Our ex-husbands are a huge part of our lives. This is very surprising to most people. Perhaps the more surprising part of our story, even more so than 2 best friends falling in love with each other. So, this apparently is mind-blowing: We, the 4 adults, get along really well! We spend a lot of time with the guys. Some people, upon learning this, think it’s pretty cool. Others, think it’s weird, and think it would be more normal for the guys to be super angry and not want anything to do with us.
Did I mention they live in a 2-unit house around the corner from us? Together?
I guess I’m surprised it’s so surprising. To put it the most simply, first, we all love our kids, and want the best for them. Regardless of the situation, we are linked to our ex-husbands for life because of the kids. Why make it more challenging than it has to be? The kids should never feel animosity between us.
Second, if you’ve been married to someone for any length of time, how can you possibly go from loving that person the most to hating them or not ever getting along? To us, that doesn’t make any sense. We have both been blessed to have spent a good chunk of our lives with these guys. They are pretty dang amazing people. That’s a huge factor. They’re just good people! We enjoy them. We still have much love and respect for them. As my marriage came to an end, we came to the realization that we could either spend the last bit of love and respect we had for each other to continue to struggle with our situation, against most odds, or hold on to that love and like we still had and move on, putting our energy into friendship and co-parenting. We chose the latter. It’s been amazing!
So how does this translate in our day-to-day life? We try to be one, big family a lot of the time. One dad eats almost every meal with us, and spends a lot of his off-duty time co-parenting the little boys with me. We feed him, he helps clean up meals, corral kids, gently discipline, and doing projects around the house. He’s one of those natural parent types and is a great male role model for all the kids. He likes spending time with our family and we like having him. The other dad comes and goes a little more sporadically but doesn’t hesitate to help with kids when needed, help with projects, and we never have to twist his arm when we have a pilot light that won’t light, or a sprinkler system that needs fixing. He treats all the kids like his own. Pretty amazing, huh?
Family is what you make it. Kids, it turns out, are pretty amazing, flexible little people. They don’t actually need strict definitions of life in order to be happy. It’s the adults that seem to want to define roles. The kids have never asked for a definition of who’s who. Or why one dad is at most meals. Or why the other dad comes and goes like the wind. They don’t live on a structured schedule of “who’s child am I today”. No one has ever asked, “Now, how is he related to me?” Our second grader came home from the first day of school and said, “I hope it’s OK but I said there were 9 people in my family”. Our hearts melted! She didn’t feel the need to define her family. It was all inclusive.
So my ex-husband-in-law is a pretty important person in my life. First of all, he’s important to my partner, so by default, important to me. I can either feel jealousy toward the bond they have and the history they have shared, or I can embrace the situation for all the positives it contains. Second, he’s a person I can talk to, relate to, share with, and enjoy our time together. Third, he’s always going to be my youngest child’s father, and therefore needs to be at the top of my “most important people” list. He’s supportive, positive and understanding of this situation. Most importantly, he is sharing his son with me, trusting me to help raise him! What an amazing blessing!