A few years ago, as I approached the cosmetic counter at my local drug store to pay for my purchases (their line always moves faster than the general lines), I noticed the well-put-together woman ahead of me. It was obvious that she had not been denied much of anything in her life. The cashier and her chatted while she rang in her purchase and, as usual, I passed my time surveying the shiny things around me. My fog from all-things-sparkly very abruptly cleared when I heard the woman in front of me boast to the cashier that she was going to “ruin” her soon-to-be-ex-husband, “make him pay,” and “take him” for all he was worth.
It took every ounce of my being not to kick her in the back of the knees and pull her to the ground by her ratty-ass hair extensions.
Why can’t people be adults? Why can’t we be civil and just move on in a kind way?
My emotions were raw, as I had just spent 18 months being my husband’s informal legal counsel for his case against his ex’s attempt to get more money out of him. FYI—Her case was fabricated information and we wiped the walls with her thanks to the “black and white” information in our court documents.
But back to our friend at the cosmetic counter.
For all I know, her soon-to-be ex could have punished her each time she failed to make her tuna casserole “just like mama’s” by locking her in a room full of angry bees, while forcing her to eat endless bowls of cilantro (blech… cilantro). Her life could have been horrible, but her smug behavior made me want to school her in a way that only a redheaded Capricorn could. Knowing that serving jail time for stoning her to death with OPI nail polish bottles would throw off the timing of the roast I had in the oven, I opted to keep my fury to myself and went to one of the endless line-ups in the general area to pay for my goods. All the while staring daggers at that woman’s back. All the while being confident that she was also the type who would slander her ex to their children.
Recently though, I met a man who confided his divorce story to me. He is a hard-working man, from what I know of him, who provided his wife and four kids with a good lifestyle because of those efforts. I think I recall that his wife never had to work because of his income. As the nasty divorce is running its course, she lives in the million-dollar home he worked so hard to build, and spends her days verbally attacking his character to any and every person who will listen—including their kids. The majority of their kids now don’t want anything to do with him.
Understand that my knowledge of the information is one-sided, but the pain in his eyes seemed to point to his story being the truth.
What boils my blood is that she has spoiled the children with material things and poisoned them against their father. Unfortunately, this story hits way too close to home for me and my husband.
My husband’s ex was always an uncontrollable spender, but she ruined their children by making their sole drive in life—the quest for more stuff. What really hurt him though was that, after their separation, she began to poison them against their father. She convinced them that the home they were born and raised in was disgusting; the house he worked so hard to pay for and fix-up for them as a family. It was so bad that they would cry and beg not to go to his house.
After almost a decade apart, her tirade against my husband continues, and his children still just want “stuff.” Whenever we plan something special for them, she finds some way to contact them to let them know that there is a surprise waiting for them at her house. It ranges from flat-screen TV’s to puppies. I’m not even joking.
When my husband and I met, and I witnessed his ex’s negative behavior, I made him promise me that he would never utter a negative thing about her to their children. It is probably one of the most difficult things I challenge people with as they begin their path to singledom. For those reading this, I hope you heed the following with great care:
No matter how much hurt has occurred between you and your soon-to-be-ex, do your very best to hold your head up high and be the bigger person. Despite how tempting it can be to “trash-talk” the other—don’t do it.
Your children will see the negative in their own time. If there are some nasty colors that your ex possesses, they will see it when they are ready. If you try to highlight it for them, it might only cause severe resentment towards you. It is both of your job to raise emotionally healthy children. If you dump mud in the pond that is their psyche, then you will surely damage them to a point where they will not be able to have a healthy, respectful, and loving relationship with any future partner.
I am not asking that you put your ex on a pedestal, but recognize that, without that person, those little beings would not exist. If nothing else, respect that miracle.