I think the title says it all. I was reading a new blog called Best Divorce Ever, Happily Ever Divorced. It’s a newish blog with only two posts. I think it may no longer be active.
The author is one of those that believes divorce doesn’t have to be an awful thing. That’s fine. I can get behind that in certain cases. You both decide the marriage isn’t working. There are no lies, no deception, no financial shenanigans. She advocates for “divorcing well”, which sounds all well and good, but I don’t think most people divorce well. It hurts like a bitch even when you haven’t been cheated on and discarded, and when you put that dynamic into play it gets even worse.
We have the obligatory “let’s look at this as a restructuring of the family, an extended family”, to which I pretty much always say, “Let’s not.”
Seriously, I think part of the problem is everyone wants to wrap divorce up in a neat and tidy little bow. It’s not tearing a family apart; it’s creating a larger family with more people to love the children! You haven’t lost a partner; you’re developing a different kind of love, a more mature love rooted in your past which grows stronger with cooperation. Seriously?
No, divorce ends a family. Period. Mommy and Daddy may go on to find new life partners and have more babies with the new and improved version of a spouse, but those kids are now straddling two different families. In probably 99% of the situations they aren’t going to celebrate Christmas or go on vacations with both of their parents and all of their siblings. It will be a constant round of spending part of their time with one family and part of it with another. No matter how well the parents get along it will never change the fact that they now have two homes- or one home, and one place they visit.
That’s assuming that everything goes splendidly- the kids like both of the new spouses, there is no favoritism towards the kids that live full-time with the parents and no biases towards the stepkids, all pre-existing kids get along, all the adults get along and agree on everything. What are the chances of that happening? It’s hard enough to get the two adults that created these kids to agree on everything and now we’re believing that FOUR adults are all going to come to a consensus? And that none of the kids are going to get shafted!
Holidays? That ought to be fun. If you thought trying to make it to each other’s parents’ homes while still carving out time for your family was a Herculean effort, now try adding two more families to the mix. I’m sure that all of them will be super understanding about having to rearrange holidays plans to accommodate your new spouse’s ex-husband’s schedule.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, or that certain accommodations couldn’t be made if all were willing. I am saying that it’s not as easy as most people who spout this kind of crap make it out to be. If you’ve ever tried to plan an extended family vacation you know how difficult it is to coordinate schedules of many busy adults. Those are people that you hopefully like and want to spend time with. Now imagine trying to do that when you don’t know half of the players. Plus, how do you ever come up with your own family traditions if you are so busy trying to include everyone you’ve ever known?
Being married should mean that you have each other’s backs. It’s being a family and working for the greater good of the family. You don’t have that when you divorce. Your allegiance is now to the new spouse. If we’re being honest, for most non-custodial parents the allegiance is also to the children living full-time with him or her.
You can’t have your ex-spouse’s back when you’re married to someone else. How would that impact your marriage if you and your ex were in agreement together while your current spouse was the odd man out?
I’ll go one further. I don’t think most people want to spend a great deal of time with the current partner’s ex. I know I have no desire to spend holidays with the mobster’s ex. I do not want to vacation with her. I do not even want to double date. I want to do those things even less with my own ex and Harley.
I will once again go on the record as to say that I am not discouraging people to work with their ex if they already have an amicable situation. I don’t encourage it if your ex is a selfish asshole but that’s a whole other post. I’m not knocking people who have a cordial or even great relationship post divorce. I’m not discouraging cooperation or both parents showing up. I will say, and in fact have said, that your ex is probably not the best person to include in your support system.
I think what it all comes down to is that this is something that sounds very nice in theory, but it rarely works out that way in reality.
I know what you must be thinking. “Why not, Sam?” I know; it sounds so pessimistic and uncharitable. Let me hit you with some truths.
First, it’s not uncommon for one parent to move, especially if they are non-custodial, once they remarry. I’m not talking about once the kids are out of high school, off to college, off living their own lives. No, I’m talking still in school. Young. Need rides to school. Need rides everywhere. Need help with homework. Need constant supervision. It doesn’t matter. Love has spoken and they must heed its siren’s call. Off they go. Sometimes it’s only across town. Sometimes it’s only an hour or two. Other times it’s 4-6 hours, or clear across the country.
Second, it’s not uncommon for the new partner to put the kibosh on him helping you out. That was something that used to be discussed quite regularly on the other board I read. If a man is caught between two women who want competing things he’s almost always going to choose to piss off the woman he is not sleeping with. So, if you used to be able to depend upon the ex to pick up Sabrina if you were running late at work, or take her to the doctor’s if you couldn’t get away from work, and now the ex has remarried you might find yourself in a pickle. Imagine he’s married a woman who has two kids of her own, and he is a devoted stepfather to them, and they also go on to have a baby together. What do you think the chances are that he will still be willing to drop plans or rearrange things so that he can help you out? His first priority is going to be his wife’s children and their shared child. If she starts throwing her weight around and declaring that you use him as a built in babysitter whenever you’re too lazy to make other arrangements, chances are he’s not going to defend you and tell her he wants the extra time. He’s sleeping with her; he does not want to piss her off. He’s no longer sleeping with you; he does not care if you are pissed off.
Along those same lines: If you truly think you’re best buds and will always have each other’s backs, because, hey, we’re family- forever- just in a different form… then try calling him when you’ve run out of gas and are stranded on the side of the road, or at 2 in the morning when the furnace goes out and you and your kids are freezing. Give it a shot and see if he’s willing to leave the new, naked woman in his bed to go fix your furnace, or leave his new partner and kids who are eating dinner to pick up you and your kids. Again, chances are very good that even if he might be willing to do it for his kids, the new partner is not going to be happy with him running out and helping you. And when it comes to choosing who to upset- you or her- he will choose to upset you more times than not.
I guess you are a different kind of family, an extended family, only during daylight hours and only if his new schedule allows for it. That’s some kind of family.