Separating & Building a Positive Co-Parenting Relationship


Two and half years ago my life irrevocably changed. One moment, I was a 39-year-old woman with a husband, and an almost two-year-old son, living in a single-family home in a desirable neighborhood in a quintessential Massachusetts town, with hopes and dreams for myself and my family’s future. The next moment, or after years of a series of small and seemingly insignificant moments that built up over time, I separated from my spouse of almost 12 years and met with our realtor to discuss selling our beautiful home. The life I envisioned in that home was erased before it had truly begun. It was the beginning of the end of a significant chapter of my life. However, it was also the beginning of a new start for me.

I’m 41 now. I’ve been living on my own for over two years. I co-parent my now 4-and-a-half-year-old son with my soon-to-be ex-husband. Despite our incompatibilities as romantic partners, he has developed into a great co-parenting partner and remains a good and trusted friend. This was not always the case when we were married and cohabitating. Perhaps, I was not a good partner. Perhaps, he wasn’t a good partner. In all honesty, we were not the best partners for each other. With time, therapy, and intentional effort on both sides, we worked to define our post-separation and co-parenting relationship.

We entered into a romantic relationship in our mid-twenties with the notion of what a relationship was supposed to be like, and we placed expectations on the other that couldn’t be met. All the factors that built resentment and contempt over time as we progressed into our thirties. There’s a plethora of online material these days regarding dating and relationships: red flags, childhood traumas, attachment theory, love languages, etc. But none of this information existed, or was readily available, twenty years ago when we first started dating, so toxic relationship habits festered. In time, those developed into fissures that cracked the foundation of our relationship, until it was no longer repairable.

Despite deeply hurt feelings, and a period of emotional turbulence after separating, we never wavered on building a positive co-parenting relationship and healthy environment for our son. His needs took precedence. He came first. He is not a bargaining chip used in a power play move by one parent or the other. We set aside differences. Even if that meant drafting a bath and bedtime schedule for several months while still living together in the beginning, to maintain consistency and routine in his life. It was important for our son to know that he has two parents who love him, and who still care about each other, even if that meant that our family structure was shifting from one household to two.

It’s been over two years since we’ve lived together. I occasionally grieve for my beautiful home in my wonderful neighborhood in that quintessential Massachusetts town, but that’s a story for another time. How we grieve the lives we once dreamed of that never came to fruition. I settled in a condo in a neighboring town. One I love just as much, albeit in a different way, than my prior town. My son will attend elementary, middle, and high schools here. His dad is 10 minutes away. We spend time together at least once a month as a family; having dinner at the local pizzeria, attending a sporting event, or a snowboarding lesson together. Our family dynamic has forever changed, but there is a healthy and happy future in store for us. It is our choice to make it that way.


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