There is nothing worse than ending a relationship but not being able to totally break free because you have kids with your ex spouse is probably worse if you do not handle it right. Even if you have the ability to go no contact and the strength to move on, it is not going to be so easy when you have kids. That being said, while your kids should always come first, if you allow yourself to get caught up in the hate of an ex spouse, you will find yourself doing things that either cause you great personal embarrassment or endless levels of stress.
Remember that you split up with your spouse because of some betrayal. Betrayal can be a single act or years of disrespect, but you aren't splitting because you grew apart. You aren't friends any longer if you ever were. As you accept that your relationship is splitting up, you must also watch how your ex handles your access to the kids when it comes time to see if co parenting is a reality. Coparenting only works when both parents see each other as equal parents in terms of time and value to the children. If one parent sees the other parent as less than you cannot coparent with that person. It is really a simple concept that men as the typically devalued parent need to understand. If you cant understand this concept then your sentencing yourself to years of mental anguish and will reduce your ability to be the best parent you can for your kids.
While the best advice is to set aside your differences for the kids and do the best you can to make sure their transitions into single households are as easy as possible, this does not mean you become a fake person pretending to tolerate or even co exist with someone who created the destruction of your family. You cant fake kindness with any credibility if your behavior was the big reason for the marriages demise. You need to get time with your kids and focus all your family energy on time with them. There is really little or no reason to speak to the ex spouse to be a good parent. Interacting with an ex or creating a family get together like dinners etc is only going to mentally mess up your kids more.
It is important you set the ground rules of post split interaction almost immediately upon deciding to split. You might have to be a little more accommodating to your spouse until a parental agreement is in place and sometimes it isnt possible if you have to leave your home to avoid further bad behavior or fake accusations of violence. Being a jerk or an ass is going to make the stack against you even bigger when it comes time to determine custody so do all you can to avoid conflict and show you can rise above differences until the Judge can hear from you and make a custody determination if you cannot do it with your ex. There is no bigger piece of human shit in the world than a woman who forces you into a court room to get equal custody of your kids absent legitimate issues. Divorcing a woman is not a reason for her to hijack your kids from you and such behavior should eliminate any chance at a coparenting relationship.
Men must understand the nature of women and how they value you as a father. While you are great for paying bills and playing babysitter as needed, too many women would be happy if you disappeared soon after the birth leaving them to be a single mom, especially if they have dating options and you can leave them financially set through equitable distribution or a soon to come child support order. You can be the best dad in the world while married , but upon splitting you will be devalued to justify her demands for custody and to deflect her inferiority as a woman and wife.
If you cannot agree on a custody arrangement at the time of splitting up and any extensive litigation is required to determine custody, co parenting is pretty much off the table. You will know which way this will play out likely before you ever leave your marital home. Women way more so than men use children as pawns to get revenge or a higher monthly financial payout without even thinking of how this behavior affects the kids. How you can even look at a woman, much less talk to one, who blatantly and in your face said you are worth anywhere from two over night visits a month to maybe every other weekend with your children despite your character as a man and father. Ask any woman who co parents effectively with the father of her kids about her custody agreement and she will tell you it is on her terms and likely less than equal custody. These women would not seem so cooperative if their ex had demanded equal custody. While there are women who despite the fact their relationship ended value their exes importance as a father and will agree to an equal time custody deal post split, these women are rare. Our court system enables and encourages women to decide what custody they want and if the man opposes it, he has to go into court and fight to get it and he better have so much ammunition against the woman just to get equal. If parenting and character standards in court were reversed, men would get equal custody more often than women would. The standard for a man to obtain or keep equal custody is higher than a womans. Women know this and thus feel confident that there will be no penalty when they keep the kids from the father or let him see them on her terms. Most people don't have the money for an extensive custody battle so men end up losing out on time with their kids because they cant afford it. the shock of watching a woman you loved and had kids with blatantly keep your kids from you often does not wear off until its too late to make some very important decisions in your fight for custody.
As I tell men to never accept less than equal custody time of his kids and to make a judge not an ex wife tell you you are not a father worthy of equal time, if the end result is not going to be equal through your own consent or a judges decision, how can you expect to be a co parent with any sense of value? As bad as women see you before the custody order is in place, they will devalue you even more if they get the custody they want and what is worse they will try to undermine your custody and relationship with your kids should you get awarded equal custody by a judge. You cannot co parent with these women.
Once the custody order is in place, you need to invest all your energy in to your time with your kids. Manipulative phone calls, texts, and emails by the ex during your custody time are designed to distract and make you feel like a child. Her reminder to give Johnny his depression medication or to talk to him and ask him how Tuba practice was when she could care less about it is all designed to mess with your mind and to make sure the kids do not forget about mommy for even one second when they are not with her. Ignore them and do not answer them. Do not respond to anything that is not an emergency. Do not offer to help her watch the kids while they are on her time. You will learn that is a waste and that mom would rather hire a babysitter than give the kids more time with dad. You will be at your wits end trying to cooperate with a person who wants to manipulate and demean you. Your pride as a man will also take a hit if a woman who made it clear she does not see you as an equal parent yet you talk to her like you will accommodate or help her as she needs you. Having kids with a woman does not make you her emotional bitch even if you are her financial bitch.
Your mental health is the most important and your kids want a mentally healthy strong father spending time with them not one who is interacting with mom and getting upset because he sees how he is being treated. Your kids will see it and it will hurt all of you which is what mom wants. Your mental health can only heal and become strong once you put the past behind you. The marriage is over and your wife is gone. She is not coming back. She only has power over your mind and spirit if you let her. You aren't going to co parent with the mom for your kids benefit when she has devalued you as a parent from day one. Kids don't care if mom or dad get along and if you are fake nice to each other for the sake of coparenting the kids will see it and likely make fun of you as the dad for still being moms whipping boy.
I try to live in the same way I advise my clients. I have not spoken with my ex since I walked out many years ago when my kids were very young and even if the Judge has made it clear my ex and I do not coparent when my ex tried to take my equal custody, the Judge sees that I am a great dad and my kids like being around me. A judge isn't going to change your custody because you don't talk to your ex as long as you show the court you are a top notch man and father. Bettering yourself should be more of a goal than how you will coparent with someone who would take joy at your emotional destruction. Until the custody is decided or agreed, you have show you can be a coparent, but if the ex is one of those that forced a fight rather than agree to equal custody, she is not worthy of one ounce of your breath once the custody order is in place.
Conventional Coparenting wisdom saying you need to get along with the ex and speak cordially for the sake of the kids is the same as those people in the nutrition industry who tell you to never skip breakfast as its the most important mean of the day. We as men need to reverse our thinking. If you are one of those men who can get along so easily with an ex after a divorce, you are either a wimp or didn't care one bit about the marriage. If you are a normal man, you want no part of the ex even as it relates to the kids and only need some support or encouragement to never speak to the ex again once the custody order is in place. Your wife may not have admired you but taking this approach will cause your kids to think you are an awesome and no nonsense dad which in turn will cause you to raise better kids.
If you need coaching as to how to live a no contact lifestyle with an ex while raising great kids, get in touch with our office.
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