Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Must X = A?

I’m going to apologize ahead of time that this post may be a little rambly and brief, but it’s late, I just watched a really bizarre movie and I’m brownie-drunk (it’s possible, believe me). Still, I’ve had this thought running around in my head all day, and I have an irresistable need to share it with you. You’re like my collective therapist, only I don’t pay you. Sorry. I’m cheap like that.
The thing is, I have several friends who are in various states of de-marriage-ation. That’s just the technical term, of course. The common term is divorce. Oh, you’ve heard of it? Yes, sadly common. For those few of you who have followed my rants for a while, you’re aware that I am divorced. So this is somewhat familiar territory for me.
So that being said, here is my question: Why is it that when people get divorced, so many feel compelled to become enemies? In other words, why must Ex = A(nimosity)? Seriously, people, what is that all about?
Of my friends who have gone through divorces within the past five years, some have been cheated on, while others have been the unfaithful ones. Some ended long marriages where the connection just wasn’t there any longer, and others ended brief, passionate-but-unsustainable marriages. In some cases kids were involved – from very young children to adults with their own families. Some divorces were one-sided and others were mutual. But no matter the scenario, no matter the guilt or innocence of the individual, about 95% of them have one thing in common: extreme bitterness and vitriol.
Now, if you don’t have kids (of any age… adults are still kids where their parents are concerned), be as angry and snitty as you want. Have at it. Snipe and wine and flail and entirely destroy your dignity for all anyone cares. But when kids are in the mix, honestly, unless abuse of some kind was going on, I just don’t get allowing or even encouraging the situation to degenerate so horribly! Why do people do this?
And I’m not even talking about the awfulness where people use their kids as weapons against each other. Like talking negatively about your ex in front of the kids. Or fighting for custody when you didn’t even really help co-parent when you were married. Or sending a kitten “home” with your kid to the other parent’s house… the parent who is allergic to cats.
No, I’m just talking about maintaining a basic level of civility and respect, even if you can’t feel any vague level of friendship toward your ex. Even if you look at your ex and think, “I know I dug you enough at some point to say I DO and even to bear your child, but for the life of me I can’t fathom what I was thinking. I must have been on drugs.”
Not possible, you say? You wager there’s too much pain in divorce, particularly when you throw kids into the mix? Okay, I take your bet and raise you three sets of parents. What do I mean? Well… my Mom and Dad divorced when I was 2 years old. By the time I was 8, I had a Stepdad and a Stepmom as well. And you know what? All four of these parental types get along. And I don’t mean that they tolerate each other’s presence. I mean that they check in on each other. I mean that they really enjoy spending time together. I mean that at both of my weddings, my Mom and Stepmom spent time chatting like long-time girlfriends while my Dad and Stepdad went off to smoke cigars. It seriously freaks out my friends whose divorced parents can’t stand to be in the same building as one another.
My Dad, me, my Stepdad and my Mom
My husband, my Stepmom and one of my 4 (yes 4) sisters.
But that’s only two sets of parents. The third set is my in-laws. They divorced a couple of years ago after a very long marriage. It doesn’t matter for the sake of this ramble why. What matters is that they remain very close. My Father-in-law visits my Mother-in-law often (they live in different states now). They look after each other, even though they are no longer bound to each other by law.
As for me, my Ex and I spent some time not talking after we split up, but we never descended into cruelty during that raw new period during and right after the divorce.  These days we’re Facebook friends. Yes, like, OMG, I know how totally juvenile that sounds, but we live on opposite coasts so IMHO being regular coffee buddies would be a bit challenging. SMH. Are you LOL'ing? Me neither. The point is that we check in on each other here and there to make sure all is well. We can still be not only civil but caring. It’s possible, people. Ex can = F(riend).
So anyway, I guess I’m just saying that I wish more people could realize that divorces don’t have to include spite and fury or trying anything to win or to maim the other person. I mean, it’s a tough situation that’s still going to hurt like hell even if you get the house and the dog and the bank account and custody. Your heart’s still going to feel broken. And if you did bad stuff that led to the divorce, you’re still going to have to figure out how to look yourself in the eye while you’re brushing your teeth.

Am I crazy? Should I petition to rename myself Pollyanna? It doesn’t matter, I guess. I’m going to go have some more brownies and milk, then it's off to bed. Have a fab weekend! Thanks for listening. Don't send me a bill.


  1. In an ideal world, everybody WOULD get along, but unfortunately your situation is very unusual - although I do know another family whose inlaws, outlaws and exes all gather for holidays and important events and get along just swimmingly. Unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards for me, because at least TWO mature adults are required... more if you count grandparents, adult siblings, etc...

  2. Hey Pam... I'm really sorry that your situation was what should NOT be the norm but is. You're right that getting along requires both parties to be mature. Why do some people so readily devolve when they're hurt? (Devolve isn't the right word, but...)Oy vey.

  3. People have lost the filter of appropriate behavior. Like your crazy food eating airplane buddy, or the ones who just let it all fly with a random CSR or retail person. Friendship is optional. Civil behavior shouldn't be.

  4. Well said, Sylvia. Well said.

  5. Hey Megan. I really do hope that if I am ever in that kind of situation, we can be the same way. I know that if it gets bad enough to get to that point, there would be a lot of hard feelings. But like you said, you did love each other at one time. We actually have some friends who were divorced and raised their kids together. One would have them one week. The other the next. They hardly ever disagreed but they just couldn’t live together. Hubby and I have both said that if (heaven forbid) something were to happen between us, we would hope we could be like that. Of course, neither had spouses that got in the way until after the boys were older. We have other friends who got along with their ex’s until they got remarried. Then it was usually the new wife that made life a living hell.

    Glad you ranted. It’s good to get that off your chest every once in a while.


  6. Your comment about the new wives is interesting, Tami. I've noticed the same thing with many of my friends' subsequent marriages. It's been disturbing me, and if somehow I'm ever in that situation, I hope to have the wherewithall not to behave like that.

    Great story about your friends who raised their kids together. We need more people in the world like them.


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