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Navigating rough waters (350x263)Divorce emotions are tricky.   Beginning a blended family is hard.  Meeting and building relationships with ex-spouses is always navigating rough water.

There may be relief in not sharing your life with your ex-spouse, but it is impossible to lose the memory that you had a wedding, planned a life together, had children together. Those are intimate moments that are embedded in your heart and not easy to let go of.   Once the sting of the divorce process has had time to fade away, good memories start to come back.   One of the nastiest celebrity divorces that I remember was between Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson.  I just read that they are both “scaling back their possessions” and auctioning off the gifts and “stuff” they had acquired together.   Not only are they losing the possessions but they are losing the anger —

 “You just need a break after [a split],” Anderson said. “If it’s a messy divorce, then you need a break and you go back and you go, ‘Well there wasn’t 12 terrible years.  There was just that end.’ So you go back and start thinking, ‘Oh, I remember that! Oh, we laughed so hard! Oh, that was so fun!'”

They were having dinner together with their son — good for them.

It is not easy to meet the ex-spouse of your partner.  They once felt about each other the way you do now.  They have a sparkle in their eye like no one else when they talk about their kids.  They share pieces of their past that make you feel insecure.  Maybe they have not let go of their feelings for each other?  Will the school play suddenly spark their love again?  A blended family is tough and filled with raw emotion — will they decide this is just too hard and long for the easiness of the first marriage?

I had all of those feelings when I saw my now husband together with his ex-wife.  I must confess that it took a while for me to introduce my ex-husband to my now husband as well.   When you meet another love (both your own and your ex-spouse’s) it seals the death of your own first marriage relationship.

I believe the most disappointing thoughts after a divorce are the feelings of failure, guilt, hurt and shame as well as blaming the other spouse for letting you down.   If those feelings have not been resolved within yourself, the thought of your ex-spouse moving on with someone else is excruciating to watch.   You see positive actions in your ex-spouse that you did not see during your own relationship.  You see them having new and fun experiences with someone else.  You start to feel little tinges of jealousy and thoughts come into your head like “why wasn’t it that way with us?”   It takes time to resolve those feelings and usually you are doing it without the benefit of talking to your ex-spouse about how you feel.  You suffer in silence and deal with that sick feeling that can overtake your day.  You find yourself imagining “what if” and second guessing some of the decisions that you made.  You watch another person spend time with your kids when you are not there.   These are the thoughts and feelings that no one explains during the court process.  Splitting the assets and debts was easier than erasing the time you spent together building a life.

I made mistakes by not taking the time I needed to heal from not only the scars of my own divorce but the divorce of my parents.  I wanted a quick resolution to feeling better and decided that a new relationship would make things right.  I was not whole and had never taken responsibility for my own actions.  I could explain rationally why others were contributing to my unhappiness.   This was not a good time for me to meet my now husband’s ex-wife and feel confident.  It was a very tough first meeting.  It was random and not planned.  I was smiling and laughing on the outside and petrified on the inside.  She was the standard that I had to live up to, she was the person he chose to marry.  My ex-husband was working with me so well in our shared parenting — us being able to have our two kids spend time with their own parents was so much easier than trying to blend three kids together in a weekend home that no one felt comfortable in.  Our blended family begins . . .

NEXT UP — LEARNING TO TALK ABOUT THOSE FIRST MARRIAGES WITH EACH OTHER

 

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