Can you please tell me about yourself?
My name is Markus. I’m a 35-year-old American expat living and working in Saudi Arabia at the moment. I’m also a divorced dad of an amazing 7-year-old little girl in San Antonio, TX.
What can you share about your divorce process?
My ex and I were on somewhat decent terms when we decided to end our marriage so we opted to go through divorce mediation as opposed to the traditional route. In mediation, we shared a counselor and an attorney who helped us to dissolve the marriage and work out the agreements of what post-divorce would look like for our family. It may not be a viable option for everyone but I would recommend it especially in cases where there are kids involved because you get what you want without tearing your family apart and burning bridges that you will ultimately need to cross regularly. Also, it’s way more affordable in comparison to a traditional divorce because you’re not stuck in court going back and forth over trivial things.
How long ago did you divorce?
I’ve been divorced for a little more than 3 years.
How did you cope or heal from the divorce?
It may sound a little strange but I decided I would compartmentalize what was happening to me and my family. The reason I did was that in the beginning everything was overwhelming and I didn’t know how to move forward without making things worse. The first thought process was that I needed to deal with becoming a single parent with dignity and the second was that I needed to deal with the things that led to my divorce. Breaking things down this way helped me to prioritize protecting my daughter and our relationship over everything else. However, divorce is devastating no matter how you slice it. The thing I think you have to do is feel what you’re feeling in the moment and just let time do what it does without being destructive. For me that has equated to taking the long route to being fully healed because although I don’t take all of the blame, I acknowledge that I have to take some of it. A lot of what I’m dealing with now has nothing to do with my feelings towards my ex but things that predated our relationship which probably led to the end of our marriage.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve experienced?
The biggest challenge that a “non-custodial parent” can have is losing a significant amount of contact with their child. That’s an additional loss, slightly less devastating than experiencing a death, that you have to learn to cope with. Another challenge is what to do with the time that was once occupied by your children. For men in particular, if we don’t find something constructive to do with the balance of that time we can further destroy our lives and our relationships. I went through my fair share of depression but fortunately for me its never gotten too dark because I’ve been focused on rebuilding my life.
How do you manage to co-parent? What are some difficulties?
Co-parenting is nice because neither parent has the right nor the responsibility to raise their child on their own. However, I think there are some misconceptions about co-parenting. The first myth about it that should be tossed out is that it’s easy for those of us who are doing it. I think it’s more difficult to always have to modify your behavior and your words around the other parent. It’s not as though we don’t have the same thoughts running through our minds when we see our exes (especially if you were hurt by them). People don’t get divorced just to co-parent. That being said, the first thing that is required is a level of maturity on the part of either parent (both is ideal). I say that because in the beginning you won’t always have two willing parents. However, if you’re the lone parent thinking about your child’s interest then consider it your responsibility to motivate the other parent to meet you half way. If you can rise above your divorce and elevate the dialog between you and your ex for your children’s sake then he or she has no choice but to meet you on that level (it takes two people to argue). If nothing else, your child learns from you how to handle difficult people. Once both parents are in somewhat of a decent place (you don’t have to be friends) then communication and cooperation can begin for the rest of your lives. That’s co-parenting in a nutshell.
What is her age and How did you explain the divorce to your child?
My daughter was three when we divorced but we still told her about it. She didn’t understand what it meant at the time but she understands somewhat now. Honestly, the fact that we can come together for her and that she still sees us communicating about her needs has shielded her from some of the harsh reality presented by divorce. I would say that what’s more challenging now for her is witnessing what “moving on” looks like for her mom and I. It’s inevitable and important for us to keep her feeling secure about our love and support for her.
When dating someone how long will it take you to introduce her to your daughter?
It depends on who I’m dating but I’m also adamant about ensuring she doesn’t experience any unnecessary losses on my part so I would say perhaps a year. If I don’t feel comfortable enough to introduce you to her by then meeting her is the last of our concerns.
Where are you in the healing process. If healed, what would you recommend for someone to move forward?
As I said, I’m still healing and while I may seem delayed it’s also because I have a whole new perspective when it comes to moving on. I’m in no rush to date again nor do I have any intentions to start another family. As I see it, I have all the time in the world to reflect and become the best me than I’ve ever been. What I would recommend for people to do is to truly learn to live with themselves and to practice self-love. Divorce can do a number on your self-esteem so this is important. What are the things that you want to experience and to learn before you get into another relationship? What areas of your life can you improve? Focus on those things. For me that has been learning self-discipline, meditation, eliminating my debt, evolving my diet to a vegetarian one, and becoming more fit among other things.
What do you want your daughter to learn from you as a parent and from the divorce?
I want my daughter to learn the importance of being true to herself no matter what title she holds and no matter what she experiences in life. It’s ok to let things shape you as long as you are aware and approving of those changes. Never live your life as defined by someone else.
Thank you Markus for sharing! I wish you peace and love.
Thank you for visiting.
Peace & love to you.
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- Meditation for Self-Love
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- How to Be More Mindful
- Getting Unstuck