What are you grateful for? Mostly, we appreciate the special people in our lives, the roof over our heads, our favourite things we are fortunate to possess, good health and so on. We are inspired to adopt an “attitude of gratitude”, which is wonderful, but, in the world of divorce where I work daily, there is hardly any regard for it.
Every day, I am reminded of how hurt I was when I went through my bitter divorce. I feel the familiar anger and resentment I once felt, in the people I help. The utter disgrace and shame I thought only I could experience because my marriage failed, hunches the shoulders of every disillusioned divorcee I deal with. Looking into the haunted eyes of men, women and children who desperately try to bear their loss with a thread of dignity, I recall how lost and anxious I once felt.
When we divorce, we are heart-broken and afraid of the life-changes imposed upon us. We feel threatened and insecure about our future. We feel somehow wronged and seek revenge at all cost. To make matters worse, we are inspired by the divorce industry to adopt an acrimonious “attitude of greed”.
We give thanks to a destructive victory over our enemy and delight in their deserved ill health. Our gratitude is reserved for the possessions we manage to deprive another of and claim for ourselves. In some cases, we rejoice when we’ve robbed the other party of precious time with loved ones. We are grateful to those who help us wage these wicked wars.
Millions of us plot our own demise in the world of divorce. Similarly, I was bravely forging my divorced future in the legal furnace, when one very dark and desperate day, feeling as if nobody appreciated anything I did, I realized: When was the last time I appreciated anything someone did for me?
Are we ever grateful to those who quietly sit with us and listen patiently as we spew out our sick divorce guts without reservation? What about those mainstay members of our family and circle of friends whom we depend on for support and help at a moment’s notice? I make a point of thanking those special people in my life for being there for me and I also share my gratitude with them, for the good years we did manage to have during our marriage, before things fell apart.
How do we show appreciation for the roof over our heads, even though it might be more modest than before, as a result of divorce? Even if we are paying for it all by ourselves, do we give thanks for the ability to do so? I no longer take my favourite possessions that I salvaged during the divorce for granted. Instead, I am grateful for still having them.
If we are enjoying reasonably good health regardless of the stress of our divorce, do we ever realize what a blessing that is? Too many people emerge from a devastating separation, emotionally scarred or physically ill. These days I see the broken ones carrying their heavy burdens and gratefully enjoy the abundance of strength and resilience in my body, thinking: “It was tough, but thankfully, we got through it!”
But what if our transition through the divorce process is relatively civilized and mutually respectful, should we not thank our soon to be ex for their part in making it possible? Then it dawned on me: I actually have my Ex to thank for a lot of things!
If our co-parent is diligently contributing to the living expenses of our children, do we constantly complain that it is not enough or take it for granted because that’s the least they can do? Or do we appreciate the effort it takes for them to generate enough regular income to keep up with the demands? Do we ever think it necessary to thank them for it?
When our children are happily spending equal quality time with both their parents, are we content and mindful of the non-resident parent’s commitment and dedication or are we consumed with jealousy and hatred? Do we realize what the benefits of successful co-parenting are for our children and express gratitude to our parenting partner or do we grudgingly adhere to the often inconvenient schedule?
Would it not be appropriate to acknowledge the sacrifices made by the resident parent to care for and raise our children the majority of the time? What better way to show gratitude than offering a little extra time or taking over a duty or helping out once in a while?
Are we aware of the horrible things that happen in some divorces, such as litigational abuse, parental alienation, economic abuse and many more? Perhaps those of us who don’t have to face such awful challenges, ought to consider how fortunate we are and give thanks often. Maybe, if those of us who are battling to survive these heinous acts, honestly search for things to be grateful for and give authentic thanks to the perpetrators, our situation might show drastic improvement.
Every day, I recognize the relief in the eyes of separated and divorcing parties as they adopt a thankful outlook on life and make a concerted effort to communicate their appreciation to their ex-spouse. The familiar resentment subsides as they hold their grateful heads high once again and I delight in their joy as I give thanks for the honor of sharing my experience one more time: Thank your Ex once in a while – it will change your world!
This post was originally published on FairDivorce.co.za and is republished here with the author’s permission.