Over the past year or so, I have witnessed some friends go through divorces, and not just irreconcilable differences divorces, really bitter ones. Most of them had children right in the crosshairs too. Seeing this recent turmoil has really made me appreciate even more the solidity of my marriage and family of two young children (5 years and 10 months).
My wife and I have a simple formula for success, be open and honest (yes, which even includes me telling her if a certain outfit makes her look fat - which she is not of course), be respectful of others time, keep a close eye on money, and take time to spend with other friends - even if we are not together.
Since the birth of our first child, my wife has gone away with friends a few times, but only just for one night. I have gone away a few times as well, but also just for a night (maybe one time for two nights). However, since the birth of our second child, neither of us have gone away alone overnight. During that time, I could sense that my wife was becoming almost too involved with our children (not that is a bad thing), whereby her whole day's attitude hinged on how our children were doing that day. Most days, the kids are great, and she is in a great mode. Other days, the kids can be a little tough, as they both demand her attention - thus causing undue and excess stress on her. But these are the trials and tribulations of parenthood, and she is well aware of them.
Furthermore, being a parent seems to have a ball-and-chain effect, whereby we feel like we cannot go away overnight for too long. There has been an occasion or two when her folks have babysit the kids while we went away for a night - which is ceratinly helpful. So when the opportunity came up for her to go away for three days with a friend to the beach, she initially hesitated, thinking that she did not want to be away from her family for so long. However, I encouraged her to go, as this could be a good chance for her to go out and not have to worry about having the responsibility of parenting for a few days. Thus, she took me up on the offer and headed on out.
I had some family members offer to help me out during the weekend, but I declined as I wanted to see if I could handle being a single dad by myself. Achieving this accomplishment would be a great confidence booster for me, and could pave the way for my wife to get away for future events.
I would be lying if I said that I was not nervous entering the weekend. However, once I got busy getting involved with the kids, those nerves just melted away. I found myself doing things that I normally would not have done without their mother - like taking both kids to the mall (twice), out to lunch & dinner with the in-laws, and even to the pool (albeit our Aunt's pool). I have been used to putting both kids to bed by myself at 8pm, so this was not a new challenge for me (my wife works late hours a few days during the week). All the while, the activities were stress-free and incident-free. My whole weekend was smooth, enjoyable, and very rewarding as I was able to spend quality time consistently with both kids. Granted, I was very exhausted at the end of each day - as there was no time for me to rest, but I still found myself finding the extra energy to carry on. I even managed to go out on Saturday night (hiring a babysitter after putting both kids to bed of course) for a friend's birthday. Additionally, I was able to get some repairs done around the house that I had been putting off for quite some time.
I'm guessing the reason why I was so successful was because I was in charge, and I did not have to worry about what my wife wanted to do, wait for her to get dressed, or make another decision. I could just tell the kids it's time to go, and we would head on out. Now, of course, I would not want to exclude my wife from my life or my family's - just noting how relatively easy the task has been for me when there is not another person making executive orders at the same time.
Seeing other familes operate with just one parent is truly amazing, as those parents are superheros in their own respect. I certainly see how they have very little time for themselves - or anyone else for that matter. Granted, I had to endure this task for just three days, while the other single parent families must do so for many years - and often with the battling of ex-spouses, which makes life even more difficult.
So this poll is really for you divorcee's with children - have you found your life less stressful after the separation?