Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re T.H. & Jessica.
Jessica: Hi everybody. Welcome to today’s episode of Divorce etc… This is all about you. T.H. and I love to share our own stories and tell you guys where we started, where we have been, and where we are now. But this is all about answering the questions that you are asking us and that you guys are sending in. Please know when you are asking us questions, whether it’s on comments, on social media, DMing us, or even emailing us through firstname.lastname@example.org, we really are in fact reading all of your questions. If you haven’t gotten a response directly, then it’s because we are answering them in this format right here. I’m happy to have you participate in your own way by asking questions
T.H.: So ask us anything. That’s what we’re here for.
Jessica: That’s right.
T.H.: So let’s start. Let’s start with the number one question that Jessica actually responded to, the whole concept of playing house. You know you’re getting a divorce, you’re both in the same house, you have all your kids, how do you even manage that?
T.H.: What’s your advice?
Jessica: Yeah, well, we had gotten this question from someone. Because just to give the full context, the person who had written in about this question specifically was in a situation where there had been infidelity on her husband’s part. And so the conclusion is that they’re getting divorced, and we don’t know whether or not the playing house part, whose idea that was, but the question was how do you go about that and pretend to your kids that everything is as normal while you’re playing house? And so I say since I did in fact kind of play house in my second marriage, and that was a mutual decision and there was no infidelity on either of our parts. But I think that we both just felt we needed to figure out our own stuff and exactly how that was going to look before we started telling the kids, especially since they had all been through divorce before. I think that if you are making that decision mutually, it’s something that you both want, and you both agree on that is a good idea, then I think that you keep smiles on your face and you try to be as positive and as “normal” as possible in your everyday life. But I will say that if one of you decides that you want or need to get divorced, and the other one says, well, we need to stay in the house for now while we figure it all out, then I think that that first person should not be forced to have to play house. Because I think that if I had said to my first husband, I’m sorry, you’re going to need to move out, and we’re going to have to get divorced. And he had said to me, well, we need to keep living together for now until we figure it out. No, don’t force me into a situation that I’m not comfortable in. I feel the playing house is really a personal individualized situation, but nobody should feel pressured that they have to stay living together until the other person can figure it out. That’s my two cents.
T.H.: I mean, I didn’t play house, but I would imagine it would be complicated. Because I think, I don’t know if it’s a myth or not, but it’s definitely something to ask your lawyer, I mean, do you give up rights to your home if you leave? I know that a lot of people stay in the home because they’re like I’m not giving up rights to my house. I’ll go sleep in the basement. Ultimately, that doesn’t last very long. Just make sure you check with your lawyer if there are any legal implications. I would also imagine that it’s really only going to work if you’re in an amicable or somewhat amicable separation and divorce. I was not. There’s no way that I could have played house.
Jessica: I also think the playing house thing, I mean, look, you’re going to have to tell your kids at some point. I understand that the night you discover the affair, or you’re within a 24 or 48-hour time span of deciding that you’re going to get divorced may seem a little abrupt, and you do want to actually formulate in your head the best way to approach it with the children, I totally get that. But I also feel if you guys have both decided that you’re getting divorced, and there really is no way to make it work, and divorce is the best option for moving forward, then there’s no benefit in prolonging telling the kids even longer. In my opinion, if you tell the kids and you continue to stay living together for as short or as long a period of time afterward, you actually are showing the kids that it’s possible to have an amicable divorce and that there is the possibility that some of the family dynamics can remain. I would say it is one of those you got to rip the band-aid off kind of things. You may as well just tell the kids and figure it all out as you’re going along. I just think the thing you really need to be prepared about is what you’re going to tell the kids. Whether or not you tell the kids and then say, “And because of this, I’m going to be living in the basement”, or “I’m going to be in the guest room”, or “Yes, we’re still going to share our bedroom, but it’s going to be more like roommates kind of thing”, however you decide to explain it is fine, but you may as well tell them.
T.H.: Right, and be honest, because you’re going to get caught up in all the lies and all the emotions of everything. Tell them what you want to tell them, and do what’s comfortable for you, but don’t lie, because it’ll eat you up. It’ll eat you up. Okay, question number two. It kind of relates to this because it’s about kids.
What do you say to your kids when you drop them off at your ex’s house? Or how do you greet your child when they are dropped off at your house? Let’s start with how do you greet your kids, Jess, when they were younger, when they were being dropped off at your house?
Jessica: I will say that because I live in Manhattan, and just because of my personal work schedule in TV and running shows and whatever, it was less of a drop-off situation that I think happens more commonly in the suburbs. It was more our nanny who would pick up the kids from school and bring them back to whichever parent’s house it was. I may have saved myself a little bit of that pickup and drop-off awkwardness because they were just always with Nori. Nori was the stabilizing force that was constantly going back and forth with them. There was that transition I think was made a lot easier in that regard. But I will say that my philosophy always from the very beginning was kids are going to pick up the nuances that you are putting out there. If you are acting like it is such a big ordeal that they are being dropped off or coming back or something, that’s what your kids are going to lean into. I always made it like it was perfectly normal. I mean, that was my kids’ childhood. That was our normal from ages two and four. My kids knew nothing other than going back and forth to our apartment. They would walk into my apartment, and my greeting to them would be the same as if they left my apartment that morning and went to school and then were brought home from school that same day. I didn’t make it a bigger deal.
T.H.: A production.
Jessica: That’s right. It was the same greeting that I would have if they had gone anywhere else. In terms of the drop-off, if they were leaving, I would acknowledge, okay, well, don’t forget you’re going to be at dad’s today, but call me when you get home from school. Or I’ll call you later and you can tell me about how your day was. Again, I wouldn’t make it a huge deal. I would give them a reminder. Because when kids are really little, knowing what their schedule is going to be is very important to many of them. It was more that but totally natural. You guys are going to be at dad’s tonight, and I can’t wait to see you on Friday, but I’ll talk to you later. That was kind of how it was.
T.H.: I totally agree with all that. We had some drop-off and pick-up. My kids would sometimes feel bad that they were leaving me alone and going to their dad’s with his girlfriend there. What was mommy going to do? Are you going to be okay all weekend? Are you going to be okay alone tonight? I would never make them feel bad. Even if I was having a rough night and I was going to miss them terribly, I’d be like, I’m so fine. I have plans. I’m going to be busy. I’m going to hear from you when you want to call me. Otherwise, we’ll talk on Monday. You’re going to tell me all about your weekend. I would never put my struggles on them. It would be difficult when I would drop off. I was uncomfortable going to the front door because he was living there with the woman that he cheated on me with and had a long-term affair and is still with. I wouldn’t be allowed past the front door. My kids would be like, I want to show you our new room and everything, and I was not allowed in the house. Ultimately, I would say goodbye in the car. But in the beginning, I would walk them to the door. I just felt like the UPS delivery man, like, here’s your package, bye! There was no communication between me and my ex at all. It was all with the kids as a buffer. I would just say take a deep breath. If you know it’s going to be uncomfortable, you can totally get through it. Just isolate that small amount of time, do it, and then call your friend and bitch about it. Or call us or DM us and bitch about it. But I understand the discomfort. I was not in an amicable divorce, as you as most of you already know by now. It wasn’t like, hey, how was your day? That was totally Daren and Jessica. For me, it was like, bye kids, love you. Bye, mom. Hi, dad! And then he would talk to them. It is a little uncomfortable. Just do the best that you can. If you’re having a rough day, and you feel like you did put something on your kids, own it and say, listen, I was having a rough day. I’m only human. You have rough days, I have rough days, and this is what it looks like. I’m sorry if I made you feel bad.
Jessica: Right. I mean, there might also be though, ways to–I don’t know, everyone’s situation is so different, but I would say if I lived somewhere and Jake played soccer and he left my house that morning, and it was going to be a drop off to the dad, I would try to coordinate things like let the dad pick them up from practice or do things where it doesn’t have to be such a specific drop off or pick up if possible. For me, all of the drop-off days mostly, because we never really did a weekend drop off, it was always during the week, it was like I would leave for work in the morning, as I would every morning, and they would leave for school. Then it was just like we wouldn’t see each other later. We would talk later. But I agree with you 100%. Don’t put it on your kids. Don’t make your kids feel guilty.
T.H.: Yeah, and if they don’t talk to you all weekend, be like, they’re having a great time. Don’t start telling yourself they don’t care about me. They don’t love me. No, they’re having a great time and they’re in a good place. Trust me, I’ve had my kids call me incessantly complaining about something, and I’m like, god, they’re just not in a good place right now, wherever that is.
Okay, the next one is the concept of a Disney dad or a Disney mom, which means, I’d be happy to explain it, my ex has way more money than I do. That’s just putting it straight out there. He is very extravagant with their gifts. They’re not gifts that I would get them that I think are necessarily appropriate for their age.
I don’t even know if I have those things myself. I’m sure I don’t. That’s by choice. I remember at the beginning of the separation, I was like, god, he’s taking them to all these places. He’s flying them, first class. I would just be like, dad, can you spring for four tickets to Florida, and we’ll come to visit you? My parents were all about it, and they’re very generous. We always did a family vacation, so I knew we were good for that. But I do remember after my divorce was final, I saved up a lot of money, enough money, and I used the miles that I got in my divorce settlement and I took my kids to Costa Rica on a trip that I could afford. It was nothing that he’d done. We would have a trip that I would love. I wouldn’t have loved some of the trips he took them on and the ways that–whatever he does. My kids to this day remember we went zip-lining, and we were nervous. I was screaming crossing a suspension bridge. But those were great memories. Look, even if you can’t get on a plane to do something, it’s quality time together. It’s not how much money you spend, I promise you. Because the money is still being spent on my children, and they’re really not–I mean, they love it, but they know the difference. And just cream really does rise to the top. Be the best mom or dad and make sure you pay attention to your present with your kids. It won’t matter what trip they take them on, what gifts they give, none of that will in the end really matter.
Jessica: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I will say also for many, many years after my divorce, the only trips that my kids went on with me were to Florida to visit my parents. It was all we could do. Then some of the years, my parents, for big occasions, would plan a big family trip with me and my siblings and then all the grandkids. So yes, my kids got to take advantage of that. But that was all they could do. I still felt to myself like you did, they’re lucky kids. They get to go to Florida once or twice a year. That’s fantastic. That’s what we were doing. I will say because my parents don’t live that far from Orlando in Florida, I was the one that took them to Disney World for the first time, and probably I think the only time to this day. I’m not going to lie, I was very glad that I was the parent that got to have that memory with them of them going to Disney World and seeing all the characters, etc, etc. We went with my parents, and it was great. I was a little smug about it. I’m not going to lie. However, to this day, I feel everything that you just said is totally true. It’s so not about the money. I really couldn’t afford to do much with my kids when they were little. You and I went away that one weekend to the indoor water park with the kids
T.H.: Oh, yeah! We went to Great Wolf Lodge. We also went to Long Branch to the beach.
Jessica: We went to Long Branch. That’s right. We did local things that were within driving distance within two hours. When the kids were younger, they thought it was really great. I feel, again, it’s how you build it up to the kids and how you act about it. They don’t know any better if they don’t know any better. I really just felt it was never really a comparison. Daren has definitely done things with my kids that I have not been willing or able to do. He’s taken them to different places in the Caribbean for kite surfing. They’ve gone–
T.H.: To Europe skiing.
Jessica: They just went to France, living their best life skiing in the French Alps over winter break. You know what, I’m totally fine with it at this point because I feel they do the things that we do with my family and they enjoy it. And so I feel my kids are living a pretty good life. I think that’s what’s important. This is a conversation I used to have a little bit with my kids when they were little, is that whether it’s the other parent, or whether it’s the grandparents, I think it’s important to be able to talk to your kids about the idea that someone is spending money on them, taking them on a vacation, buying them clothing, buying them gifts or electronics, that it’s important that the kids understand that doesn’t mean that those people love them more than those that aren’t buying them those things. My kids are very lucky to be in a situation where one set of their grandparents lives very close to us. They get to see the outlaws all the time, many, many weekends throughout the year in the Catskills. Numerous times they’re able to come into the city and have dinner and lunch with my kids and stuff on the weekends and buy them stuff inevitably because they’re around. My parents live a plane ride away in Florida, and so my kids see my parents three, hopefully sometimes maybe four times a year, if that. Just because they don’t see my parents and that my parents aren’t around to constantly be giving them money and constantly be buying them things, I don’t want to say I’ve struggled, but I’ve definitely had conversations with my kids like, just because they’re not around to be able to spend money in the same way, doesn’t mean that they love you less than your other grandparents. I just think it’s important to be able to convey those messages to your kids. Again, it can apply to your ex-spouse, but it also can apply to other family members, that it really just isn’t about the material things. It’s about–
T.H.: The quality really.
Jessica: That’s right. That’s right.
T.H.: We have so many more questions, but we’re going to do one last one, which I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves.
Will I find love again? Will I find that fairy tale that’s out there in the movies?
My answer is this, and this is going to sound corny, so this is corny T.H. speaking, but it’s the truth. You have a lot of self-discovery to do. You have a lot of self-growth to do. You have a lot of healing to do after this divorce. A lot of time is going to be spent on your kids if you also have kids going through this. It’s hard to find time for yourself. I strongly recommend therapy and/or a girl gang who gets it, like Jessica and I and exEXPERTS. We are here to get you through it. But Jessica and I did not have an exEXPERTS. We had each other, and it was a lot of hard times facing the truth. I allowed myself to be in a relationship with a man who was horrific to me. If I wasn’t married to him, I would never even acknowledge him for two seconds. But I was married to him, and he’s the father of my children, and you all know the rest of how that goes. I am now in a relationship with the love of my life, which is so hard to put out there because it’s so hard to believe. This is 14 years out. Had I met him a day before I met him, it may not have worked out, because I wasn’t there yet. I just wasn’t there. I had been in relationships before him. Even just this past weekend, we really did nothing. We can be anywhere and everywhere or nowhere. If we’re together, we are just so happy. And so I think it is out there as long as you take the time to heal yourself and be truthful to yourself. Freaking go out there and date and have fun and do all that stuff. I did it all. I did it all, and then I was like, yeah, you’re kind of going in the wrong direction. You’ve got to end it and go over here. And I did. I had no regrets. I kept moving forward, a few bumps in the road, but you will find it once you find it for yourself.
Jessica: Yeah. I mean, I couldn’t agree more as someone who thought I found it and got married again. I had a five-year relationship in between and am still looking for it. I think that now that I’m finally in my new apartment, and I really am starting to feel so much more settled, which I have not felt in quite some time, it’s like I get it. I feel I have been looking because I do like being with someone. I like being out. I don’t like feeling lonely. But T.H. and I were just having this conversation briefly a little while ago about the difference between being lonely and the difference between being alone. Being alone by choice, I think when you can settle into that feeling and you can actually say, I don’t want to do something because I would rather be alone at home, and I’m okay with that, I think, yes, you have to have that settled feeling within yourself to be able to probably really find what it is that you’re looking for. All that being said, I also want to say I respect the people out there that for whatever reason, decide that they don’t want to necessarily have another partner. Their experience with marriage or with relationships, for them, they feel like I’m going to be on my own, and I’m going to choose what that looks like over the course of time. That’s totally okay. T.H. did a TikTok recently, and it was all about ‘do I need to have a partner to be able to feel my life is complete’? And the answer really is no. The question is if that’s something that you do want, you do have to have that settled feeling inside, where you really are comfortable with your life and comfortable with who you are, because if you aren’t, then you’re going to be constantly in this frantic state of trying to find someone else. Then you’re more likely to settle for something that maybe isn’t just the right fit.
T.H.: And remember, every relationship is 100% from one and 100% from the other. If your tank’s not filled up for yourself, then you might not be ready for that relationship yet, or may not want to. 100%. Honestly, the minute I felt like, you know what, I’m good. I don’t need to date anymore. I’m shutting it down. Then he shows up. I was ready. I was good being alone. And then there he was. It’s funny how things work out. But we are going to be back with answering more questions from you guys soon.
Jessica: Please send them in.
T.H.: Yeah, DM us on Instagram. Email us at hello@exexperts. We look forward to hearing from you.
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