The 7 Life-Changing Benefits of Treating My Ex-Wife Well After Divorce

olive branch

(Image/Challies.com)

The worst day of my life wasn’t the day the divorce was finalized.

It wasn’t even the day she packed a suitcase and drove away with our little boy in the backseat while I watched from the kitchen wondering whether I might die, right then, just because I didn’t know if the human body could withstand what I was feeling.

The worst day of my life came later, when I learned that she was in a new relationship.

It wasn’t bad because I was sad.

It was bad because I was angry. Very. I think “rage” is the most precise word for what I was feeling. I didn’t understand how I could be feeling so horribly broken and miserable, and she could be investing emotionally in another person.

My pride was wounded. It seemed unfair that she could be enjoying life while I felt like dying. I was still coming to terms with my loss of parental control, and not knowing anything about this guy was making it worse. For all I knew, he was a serial child-abuser, and I was too pissed to rationally conclude that my son’s mother would not subject him to obvious harm, and I was still too shell-shocked to know what was real and what wasn’t.

I was so angry that I actually imagined something bad happening to her—this person I loved above all things—and felt nothing. No sadness. No guilt. Nothing. I was still blaming her, even though we now know how immature and foolish that was.

I still didn’t “get it” yet.

It’s hard to be angry and rational at the same time. It’s difficult to feel ragey and then make wise choices.

I now understand how crimes of passion can happen. For anyone comfortable with, or previously exposed to violence, and no children to worry about, I can conceptually grasp why that kind of person might lash out in anger, and how easy it would be for people to die in those confrontations.

But because I’ve been immensely blessed in life, I haven’t witnessed nor experienced much violence nor am I prone to behave violently. Because the adults in my life treated me with intense love and care, I’ve never had any trouble treating my young son with that same care.

Even IF I was capable of something as heinous as intentionally harming another person—let alone the mother of my son—I simply don’t do things (mindfully) that will make my son’s life worse.

That is a baseline non-negotiable core value.

And the conclusion is simple: The positive value of my son having his mother in his life—independent of my emotional state—cannot be measured.

And as time marched on, it didn’t take long for me to recognize the next logical conclusion: If my son’s mother provides him immeasurable value, doesn’t my ex-wife living her best-possible life benefit him the most?

And finally: As his father and her parenting partner, doesn’t me supporting her life as best I can—even in divorce—lend itself to me being the best father and parenting partner I can be?

Because I’m a single parent, most of the people I’ve met in a dating capacity over the past four years have also been single parents. I’ve been SHOCKED to see what massive dicks some of these guys are, and—full disclosure—it’s usually the first or only “bad” thing I learn about someone I’m dating. Fair or not, marrying and conceiving children with someone capable of THAT much assholery reflects poorly.

If you’re shitty to your former spouse and you don’t have children, I have to ask why you’re even in contact with them. If my wife and I had not been parents, I think I’d have moved far away shortly after the divorce was final and never speak to her again.

Maybe then I would have spent the rest of my life believing a false narrative I’d told myself to try to make sense of what—to me—seemed purely nonsensical.

Maybe I never would have grown, because I wouldn’t have had to.

And maybe I’d never achieve anything resembling a healthy or happy relationship, because I’d keep waiting for someone to “fit” into my life instead of knowing I must one day choose to create an entirely new life that won’t be mine, but “ours.”

If you’re shitty to your former spouse and you DO share children, then I’m forced to question who and what you are as a parent.

To have your kids suffer in order to scratch a sadistic itch to mistreat the person to whom you were once married strikes me as some of the worst kind of selfishness.

It’s fundamentally and undeniably bad for your kids to intentionally tear down their OTHER hero, and perhaps the only other person that grounds them and provides the necessary sense of safety they need just to function in life.

The benefits of, not just avoiding obvious acts of dickheadedness toward our exes, but actually treating them well, seem obvious to me. I understand that all individuals, their personal relationship experiences, and their current relationship dynamics, will vary.

I know there may be things about me or my ex-wife that gives us get-along advantages not available to everyone. And I know that if we didn’t share a child, things might be much different. But the following are very real and tangible benefits I experience regularly as a result of being good to my ex-wife.

How Being Cool to Our Exes Makes Our Lives Better

1. Reciprocated Cooperation is Very Helpful

Because my ex-wife and I treat each other kindly and respectfully, we both experience a steady dose of mutual cooperation.

Maybe one of your best friends is getting married in Mexico and asks you to be a groomsman and you have to leave the country for six days to be there, and it’s going to throw a major wrench in the pre-existing parenting schedule.

Maybe tomorrow is your child’s gym class at school or team practice afterward and you’re missing the shoes or specialty equipment they need to participate.

Maybe the holidays or a birthday or a life event is approaching where coordinating schedules and pooling financial resources makes the situation better.

That my ex-wife and I can hop on the phone or exchange texts asking one another about schedules or splitting costs or whether the other person can drop something off that our son needs for school activities changes the entire world.

If we acted possessive about who bought what for him, or blatantly refused to budge on the parenting schedule, it would mean that both me AND our son would suffer any time something unexpected happened.

Despite no longer being married, if my ex-wife and I couldn’t fundamentally count on one another, our lives would be immeasurably shittier and more-stressful than they are currently.

Communicate. Cooperate. Be helpful.

It matters.

2. I Get to Know Things I Wouldn’t and Freak Less

I care about what happens to my son. I care about his life, his whereabouts, and knowing that he’s safe. If his mother and I didn’t communicate about where he was, who he was with, and what he was doing, we’d be left to wonder and fear the worst.

As it is, when my son goes on vacation for a week, I know where he is, what he’s doing, who he’s with, and I can talk to him as much as I want.

The same, of course, is true when I take my 9-year-old out of town. His mom, always and forever, has unlimited I-Want-to-Talk-to-My-Son requests that I’ll honor. That was true even when we first separated and secretly wanted to stab each other in the face with rusty spears.

I know more about my son’s friends. More about his friends’ families.

And since I’m terrible with calendar management, I get a ton of support from my ex to get special events for school or sports on my calendar to keep me involved even on nights my son isn’t home with me.

3. Being Together Isn’t the Worst Time Ever

When we were first separated and I was harboring powerfully angry and pained emotions which probably simulated the physical sensation of hate, I DREADED being anywhere she was, or even just talking on the phone with her.

It was horrible.

Had we never made efforts to treat one another with kindness and mutual respect, every single event I’d attend as a parent might involve me feeling super-shitty. Maybe I’d even skip things my little boy wished I’d attend to avoid dealing with it.

Instead, we are often in the same place at the same time to support our son. There are likely still parents among the sports teams and extracurricular activities we’re all involved with that don’t realize we’re not married.

If our son is involved in something, most of the time, we’re both there to support him.

I think this has been HUGE for him as he’s adapted to the lifestyle change, and how he feels in any situation involving the families of him and his friends.

Which leads nicely into…

4. Our Son is Happy and Healthy

This is subjective. And I have no way of knowing how another kid with a different personality might react in an identical situation.

But I feel really confident saying that if you speak or behave in any way that is hostile or otherwise shitty to your ex-spouse, your perceptive children WILL know it and feel stressed and generally uncomfortable any time you’re all together, or even just in phone-call situations.

I think being intentionally shitty to your ex is—in many ways—being intentionally shitty to your children.

5. You Preserve Important Friendships

Divorce breaks things and severs relationships. Has always been true. Will always be true.

Friends will pick sides.

Others will try their best to maintain healthy friendships with both of you with varying success.

If you want to make sure you lose even more people in your inner circle, go ahead and be overtly evil and shitty to your ex just because you’re angry with them.

The good friends will keep their distance.

Anyone encouraging you to be an asshole to someone they once called a friend is probably not the caliber of human being you really want in your inner circle.

6. You’re Not a Messy, Walking Contradiction

Don’t act like you didn’t love—or don’t still currently love—your ex-spouse. It’s a lie and you can’t trick yourself no matter how much we’d all like to.

If you want to live a balanced, healthy life where things aren’t constantly shitty and dysfunctional, it’s important that your actions reflect your true values and feelings. When you dislike someone but act like you like them, it becomes this gross, slimy, fake and all-around inauthentic display that most healthy people can identify right away (and if you’re the kind of person who can trick people effectively, you might have bigger problems than trying to get along with an ex.)

You’re always going to feel, just, off, if you spend your life doing things that don’t reflect your true feelings and intentions.

So. Just own it. You loved, and to some extent, still love the person you chose to marry and have children with.

And every time you speak or behave in ways that don’t align with these true, honest, authentic thoughts and feelings inside you, you’re going to continue to feel a little listless and unhinged.

Identify truth. Whatever is real. Then honor that with the things we think, do and say.

Life’s never fun when you’re constantly struggling to find steady ground or sure footing.

Find balance by being the REAL YOU.

7. You Get to be You Again by Healing Much Faster

If you want to know what a depressed, almost-suicidal and totally fucked-up human being looks like, just go check out this blog’s 2013-2014 archived content.

They say time heals all wounds. And maybe it does. But my divorce could easily be a lifelong prison sentence if I chose to be super-involved in my son’s life AND a massive d-hole to his mother at the same time.

Every day might not suck, but ALMOST every day would if we hadn’t let go of all that pent-up anger.

I can’t speak for her, but I was broken. I say that a lot so maybe it’s lost its meaning. But I hope not, because it’s real and it matters.

I was broken.

My insides died and I wasn’t even the same person anymore. For a long time.

It was agonizing and miserable and I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone.

Life can be so much harder than I’d ever known. And now I do know. During the dark days, the ones where I didn’t know whether I’d survive or whether I wanted to, I realized that no amount of money, no career success, no material possession—no nothing—could have saved me from that darkness.

It follows you around to tuck you into bed at night, and greet you when you wake. It’s in the shower, in the car, keeping you company at parties and at holiday gatherings. It distracts you while you try to work and taunts you when you can’t.

That was when I figured out that I’d spent more than 30 years prioritizing the wrong things, and that moving forward, my life needed to be about never feeling that way again, and helping my son and others avoid a similar fate.

The fear and anger and self-pity fed the darkness.

The accountability and introspection and self-reflection drowned it in light.

And in that light I found some truths. About me. About life. About the woman I’ll remain tied to for life despite our marriage ending.

And now I get to be me again.

Stronger. Smarter. Wiser.

More confident. More courageous. Less afraid.

Happy and hopeful.

In the truth, I found meaning. In the meaning, I found forgiveness. And in the forgiveness, I found love.

It looks nothing like the love we’d promised each other standing on that alter, young and ignorant.

But I’m pretty sure it can be enough.

In fact, I think it already is.

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38 thoughts on “The 7 Life-Changing Benefits of Treating My Ex-Wife Well After Divorce

  1. somecallmejack says:

    I like this a lot:

    “Don’t act like you didn’t love—or don’t still currently—your ex-spouse. It’s a lie and you can’t trick yourself no matter how much we’d all like to.”

    I started trying to learn that a long, long time ago but I don’t think I really understood until recently. The love was real, in a way still is real. The fact that the relationship didn’t work out as a permanent committed relationship doesn’t mean there wasn’t real love. It only means that the love wasn’t enough for the two of you to make that particular leap. But that leap is not the only validation of real love.

    Love isn’t a zero-sum thing. In fact, the more of it you give away, the more you have and the more everyone around you has. But this is very hard to understand for some of us, so sometimes it takes a long while to appreciate… (:-/

    Liked by 3 people

    • Matt says:

      I know more today than I did yesterday. I’ll know more tomorrow than I do today.

      I don’t think it’s the aging, necessarily, but maybe a little. All of these things that totally escaped us growing up that could have reshaped our lives had we only known better.

      I don’t know.

      I appreciate this observation from you. It’s not a lovey-dovey, fireworks-display sort-of love one carries with them after divorce.

      But amidst all of our frustrations, anger, sadness, loneliness, groveling, fears, stresses, anxieties, etc., resulting from our divorce and all of the uncertainties about some possible future relationship we may or may not have, it’s the loss and regret that spawns all those things.

      Loss and regret, because it mattered. A lot.

      I think people downplay it because they want to project strength. Fake it ’til you make it. I’ve done plenty of that.

      But there’s something cathartic about letting the truth have its moment.

      We loved. It mattered. What would we be, I wonder, if we hadn’t and got married anyway?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Peg Janson-Beebe says:

        Growing up is really about life experiences and how your forced to handle them. If you have great parents who take care of anything/everything well good for you I guess. The flip side? You could have been that kid who grew up on the south side of Philadelphia with a Dad who was non existent and a Mom who was whoring around for drugs while at 6 years old your forced to raise 5 other children. That kid grew up fast knowing how to survive. Maybe not so much for those who had the flip side?

        Like

  2. Ahh, I am so glad Matt, that you found those “core values,” and that you can now be a dad. Absolutely critical, be generous,merciful, forgiving, towards the other parent for your kid’s sake.

    My parents divorced when I was 3, custody battle, malice, every imaginable ugliness possible for decades. When I got married I could not have both parents at my wedding. The thing is, their fight did tremendous damage to me, harm that has taken a lifetime to repair. So it is absolutely critical people figure it out, get it together, think about what they are doing to their children. We don’t come out of those situations in one piece.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. zombiedrew2 says:

    I’m in the heart of divorce, and it’s not a great situation. Stuff happened that makes me want to have very little to do with my ex, but children mean we will always be in each others lives in some capacity. I’ve tried to get her to understand that, and to understand that DUE to that, it’s pretty important we come up with a fair deal and don’t try to screw each other over. But she still doesn’t seem to get that – and probably never will.

    That said, being the best dad I can be to my kids is important, and I think our relationship reflects that.

    One thing this post made me remember (though it’s not directly related) was a conversation with my boys last year about how none of this is their fault, and I love them.

    My 9 year old said to me:

    “I know it’s not our fault. If it was, you and mommy wouldn’t want me anymore. But you both still want me, so it’s not my fault.”

    If nothing else, they know they are loved by both of us. And I know they are better having both of us in their lives, even if it’s not the way we all once expected.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Matt says:

      Ugh. I’m sorry, Drew.

      It’s a hell of a lot easier for me to say, think, feel and write these things four years later.

      I wouldn’t have even considered writing something intentionally charitable in 2013.

      I think the quality of your character is, and has been, evident for as long as you’ve been sharing your thoughts and life experiences here.

      In the absence of something recipricol, I think you’ll find that doing the right thing will pay enormous dividends some day.

      Thanks for being here and contributing, Drew.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Tina Andrews says:

      Hi Drew –

      I don’t know your situation at all so take everything I say here with a massive grain of salt, but is it possible your ex thinks she IS being fair and you are the one that is not? I ask because this seems to be where my ex and I are stuck. I think I am bending all I can without sacrificing my sense of self. I know he thinks I am being a massive b*tch and just trying to screw him over. We can’t seem to move from there. In essence the same conflict that spoiled our marriage is “spoiling” our divorce. It’s sad.

      Liked by 1 person

      • zombiedrew2 says:

        Hi Tina, I’m sure you are correct when you say she thinks she is being fair. I’ve heard her arguments, and I’m sure she believes them. But similar to how you said the same conflict that spoiled your marriage is spoiling your divorce; I was never able to get her to find a middle ground that worked for both of us in the marriage, and I am no more successful in divorce.

        Not saying I’m right either. There are always three versions of the truth – side A, side B, and the real truth that probably sits somewhere in the middle.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The best parenting advice, ever. My ex- said pretty awful things about me when he was hurting. My father said awful things about my mom (even though they stayed married). It is very harmful to children when they hear bad things about the parent(s) they love. Thank you Matt, for your appeal to ex’s to act like grownups to help
    their children.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Matt says:

      To me, doing the best thing for your children is non-negotiable.

      I’m actually trying to appeal to people’s selfishness.

      This makes US better. Under divorced circumstances, a lot better.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. ksbeth says:

    i’m so glad you were able to come to this, matt. it is everything and will make all of the difference to your son. and to you –

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tina Andrews says:

    I get that the regret and grief are real and that means the love was too. I say was deliberately because I don’t feel love anymore. My ex has changed too much. The person he is and acts like now, I don’t even like no less love. While I wish – man I wish so much – we could be supportive ex’s like you and your ex are, one of the major things we fought about was what a dick he was to the children. Unfortunately that is one thing about him that has NOT changed. Every time I manage to work my way to a – “I’m going to be peaceful, pleasant and supportive mindset – he does something particularly dickish to our son and I’m back to the rage feeling. It may be easier to understand with an example. Our son is “different.”Like neurologically. special needs different. Getting him to do some tasks – without a lot of yelling and drama that upsets everyone – takes a lot of patience. Last visit my ex approached that with his typical lack of patience and booming voice – but added threats of the “if you don’t I’m going to “bust your ass” variety. My son balked and was give said ass busting at which time he had a total melt down. The situation escalated and resulted in my son coming home from his dad’s with handprints marked into his arms that lasted for days. My so is still upset about it and does not want to even see his dad, no less go stay another weekend. I don’t blame him. I don’t want to send him. My ex maintains this makes me petty and that I am making a big deal of nothing. I cannot accept that leaving marks on your kid is nothing. Especially when we were questioned by social services because a stranger reported the marks. (Which in my ex’s eyes is also somehow my fault) I just don’t see how we go from here to where you are Matt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Matt says:

      Right.

      I’m so sorry, Tina. I think it’s fair to say I wrote this for him, but suspect there are a few beneath-the-surface things for him to fix before he can start walking any sort of healed, cooperative, friendship walk with you.

      I have similar patience shortcomings as your ex when parenting things frustrate me. It’s really nice to be able to reach out to his mom if I ever wanted or needed to, to address a situation together. And I’m sorry he doesn’t feel compelled to do anything like that.

      We tend to mirror what we saw growing up. I had an interesting mix of traditional, old-fashioned discipline, but also unmistakable love.

      It wasn’t always gentle. But it was always authentic. I’m not really sure where that falls on the Good-Bad spectrum.

      Other people experienced not-so-gentle discipline as well, but minus all of the unwavering love and support.

      I imagine those people struggle in adulthood. And I’m sure it’s hard to sympathize/empathize when you or your children are on the receiving end of all that pent-up baggage and bullshit.

      Good thoughts and prayers for all of you. Particularly your children.

      Like

      • Tina Andrews says:

        Thanks Matt – its especially frustrating because one minute he will say he wants help or suggestions and the next he will be berating me for making any. And if I go the neutral route and say maybe you could look up a parenting class or counselor with experience in special needs then I am “just trying to control him” I really prefer to try to just never speak to him other than “what time are you picking up – what time are you dropping off”.

        I’ve tried being the one to go first – offering more time with the little guy on the holidays etc – but that is just an invitation for him to tell me what I am going to do / give. Nothing I offer is ever enough and I’m working hard on having firm boundaries these days – which doesn’t seem to mesh well with getting along with him AT ALL. I wont compromise my work on me to satisfy him – so I’m just a (insert what ever cuss word you like here) Its exhausting. It seems like I can only be the best (not depressed, not irritable, more patient more present) mom for my kids away from him.

        I still feel like I’m failing my kids because the best I can manage is to not say negative things about my ex and offer the occasional lukewarm positive comment. “Your dad loves you and wants time with you too buddy” (when my son is crying to me on the phone that he wants to come home)

        I appreciate you saying that you wrote this for him but I’m sure if he ever did read it – he would see me as the one totally at fault. There are two sides to everything right?
        So it seems like there has got to be some responsibility for this mess on both sides. It’s so crazy making feeling like I’m some how failing at doing my part when nothing gets better no matter what I try. I’m not perfect – if I were I’d some how be able to overlook the smaller irritations of dealing with him (if not the things like bruises) – but it all sets my teeth on edge I am trying – I feel sometimes like I put as much effort into making the divorce “work” as I was into making the marriage work. I just want to be done now. With all of it.

        Liked by 2 people

    • L says:

      Tina, you are in a very, very rough situation. First and foremost you need to protect your kids. Your son has needs your ex cannot meet, and as a result your child is getting physically hurt. If a teacher or medical person notices the marks they will be required to report this to social services, and there will be a serious investigation. If they find out that YOU knew about this and did not take action, it could be difficult for you. That would be heartbreaking. I’m not sure what your next step should be, but there needs to be one for the sake of your son. Hang in there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • nights7 says:

      Tina, you don’t. You don’t get from where you are in your co-parenting relationship with your ex to where Matt is with his. You just don’t; it doesn’t happen. Because you are not dealing with a sane, rational person who has his child’s (or children’s) best interest at heart. I don’t know your ex but I do know mine. They sound similar.
      You are doing the right thing by trying to be the bigger person and the best, most stable parent you can be for your kids. Keep it up. It’s exhausting, I know. Keep establishing boundaries, the more you do it I the easier it gets. When my ex is balking and raging about something (usually via email) I think of him as a giant toddler and step back and let him have his tantrum. I ignore all the insults and only respond to things directly related to the logistics of parenting. If this type of thing is happening in person walk away. I’d tell him to send an email about it or call me when he’s calm and leave the situation. Now, five years post separation, the tantrums are fewer and further apart. We don’t communicate well or a lot but it’s way better than it was.

      And maybe think about finding an advocate within your court system (something through Friend of the Court or a local abuse shelter/counseling place). Document everything and report your ex when your son comes home with bruises like that. The person who commented that you not doing so could come back on you wasn’t wrong. Being able to functionally co parent with your former spouse would be great, it’s the ideal, but protecting your children is more important.
      Good luck! You’ve got a tough situation there. Don’t forget to take care of yourself a little too. (I find running really helps with the rage and frustration.)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lindsey says:

    Matt, I love this. In so many ways- I want to write a more accurate response than I can at the moment.

    But, put simply. I imagining individuals across the US and beyond in standing ovation at random coffee shops, bus stops, bars…in their office.

    It reminds me of the scene in cast away when Tom Hanks comes home, and Helen Hunt runs out in the rain into his arms. And after the embrace- she goes back to the life she built and he drives away (to deliver a package that survived the accident along with him.)

    Love never dies. What you have/had -that’s true love, Matt.

    Like

  8. Matt, you had me right from the start and right up until no. 6.

    My ex is generally a very good dad to our 16-year-old son, but even after 4 years, I can’t be in a room with him for longer than a few minutes. I can be polite. I can be civil. But, honestly, when I look at him all I see is the man who lied to me and destroyed my peace of mind for three years. Not only do I no longer love him, I don’t even like him. I don’t badmouth him to our son and never will, but I also know I can’t rely on him the way you and your ex can rely on each other. When he first announced he was done with our marriage, I told him I hoped we could be friends someday. Now, I have no interest in having him as a friend. He is my co-parent, nothing more, nothing less.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Lindsey says:

    Ok, follow up comment…even though those were my authentic first thoughts, they seem very superficial…
    I know this post isnt about romantic love,… or you being a great writer deserving of a standing ovation…It’s about being a good (ex) spouse/friend, and father. ..It’s really about being an f’ing great human being. And, bottom line that is a goal I wish more people would strive for.

    These are the things that make me want to jump up and dance about this post:

    “..So. Just own it. *You loved* , and to some extent, still love the person you chose to marry and have children with.

    And every time you speak or behave in ways that don’t align with these true, honest, authentic thoughts and feelings inside you, you’re going to continue to feel a little listless and unhinged.

    Identify truth. Whatever is real. Then honor that with the things we think, do and say.

    Life’s never fun when you’re constantly struggling to find steady ground or sure footing.

    Find balance by being the REAL YOU.”

    and,

    “The fear and anger and self-pity fed the darkness.

    The accountability and introspection and self-reflection drowned it in light.”

    and,

    “In the truth, I found meaning. In the meaning, I found forgiveness. And in the forgiveness, I found love.

    It looks nothing like the love we’d promised each other standing on that alter, young and ignorant.

    But I’m pretty sure it can be enough.

    In fact, I think it already is.”

    The love you HAVE (current, present tense) for your wife IS REAL LOVE.
    Im not talking about the infatuation kind of love, …not the sexy kind of love that everyone has to keep working and sweating for, but its the enduring kind of love.
    The kind that I think every couple longs to get to. Its love and respect for the person.
    Who knows what the future holds? But even if it isnt matrimonial bliss between you two {[which, dammit, a part of me wants to encourage you to pursue if youve had even the slightest thought..[and also which you probably never would because, in part, you would still hate to be rejected,… or maybe its that you have way too much couth (and me way too little!) ]} …even if it isnt reflected in a marriage, that is the kind of love everyone longs for, and I think everyone needs.

    I am so thankful to be in the company (somewhat) , of someone who knows how to love.

    Like

  10. If only all men were like you, treating their ex’s and especially their children with continued love. In the case of an ex, affection and care since she was there and whatever happened, happened. Still the lesson is invaluable. It’s about making your son’s life better! not worse! than before. It also sends a message that life goes on, and perhaps not in the same way, but truthfully in a better way than before since the respect is prominent. I applaud you with all of my heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sue says:

    This was an INCREDIBLE read … gut wrenchingly open and honest and vulnerable … and HOPEFUL …

    I hope with all my heart that my ex eventually works his way to this point …

    BLESS YOU for giving me a glimmer of hope …

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Louie says:

    Matt… this brings me back to the marriage counselors office 26 years ago . There we were attempting to salvage our marriage but also planning for it’s demise as well . During one particular session we were asked if we still loved each other . ..she said” I do love him but I’m not sure if I’m in love with him” my response was that I will always love you . …no matter what . …I believe love once formed never completely goes away . .It may change but still exists . … There was a popular song in the 70’sun during my high school days by the group Orleans . .the song was called ” Time Passes On”.. a line from the song says ” Time passes on…. like a river that must always run . .now you are gone . ..but I will have you ’til time is done . ..you can never take away the love you gave me yesterday “…. aside from a creepy interpretation of that line….I believe that first off the heart is in charge in that case and secondly we serve our heart by remembering the love that brought us together . Knowing that at some point you walked arm in arm forward into life with someone you loved has to be honored especially when yourlove helped create another human being . That innocent extention of the love once shared on a greaterlevel than its current evolution must be protected by the ones who are ultimately in control . Kids don’t get to be judges at pissing contests ….nor should they be the back splash . Marriage , parenting and divorce are grown up things children have no business being dragged into . ..so do right by them and show them courage , honor ,wisdom and above all love …proud of you and your wife Matt . ….your son knows and sees…and I’m sure loves

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Cherry says:

    You took the high road… It’s sometimes a long road but at least your conscious is clear everyday that you put your child’s need above your own. I saw my eldest brother go through the same as you but it wasn’t a positive outcome due to his ex-wife’s selfishness. Thanks for sharing your story. :-)

    Liked by 2 people

  14. You sound so nice and thoughtful; hard to believe someone would leave you

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. I promise I’m capable of being an intolerable penis in a thoughtless moment of reacting to something I think is inconvenient or disagree with.

      The difference today is I have a high-level of self-awareness about all this. When I was married, I did not.

      I do appreciate the kind words. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. I just happened upon your blog, but I am highly impressed (Not that I have a leg to stand on when it comes to expert opinions…so maybe it’s better to say “I admire…”) with your assessments and decisions to handle this with your son in mind. Unfortunately, it is a rare day when life goes the way we want, but we always have the power to choose our reactions – even the ones where emotions want to take over.

    Like

  16. I am Aranab says:

    man I felt like that for over a year which is why i preferred to stay ignorant about my ex girlfriend. And I told all my friends never to say anything about her unless it has to do with her death. And it has everything to do with the ego being bruised. Despite the fact that I had moved on to my next but the ego bruiser of her moving on before me took alot of time to heal. And lucky me I never need to be kind to her. And at the same time I am glad you have come to terms with life and became a better human.

    Like

  17. robynbird says:

    WOW! Thank you, Matt for this post. You made my heart swell with love and gratitude that there are dads like you out there in the world loving their kids and respecting their ex-wives. You’re setting a beautiful example for you son.
    I lived a much different tale of divorce and co-parenting. My girls deserved better. I deserved better. And sadly, so did their father.
    Thank you for your honesty and humor. <3

    Liked by 1 person

  18. […] Source: The 7 Life-Changing Benefits of Treating My Ex-Wife Well After Divorce […]

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  19. FlyingKal says:

    I agree with some of the posters above, that to have Matt’s advice to work, both you and your ex need to be somewhat functioning adults, with ability to take responsibility for your actions and have a mutual interest in what’s best for the kid(s).

    If your ex is only interested in having your back to the extent as to still being able to stab you in it, I think all bets are off and you’d better limit any interaction to an absolute minimum.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. merlembaker says:

    Thank you, for sharing your heart with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I hope you don’t mind, Matt, but I linked this post to the one I am currently writing. Let me know if you do, and I will remove the link.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. […] post from a blog I follow talked about the benefits he has gained from treating his ex-wife well. I agreed with all his points except the next to last one, where he said that even though you are […]

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  23. […] while back I read an article entitled: The 7 Life-Changing Benefits of Treating My Ex-Wife Well After Divorce. Hmmm… sounds like something Cousinfucker needs to read. And therein lies the problem. I suppose […]

    Like

  24. ej725 says:

    Matt— Is this an ok method to contact you directly? I’m hoping this gets to you. I’ve been an avid reader of your blog ever since I discovered it. I write my own blog and I quote you quite often. I know you don’t have a lot of free time but I was wondering if you would sometime take a look at some of my posts and if you feel like there is some worthwhile writing could you mention my blog or give it a plug? You’re not the type to mince words so if you think it’s not worth plugging I can respect that. In that case I would love some feedback for my improvement.

    Thanks very much, Evajean Blackstone Musingsbyevajean.wordpress.com

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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