A lot of what we do here at exEXPERTS is spilling our own tea and sharing stories from people we partner with. But today is all about answering YOUR questions. If you want your questions answered, hit us up on social media, in our comments, or through our email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll respond to you directly or answer them here on the site/in the podcast!.
Question 1: Tips on How to Manage If You Are “Playing House”
So to start, the whole concept of “playing house”. How do you figure out what to do when you’re in the same house but going through a divorce?
Jessica’s got this covered. She did in fact “play house” in her second marriage, and for them, it was a mutual decision with no infidelity involved. In their case, they had to figure out their own situations and how that was going to look before bringing it up to the kids, especially since they had both gone through a divorce before.
If this is a mutual decision where you both agree you want to stay living in the same home, and that it’s a good idea, go for it! If this is the case, then there’s much more flexibility in this role of “playing house” while working through a divorce.
BUT. If one of you decides that you want or need a divorce and need to live separately immediately – for whatever reason – and the other person suggests playing house, then Jessica doesn’t believe that the one wanting the divorce should be forced to play house. “No, don’t force me into a situation that I’m not comfortable in,” Jessica says. No one should feel pressured to go through a whole facade of happiness and normality while the other person is trying to figure it out. That’s not fair.
T.H. has also heard of those who’ll stay in the home because they don’t want to give up the house. In many states there’s a law around “abandonment”, so if one partner leaves, then they’re essentially “giving up” their rights to the home. It’s a tricky and unfortunate situation. So if that’s your reason for staying in the house, just double check that you’re all good in the legal department. For T.H., playing house was never in question because her divorce was not exactly amicable. There wasn’t a smooth way for them to “play house” in her case, because things weren’t smooth between them. And in that type of situation, playing house isn’t going to be beneficial to anyone, especially the kids. You don’t want to mislead them into believing the family dynamic will remain the same when that’s not going to be the case.
Question 2: What to Say To The Kids When They Transition Homes?
So what do you say to your kids when you drop them off at your ex’s house? And how do you greet your kids when they’re dropped off at your house?
Jessica’s learned that kids will know how you’re really feeling. “If you’re acting like it’s such a big ordeal that they’re being dropped off or coming back or something, that’s what your kids are going to lean into,” Jessica points out. She says she always made it seem perfectly normal for them. “My greeting to them would be the same as if they left my apartment that morning and went to school and then they were brought home from school that same day.” Easy peasy, smooth and simple. For them, it was normal, and that’s how she treated it.
The key is to make it no big deal. “I would give them a reminder if they were going home to dad’s,” Jessica remarks. Especially for younger kids of divorce, it’s important they know their schedules and that you’re paying attention.
And drop-offs don’t need to be at the same time or spot every time. Jessica also explains that if you can blend it seamlessly into the schedule, that’s going to be so much easier for everyone. Say she was going to drop her son off at soccer, then she figures out a way for his dad to come to pick him up. “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.”
On the other side of the spectrum was T.H. For drop-offs, she would say goodbye in the car. There was no communication between her and her ex, at all. “It was all with the kids as a buffer,” T.H. remembers. “I was uncomfortable going to the front door because he was living there with the woman that he cheated on me with, and is still with. I wouldn’t be allowed past the front door.”
Sometimes, her kids would feel bad that they were leaving her alone and going to their dad’s, who was with his new girlfriend. “I would never make them feel bad,” T.H. emphasizes. “I would never put my struggles on them.” She suggests that instead, you take a deep breath. Get through it, and then you know, just call your friend and bitch about it. Hell, call us at exEXPERTS or DM us and bitch about it! We get it. We all have rough days, and we’re here to help.
Question 3: Do You Have to Compete with a “Disney” Mom/Dad?
Before you get any ideas, no, we’re not trying to rag on Disney adults. This is more about the concept of a Disney dad or Disney mom, which, to be clear, is the situation where your ex has a lot more money than you to splurge on the kids. T.H. is in this situation herself. Her ex loves getting their kids expensive gifts that kids their ages don’t necessarily need.
At the beginning of T.H.’s separation from her ex, she found that her ex was being sooo overly generous with the kids. Like they were getting gifts from brands and designers that she didn’t even have. But after her divorce was finalized, she saved up a lot of money and used the miles she got in her divorce settlement to take her kids to Costa Rica. And for her and the kids, they got to make memories that would last a lifetime. “Look,” T.H. says, “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.” Be the best parent by making sure you pay attention and are present with the kids.
Jessica agrees. For so many years after her divorce, all she could do for a trip was take her kids to Florida to visit their grandparents. But this was still valuable. And these little visits were also important in realizing the importance of family, no matter how near or far they are from you, and no matter how much or little they spend on you. Jessica’s “outlaws” (that’s how she laughingly refers to her ex in-laws) and extremely generous to her kids financially, and for little kids getting stuff is very impactful. So it was a challenge sometimes to instill in the kids that their other grandparents also loved them dearly, even if they couldn’t see them as often because they lived far away, and couldn’t spend the same amount of money on them.
“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,” Jessica would remind her kids. This is advice and a good reminder that applies not just to your ex-spouse, but can also apply to other family members, that the measure of love isn’t about material things.
Now that being said, we all have our moments of being glad we were able to do something before our exes. For Jessica, her literal Disney mom moment was actually getting to bring her children to Disney world for the first time when they were little. Fortunately, her parents live somewhat close and they also wanted to be part of the kids’ first Disney experience. So she and her parents brought the kids on a trip she knew they would never forget. And she admits she felt a little smug in being able to do it, and in being able to give the kids that experience over their dad. Hey, we’re only human.
Question 4: Will I Find The One?
Will I find love again? Will I get my very own fairy tale ending?
First things first, and yes, it sounds cheesy, BUT: You have a lot of self-discovery to do. A lot of self-growth. And you need to heal after your divorce. Yeah, you’ll be putting a lot of time into your kids, but you also need to figure out ways to find time for yourself. Therapy does wonders in this department. It’ll help you get through it. We’re here to get you through it.
T.H. and Jessica didn’t have their own exEXPERTS to rely on for support. They had each other. And it was tough for them, working to face the truth. For T.H., she’s met the love of her life now, but she knows that if she had met him before her ex, then she wouldn’t have been in the right place to be with him. And she has no regrets. “I kept moving forward, a few bumps in the road, but you will find it once you find it for yourself,” T.H. advises.
Jessica agrees with this, as someone who thought she had found it and got married again, only to find herself now still searching.
Remember: “every relationship is 100% from one and 100% from the other,” T.H. reminds. If you’re not at 100% yourself, then you might not be ready for that big-time relationship yet. “Honestly, the minute I felt like, you know what, I’m good. I don’t need to date anymore. Then he shows up. It’s funny how things work out.”
We’ve answered a few questions here for you today, but this isn’t over yet! You can reach out to us at any time and we’ll cover more questions for you. DM us on Instagram @exexperts! Sign up for our newsletter so you are always “in the know” as far as what’s coming up! Email us at hello@exexperts! We love answering your questions, and we look forward to hearing from you.