Adele Beiny of Life’s Looking Good and her ex-husband, Owen, are open and honest about how they learned to co-parent, co-exist, and be the best teammates possible for their daughter. Below are their top tips for helping others navigate these seemingly unchartered waters, how they’ve managed to stay friends and co-parent with minimal pain points and conflict.
1. Adapt to dual roles. You will move from being either a full-time mom or full-time dad to being both mom and dad some of the time. This can create insecurities. Am I doing this right? Is my ex judging me? View your ex as your consultant on how to best perform the new role. Talk about it. Ask for tips and suggestions. Make your ex your ally. This isn’t a competition for “Best Parent.” It’s about what is best for the child.
2. Get couples therapy for uncoupling. Owen and I stayed in therapy for over a year-and-a-half…long after we knew the marriage was over. We learned things such as: how to communicate without attacking, how to de-escalate when one of you is triggered, etc. Your ex will always be the parent of your child. It’s worth the money.
3. Learn to eat humble pie. The better you get at this, the better the two of you will get along. Apologize more. Be “the bigger one”, even when your ego is bruised, and even if you’re still hurt and angry and the stakes are high. This allows things to get unstuck. This doesn’t make you a push-over, it makes you an advocate for peace.
4. Keep it light. Divorce can be hard, messy, sad, and painful. But, darn it, it can also be funny if you lighten up a bit. Send in the clowns! Try to find the funny parts. Joke with your ex and remember the funny times. Really, this isn’t the end of the world. At some point, a lot of this will be behind you. It may seem like all pain now, but you will laugh again if you allow yourself.
5. Remember what made you fall in love. This may sound cliche, but it helps. It truly helps. Think about it. Go deeper. Think about the good times you shared, like your vows, the honeymoon, the birth of your children. Draw on some of these positive feelings when you can’t seem to move past an argument or particularly sticky point. It will help you view your ex as a human—not the enemy.
6. Don’t let divorce define you. Don’t make an identity out of being hurt in divorce. There will be a time for talking about all your hurts and disappointments. But, then there will come a time to move on. Learn to feel whole and complete outside of a dissolved marriage. If you have trouble with this, get help. At some point, we need to stop blaming our parents and our ex for our problems.