My ex-husband got engaged last month. Suddenly I felt my reaction being watched. Maybe watched isn’t the right word – but paid attention to. I observed that people would mention it with slight hesitation or were inclined perhaps to bring it up in an almost a negative way. Those people in my life who care about me were testing the waters to make sure this news did not hurt, bother, or annoy me.
The truth is it did not. Not in the least. My former spouse and I have kept open lines of communication since our divorce, for the benefit of our daughters. This news was not a surprise to me. He had previously mentioned the possibility because his relationship with his fiancé would have a significant impact on the lives of our children. He knew I had to be involved with this information so I could best support our girls in celebrating this news and answering their questions about what this means for them.
My best friend of 27 years, Genelle, is the person in my life who is most protective of me. She guards me with a fierceness and a love that is unlike any other relationship I have had. If she perceives even the smallest slight in my direction from anyone, it will be a long struggle to soon regain her favor. I love that about her. She is also the person in my life who is familiar with my string of ex’s and loves to remind me of all of their respective faults and why none of them were good enough.
Naturally Genelle was loathe to celebrate news of the engagement. Not because she has bad feelings about my ex, but more because she wants to protect me. She worries that my single state may make this news hard or sad. She fears that I am lonely. She wants to protect me. So when I relayed the news, I knew her concerns would come out.
But as much as Genelle loves me, she also adores my daughters. She is Sophia’s godmother. If needed, she would raise my children as her own without batting an eye. So when she was distressed and questioning my sincere happiness for my former spouse, I said “Do you love my girls?” “Yes,” she replied easily. I explained, “I need their dad to be the happiest and healthiest person I know, because he is their dad. I need him to be successful and loved in his relationship. I need him to be a good model for my daughters.” She finally understood.
I am truly and gratefully happy for my former spouse, because my daughters need a happy father. I know this is a stretch for many people who go through a divorce. In the midst of your own heartache it is so difficult to take the long view. But it is also equally important to pull yourself out and look at the big picture. The alternative to wishing my former spouse well, is to wish him to be unhappy. And in no way would my daughters benefit from unhappy parents. It is why I divorced in the first place.
So as you move through this time of transition and the challenges of your ex moving on are presented to you, I suggest humbly that you find the silver lining. It is there in the benefit your children will have in having a happy parent. And that gives your children their happy even after.
Angela, you are so wise and grounded. As my daughter walks the path of divorce, your reflections help me know how to support her and her children. Thank you for your valuable insight!
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