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Family Ties

Did you know I’m divorced? I know, scandalous! Oh, wait, no it actually makes me almost “normal”. Ugh—not really a demographic I ever wanted to belong to, but c’est la vie.

Here’s the interesting thing about divorce…it doesn’t just impact the two people involved, and more importantly, when the judge signs a decree that you are no longer tied to one another, it doesn’t suddenly dissolve all of the other ties that were created during the marriage.

If you are lucky—and these days I consider myself to be lucky—you are eventually able to have a relatively harmonious relationship with your ex. My ex and I were just friends for about a year and a half before we started dating. Lucky for us we have pretty much fallen back on that friendship. Even luckier, it has made things easier to maintain some of those “other” ties.

Take for example my ex and my Dad. We jokingly have referred to them as BFFs for more than a decade. The divorce definitely put a ding in that relationship, but now-a-days you can find them laughing, talking and joking. Why? Largely because I’m okay with it. But also because the affection they had for each other was not dissolved by a judge. And I’m glad for that—it is a beautiful thing for my children to see…their grandfather and father being friends. It’s beneficial to all involved.

The relationship that prompted me to write tonight however is one with my ex’s grandmother. I just had the privilege of having dinner with her—with both of them actually. My ex was returning our boys from his normal weekend, and his grandmother is in town. In making the return arrangements, we agreed they’d be back at dinnertime, and me being me, I cooked for all. And you know what? It was a VERY pleasant meal. We talked about her life, about politics, world events, the children, et cetera, et cetera. Where you would think there would be awkwardness or tension, there was not. In fact, we even went so far as to make tentative plans for the boys and I to go visit her in Chicago this summer.

So why does this make me feel so good? Simple—this woman was a part of my life for a decade when I was WITH her grandson, and she is still a part of my life now. I did not divorce her. She did not divorce me. The relationship stands on its own merit. That is a relief. She is the last great-grandparent my boys have, as well as the last grandparent I have. I am thrilled to be able to have her as a part of my life.

I can understand in divorce—particularly if it is a highly contentious one—where people can take sides and the hard feelings can be transposed from the spouse to their family members. But the thing to bear in mind is that they are not responsible for what happened in your marriage. A marriage is between two people (Polyamory aside) and both the good and bad are their responsibility alone. Sure there are exceptions. Sure there are times where family members can cause stress on a marriage. But ultimately success or failure has to do with the couple’s choices alone. Dragging other family members into it is unfair to everyone and, particularly where children are in the picture, will only cause additional pain in an already painful situation.

So to this phenomenal woman (who is celebrating a birthday this week as luck would have it) I say thank you—thank you for being part of my life and allowing me to be part of yours. Thank you for seeing the dissolution of my marriage as just that, and not taking it as a reflection of you in any way.

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