There are some (though not many) families who are able to bounce back from divorces and get back to the route of a ‘normal’ life, while the remaining are still feeling like they lost everything, still upset over what happened, with some secretly wishing the worst for their former partners.
Unless you have been in a divorce and have experienced it first hand, it can be difficult to understand what it’s like. The problem with divorces (especially those with kids) is that the parents are usually in very different emotional states at the time. Although both parents would want to spend time together for the kids, the person who did not initiate the divorce (aka a defendant, in Singapore legal terms) might find it unbearable, as compared to the person who initiated the divorce.
Believe it or not, there are families who still work and function like a unit although mom and dad are divorced. In other words, you can’t tell that they are divorced, because they seem so happy together. So how do they actually do it?
Well firstly, it is important to understand that although whatever you are doing this for can be a variety of reasons, it is ultimately for the sake of the children. Choosing to get along well with your former partner, or getting your current and former partner to get along is also for the sake of the children. If there were no children involved, there would be little incentive for your previous life to interfere with your current life. Below, we cover some of the important points to consider when building relationships post divorce :
- Take things slowly
This is especially if you have found someone new. At this stage, it’s natural to feel excited and hopeful. You might be thinking of remarrying, and how this person would fit into your life.
However, the danger is that there is still some skepticism of your new partner from your kids. To them, they might think that this new person is trying to take over the place of their parent.
So it’s important to take things slowly, and not rush into any new arrangements. Kids need some time and space to adapt and get used to this new person, to build trust and comfort. Taking things slow also allows you some thinking room to consider if you’d still want to remarry.
Talk with both your former partner and children. Communicating often brings people closer together, which is the backbone of strong relationships. It might be difficult at first to bring yourself to talk to someone you might despise, so start slowly by talking to your children first, and as often as possible. This rebuilds the trust and confidence that was lost, if any, in the divorce.
After frequent communications with your children, you might then feel more at ease to talk to your former partner. I’m emphasizing this because you are doing it for your children. Having their parents split up is difficult enough, but having them not talk to each other, or even worse – talking badly behind each others backs, is simply adding fuel to the fire.
I’m not saying that you have to go out with them, or even be friends. But when there are common issues, talk it out and solve it. This is the least you can do, for your kids.
- Family Activities
Having activities that involve the whole family, such as cycling or going on a short trip together can really do wonders. Children need these types of family bonding activities, and parents can also strengthen their relationships in the process.
Doing things with your child also gives you a sense of partnership and helps you both remember that you do need to work as a team.
If you can’t spend a few hours with your ex, try to break it down into smaller chunks of time. Start small by spending half an hour or so, and gradually move from there. Half an hour of everyone coming together is better than none at all.
If this goes well, then you can start planning on longer activities.
- Remain Positive
There will be times where things can get difficult, especially if your former partner refuses to co-operate or your children throws a fit. What’s more important is how you react to it. These are temporary setbacks, and things will change for the better.
Don’t badmouth your former partner in front of your kids. It doesn’t reflect well on you and affects your children more than you’d think.
Acknowledge your children’s and partner’s feelings about the situation. By ignoring it or arguing over what they should think, you are making things worse. Talk about problems and find solutions. Don’t point fingers.
It’s important to compromise here. To make everyone happy, no one person can have everything go their way. Sometimes, your ex has to have it their way, while other times you get the final say. What’s important is to look at the big picture and not lose the ‘war’ trying to win tiny battles or conflicts.