Saturday, May 21, 2011

What Do You Call Your Significant Other Post-Divorce?

This is not a trick question.  What is your once-significant other now?  My insignificant other?  My formerly significant other?  The person once known as my spouse?  Okay.  What’s in a name, anyway?  But I think it speaks to the issue of change.

Invariably, one party is angry.  If that’s not the case for you, yippee.  There’s always hurt and a feeling of loss.  Often there’s confusion.  It’s useful to consider the emotions you’re feeling.  It’s good to name them and decide how big they are.  This helps you decide what you need to do about the feelings.  There may be some name-calling among friends, initially.  It’s just a way to diffuse some of those feeling.  But it has to stop.

The way you think of your former spouse, and I use this term because it’s benign and non-pejorative, affects how you think about yourself.  I’ve said before, in my top 5 list, instead of ex, just use a name.  It decreases anger and increases control.  Your once-significant is a real person, not a monster or an all-powerful being.  It doesn’t have to be a name, but it does have to be neutral.  This is imperative if you have kids, but also useful if you don’t.  Even your adult kids don’t want to hear one parent berating another.  It puts them in a tough spot.

Now, about those feelings of hurt and loss, they’re part of the grieving process.  Whatever the nature of the relationship, and however good it’s going to turn out to be divorced, there’s loss there.  Whether it’s the person you’re missing, their family, friends you lose, things you did together, memories you shared, all of that is very real and it’s painful.  You can’t avoid it.  You have to feel it, share it, write about it, sing about it, do whatever you do to deal with emotional issues.  Oh, you don’t deal with emotional issues?  This is a great time to start.

When you can use the term you’ve chosen freely and with comfort, you’re moving forward.  Then it’s time to consider where you want to go.

I Call Your Name, The Mammas & The Pappas (I like their version better, so shoot me)

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