First, let me start by stating that this is not a letter to my ex-husband. It isn’t a bash and thrash of ex-husbands either. Ex-husbands come in all shapes and sizes and have all sorts of attitudes and mentalities. But they all have something in common.
I address this to those who recognize themselves and who know they can do better and who want to do better. We all can do better and we all should want to.
Dear ex-husbands and fathers to our children,
Please remember that kindness is the mark we leave on the world.
Why is it when we broke up that there was no kindness or manners to be found all of a sudden? I realize that happy couples don’t get divorced. And there are a million reasons why divorces occur. After all, I do understand that 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. But did you know that over 80% of American kids in single-parent households live with their mothers only?
So why all the anger then. We have had the weight of the world placed upon our shoulders. We will do the right thing for our kids and always will. A please and a thank you from you wouldn’t go a miss.
If you have a Heart then please assume we do too. We have these great kids you see. We tell our children to be kind to one another and to be thoughtful to our friends and family. But for some reason, we have been unable to show any kindness towards each other since our divorce. Our kids deserve to see what kindness between parents looks like even when they don’t live together. Especially since they don’t live together.
Our children absorb so much of their mom’s stress needlessly. They see the imbalance of responsibilities and take on the task of trying to fill voids while not feeling scared at the same time. Let’s change that and just be nice to each other. It’s never too late to start.
Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. Dalai Lama
This brings me to strength. I know our divorce attorneys wanted to keep the fight going as long as possible in order to keep the billable hours on the cash registers ringing. If kindness was shown by either one of us we were led to believe that we were looking weak to the other party. You know…giving in and caving! But I was raised that showing kindness was actually showing strength. It’s not easy to be kind to someone who hurt you. I have thought hard about this. And I wouldn’t even be concerned, let alone typing that if we didn’t have children.
But we do. You are not weak by showing kindness to the mother of your children. Nor am I weak by showing kindness to the father of my children. How amazing would we all feel if we had just set aside the ugliness and shown our true strengths by our kindness? How wonderful would that have been for our children to see? So many valuable lessons could be taken into their adult lives from that example.
Forgiveness. I have said this word many times and tried hard to actually forgive. But it’s not you, I am concerned about forgiving. It’s me. I have finally forgiven myself for whatever it was that I did to contribute to the demise of our marriage. I have forgiven myself for even thinking I need to forgive myself. Even though we thought it was a forever marriage when we took our vows, we both know things happen and people change. I don’t blame you anymore for leaving us.
You are the architect of your own life and responsible for your own decisions. I now think it is you who may need to forgive yourself. And if you want my forgiveness all you have to do is ask.
We all deserve to have joy in our lives. But when you left the joy didn’t evaporate because of some kind of grief with your absence. Though it didn’t help that you chose to live far away. My joy was lost because I was so tired all the time. I was working a full-time career and raising our kids on a daily basis. I had no time to stop and sit in my thoughts.
There was no time to recalibrate and reset. I had no time to fill my lungs with any deep breaths. I ran at a fast pace and my breathing followed in short and rapid successions. And I had many sleepless nights wondering how I was going to continue at this pace. On the weekends that you had the kids, I had to catch up on grocery shopping, laundry, and errands and rarely found the time for any real social support and outlets. Why was my joy the price to pay for yours?
Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.
I am now living in a space where I accept that you fell in love with another woman. I get it. You just weren’t that into me anymore and you found someone else. I lost my value. Would I have preferred you to divorce me before we had kids? Of course. But you decided you couldn’t stay any longer after we made this family. I now see that you had a different definition of family than I had.
I am able to recognize now how different we must have been since having an affair never ever crossed my mind. Even when I was unhappy being married to you. I guess I always had hope that things would get better. I now see that was never a possibility because you were already emotionally gone before your physical departure.
But what I would ask you now is that though you find yourself with a new family, you try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. You try on mine and your children’s shoes. You try to understand how your actions made us feel. You achieved what you set out to do. So now is the time for your gratitude and maturity. Many people sacrificed so that you and she could be together. There is no longer any need to keep the spotlight on yourself. You have been in that place for a long time now. Be happy. Be content. And let those who did sacrifice recover.
What did you learn from your parents? What will our children learn from us? What good things did our families instill in us that can be held onto? How do we make sure that our children know that even though we divorced, they still matter? In fact, they don’t just matter; they are paramount. How do we show them just how important they are. How do we love our children so much that we chose to work together to be the best-divorced family possible? What values can we bring to this new version of a family table that can withstand a split?
It all starts with acceptance. It starts with maturity. It starts with forever changing the love we once had for each other to the overwhelming love and respect we have for our children. And as I said before, it’s never too late.
The ex-wife and mother to your children