Learning to “Love” Your Ex
When I founded Transitions Legal ten years ago, the very first media pitch we did landed me on TV and in the paper talking about how to love your ex.
Yep, you read that right. How to LOVE your ex.
My brilliant marketing guru Lynne Golodner pitched the idea to coincide with Valentine’s Day because media outlets are always looking for new ways to tell old stories. Forget flowers and chocolates – let’s invite a divorce attorney on the air to discuss how to show love to your ex.
Here is the very first “Loving Divorce” TV interview that I did, in 2013!
The idea was crazy enough to work, and we repeated it several times over the past decade, with great success. It’s not as crazy an idea as you might think. While at first blush, it seems like love is the last thing you might have for someone who broke your heart or whom you left, but hear me out.
Love can be preferential attachment – I choose you! – like we see in movies and romance novels. Or it can be something deeper, different and lasting. Love as universal identification – I see the humanness in you, and hope you see it in me.
When you’ve lived life with someone, whether for two years or twenty, there was good. You can’t deny it. Something drew you together, something kept you going, there were happy times and passionate moments and true partnership, even if it was brief.
When we break up, though, we forget all the good and linger in the bad. We belabor the bad, frankly. We change the narrative so that the bad is the ONLY narrative of this love story, forever more.
That’s not fair to your history, and it’s certainly not fair to your partner. Yes, blocking out happy memories makes it easier to leave and easier to move on. But we must allow ourselves to embrace the whole story of our relationships in order to make peace with them and to learn how to do it better the next time around.
And, if you have children together, learning this way of loving your ex – your co-parent – is super important!! It’s not healthy for the children, nor for either of you, to stay mad at each other for years on end. To be bitter and resentful, to lash out every time you face a decision, an issue or an event where you both have to show up to shepherd your children through.
Accepting a different definition of LOVE for your ex-spouse, for the other parent of your children, for the person whose blood also runs through your children’s veins, well, it’s an act of generosity. Humility. Courage. And one that I encourage all my clients to consider.
Just as it’s a choice to remain married and devoted to a partner, it is a choice to look at an ex with fondness, with respect, or with disdain. You get to choose. Every single day. Just make the right choice.