The Opposite of Love Isn’t Hate

Many years ago, a mentor in family law told me that in divorce the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.

What did she mean by that?? I think she meant that in your post-divorce life, you don’t have to be ruled by emotion every time your ex-spouse does something that might otherwise send you careening over the edge, like when he or she:

…shows up late for visitation;

…misses a child support payment;

…doesn’t facilitate your phone visitation on time, as scheduled;

…sends you a nasty text message; or

…refuses to respect your way of parenting.

Did she really mean that the ultimate goal post divorce -the real measure that you’ve moved on from your broken relationship -is when you become totally indifferent to your ex-spouse’s antics?  I don’t think so.  I think what she meant is that the goal post-divorce is to be able to step back and choose to respond to situations rather than to react.

Now, when I think of the word “indifference,” I associate it with little effort, but I don’t think my mentor meant that, either because to get to a place post-divorce where you aren’t ruled by hate, anger, and resentment takes a lot of effort.

Is it really that big of a deal that you be able to respond matter-of-factly to your ex-spouse rather than to react?

Yes.  Absolutely, yes, because your kids are affected by your reactions and your responses.  If you hate your ex-spouse, they know it.  If you have neutralized feelings about your ex-spouse, they feel that, too.

And, the bottom line, plain and simple, is that it’s just not fair for you to put your negative feelings on your kids.  After all, your feelings about your ex-spouse aren’t their feelings and your relationship with their other parent isn’t their relationship. And, that is more productive than hate will ever be.