I went through a relatively “easy” divorce, if there is such a thing. After a fair amount of cajoling, I was able to talk my ex into filing a joint petition for divorce in Nevada. We had no children, which made the process much less complex. There were no hearings, no child support calculators, no divorce classes — just paperwork.
My current boyfriend didn’t have my luck. His divorce was ugly, and there were two innocent souls in the middle of the mess. Accusations flew, feelings were hurt, bitterness abounded. After a year of divorce litigation, he waved a white flag and settled his case — without the assistance of an attorney. What we are both learning is that divorces are never over when there are children involved. Especially when bitterness is still bubbling at the surface of every interaction with an ex.
I enjoy the time I get to spend with my boyfriend’s children when he is exercising parent-time with them. They are funny, energetic, loving, smart and inquisitive. We spend lots of time reading, playing, drawing, watching movies, and going on little adventures. I often cook for them, give them medicine when they are sick, and put band-aids on boo-boos. It is important to me that I assist my boyfriend with his children — he and I are not casual; we have very serious intentions for the future of our relationship. And it is important to me that his children see me as another grown-up who is invested in their happiness and well-being, and who they can trust. So far, I think I have been relatively successful in that regard.
Unfortunately, their parents still do not see eye to eye. There is a fair amount of parental warfare still going on. Harsh words are exchanged, accusations fly, and sometimes threats of withholding parent-time are made. And I sometimes find myself in the middle of these battles — not because I insert myself into their arguments, but simply because I exist. I become open to collateral attacks, and some of the accusations that fly are made against me.
Although I would probably be justified in getting angry and fighting back, I choose to keep calm. For example, I recently received an angry email directed at myself and my boyfriend from his ex. Instead of allowing my emotions to get the better of me, I decided to calmly email her back asking that she not involve me in their parenting disputes. Why? Because I know that in order to maintain a good relationship with my boyfriend’s children, I will have to remain civil (and maybe someday be friends) with their mother. Which means that, for now, I may have to suffer through frustration, disrespect and indignity for the privilege of remaining a trustworthy adult in the lives of these children. And I’m okay with that.
Obviously, I am in my boyfriend’s corner. He has my undying support in his endeavors as a father. But I do my best to stay out of the post-divorce fray.