…an ex- who doesn’t communicate?
…an ex- who doesn’t share your morals?
…a controlling abuser?
You don’t. You can’t.
I have a friend whose ex-husband feels compelled to text her with the ways she’s making their children’s lives miserable. I have another friend whose ex-wife doesn’t do what she’s supposed to do in their parenting agreement on a regular basis. She doesn’t pay her share of co-pays and kids’ activities, she drops the kids off early and cancels and doesn’t do her part of driving them even when it’s her parenting time.
Again, I proclaim that divorce day does not end all the problems. Co-parenting with someone that you do not get along with can be one of the most maddening situations that follows divorce.
I was recently struggling with an issue of my own, and all the ways I wanted to (immaturely) handle it, and I had this one thought:
We can’t change our exes.
So, instead of giving you a list of tips on how to deal with specific situations, like when your child gets blown off at the last minute (horrible) or when the check doesn’t come in (awful) or when you get a super-long and inappropriate text from someone you are not married to anymore (sad), I’ve just got one thought for you (and me) today and it’s this:
We are responsible only for ourselves. We need only keep our side of the street clean. We need only be the best parent we can be.
Is it a shame that our children are getting the shaft in the parents’ department? Yes, of course. (And I put us in that category because post-divorce, we’re struggling too.)
But, really, is there anything you can say or do that will magically make your ex-spouse stop doing what he is doing or start doing what she should be doing? No.
So in that moment of absolute frustration and yet another disappointment, we take some deep breaths. We vent to a friend all we want to say to our ex- (but we don’t say it). We do the next right thing by our kids. And we give the situation to God, begging him to intervene on our children’s behalf, to soften hearts, to bring healing, to calm us down.
I know: it sucks. Nothing can work me up more than something regarding my kids and their physical, spiritual and emotional well-being being shoved to the backburner.
But I have to remember that I’m human too. That God’s got them. That hearts can be softened when we pray. And that God will set everything right eventually because love always, always wins.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. –Exodus 14:14
If this post resonated with you, you’d benefit from “Moving On a Christian Single Mom” found here or “Calm in My Chaos” found here.
Great blog post Elisabeth!!! I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even ask the ex for help w/ conflicting schedule driving help. He either never responds or has some lame excuse & then we pass him on the road near the destination I needed help getting someone too. The kids see it & it hurts them not me (well, it hurts me that they’re hurting), but he doesn’t & may never get it. Anyway, I decided at the beginning of the school year it just wasn’t worth my time, energy, or effort anymore to only wind up frustrated & irritated b/c the ex can’t be the parent our kids need. Yes, it’s crazy & we’re eating out more, but at least we’re all together & the down time together is all that more special.
He left me for a crazy lady. Seriously. A woman who had already been divorced three times already and eventually physically abused him. So now they are divorced, too, and you would think he would realize how good he had it with me, but he still rips me apart for everything. Accuses me of being vindictive if I don’t give him his way. And I always have to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “You could have a much more vindictive ex than me. Oh wait. You do.”
Perfect timing for me to be reading this! Thank you so very much for sharing your thoughts & what the Lord puts on your heart. You do not know how helpful this was to read. Thank you.
This is such a good reminder. I’ve recently had some situations that could have driven me straight to the crazy making. Instead I have chosen to step back and remind myself that he didn’t change when we were married and he is surely not changing now so don’t have any expectations. Like you said, when we are busy about focusing on our side of the street we have so much more time to work on ourselves and be a much better parent.
Now all that said, I am not saying we need to let them bulldoze over us, as I once did. But, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I don’t say it in an ugly manner. I keep it factual and if I’m feeling myself get emotional that’s where I vent to a friend or sister. I try and always say what I’m saying in a way that if my children heard me or saw a certain communication it would not be upsetting to them. It does suck for our children and gosh darnit, we sometimes just need to suck it up for our children. It’s hard enough not seeing us married anymore.
Awesome! I remember sitting there looking at my Child and Family Investigator and Judge (both of whom were women), telling me at my divorce that week on, week off with my ex and joint decision making were “best for the children.” I thought they were nuts then, and still do. You are right. This is impossible, especially with an abuser, who cares not one whit about his kids, and certainly nothing about you, the ex wife. I had to muddle through it the best I could, and so did my kids. With the grace of God, they all turned into amazing adults. Thanks Jesus!
Needed that today! Thank you