A new year, a new chapter in our lives

Originally posted at: http://fourunder4plustwo.blogspot.com

So...Ian and I have decided to divorce. I know that's a bit blunt, but really, when it comes down to it, is there a PC way to break news like this? I suspect not, which would be why we didn't bother with Christmas cards or emails this year, for those of you who were wondering. What would I have written? "Merry Christmas! Here's a cute picture of the children. Oh, and by the way, we're divorcing." No matter how you slice it, this was going to be an awkward topic to address.

This is a decision that has been coming for quite some time. Anyone who has spent any serious time with Ian and I as a couple has seen our unhealthy dynamic for years and is not surprised that we have decided that this is what is best for our family. We have separated before in the past, for several weeks, and ended up getting back together. A little over a year ago, Ian and I began to acknowledge that we weren't a forever couple and our discussions turned from "If..." to "When...". Life continued on, with both of us doing the best we could with what we have in facing the challenges this past year has brought.

In October, our closest friends decided to part ways as well. We had the advantage of seeing first-hand how their split was unfolding (it has been extremely painful and acrimonious for all involved) and so we began to discuss our own eventual separation more seriously. Specifically, we began to discuss the details of how we would go about things- i.e., what we could learn from watching our close friends go through the process before/in front of us. It turns out that once you begin discussing the logistics of such a life-changing event in minute detail, you've pretty much already accomplished it. Toward the end of October Ian and I both decided that it seemed weird for us to continue living together when we had already made the decision to split, and so we separated officially.

Our house is for sale, and for the moment the kids and I are still living in it. Ian is living with family for now. We are still in the same financial position as before, so either of us renting another place while carrying this mortgage is out of the question, obviously. This decision was not made lightly, and it was made in the best interests of the entire family, with the needs and emotional health of the children as our highest priority, both short-term and long-term. It was a mutual decision, and Ian and I remain amicable.

We are fortunate that Ian is so technically savvy, as we are able to FaceTime wth Daddy whenever we like through various devices. Ian also comes out to the house at least twice per week to visit, have supper with us, bathe the children and put them to bed, etc. He will often stay into the evening to visit with us, sometimes joining for a workout or a board game or a movie. I think we all actually get more, and better quality, time with him than we ever did before. The removal of the tension of our relationship has been a blessing for us all- I think that all 6 of us feel relieved now that that is much less of a factor. Speaking for myself, I can honestly say that I am shown more respect than ever before and that our communication is far more open and clear than it has ever been.

It has been a rough 2 1/2 months- I'm not going to lie, it's definitely not all sunshine and roses. Being 'the one' dealing with all aspects of- well, everything- 24/7, is exhausting. I've never really had to be the night-time parent before, and I'm so appreciative of all that night-time parenting you've done up until now, Ian! But it wouldn't be fair to say that I'm completely single parenting. As I've mentioned, Ian is over several times a week and has committed to helping me one morning per weekend so that I can pursue free-lance work outside the home. We have a friend still living in the 4th bedroom at our house who pitches in whenever present at home and available, which is a great help with regard to both housework and as an extra set of hands in general, not to mention moral support. And of course grand-parents have taken various combinations of children for the day to help me out when I've had obligations to attend outside the home. This has been wonderful for the children, and a huge help to me as well. Ian's parents were even kind enough to help him with the kids for 3 days so that I could get a little (much-needed) break last week!

I mentioned that Ian and I have been communicating very well, and that's true. This page we've turned gives me hope that our dynamic will remain positive going forward through this process and beyond, but it has also brought about some harsh revelations. Ian has admitted to me that he checked out of our relationship, emotionally and mentally, quite some time ago. While this explains a lot and answers many of my questions, it certainly isn't easy to hear. We are very open and honest with each other about our individual contributions (or lack thereof, as the case may be) to the failure of our marriage. We made this decision to no longer live as a couple but we are still a family. Ian and I will always be the parents of our four amazing children, and we intend to co-parent as friends.

Our approach to our separation and divorce is unconventional. When Ian comes over for supper I send him home with 3-4 helpings of various leftovers from throughout the week, and he brings me back the empty dishes from before. He usually arrives with a load of laundry in his arms, which I am happy to wash, dry, and fold for him. We exchanged thoughtful Christmas gifts. I help him with his work (brainstorming, proof-reading, composing, summarizing), as I committed to doing when we agreed to pursue this opportunity, and which I am happy to continue doing in order to support him in his dream. He still helps out his electronically-challenged former partner by being my tech support. We still love each other, and respect each other and the important role we will each always play in the other's life.

I think we confuse the hell out of people. Nobody knows what to think or how to behave around us, because an amicable divorce is like a unicorn- there have been stories told of its existence, but nobody has ever actually seen one. Unfortunately, this has had some downsides as well. Many people assume that with a divorce there has to be a good guy/bad guy dynamic, that one party must necessarily be a victim, and the other a horrible person. They can't conceive of any other possibility. And so, sadly, through their unwillingness or perhaps inability to let well enough alone, there are people in our lives who are setting out to turn Ian and I against each other. "You're TOO friendly." We have both lost friends through this process, because people are narrow-sighted and judgmental. The vast majority (surprisingly, more friends than family members) of important people in our lives are positive and have committed to supporting us through this difficult time, which we appreciate more than you could ever know. I assume that those who don't feel that way no longer read my blog, but if you do, then I want you to know that I bear you no ill-will. I am sorry to lose your love and friendship, but this decision is between Ian and me alone, and that is how things will remain.

I welcome comments and messages of support but respectfully request that if you have anything else to share that you keep it to yourself, unless you think it will add anything positive to my life.

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