And Four More Mistakes You May Be Making with Your Ex-husband

On Friday, I covered some of the biggest mistakes you can make
with your ex-husband and promised four more. Without further ado, and because I’m behind already when it comes to
writing Wednesday’s post, they are:


Denying the what-if

I think these are only normal, and yet, they’re squirmy for
even me to talk about. Despite whatever
negativity you might feel towards your ex-, there’s always the chance that a
strong attachment to him is still lurking somewhere
in your energetic field. After all, you
had children together! You shared your
lives in the most intimate of ways. I
remember several years after we’d split up, being occasionally haunted by
dreams where my ex- and I were still together, perhaps exploring a new house we
were soon to move into or taking a family trip to strange environs. Waking up from those dreams always left me
disoriented and slightly embarrassed: now
what was THAT all about?
Did this
mean I still wanted to be with him? Or
that we were somehow meant to be? Even
now that he was remarried, and I was content with someone else? I would always come back to the same answer: this is the life we have now, and he and
I seemed happier….

It took me a while to
understand that these types of dreams and even waking mental wanderings were
perfectly natural, and not only that, were commonplace. What’s the old saying? The more you struggle to be free of something,
the more you’re reinforcing the fact that there’s still a need to
struggle? If you’ve got some hallucinatory
misfits bumbling around in your psyche, just know you’re not alone. I think a lot of these feeling are
biologically-motivated – a part of you wants to put the two halves of a circle
back together. Have you ever submerged any


Keeping the focus on
you and your shit, instead of what’s best for the kids

This mistake is easy to do, whether you have an ex-husband or
not, since we all get caught up in our own monkey mind chatter and fall prey to
myopic tunnel vision. But ex-husband’s
are such convenient target, especially if you’re holding a grudge, competing
against him, or getting all freaked out and stressed about money struggles
between you two. If you find yourself
falling into these behaviors too often, time to snap out of it: you’re often
annoyed by things your kids are trying to tell you and are only semi-listening;
you wish they would just leave you alone most of the time so you can stew in
your own thoughts; you’re churlish and snappy when going about regular
household chores, leaking your irritation and emotional angst all over
everyone. We can all periodically get
caught up in an inner storm of self-absorption, but just letting yourself coast
along for too long is not okay! What’s
your current state of connection with your kids? Is there anything you need to step back from
and put away in a mental drawer for a bit? 


Not seeing him for who
he is NOW

Part and parcel of fueling conflict between you and another
person is keeping them frozen in a
story; an unchanging character who’s only capable of doing this, this and this and
no more, without chances for improvement or room to grow. Haven’t your friends, co-workers or family
ever surprised you? We’re all changing,
all of the time! You might think because
you once lived with your ex- and knew him well, the mental image still
holds. That may be basically true in
terms of values and personality, but even then, people are often capable of sweeping transformations, or even incremental
ones. This can tie back into grieving
too if he’s re-partnered, has other children, etc. — perhaps if you let go of
who you think you knew, it might mean
you are truly getting left in the dust, as far as what you meant to him, the
significance of your past together, etc. See if you can step back and look at your ex- from a neutral vantage
point. Maybe even a bit of curiosity
will arise. Who is this person now? In what ways do you need to update your


Letting lost
opportunities pass you by

This ties right into the very last, common mistake people
make. It’s not absolutely necessary that
you clear up all the other ones first, though it does help to have an open
space inside of from which to work from. Even if you sometimes feel pissy towards your ex-, find yourself occasionally
shrieking "argh!" after you get off the phone with him, or wish you
could shake him by the shoulders… you might still able to be friends. Yes. I
said friends. ‘Course, it takes two
people to do this and he may not be willing. But there’s nothing to keep you from making little exploratory steps,
from extending a few teeny olive branches here and there.


Believe it or not, David (my ex-) is one of the first people I
turn to sometimes when I need a kind, listening ear. He knows me inside and out, he’s seen the
worst sides of me and still actually seems to like me (I’m late on his payment
this month though. Joke.) and I get his
weird sense of humor, which no one else does, so I’m obligated to continue
being his friend out of pity. (See, now he would get that, but it’s a fine line, isn’t it?) Something we were able to do over the years
that got us here was apologize. This
seemed to happen in stages, over many conversations, but there no longer seems
to be anything we hold against each other from the past. Only new stuff from the present (I’m on a
roll, what can I say?). Seriously, the
slate feels clean between us, but we had to work at it and we both took risks
to get here. (Another important point:
when someone apologizes, keep your mouth shut and take it in. Don’t bring up other grievances you have
against them!)


Sure, there are tons of benefits to be had by befriending the
stepmom in this scenario too, but think of how much better your life might be
if the other person who was responsible for bringing your children into the
world was also your bud? Think it’s
impossible? Never to be? Too weird and harem-like (see last post)? Think again. What else are you going to do with your life, if not dump all that old
baggage that holds you back from being happy, clear and in the moment? What are some of the things you still like
and love about your ex-husband? In what
ways could you serve as a friend to him? How might this benefit the children in your

© 2008 Jennifer Newcomb Marine All Rights Reserved


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  1. Very insightful post. I really wish that I could share this article with my husband’s exwife. She is totally stuck on viewing him how he was when they were together. They married when they were both 21, and I know that they are now different people than they were 9 years ago. It’s almost as if she did not receive closure from their time together.
    During one visit when I took the boys to see her, my youngest stepson was getting frustrated because he was losing at a game we were playing. I told her that the kids act like this at home and that we have been working with them (my bio-son included) on being better sports. She then commented that they must have got that behavior from their dad. It was almost laughable because his personality is so easy going and good-natured. It is at these times that I realize that she is not able to acknowledge that he does have good traits.

  2. Great post. Very honest and commendable.
    Although, I am not sure if I agree with the last mistake of “Letting lost opportunities pass by”? Yes it does take two to maintain the friendship. If it has been a nasty divorce chances are less than slim that they will rekindle that friendship. Especially if he is remarried. The woman (ex) needs to establish her motives for wanting to still nurture her friendship with her ex. If at the first time or the second time the feeling is not mutual, then she needs to go back to Letting those opprotunites pass her by.

  3. This isn’t the norm for most divorces. I’m in a situation where my ex won’t talk to me after 2 yrs. and he was the one that cheated with his best friends wife and asked me for a divorce. He said he would have to hate me when we were divorced. I think it is childish. He can remain friends with the best friend but can’t even speak to me. He is still with the best friends wife (ex). She says they are going to get married and she is his fience, but he has never said it’s so. Do you believe in Karma? I don’t have to interact with him because of our son. I wonder why you are. For the kids is the oldest excuse in the world.

  4. I love your humour and your sentiments. You are bang-on with all of your points. As a christian, I believe forgiveness is our only true option for finding freedom, hard as it may be.
    I also like that you used the words: “weird and harem-like”!!! YES!!!! You understand!!! I have SO often wanted to try and explain how “weird” it feels to see another woman in my place….even with all the forgiveness and healing that has taken place. I still feel my ex has two wives in a sense….and it will never totally stop being “weird”!!


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