Picking your battles after divorce keeps life from turning into constant drama.
Anyone who thinks that the moment the judge bangs his gavel is the moment your problems with your ex-spouse are all over is fooling themselves, especially when children are involved.
However, we cannot and should not fight over every single thing. As hard as it will be, we must – absolutely must – pick our battles and choose what we’re going to fight for and what we’re going to let go, otherwise, we will remain entangled not only in court but with the person we are trying to extricate ourselves from and heal up from.
During my five-years as a divorced mom, I came up with three filters to decide what I’m going to fight for regarding my children.
My children’s safety.
When my kids aren’t safe, the Mama Bear in me comes out. If your children are not physically safe in your ex-husband’s care, tell someone.Tell your lawyer or a counselor and find out what steps you need to take to protect them. Unfortunately, even serious things may not be heeded by the court system – depending on your state – so there may be situations where no one will intervene and you will have to come up with creative ways to set boundaries and empower your children to work with the situation at hand.
This one depends on the specific situation and on your financial status. There are things I stopped asking to be reimbursed for ages ago because it just wasn’t worth the emotional fight. But if for instance, your ex-husband stops paying child support altogether, that is something I would absolutely look into rectifying. Keep in mind, sadly, sometimes the court fight will cost you more than what you are owed, so you should always take that into consideration as well.
I used to keep an actual list of all the little wrongdoings of my ex-husband. And although there were many, somewhere along the way, I just stopped.
Morality issues that directly affect my children’s lives and/or hearts.
When my kids have been lied to, and I have found out about it, I have told them the truth. When something has been violated that was an agreed-upon tenant during our marriage, even though my children are older, I have chosen to stand up for what’s right so that my children see me hold to the faith they were raised in. These issues are more of a sticky-wicket because they’re not as cut and dry. But if it’s an issue that you feel is important enough, stand up for your children and for what you believe your conscience and your faith would have you do.
All other things, for the most part, I try my best to let go. I used to keep an actual list of all the little wrongdoings of my ex-husband. And although there were many, somewhere along the way, I just stopped. Because I realized that every time I thought about those things was me basically allowing my ex-husband to rent space in my head for free, and it took up too much emotional energy.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not have this down pat. I was recently in the middle of something (that falls into one of the above categories) and it took up precious time and headspace. I’d give anything for all this to just disappear. But until your kids are eighteen, you must somehow work with what we’ve got. And then after that, though there are graduations and weddings and grandbabies, your children’s relationships with their fathers will be solely up to them.
Until then, live with each other as peacefully as possible, which sometimes simply means keeping your mouth shut. Pray for wisdom and discernment and restraint. Talk it through with a trusted friend or counselor if you need an outside opinion of what’s worth the fight. And punch a pillow or go for a bike ride instead of sending an inappropriate text or email or voicemail. Some fights you’ll regret getting into; but more often than not, you won’t regret letting something go that wasn’t that huge of a deal in the big picture of life.