Watch us pull a rabbit out of a hat
This could be a really bad idea.
We just moved to 50/50 custody. The kids spend 3 nights in a row at my apartment, 3 nights in a row at his apartment, and that other night we alternate every other week.
When I mentioned this to a lawyer friend of mine, who himself is divorced with a 4-year-old, he said, “That’s a really, REALLY bad idea. No judge in the country will award equal physical custody, because if you can’t get along well enough to stay married, how could you get along well enough to share equal time with your kids?”
There’s logic to that question.
I’m not sure human brains have a place for where LOD and I are right now. We are not married anymore. We don’t really like each other the way friends do, and certainly don’t want to spend time with each other for fun. But we don’t hate each other. We’re friendly, and wish each other well. And we know that it’s vital that the kids see each of us as much as possible, and that we be on the same page as much as possible.
Back when we were preparing for the birth of our older son, one of the ideas that came up about labor and delivery was that Western culture doesn’t have an understanding of “mildly uncomfortable.” To us, things either feel good or they hurt. We’re looking for extremes of emotion.
LOD and I got those extremes, for sure. I know, intellectually, that there was a time when we felt really good. And then there was a long time when we felt really bad. And then, throughout the long divorce process (2 years!) it seemed like things went from euphoria to despair and back again on a regular 20-minute cycle for me. I can only guess that it was the same for him.
(Anyone who says divorce is the easy way is an ignorant wanker.)
But now that we’re completely logistically done, apart, no longer emotionally beholden in any way, how do we stay in a constant relationship with someone who we don’t completely trust but need to cooperate with? Everything—EVERYTHING—depends on our ability to get along: our kids’ emotional health now, our kids’ intimate relationships later, our emotional health now and later, all four of our financial situations, all four of our career paths, who gets what for Christmas, what each of the kids eat for lunch tomorrow.
It’s too facile to say “Failure isn’t an option.” But it isn’t. We can’t wipe out and fall into the resentment and one-upsmanship that characterized the last few years of our marriage. We know that *individually* we have super-human strength to save our kids. Together, to save our kids, we have to be able to work this out.
How do we live in this place of constant small discomfort (and occasional large anger and conflict)? We aren’t sure, but we do know that thousands of other parents have done it and are doing it now.
We’re not the only ones doing this. But we’re writing about it here. Which may turn out to be a really stupid idea. But it can’t be any stupider than thinking that we can survive the effects of the poison we’ve picked.