“Co-parenting. It’s never something I thought I would have to do. I always saw myself having children, but I never ever saw myself being divorced. My guess is that a lot of people don’t see themselves getting divorced, until it actually happens. The divorce in and of itself, is a whole other beautiful story. I married the man of my dreams, created a family, and realized after 9 years, we weren’t able to pray the gay away.
We were 8 years into our marriage when Kyle began feeling the weight of not being true to himself as a gay man. After many thoughtful conversations, I knew our marriage was over. We were now entering uncharted territory – co-parenting. Kyle (aka Gattison) and I have been on a co-parenting journey for the last two years.
To give you some history: Gattison and I had all 7 of our unborn children named before we even got married. We spent many conversations dreaming about what our children would look like. We could only assume they would have beautiful caramel skin, and lots of luscious curls. We had been married 6 years before we decided that we, as a couple and as individuals, were ready to bring humans into our world. You see, our children meant so much to us, even before they were born, that we knew WE had to be in healthy place, both spiritually and mentally. We both had our share of weaknesses and shortcomings that we knew needed to be worked out. To be honest, we would have loved to have kids right when we first got married, but we knew it wouldn’t be fair to them to bring them in to any situation that wasn’t operating at its healthiest. When our first daughter entered the world in 2014, her beauty did not disappoint; we named her Eva Li, which means, ‘Full of strength and beauty.’ Two years later, we welcomed Nygel, our ‘Champion.’
When we first made the decision to end our marriage, we had countless, well-meaning people warn us that if we divorced, we were going to ruin our children. We were told that no matter how un-happy we were as a married couple, we should ‘stay together for the kids.’ We questioned this theology. We had seen plenty of people stay together for the kids, and that, in itself, did enough damage to the children. In our minds, it meant more to us, to show our children what it looked like to let each other be happy, apart from each other, with the ability to show deep love and respect for each other even – if we weren’t still married.
When Gattison and I finally made our decision that we were going to end our marriage (our kids were 2.5 years and 6 months old at the time), we also made the decision that family was still going to be our number one priority. We wanted our kids to grow up knowing that mommy and daddy love each other, and that we love them. We have now been co-parenting together for the last 2 years, and it has not only been some of the most challenging times, but also the most beautiful. Gattison and I are best friends, raising our kids together, and teaching them how to be world changers. We have a beautiful non-traditional family, and a beautiful friendship together. Along with that beauty, Gattison and I also talk very openly about the challenges we’ve had to overcome to continue to show our kids what love looks like. The two of us being best friends after a divorce is not happenstance, and it isn’t luck – it’s one part determination, and one part intentionality. I think we all know that if it’s any kind of relationship that means something to us, it’s going to take work to make that relationship work. The two of us are extremely intentional to show each other respect, love and appreciation. These things may sound easy, but please let me tell you… it is not. I can remember one time in specific where our beautiful co-parenting was ultimately put to the test.
You see, Gattison and I are two very different people. Gattison loves change, and he thrives in and adapts in new environments – which is one of the reasons why living in southern California works so well for him; because there’s so many different subcultures within our area. I, on the other hand, could stay in one city for the rest of my life and be happy. So, you could see how it could be difficult when we, as co-parents, decided we wanted to live close together for the sake of our family. You have one person who wouldn’t mind moving every two years, and myself who wants one place to live the rest of my life. This became a point of tension that lead to a big argument. In all of our other ‘heated moments’ we had always been able to work things out – but for some reason, this particular argument escalated into something bigger than the topic itself.
We found ourselves saying hurtful things to each other, accusing each other of things we knew would hit hot buttons, and it ultimately became a battle of ‘who is going to win?’ The phone argument ended in us deciding we weren’t going to be able to be friends and parent together. I got off the phone devastated. Bawling. I felt like a failure. Losing a partnership like that, a friendship, felt like death. I immediately began to picture all the holidays – separated as a family, and the awkward meet ups to switch the kids on our given days. I pictured Gattison and I being cold and disrespectful to other, and it was one of the most painful things I could imagine.
After that phone call, we didn’t talk for a full 24 hours (by far the longest we had ever gone without talking). The next day came and we both mustered up the strength to speak to each other again. It was grace that brought us both to a place where we each realized that nothing was worth putting our children in an environment where there was that much animosity and hostility – nothing. We like to picture our life like a 3-legged race. We both have one leg that is completely separate and independent from the other, and the other leg is tied to each other. In order to win this 3-legged race, we have to be intentional, and in sync. If we only prioritize our independence, then we fall out of sync with each other and if we only prioritize the parts of us that are connected, then we lose our individual identity.
In order to create a healthy, winning environment for both of us and our kids to be able to thrive, we had to figure out how to balance our independence and our interdependence as a team that would ultimately affect us as a family. We realized we would sacrifice anything to make sure our kids knew what love looked like, and what love felt like. Gattison and I don’t always get it right, BUT at the end of the day, we make the choice to keep coming back to love, because our children deserve it; we deserve it.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ali Anne. You can follow their journey on Instagram here and here, Facebook and their website. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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