Opinion

How to be good friends after divorce

Yes it is possible to be good friends after divorce. Here’s how:

You would think I would know better by now. This is the kind of piece you write, and the moment you make it live, you have the biggest ever falling out with your ex you possibly can, making the entire piece redundant, your life hell, and your credibility falls to zero. Fingers and toes crossed that doesn’t happen to me today.

People are asking me a lot of personal questions lately, and the most common one after “how do you have such a great life” (you can click here to read my response to that one), is “How do you manage to travel a lot, work and be a mum.”

Well the answer is simply in having a positive relationship with the twin’s dad, my ex-husband. Without that, everything would change. And this might sound super cheesy, but the first step was having a positive relationship with myself. And it didn’t happen overnight.

They say the greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return, well I would argue the greatest thing you will ever learn after that, specifically, is building a NEW and re-invented relationship with your ex. And with the divorce statistics climbing, its becoming something more and more of us are facing and need help with.

The more we can all talk about the challenges, the more we help each other move forwards.

If I put it into point form it might be easier to explain.

How to have a positive relationship with your ex:

Set yourself free – you are in charge of your own destiny.

Time: It takes time, a lot longer than you think. And you can’t put a time on it, as it is different for everyone. One thing that is clear, is the quicker you reach a financial settlement, actually do the paper work and get divorced and divide up your “stuff”, the quicker you can start the process.

Forgiveness: I know, I know everybody says it, but the truth is you first must forgive yourself and them, for whatever – whether you left, cheated, didn’t work hard enough on the relationship, had a crap childhood, – whatever, LET IT GO. It is in the past and you and them have lots of other positive points as an individual, so focus on them now, like, right now.

You are not perfect: Recognise YOU contributed to the breakdown: Most people find this one hard to swallow. But unless you truly evaluate your own role in the relationship, and its demise, how can you expect to go forward into a healthy, full relationship in the future?

Even if your partner cheated on you multiple times, or left to become a monk, or they’re gay, why and how did that happen? Were you inattentive? Did you ignore their narcissistic/bi-sexual/frustrated characteristics for years? Did you ignore your suspicions for years? Did you quash your own needs or desires? If so, why? Do you need to work on your own sense of self and self esteem? The objective is to know yourself better, love yourself better and be better prepared next time.

It’s NOT the end of the world: Realise yours was just another break up. I don’t mean that the relationship was meaningless, I mean see it realistically. It is not the end of the world, it is not the first break-up in the world, and I hate to break it to you, but it probably wont be your last break-up either. See it for what it is, another chapter of life. If we are lucky, we live, say 8 decades, and this is a blip in just one of yours, not your whole, entire life. It will pass, you will grow, you will move on.

Create new dreams & work on yourself: One of the greatest things about a major life event, even a negative one is the opportunity to re-invent. I turned to triathlon, a sport I absolutely loved, and managed to make it all the way to Chicago in my age group to compete for Australia. You see, dreams can still come true, and you can now make new, selfish dreams. It’s never too late, you are never too old, too poor, or too anything. Just go and just do, step by step.

It’s ok to be alone: Once you realise this, everything changes. After a break-up, you probably haven’t spent time alone for a very long time, but you should. Get to know what you really like about life, discover who you really are, make new friends, join new sporting or social groups,  sleep in, cook or don’t cook, let your house get messy if you want. Find out who you are.

Stop thinking about what they’re doing; One of the single most toxic behaviours I am seeing a lot of is social media stalking. There is no value in looking at your ex’s instagram or Facebook. or anything else. Let go. Who cares if they are partying, with a new partner, spending money they don’t have or anything else. It is none of your business, and why would you want to know anyway? It’s over.

Don’t interfere with their time with your kids ( if you have them): Accept you cannot control the situation when your kids are with your ex. You lose a lot of things when you end a long term relationship, it is a fact. One thing you lose is the right to dictate what your ex does with your kids. As long as they are safe and cared for, he or she has every right to introduce them to a new partner, take them on holidays, dress them in a different way,feed them new foods,  – anything. Let go. You can do what you want with them when they are with you.

Move on: I see too many people out there who don’t really move on. Largely men (sorry guys). They still stay at their ex’s house sometimes for example, they don’t bother actually getting divorced, they jump into bed at times, or they share personal stuff. This ultimately doesn’t work, because it PREVENTS BOTH PARTIES LETTING GO. If you have kids, it does not help them either. Let go, move on, give their stuff back and buy new stuff for yourself.

No Bad Mouthing: That’s what therapists are for. Whether it is in front of the kids or your mates, guess what? No-one wants to hear it and no-one actually wants to know. Really. After the gossip of “OMG did you know they have broken up”, people find something and someone new to talk about very quickly.

Everything in life is a process and this is one too. Our minds are so powerful, you have the opportunity to now be whoever you want to be. So step forwards, and just do it.

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