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воскресенье, 26 февраля 2017 г.

‘Our divorce brought us closer’

Staying friends with your ex is possible, as one couple reveals

Divorce was the best option for Heather



























Heather McIntosh, 34, was married to George Robertson, 36, for seven years. She now lives in Glasgow with her partner Gerry, their two children, Dylan, seven, and Lily, one, and her two sons with George, Niall, 15, and Adam, 13.
"George and I got married too young. I was 15 and he was 17 when we met. We fell in love and, by the time I was 18, I was pregnant. We got married a few weeks later. At the time, it felt right.
Our son Niall arrived in November 1994, and less than a year later, I was pregnant again. Adam was born in July 1996 and our little family was complete.
I took to being a mum easily, but all of George's friends were still single, going out partying and having a laugh. I think he felt like he was missing out.
By the time Niall was five and Adam was three, George and I had grown up - and grown apart. There was love, but no lust left. Despite trying to make things work, we realised our relationship would never be the same.
When I suggested we separate, George agreed, and a few weeks later, we both moved out of our flat and into new places nearby. It was sad, but better than arguing in front of the kids.

Heather and George on their wedding day
A year later, George suggested we get a divorce. We both felt incredibly sad; it seemed so final, even though we knew it was the right thing to do. I certainly never dreamed I'd end up being a divorced mum of two by the age of 25.
Slowly, we started to put plans in place. George and I sorted out the agreements around our finances, and under Scottish law, we were divorced.
We worked out a schedule for the kids ourselves, with them staying with me one night, then George the next.
But while we didn't have any problems when it came to the kids, we did in other ways.
Seeing your ex moving on, meeting new partners - which we both did within the first few months - was difficult for ¿us. Although we didn't want each other in that way, we were still jealous of the shared intimacy.
Instead of letting it eat away at us, we sat down and talked through the implications of having other people in our lives. We worked out boundaries that we were happy with and agreed we had to be fair with each other when it came to new relationships. Talking through things helped us deal with it all.
To our surprise, as the months passed, George and I started to forge a strong friendship. And now, 10 years on, we're as close as when we were a couple. We email each other or text every day, go out for drinks and spend family days together.
When I met my new partner, Gerry, nine years ago, I told him about my relationship with George. Luckily, he understood.
I know our situation is unusual, but I think that other divorcees could learn from us. It wasn't easy at first, but we've done it for the kids. They see their parents care for each other, and I've ended up with a great friend.
It won't work for everyone. But if you can keep the lines of communication open, focus on what's best for your children, and try to let the petty things slide, it might make your divorce a little easier to deal with.
I don't regret getting divorced at all - it was the best thing for both of us. If we'd stayed together, we'd have ended up resenting each other, which could have affected the kids.
I'm so glad our divorce worked out. I'm really proud of what we've achieved together."George says: "Heather and I grew up together and have been through so much. It would have been terrible if we'd thrown all that away, just because we were getting divorced. Some people will think that our relationship is unconventional, but it works for us and we're happy with it. I'd much rather be like this than at each other's throats all the time. Our boys never see or hear their mum and dad argue or fight with each other, which can only be a good thing."
l Relate offers relationship counselling and support. Call 0300 100 1234 or visit Relate.org.uk. If you decide divorce is right for you, visit Direct.gov.uk and type in 'divorce' for advice on what to do next.

'My marriage ended - and so did my lifestyle'


For years, Yvette White was unhappily married. Divorce seemed the best answer. And, emotionally, it was, for both her and her ex.
But one thing she wasn't prepared for was how hard their split would hit her bank balance.
Her ex ran a carpentry business and she was a mum to their children, Kara, now nine, and Jake, seven. Together, they had a decent lifestyle. But apart, it was a different story.
Yvette found work at an estate agent's, but was made redundant last February.
"I wanted to be free, to be independent again," says Yvette, now 42, from Essex. "I liked my new single life, but the financial burden was immense. I didn't know how I'd cope."
She found the pressure of running a home alone - even with maintenance from her ex - was huge. And
with little work available, she's taken on a cleaning job to make ends meet.
"I used to have a cleaner, but now, I am one," she says.
Yvette and her husband divorced in 2005, after they grew apart. They sold their home and split the proceeds. Yvette bought a two-bedroom flat, but now struggles to maintain it.
"My ex and I get on well, we have no quarrels over money or the shared custody of our children," she says.
"Getting divorced was the best thing for me, but the worst thing I could have done to my bank balance."
SO, DO YOU REALLY WANT A DIVORCE?
Christine Northam, a counsellor for Relate, recommends putting on the brakes before heading to see your solicitor:
1: Don't rush decisions. Your relationship could be salvageable with experts to teach you how to listen to each other.
2: Even if your relationship's over, seeing a counsellor will help you work through all the emotions of finally coming to terms with that.
3: Draw up a list of all the pros and cons of getting divorced. Think about how it would affect finances, and how you'd feel about starting over again. Are you prepared for all of that?
4: Try not to be bitter or angry with your partner, especially in front of kids. Explain the situation to the children.
5: You were once friends with your partner, so underneath all the arguments or upset, those feelings might still be there.
GETTING DIVORCED? WHAT TO DO NEXT
Step-by-step divorce packs are now available online, meaning you could be just a click away from a quickie split. The packs can make it easier but, as top divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt explains, a lawyer can help you make the process as pain-free as possible:
1. People put so much thought and planning into their wedding day, but they don't realise that they need to put just as much effort and organisation into planning their divorce if they want to make it a happy and successful one.
2. Find a good divorce lawyer who specialises in family cases, and then work out as much as you can with your partner. You can use your solicitor to help tie up the loose ends.
3. Remember, while it may make you feel better to have your lawyer write nasty letters to your ex-husband, it certainly won't when you get your legal bill. Instead, try to reach a settlement quickly and ensure that you can afford to pay all your legal fees.
4. Finally, make sure you've got a good support system. Talk to family and friends about how you're feeling, and remember that you will get over divorce.

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