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Time to Talk
Part 1: A Co-Parenting Conversation Series

I can’t remember ever having felt nervous with my former spouse.  Maybe twenty years ago when we met on April 1, 1999.  For my last year of law school, my sister and I moved into a quaint duplex near the state capitol.  He was the boy next door.  Little did I know then that we would be married, have children, and be divorced inside the span of two decades.

This day I was nervous.  I arrived at the café early hoping to tame the knots twisting around in my stomach.  Eric and I had not sat down together to talk since before April 1, 2011 – the day our divorce was filed. 

Our communication, up until now, had been primarily texts, emails, and brief pleasantries exchanged at our daughters’ events.  This day, we were meeting to discuss some co-parenting issues that remained unresolved after weeks.

We had reached an impasse.  Intention and meaning were getting lost on the (stark, unemotional, unfeeling) keyboard and emojis don’t quite do the trick when you are texting your ex-spouse… ?. I knew we just needed to sit down together and talk.  He agreed.

He arrived.  My vulnerability came spilling out before he had even taken off his coat.  “Look, I don’t care about the exact outcome we reach today, I just most want us to get back on the same page, because I don’t like how this situation has been making me feel.”

He softened.  The remarkable thing about being married then divorced, is that you can’t ever “un-know” the person to whom you had been married – the mannerisms, the nuances of a look, the tone of voice.  It all comes back in a second.

We began our conversation that was inevitably uncomfortable.  Both worried that this was going to cause a rift in our otherwise normal co-parenting relationship.  Both worried about meeting the needs of our daughters in the best way possible.  Both worried that we may not be heard and worse, misunderstood.

After an hour, I was back in my car. Tears streamed down my face. In relief, I called my mom. “Mom, it went so well! I am so glad we did this.” The details of what we needed to discuss are not important. What is, is how and why this worked.  What did we do right?

In the coming weeks in this co-parenting conversation series, I will be looking at how this single conversation led to a big co-parenting win and why.

Angela Dunne

What have been some of your co-parenting wins?  And why?