5 Common Myths About Our Happy Divorce

Having a happy divorce may seem unattainable. How can two people who no longer want to be together continue to exist happily? It’s actually easier than you think, especially when you focus on what’s best for the kids. Shifting the focus to the kids makes it easier to agree and keep things positive. 

A happy divorce isn’t easy, but it’s definitely a possibility when you work together to co-parent your kids. Here are some things to keep in mind while you build a happy divorce. 

Myth: You’ll never fight or have hurt feelings.

It’s common for ex-spouses to argue. Communication is one of the hardest issues to solve in marriage and probably played a big role in your divorce. As you co-parent, issues will come up and your natural response will be to fight for what you think is best for your child. Co-parenting without fighting may seem impossible, especially if it’s hard to communicate with your ex. A few easy tactics can help avoid fights. Try:

  • Changing the topic
  • Sticking to the facts
  • Acknowledging your role
  • Focusing on solutions

Instead of fighting, look for ways to work together as co-parents. By reminding yourself that you have a common goal with your ex — whatever is best for the kids — it’s easier to avoid hurt feelings.

Myth: Happy divorces come from always getting along.

False! In fact, happy divorces can actually be strengthened when you recognize the differences between you and your ex. Take time to consider what your ex does well as a parent and focus on that. Getting along all the time isn’t realistic, but finding positive things to focus on can make collaboration easier. 

Myth: You have to along to have a happy divorce. 

Having a happy divorce isn’t necessarily about getting along, it’s about having a common goal. When you’re co-parenting, this goal is putting the kids first. As long as you can both agree to co-parent and communicate openly about the kids, you don’t have to be friends

When it’s difficult to interact with your ex-spouse, it’s okay to set boundaries. Stick to the way you and your ex best interact with each other, whether it’s by phone, over text or in person. Look for ways to decrease how often you need to interact. Creating a shared family calendar can help, so that you both have access to important dates for the kids. 

Sometimes, not getting along with your ex is a sign that you have some more work to do to change your mindset about divorce. That’s okay! Remember that building a happy divorce doesn’t happen overnight.

“Before we could even sit down together and decide that our son’s happiness was so important to us both that we could work through anything else, I had to take time to reflect.” ~ Ben Heldfond

Myth: Separate is better.

Often, parents think that going their separate ways after divorce is the easiest thing. When kids are involved, the opposite is true. A happy divorce with kids means finding ways to communicate about what’s going on with the children. Things like family meetings, shared calendars and group text messages can be effective at keeping the lines of communication open. 

Myth: You have to agree on all parenting choices. 

Agreeing on the big issues like custody schedules and overall rules and expectations is important for co-parents. But you don’t have to agree on every single parenting choice.  

“There are some rules we disagree on but never really argue about (for example, I’ll let Asher watch movies that Ben considers a little mature), and ones that we do argue about (Ben is stricter than I am about grades), but we have always tried to keep the core, most important rules the same at both houses.” ~ Nikki DeBartolo 

It isn’t always easy to deal with a co-parent who parents differently than you, but setting expectations early on can help. Try to agree with your ex on big parenting topics and especially things that affect how your kids transition between homes, like:

  • Bedtimes and bedtime routines
  • Expectations for behavior
  • Discipline decisions 
  • Supporting punishments 

With a little work, having a happy divorce is possible. It’s still a very unexpected choice, so there aren’t many real-life examples. By keeping the lines of communication open and always thinking about what’s best for the kids, you and your ex can be that example.  

“We are ordinary people who have accomplished something extraordinary.” ~ Nikki DeBartolo and Ben Heldfond

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