By Gina Abuyuan
Many people find it strange—nay, downright unbelievable—that my ex-husband and I are on good terms. As I wrote in one of my old magazines, it’s almost impossible to salvage positive feelings about a person who has caused you unimaginable pain.
For a time, even my fiancé, believing that it would be in my best interest, thought I should cut off all ties with my ex-husband.
It’s impossible, of course, considering we have twin boys between us, and I’d like him to be a part of the twins’ lives and vice versa. Besides, there’s the practical stuff like tuition fees, medical expenses, and extra-curricular activities to discuss—so wouldn’t things be easier if everyone just got along nicely?
I quote Brooke Burke of ModernMom.com when she talks of her own relationship with her ex: “We decided to take the high road for the kids.”
Two years ago, I coined a term for this sort of relationship: “co-parenting.” Does everyone believe in this? No. Is it for everyone? No. But if you’d like to try and make things easier for you, your ex-spouse, and your kids, here are three jump off points:
Get third party help. Both of you should see a psychologist, therapist, counselor, or join a self-development workshop or seminar (don’t get addicted, though, or else the seminars will drive your life, and leave you dependent and disempowered). I recommend Bicbic Medez of the RCW Foundation (which also has short courses on re-grouping and getting clear on where you want to take your life). Call (2) 436-0710 or 426-6832or visit www.rcwfi.org for more details. Maribel Dionisio of The Love Institute (loveinstitute.multiply.com) can also help. As the organization’s name connotes, it helps couples and families heal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll try to get you and your ex back together. Just be honest and open about what kind of relationship you’d like to re-create.
Take charge of the transformation. The real change has to come from within you. My ex-husband and I had countless fights and misunderstandings before achieving this sense of harmony and peace. Those blow-ups began because we felt the other was over-stepping boundaries, assuming the worst of the other, and thinking the one “should’ve known” or “should’ve known better.” Remember, the issues you’re supposed to be focusing on now aren’t about the two of you: they’re about your kids. Let me be extreme about it: Talk like you’re talking business, but learn to negotiate nicely. Get sticky issues like expenses, schooling, schedules/holidays out of the way. But learn to be flexible too.
Agree on the non-negotiables. Here are some things you can let slide: what foods they’ll eat, what they wear, what sports they take up. Here are some of the things my ex-husband and I will not budge on: a holistic, exceptional education and life experiences, their freedom to explore their spirituality later on, addressing immediately any circumstance or individual that hurts them (e.g., on two occasions, I let go of two drivers, on the spot, within minutes of learning they made my kids cry—the first, by driving too fast and the second, by cracking a cruel joke. I didn’t even allow them back in the house or subdivision to pack up their things). Harsh? Maybe. But we want to reassure them that though Mommy and Tatay are no longer married, we’re still part of the same team when it comes to them.