are parts of it that are frayed. But it keeps our family warm and it works. The quilt that is the broken family unit involves more juggling, patience and understanding than before the divorce. Holidays can be more complicated but if you keep your heart open, the results can be wonderful.


After our ongoing unhappy marriage, my ex and I consciously choose to create a child-centered divorce that provided a much better option and outcome for everyone in the family.

My ex is dating an amazing woman -- if I got to choose a woman to be around my children, I would choose her. We are having a birthday party next week -- the kids plus my ex-husband, his significant other, my fiance and myself.

Being part of a broken family is harder at times. You have to share more and it can be lonely. But broken isn't always bad, and if you have the right mindset, it can be better.

I am not saying that the post-divorce process has been easy. There are things that both my ex and I wish we could do over if we had the chance.

Seeing the good in someone who hurt you (and you hurt) is very hard. We stumble. We fall. But we move on together because families are like that.

Every ending is a new beginning. Through grace, we can always start again. As the family grows, the love expands to fit all the people in our lives. It's a choice that must be made. I think Marianne Williamson says it best: "We can always choose to perceive things differently. You can focus on what's wrong in your life, or you can focus on what's right."


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