Acts of Kindness in Divorce: Rare but Powerful


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Dirty looks, eye rolling and sarcastic remarks are what many people expect when it comes to dealing with their ex. It’s sad, and it sort of seems like the norm. I hate it. However, from time to time, I hear about an act of kindness in divorce that inspires me and gives me hope that divorced people can open their hearts and do something extraordinarily kind when it comes to the ex. That, I love.

 

For example, I have a friend who moved into her new home. The first night she was there, her ex-husband came by with a bottle of champagne to congratulate her.  Someone else told me that he just drove his ex wife and her new husband to the airport for their honeymoon! Another guy stayed at his ex wife’s house (with her husband and their son) when his heat broke.

 

Acts of kindness in divorce are very rare, but they happen. I can tell you that first hand, as I experienced it over the past month.

 

It all started when I happened to notice my ex-husband’s wedding band in my jewelry box. It had probably been sitting in there since the week after our wedding, since he wasn’t a “ring guy” and didn’t want to wear one. On a side note, my dad and brother are both happily married men and they have never worn rings so I really didn’t care at all.

 

Anyhow, I thought about selling the ring, which is probably worth several hundred dollars. But, then I thought again. I put the ring in a baggie and when my ex came to pick up my kids that night, I gave it to him and said, “This is yours. It’s worth some money and I think you should have it and sell it if you want.” He smiled and said thanks, but I seriously think he was shocked. That’s when I realized that no divorced person ever expects his or her ex to perform and act of kindness, which is why it’s so special and so important.

 

A couple weeks later, my son came home and said, “Look what Dad gave me.” It was a watch that my parents had bought my ex husband when we got engaged. I wanted to cry. My son continued, “Dad said be very careful not to lose it because it means a lot to him.” I then did cry.

 

I have no idea if my giving my ex his ring back had anything to do with the watch, but it really doesn’t matter. What each of us did was an act of kindness, and I think it is beautiful. Powerful. In other words, acts of kindness go a long way.

 

What people don’t often realize is, even though the marriage didn’t work out, you once loved each other enough to get married. So, can’t you get to a point where you at least like the person again? The hope is that in time, anger dissipates, bitterness is at a minimum and  forgiveness happens on both ends. I truly think divorced people can have a healthy friendship. Not best buddies or anything, but a friendship where they help each other out, respect each other, and co-parent in a productive, lovely way that benefits everyone in your family.

 

If you think about it, life is hard. People always say you can depend on family the most. Isn’t your ex sort of always going to be part of your family?

 

7 Acts of Kindness in Divorce. Consider doing these things!

 1.                    Send a birthday cake to your ex’s with your kids on his or her birthday

2.                    Send him or her an e-mail with a compliment-anything that he or she does well

3.                    Help him or her find a new job by introducing him to some of your linkedin connections

4.                    Email him a Groupon from a place you know he likes

5.                    Send her a card if she gets promoted

6.                    Give him or her free upgrades to first class if they are going on a trip with your kids

7.                    Make him a photo album filled with baby pictures of your kids (if he doesn’t have many)

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Author: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling offers advice, inspiration and hugs. If you want a Cinderella story, be your own fairy godmother. You're the only one who can pick out that perfect glass slipper!

7 Responses to “Acts of Kindness in Divorce: Rare but Powerful”

  1. sheila

    This sounds great, it also sounds unhealthy and unrealistic depending on the history and dynamic in the marriage. I once lived in a world of random acts of kindness. I once had a loving, healthy, successful marriage and it became less so. In devotion to spouse and the vows “better or worse, sickness and health, richer or poorer” I began to sacrifice self for the union and his unhealthy choices, known and unknown to me, became a really sick and dysfunctional space for both of us.
    With functional alcoholism, betrayal, rejection, infidelity, deceit, lies all as we were going through the death of my father . . . my husband “falling in love” with a woman at work and spending our 20th wedding anniversary with her, his being to “busy and overwhelmed at work”(with his girlfriend) to spend time with his own family, I attended a family vacation with my in-laws while my husband spent a romantic weekend get-away with his girlfriend . . .

    I’m not there yet. I’m not prepared to offer gestures of kindness. I’m not sure I will ever be there. I’ve read a lot of material on forgiveness, on acceptance, on working towards being friends (because you once loved them enough to be married to them) as you say here. My analysis of my marriage and my role in my marriage has brought me to the conclusion that
    A) I feel I have a clear picture of what was healthy and what was unhealthy in my marriage and the underlying relationship
    B) I can let go of the blame or judgment toward him and myself
    C) the facts are the facts
    D) I respect myself too much to be influenced by unhealthy and unacceptable behavior any longer
    E) I accept that it is over and it is in my best interest NOT to interact with my ex at all.

    When a person is on a destructive path, you can disengage and say “I love you BUT” or you can get run over by the disease and the behavior played out by the disease. I love(d) my husband BUT now I love myself more. The kindest thing I can do for me and for him is to disengage. I’ve always been a “why can’t we all just get along” person. I’m healthier understanding that if I wouldn’t tolerate a behavior in a stranger, why would I tolerate the same behavior in someone who says “they love me”. I’ve mourned the death of my marriage. I’ve mourned the “Death” of my best friend and the man I married. I don’t have to interact with this stranger who has lost his way, who in his own words acted recklessly and carelessly and didn’t care if I were hurt. . . .who when confronted with my new found knowledge of his affair shared that “I was so mean to you last summer because you still loved me and were nice to me and I was really into this new relationship and I didn’t want you to love me anymore and you wouldn’t stop”
    He has chosen his own path, his own journey and I am no longer walking that path with him. I am moving on with my journey.
    If a relationship has turns to negligence or abuse, practice random acts of kindness on yourself, loved ones, friends and strangers. If a known presence is a challenge to your wellbeing, practice indifference and/or disengagement.

    Reply
  2. Jessica

    I agree with your philosophy on this.

    Everything in my divorce so far, I have approached as being NICE. Understand, I am not letting him walk all over me. The reality is that we have 3 kids and SOME DAY we will have grandchildren together. My parents used us as weapons and it was awful. Almost 40 years later, they still won’t come to the same parties. It’s horrible. All I want is for my kids to have a less stressful and more happy experience in life than I did. That all being said, the soon to be ex has made things a challenge lately. Yes, I filed. It was my choice. But it was the choices he made that pushed me to it. He chose the gambling and he chose to mistreat the kids and I. He chose not to be present in the kids lives and he chose not to be present in our family. Yes, he’s super dad right now. I hope upon hope that will not change. Realistically, I know it will. I resent being made out to being the one that ruined our life. Yes, I filed – but he pushed me to it. He had several opportunities to change and refused counseling.

    So when my friends and family say, “You’re being too nice!” – yes, I am. At the end of the day, I can lay my head down and KNOW that I’ve done the right thing. He can’t do that unless he is deluding himself.

    The divorce will be final on Wednesday. Please give me strength to get through that day…

    Reply
  3. Bette

    I have tried to be reasonable. I tried to be fair. In fact, after he chose not to see our children for 6 weeks, I suggested to him that he might like to have the children for his birthday weekend. He accepted. His gesture of kindness – he expected to have the children my birthday weekend.

    Reply

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