Not many divorces are amicable. Most ex-partners—whether the perpetrator or the aggrieved—decide early on, if war’s called, let the ‘games’ begin! The trouble is, disregarding what happens in the field of play, the spectators (the children) are the injured ones.
The separated parents need to set a peace precedent early on, and to do whatever they can to ensure that precedent prevails over the remainder of their lives. It’s not only the kids who will benefit, but having kids to another person will mean this ex-partner is in our lives for a lot longer than we would often like. Ex-partners should learn to get on.
What Does A Peace Precedent Look Like?
The sort of inner peace we enjoy via a quiet mind and calm heart is not the same sort of peace that this damaged relationship sorely needs. Some divorced arrangements seem unfixable, but a peace precedent can be made by one party, which will influence the other party if we are consistently sacrificial enough. Grace is to be distributed toward them, no matter what, even to the point of being the proverbial doormat.
This may read like a bitter pill to swallow, but our vision is well beyond today, tomorrow, next week, or next month. Our vision must be to be able to get along swimmingly with the ex-partner for the children’s sake. Not only that, but an effective peace precedent, which is a commitment to love the ex-partner, affords glimpses of relationship that were, once, taken for granted—long ago, when the mood of romance filled the air. This may not be our desire, but at least we can get along better.
As a broader vision we don’t want, nor can we afford, one single enemy in this life, if at all that can be arranged. The collection and retention of enemies is to be avoided. The peace precedent, which is our commitment of peace within tenuous relationships, will protect us. This precedent will caution us when the storm clouds of conflict gather.
And What About Unfair Ex-Partners
Grace can be taken advantage of. The peace precedent will be tested. Our patience will be nurtured in the seedbed of frustration from time to time. But the only thing that works in the presence of an unfair ex-partner is an adult-minded approach. The peace precedent aligns with this adult-minded approach that is not easily upset, and absorbs whatever is thrown against it until safe ground for disposal arrives.
Unfair ex-partners can be turned into fairer ones if we are prepared to exemplify the treatment we wish to receive from them—and we consistently do this, and apologise sincerely and promptly when we don’t. The peace precedent relies on a firm belief in these principles.
Ex-partners can be turned from enemies into friends by the peace precedent. When we decide to issue grace and the benefit-of-any-doubt to our ex-partners, being fair on every occasion, everyone begins to win—especially the children.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Postscript: I’ve been divorced to my first wife over seven years. She and I, I believe, exemplify this principle.