Here are some philosophical consideration for you to write about and ponder. Call this the homework for the softer side of resolving your conflict. Give this section as much or as little weight as feels appropriate. I may be wrong, so I don't want you to take my words at face value. Chew on them a bit. Does any of this help, ring a bell, or otherwise move you forward or just feel annoying?
Children are left with the life task of reconciling
all irreconciable differences between the parents. I like to point to my high
school friend's situation. Her parents had insurmountable issues between mom's
Christianity and father's (and his family's) Catholicism. I know that doesn't
seem like a terrible problem but in the 1960s and 70s it wasn't a subject that
the parents could discuss with sanity. The divorce occurred and the family had
much heartache and fighting over Sunday school,
confirmation, after-school Wednesday Catholic education, summer church
camp. It was ugly. Today it seems like a wrong issue to fight over. However
it was heated then. My friend was left in her early 20s to figure out religion for
herself. She made up a hybrid solution. She concluded Christians do go to heaven.
It's horrid to fight over religion, and it is not a subject to discuss with
another person if it results in a fight. Given what she saw in the
parents behavior, she did not choose to attend Church as a grownup and chose to be spiritual instead.She did stick with holiday services when visiting her parents.The subject of religion engaged her during her 20s. She didn't start addressing her own unique issues until her 30s.
Some parents do not believe that their unresolved conflicts are later resolved by the children. I've seen so many examples, I believe in this concept of inherited family issues. From my vantage point what happens is that the parents perceive no solution and that the other parent is wrong. Or, the parents do their best to just ignore it or find ok fixes that don't resolve and reconcile the deeper issue with a custom-fit integrated solution. The children, having no choice but to be the reconciliators to these seemingly unsolvable problems, do eventually work out the issues for themselves.
The best solutions come when each parent makes a self-improvement, and then the parents find an intersection between themselves where a creative solution resides providing the best options and reducing the worst.
The other next step for conflicted parents is to clearly see what the
dynamics are between you that impact your children. What will your children
need to master/reconcile from the lessons they learn from each of you? Said
another way, what are the core values the children will gain from each
of you. What strengths are you each giving them? With specific examples, how
do these strengths clash? If you brainstormed
what might be a solution? This is where you go to the drawing board and try to
see things freshly.
If someone else solved your combined problem, what would they likely do?
I'm sorry that things are so frustrating. I believe that the deeper purpose of divorce angst that occurs long into the process is to take us even further into our own healing and to further refine us as human beings. You are both such likable and wonderful people. I know that you can transmute your troubles into an outstanding co-parenting team. You've got such good hearts, intelligence, and excellent rapport with your children. I know you've got the raw talent to have a loving and highly evolved post-divorce family system. Don't give up. You can get there. I'm rooting for you.