Category: Marriage

Marriage

How to Love an Ex

Love is thoughtfulness. Acting thoughtful of your ex can definitely be a stretch. Oftentimes, I want to say the first thing that comes to my mind, but I bite my tongue. I realize it’s best to quiet myself and not engage in behavior that will yield negative effects.

I remember the honeymoon stage of dating and marriage; I am thoughtful of him, wanting to satisfy him in many ways. Thinking first of my partner then me often comes with the territory of a loving relationship. After several years of marriage, I faded in my thoughtfulness and thought of the children. I began to do everything for the boys, settling in my relationship and accepting what I had.

Wishing there had been more, I think about what I could have done. But today, the best thing to be with my ex is thoughtful. Together we are co-parenting our two boys who need our unconditional love and attention. I need to stretch my mind and exercise the act of loving thoughtfulness. To think good thoughts is the beginning and I have a new beginning every day.

Guiding Lesson:

Eve, it is wonderful that you are aware of the impact that your thoughts and words have. And you’re right that they are the beginning of being thoughtful towards another. It’s not always easy, but when practiced every day, the grace of God meets you and strengthens you.

Thoughtfulness, as you have discovered, is a door that opens you up to a world of many blessings and graces. It lures you into a dance and then invites the other person into this dance. Each thoughtful encounter becomes sweeter and expands your mind and heart as well as those around you. One can’t help but join in the dance that sets you free to love in a new way what might be unlovable. And let’s face it, loving an ex can be challenging at times.

I encourage and support you in your desire to responding thoughtfully towards Adam. And even when it appears you efforts are failing, don’t give it up. Like you said, each day is a new beginning to recommit to living and acting thoughtfully. You have the power to transform your family’s world by sprinkling thoughtfulness in all you do.

Love,
Grace

Marriage

Love is Not Selfish

Love is not selfish. Often in marriages we forget that doing things for others in what is their best interest is a sign of love. We do things for others in what is beneficial for us. The same applies in co-parenting after divorce. We do things for our ex-husbands and ex-wives in what will be for our best interest long-term and we disguise it as beneficial for the children.

I know this because I have done this. I admit it and rationalize it as “I’ve earned it! I deserve it! And he messed up!” Oh, but the feeling leaves you empty, deceitful, and manipulative. This is not love–well, maybe love for me, but not a respectable me.

Co-parenting deserves the same kind of love as marriage–a love that is not selfish. I know I should not be deceitful and manipulative, but rather be humble and grateful. To have a partner with whom I share the responsibility of raising two wonderful boys is a blessing. Many single moms don’t have another partner, parents or a support network and I have a feeling they would feel blessed to share the responsibility with someone else.

Whether my ex agrees with me or not, I should not care. I know that I have a responsibility to do what is best, best for our children. I know that I have a heart filled with compassion and sincerity. Sometimes in all the chaos of living life and getting divorced, it is a welcomed thought to be reminded that love is not selfish.

Guiding Lesson:

Eve, Love is not selfish. How easy to speak these words, yet how difficult to practice and apply to someone who’s not at the top of your list and has wounded you deeply. You seem to be very aware and open to admit your shortcomings. It probably doesn’t feel so good to really look at yourself and find yourself not living according to your values.

So if love is not selfish, what causes one to be selfish?  Is there a wound that needs to be protected because it has not healed?  Are you aware of this wound?  Can you name it or describe it?  Who caused it?  If the answer is yes, then could it be that one acts selfish because they have not been generous in loving themselves to care for this wound?  Would you call it selfish to care for your wound?  To be loving towards yourself, could it require you to say “no” to others which may look selfish at first because they may not be used to this?   

Your outward actions only reflect your actions towards a certain part of yourself.  Generous love has to be planted with seeds of attention, kindness and thoughtfulness inside you.  Within your interior soul, the depths of heart, is where the generosity of love is conceived and brought forth in the world around you.  So what is happening in the dark and core of your being will be magnified in the light and interactions with others.  Loving is caring for oneself.  Here is an exercise that may help to consciously and intentionally love generously. 

Eve, Love is not selfish because God’s love is within you and all around.  Continue to tap into this love and know that with God’s grace he will fill you up and heal you based upon his holy will.  Go out and be generous with what God has and is giving you.  He gives his love to you, multiplies it within you so you can bless the world around you.

Love always,
Grace

Marriage

Feeling the Real Kind of Love

I never thought of love as reacting or acting. In the book, The Love Dare, the authors dedicate Day 2 to Love is Kind. While demonstrating kindness in marriage is expected—although we don’t always do it—showing kindness during divorce can be exhausting. I know I am exaggerating because frankly, I have been kind to Adam. But when you are confronted with betrayal, infidelity, and Magdalena, kindness can jump off the cliff. Enter Merlot.

With a glass of red wine in one hand and a pen in the other, I write down all the pros and cons of acting kind to Adam.

Pros

  1. Boys benefit
  2. Positive energy attracts more positive energy
  3. Reduces bitterness and anger
  4. Less drama
  5. I am being love
  6. God wants me to be kind

Cons

  1. I don’t have to pretend to be kind all the time

Ugh…I know I am imperfect, which means I don’t have to act kind all the time. But when I think of the times I was faced to make a choice of how to react and act, I chose to be forgiving. Forgiving of Adam and forgiving of me, for what happened, for how I felt and for my boys. However, I am now conscious of love is kind so I am inspired to act in kindness.

Guiding Lesson:

Eve,
To be kind is divine. To be real is to feel. Each side offers truth, healing and growth. So is there a way that both can exist in harmony and still lead to a loving relationship in a divorce? Let’s see.

I believe that is it is important to honor both sides. You need to start with your feelings at any given moment. It doesn’t mean you will react based upon your emotions, it just means you acknowledge and recognize what’s happening inside of you. There is a reason for every feeling and it is like an indicator light in a car to tell you something may be wrong and needs to be taken care of. Once you fix the issue you will be able to continue driving with peace of mind.

Since Day 2 is on Kindness, let’s expand on it. I kind of think what Adam did was horrible. I kind of think Magdelena should have more respect for you and your family. I kind of think Adam doesn’t always deserve to be treated with kindness. I kind of think your children didn’t deserve to go through divorce and learn the pain of separation at such a young age. 

I guess what I’m trying to encourage you to do is find a way to really release everything so it doesn’t seep out and impact others. Some ideas are: writing/journaling, drawing (or some form of art), exercising, punching pillows (or some other similar physical activity), sharing your honest feelings with someone safe who won’t judge and tell you that you should not feel like this. The purpose for doing this is to live in truth so you have the ability to elegantly respond with true kindness. Your kindness will not be a burden. Instead, it will delight and bring joy to your heart and soul. 

Eve, I give you permission to find a safe environment to be real. Only then will you be able to experience the phrase “Love is kind” to the fullest because you were first kind to yourself, to your feelings and to expressing your feelings instead of denying them. 

Eve, I kind of think it is time for Merlot to join us. Just being real 🙂

Love,
Grace

Marriage

Learning What Not to Do

Adam is definitely challenging me to be patient and mindful of how I react in front of the boys. After having read “Day 1: Love is Patient” in The Love Dare just days of my encounter with Magdalena, I remember bible verse 1 Thessalonians 5:15: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another.” At this very moment, I just breathe. How can I not want to seek revenge? I am livid, once again, at his selfish act.

What was he thinking? What is he thinking now? Why would he do that when the boys were also home? Does he not care about their feelings or how confusing this may be to them? I just don’t understand him anymore.

One thing is certain. If we are going to co-exist as co-parents, I do have to be mindful of what I say and do in front of the boys. I believe this thought might be the “good for one another.” He’s teaching me what not to do.

Guiding Lesson:

Sorry so late…I just got Outlook yesterday and lost all my information until I was able to sync up completely–big transition for me, Eve.  I’m stepping into the future with everyone else. But enough about me, let’s talk about you. 🙂

Eve, I have to say that I am very impressed and inspired to see you make lemonade out of sour lemons.  This is not easy when your children are in the picture.  Have you had a chance to talk to your sons to find out their interpretation of what was taking place?  It’s amazing what children take in and what they suppress.  I know you will work to make sure your children have a safe, loving and healthy environment.  



Now let’s talk about how this event impacted you.  It’s great that you chose to lean on God’s word from 1 Thessalonians 5:15: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another.” Very powerful and very challenging to practice.  These words sound great, but living them requires self-control, lots of prayer and God’s grace.  



Your attitude also plays a great part in providing you with clarity of mind, an open heart and strong instincts to respond with elegance and respect.  Choosing to use Adam’s behavior as an example of what “not to do” will guide you as you and Adam define your new relationship.  You know it won’t be easy, but it sounds like you are committed to God, yourself and your children. Your priorities along with your positive attitude and God’s word can be used as reminders to stay faithful on this journey. 



Here are some additional quotes from the Bible that you can use to anchor yourself during these unsettling times:

“Love your neighbors as yourself.”  Matthew 22:39 – You can only respond in love if you are filled with love.  Remember to love yourself first.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”  John 13:35 – Feel God’s love for you.  Bask in this unconditional love.  Let it overflow.  Share this with everyone you encounter.

“Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”  John 8:7 – It’s easier to respond in love when you remember that there are areas in your life where you struggled to act in love. 

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:34 – When you can’t forgive the others who have wronged you, say the words and let God supply the feelings. 

“I am with you always, even until the end of time.”  Matthew 28:20 – You never walk alone even when it feels like you do.  Lean on God.  He is right by your side every step of the way.

Right now focusing on Step 1:  “Learning what not to do” is perfect and enough.  As you journey deeper into “woods” and it begins to get darker, I will be there and provide you with guidance and support.  Let this time in your life, be an opportunity to grow closer to God, discover your capacity to love and become the woman God loves so dearly.  When it’s time, I will share other steps to take when dealing with difficult situations. 

Love always,
Grace