Yes, we had a Valentine’s Day wedding. (Note for anyone considering it: flowers are really expensive when you get married on V-Day!)
Since our wedding day, we’ve had two kids and been through a VERY rough divorce.
Today, we are once again living together in the same house and co-parenting our kids. This time as great friends. Maybe better friends than we ever were when we were dating or married.
I think it’s fair to say I love my ex more today than ever before. Family love. Like the kind I feel for my kids and my sister. The kind of love that makes me want to do nice things for him, make his life easier, and take care of him.
Whenever I mention to folks that my ex and I are living together again, I get a lot of questions. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, this post will provide some answers about how you too can love (and even live with) your ex again.
1. Forgive radically.
Forgive the unforgivable. And I do mean all of it. If you heard some of the things I’ve forgiven, you’d say “no way, Alexis, I could never forgive that.”
Yes, you can.
And when you do, you’ll uncork a boundless amount of love within yourself and also for yourself.
When you withhold your forgiveness, you are not hurting your ex. You are hurting yourself. And your kids.
If you don’t know how to begin the process of forgiveness, be willing to see where you were 100% responsibility for your part of whatever you are pinning on your ex. Then, forgive yourself for that.
If all else fails repeat this mantra silently to yourself until you feel forgiveness at your core:
“I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”
2. Accept completely.
Accept everything about your ex. All of it. Especially those things you simply could not accept when you were in relationship together.
Now that you are not together, they don’t affect you. So, accept everything you couldn’t accept when you were together. Your ex is not going to change.
You do know that by now, right?
If you say to yourself “well, those things do affect me because they affect my kids,” drop that.
Your kids came through the two of you because that is their path. You chose to have children with this person. Forgive yourself for that and accept that your only role now is to help your kids learn how to grow through their relationship with your ex and accept even those parts of themselves that are just like your ex.
Whatever you do, never, never, never bad mouth your ex in front of your kids. Ever. When you fully accept your ex, you are showing your children they can love all parts of themselves. When you badmouth your ex, you are implanting a message into your kids that there is something wrong with them. Exactly what you don’t want to do.
Accept what is.
3. Take nothing personally.
It’s quite possible that you are more emotionally developed than your ex. If that is the case, see all of your future interactions as a test of the truth of that statement. And if that is the case, it’s quite possible that your ex is still often triggered by interacting with you.
Have compassion for your ex every time he or she does that thing that used to get your goat when you were together. Breathe. Say to yourself “oh yeah, there’s that thing again. that’s why we aren’t together. boy, am I happy to be free of that.”
And don’t take it personally.
It’s not about you. Even if it’s something that’s being yelled at you in your face. It’s still not about you. Let it go and be grateful you get to walk away.
Three simple things that are not so simple in practice. Forgive radically. Accept completely. Take nothing personally.
Three ways of being in the world that will pay off tremendously for you, not just with your ex, but in every area of your life.
Today, on our 11th wedding anniversary, I am more grateful for my ex-husband than ever. He’s been part of the fabric of my life for 16 years and shaped the me that I am today as much as my parents.
Every relationship (especially the difficult ones) give you an opportunity to be more of who you are. To take the high road. To forgive, when you think you can’t. To have compassion. To stop blaming and take personal responsibility for your part. To love, even when it’s hard.
Loving your ex may be the very best thing you can ever do for yourself.