Divorce is becoming so common in our society during the past decade and the single parent phenomena is on the rise. The sad part of the whole situation is how kids are taking the breakdown of their family units and how, in many cases, they wind up being the true victims in the middle this brutal battle. Something about the whole ‘ex-file’ tends to puzzle me all the time: why don’t we have a normal relationship with our ex-husband or wife (or boyfriend or girlfriend for that matter)? Why does it usually come down to one angry partner battling against the other who may be trying to find another, and sometimes ‘better’, life?
Here in Egypt, marriages usually end at the request of one partner, while the other feels so bitter about the rejection that they choose to hold a big fat grudge. If the angry person is the mom, then the kids will be faced with ongoing criticism about the dad and how he “did this and that;” rhetoric that includes how selfish he is and how he is living his own life without any consideration to his ex-family. Should the dad start to have a new family, all hell breaks loose and the ex-wife will not leave him to get on with his life, and hers by default. In this situation, kids tend to sympathize with their mother since she is the one who is always there for them. They are influenced by her both directly and indirectly and she is capable of making them feel guilty even when they meet up with their dad to spend an afternoon or weekend and wind up having fun in the process.
On the other hand, if the woman wishes to end the marriage by divorce the husband, in many cases, would not allow it. If she gets the divorce via the legal path then the father often decides if he’s an ex-husband, well, he’s going to be an ex-dad as well. “If you don’t want me then I will not be in your kids’ life” becomes the tune that these men sing to as they manage to convince themselves that their children only belong to their mother! The trend for recently divorced dads is to drop the ball and disappear from their children’s lives without any parental or financial support. He is too bitter to let go the marriage and focus on his kids.
The question here becomes why can’t ex-husbands and wives have a decent relationship following the dissolution of their marriage? Why does one of them, at least, try to ruin the other’s life? This kind of personalized sabotage is really crazy, especially when you stop to think that at one point, these people were in love and cared deeply for each other. There are exceptions to the rule, but they are so few, and it is important for parents to put their personal grievances aside because kids need both parents in their lives, even if they are separated.
A divorced friend of mine once told me a story about his young son. He said that one day his son told him, “my mom keeps on saying that I am the man of the house now ever since you left us.” He then looked up at his father and mustering as much maturity as a young boy can he then said, “But I don’t want to be a man, I’m only a kid.”
My friend was deeply moved by this conversation with his son, and he didn’t know what to tell him. I only wish that stubborn parents would take a moment to think about their lives and their children and stop being so selfish and only looking for revenge. Not only is it physically and emotionally harmful to themselves to carry all that anger and pain around, but it hurts their kids more than they could ever know. Often these kids take a long time to adjust emotionally and many are unable to have normal relationships when they grow up. The battle between the exes should stop in all cases, but it really needs to come to an end if you have kids. Children need to feel their parents love without pressure from any party, and when parents meet they should work on being civil to one another.
At the end of the day you need to work on your grievances and hurt in your own time, not on somebody else’s watch (especially if children are involved). Remember, a well-adjusted, assertive and confident person will be kind and respectful to someone, even if they hate their guts.
Koossy says the Battle of the exes must come to an end!