You know I love a good ‘guest post’ and this week’s is one of my favourites. The Author, Geoff, got in touch with me a few weeks ago in amongst the debate over the notion of ‘being friends’ after divorce. Now I don’t want to reignite the debate (it was a strong one!) and please remember that I am not saying everyone can or needs to be friends, but for many of the families I work with it is something to strive for. And so this week, Geoff shares his experience of what he aptly titled his ‘Undivorce’.
It’s nearly nine years since I separated and subsequently divorced. It all happened pretty quickly but to our credit (me and my ex-wife that is) we did it well. The marriage had reached it conclusion. We agreed it was over and we were both ready to move on. I am sure that helped.
We have two kids; they were 2 ½ and 4 at the time. We drafted the consent orders within weeks. I had seen a friend go through a similar event but they didn’t get around to formalising the agreement. The circumstances changes eight months later and then it got messy. So I was keen to get in writing quickly and formally.
We had help from a family lawyer to draft the wording of the consent orders so the Court would approve them. But the details of the agreement was done between the two of us. There was some give and take but at the end of the day we were able to walk away without the intensity of bitter legal battles – nor the costs. We agreed we didn’t want to give our money to lawyers (- with all due respect Clarissa!)
We are now Facebook friends (it did take me a while to accept that request though) and generally get on well. Our guiding philosophy throughout all this is, to focus on doing what is in the kids best interests. By simply focusing on that, the pettiness of our other stuff falls away.
I have coped quite well over the single parent period. I love being a Dad and have been proactive and involved as I have always wanted to be. Of course there are challenges when you are on your own, but having the kids 50% has been great for me and I think for the kids as well.
My life recently got a lot better. After various relationships that were not meant to be I finally met my life partner. She has three kids around the same age as mine. After 18 months of being together we have now blended our lives.
If someone I knew was suggesting such a thing I’d probably express caution, however this relationship is a rare thing. Normally a few months after going out with someone I start to notice those things I initially chose to ignore. With Kellie it just keeps getting better.
It’s made me realize that the reason the other relationships didn’t work was because they simply weren’t meant to be. They were not the right match.
We have a Brady Bunch lifestyle – as everyone tells me when I explain our situation. Fortunately Kellie has a healthy relationship with her ex and understands how it is possible fore me as well. Sadly I have had some girlfriends who struggle with the concept of a civil relationship with an ex. In fact Kellie and my ex are now friends – weird right!
Now we have all our kids for a week and then we have the house to ourselves for a week. It’s the best of both worlds.
But what I have realized is I now have a partner to support me in so many ways. I ask her to keep me accountable with what I say to the kids and because we have both been single parents we are used to doing our fair share of the cooking and cleaning. So we are both grateful when the other helps.
We have someone there to help with shopping, the sport on the weekends, the discussions about behaviour and problems at school.
I tell people I have ‘undivorced’. We have both been married and are not rushing down that aisle in a hurry, but we are committed to each other and our new life.
My advice to anyone who is there right now…
When I separated I didn’t know what was ahead. At the time it was just one step at a time. I was looking forward to a happier life and the clouds lifted over time. Now I feel like I have the life that I was destined for. I am madly in love and consider myself extremely blessed. I am grateful every day.
If you are experiencing divorce or separation and don’t know where to start, Clarissa’s book, ‘Splitsville- How to separate, stay out of Court and stay friends’ will keep you on the right path. Available in bookstores now or Order your copy here.
If you are looking to better understand the legal process during separation and divorce, come and join my next Family Law Information Session here in Brisbane. They are held monthly, but if you can’t attend in person, don’t worry you can listen to my online session. Learn more here.