Once upon a time, I was a happily married mother of a 5 year old son and wife to my very own Prince Charming. We lived in a little neighborhood in a cute three bedroom house that even had a picture perfect white picket fence. Unfortunately however, my Prince Charming turned out to be more like a frog than a Prince. We went through the usual steps of counseling, separation, anger, hurt and ultimately, as I’m sure many women have felt, I simply began wishing he would just get hit by a bus. Our divorce was finalized after two years of pure hatred, name calling of words that hadn’t even been invented yet, playing “This Is Mine, You Can Keep That”, and paying barrels of money to our lawyers who loved us for basically covering their mortgages each month.

Fast forward another year when I was out visiting my 90 year old grandmother in rural Mississippi. This wonderful lady has only a high school education and lives in a town so small that the library and the city hall are held in the same room. However, she has to be one of the smartest people alive and has enough common sense to put Stephen Hawkins to shame. As usual, I was griping about some stupid thing my ex- husband had done when she looked at me and said, “Why do you hate him so much? You were best friends until you divorced.” “WELL”, I began, “He did this, and this, and this, and this…and I CAN’T STAND HIM.” Pitifully, she just shook her head and looked at me and said “You’re divorced. You don’t love him. He doesn’t love you. But you have a small child together and you need to stop acting so selfish and start acting like parents. Forgive him and move on.”

Ok. Let me tell you that when your grandmother (who normally has you on a pedestal and thinks you can do absolutely nothing wrong) begins to notice that you’ve become nothing more than a griping whiner, you have to really look at yourself. What I saw wasn’t pretty...I’m surprised that I wasn’t spitting pea soup with my head spinning around. I had always been a cheery, happy, funny Mommy but I had somehow turned into an extremely bitter person, and I didn’t like myself like that.

So upon returning home, I called my ex and we decided we needed to try to work out his – I mean our “communication” issues. We decided to meet at the local library because we figured we would not be able to yell and throw things at each other there. Although we had never argued in front of our son, we realized that if we wanted to bring up a good, well rounded child, we would need to stop the constant complaining and arguing. The plan worked. Over time we actually were able to become friends again. We had spent almost 10 years together as a couple so becoming friends again began to get easier and easier as time went on.
Don’t get me wrong…there are still days when he gets on my every last nerve but I realize the important thing is for my son to be able to see his parents as respectable friends who just couldn’t stay married. He doesn’t have to choose sides: he can spend holidays with either one of us and we don’t get jealous. (Believe it or not, I even have my ex and his new family over for Christmas dinner each year so that my son does not have to choose between spending the day with his mom or his dad. THAT’s an interesting story but I’ll save it for another time.)

One very therapeutic way of keeping me calm was to begin a journal. Besides the obvious point of keeping a journal to document events, I didn’t know that it could also help my health as well. Research has shown that journaling allows a person to process events calmly and allows opportunities to be found in otherwise negative situations, like dealing with an ex-spouse. My blood pressure begins to calm down a bit when I am writing, and I am able to sort out my anger and simply focus on facts, like what kind of bonehead thing he did that day. Hey – we’re friends but I’m still documenting!!!

The bottom line is this: You don’t have to be friends. You don’t even have to LIKE each other. But if you have kids you must remember one thing: Love your kids more than you hate your ex. That’s a bitter pill to swallow but if you realize that you love your kids more, then you can do anything. You can get over it. You can forgive and move on. Life’s too short to be living like the Exorsist.

We are going to be celebrating our son’s birthday soon and he has decided on a “Paintball Party”, where all of the guests have guns filled with little balls of paint, and you run around shooting paint at each other. I am very much looking forward to what I consider to be a therapeutic event and I may even suggest it to marriage counselors for one main reason…Although we are good friends now, my ex-husband and I will both be participating in the party and I cannot wait to get out on that field and hunt him down. I mean, seriously, friend or not, where else can you shoot your ex-husband and get away with it?

Author's Bio: 

Dana E. McIntyre and her husband created Partner Diary (www.partnerdiary.com) after they both realized they needed a place to journal daily events dealing with ex-spouses. After years of research with attorneys and judges alike, they discovered that people going through a divorce or separation had no place to securely document situations regarding their children if they were going through a divorce or child custody case without the possibility of their journal being subpoenaed by opposing counsel. Born & raised in Atlanta, Dana is a busy mother of three kids , wife to a hard working software programmer, and still has time to enjoy two of her favorite activities – camping and triathlons.