What should we have done differently in our divorce?

high road / low roadI’m really saddened to learn that a good friend of mine is poised to go through a very similar journey that I’ve been on for the last few years and that — more importantly — my children have been on, a journey that started with all too much tension and too little effective, honest and humble communication, detoured through lawyers and endless arguments at $250/hr, and ended up with a contentious divorce. Years later it’s still not easy, even as new partners have come onto the scene and we’ve both tried to get on with our lives.

For my friend, the prospect of divorce sucks. It always sucks. But what ties him up in knots is what’s going to happen to his children. They’re already very aware of what’s going on and the dynamic between their parents. Heck, the parents are sleeping in different rooms (which the kids figure out, even if you go to sleep after they do and wake up before they do. They just… know) and the children are trying to figure out what’s happening and what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week, and three months down the road.

Scary stuff.

Out of curiosity, I asked my 11yo son G- about his experience with our divorce. I mean, we’re 3 1/2 years post-legal document being signed and filed with the court, so you’d think the dust would have settled, right?

Me: “So what’s the one thing you wish your mom and I had done differently during and after the divorce?”

Him, without a pause: “Not used us as messengers.”

Me: “Yeah, that has to have been difficult. Are we better at it now, at least?”

Him: “Somewhat. I guess.”

Me: “Well, sorry for that. Call me on it if I do it again, will ya? We have our own communication channels, like email, you guys shouldn’t be involved in any communication between us.”

Him: “Tell me about it.”

And there ya go, out of the mouths of veritable babes, the truth of what is, rather than what I’d like to believe about how we stayed on the high road and didn’t involve the kids in our squabbles and arguments in the last few years as each of us hoped for the dust to settle.

Yeah, right.

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