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Solo Parenting: THE TIME MACHINE YOU NEED

by: Cynthia MacGregor

A recent article in the local daily paper commented on the horrifying number of murders and suicides in our area (South Florida) directly attributable to divorces.

How can it be that two people who were once so much in love can grow to hate each other so much that they will kill each other, themselves, or the children—yes, the kids were among the victims in two of the recent incidents? It not only horrifies, it boggles the mind.

What we need is a time machine that will take a person back to the time when he or she felt positively about the person he/she is now divorcing or already divorced from. No, I am not suggesting that you and your ex fall in love all over again, but to co-opt the immortal words of Rodney King, “Can’t you all just get along?”

There is a lot of emotional baggage inherent in most divorces. Some of it is residual from the marriage—all the things you think he did wrong (or failed to do right), and all the things he thinks you did wrong (or failed to do right) that led up to the divorce. Some of it stems from the divorce itself—the maneuvering and manipulating over child support, possibly spousal support, visitation rights, property division, and perhaps even who gets to keep Fido and Fluffy.

So-called “starter marriages,” which end in divorce before there are kids, before there is significant property amassed to fight over, and before too much time has gone by, so that resentment has not had a chance to build up often end amicably enough. If only most long-term marriages could end on a similar note.

But there is something you can do to cut down the negative feelings—and seeing that you have children in common and cannot just close each other out of your respective lives from this time forth, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

Too many divorced moms grind their teeth at the prospect of facing Ex when he shows up to pick up the kids or bring them back home. Too many divorced moms cringe when the kids burble about what a fun time they had with Dad this weekend.

Wouldn’t you rather live on an even keel?

All I’m suggesting is that you visualize the way Ex used be not only before the divorce but possibly even before the marriage, or at least in the early years thereof. Focus on his good points, his appealing aspects, all the positive sides of him.

Yes, he turned out to be a lousy husband or a cheater or a lazy slob or irresponsible. Maybe he loved his beer more than he loved you or couldn’t stop investing your mortgage payment money into hare-brained schemes, or maybe he had a gambling problem, or had some other major fault or large collection of minor faults that added up to “I can’t take it anymore—I’m getting a divorce.” Or maybe he dumped you for whatever reason, whether that reason was constant arguing, that cute blonde from his office, or some other cause. And now you carry a huge burden of resentment.

I’m not saying you should pretend all this isn’t true. I’m not talking about “Forgive and forget.” But why dwell on it? Yes, he didn’t do right by you. But surely he has some redeeming qualities, including the ones that made you fall in love with him in the first place. Can’t you focus on those instead of on all his subsequent misdeeds and disappointing behavior? Can’t you stop resenting him and seeing him as, if not the enemy, at least the opposition?

It would be so much better for the kids, not to mention how much better it would be for you. Walking around with all that negativity in your mind and in your heart is a terrible burden to place upon yourself. And the kids don’t like feeling that Mommy really, really, really dislikes Daddy, a sentiment they’re bound to be aware of no matter how careful you are not tear down their other parent in front of them.

Unless he is as evil as Hitler—and I sincerely doubt that’s the case—he isn’t all bad. You once loved his good points. Think about them now. Try to focus on them—without segueing into “Why did he have to change?” or “Why did he have to [insert worst fault or biggest problem here]?” Build your own time machine in your mind, and then take a little trip in it, a trip down memory lane.

When you start thinking of him in kinder, gentler terms, life will seem a lot lighter, your interactions with him will be a lot more pleasant, and it will be easier for the kids as well.

Everybody wins…with the help of your “time machine.”

Cynthia MacGregor is a multi-published author. She has over 100 books to her credit, of which roughly half were published conventionally and the remainder as e-books. They include After Your Divorce, Divorce Helpbook for Kids, Divorce Helpbook for Teens, Solo Parenting, "Step" This Way, and others. Forthcoming books include The One-Parent Family, Why Are Mommy and Daddy Getting Divorced http://www.hopeafterdivorce.org/childrens-wellbeing/475-breaking-the-news-to-your-kids.html,Daddy Doesn't Live Here Anymore. She hosted and produced the TV show Solo Parenting, which was broadcast in South Florida over WHDT. Cynthia writes for HopeAfterDivorce.org, DivorceSupportCenter.com, FamilyShare.com, and LAFamily.com. Contact Cynthia at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and see her website at www.cynthiamacgregor.com.

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