My ex-husband and I had little love for each other in our last months of marriage, both of us wounded, both of us in tears, both of us heartbroken. If there weren't a child, we'd have put each other away like an old rag, either tossed in the garbage, shoved way back in a cupboard, or maybe burned to a crisp. It could have ended with us destroying each other out of spite. But there was a child. Jake. And we couldn't ruin him with bitterness.
Yet how do two people who have no need for each other raise a son? I had no idea. When my lawyer recommended that we see a co-parenting counselor, a type of therapist I'd never heard of, I did what I always do when I need perspective: I called my mother.
"You're divorcing him for a reason, Hayley," my mother said. "You're not supposed to get along with your ex-husband, otherwise you'd still be together."
"But I want to be friends with him, like you and Dad are," I said.
"It took years for your father and me, you know that," she said. "So don't create a fantasy about my relationship with your father."
She was right. My parents' split was messy. As much as my mother attempted to shield me from a lot of the hurt, they still fought, and like many couples, they made their share of mistakes. It took ten years, but eventually, my parents managed to share low-calorie cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving and brisket on Passover.
Still, when my own divorce struck, I was determined not to repeat their missteps. So I broached the subject of seeing this special kind of therapist with my soon-to-be ex-husband. He was more than familiar with my childhood divorce stories and was immediately open to the idea. When we scheduled an introductory session with Paul Dasher, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, it was the first thing we'd agreed on in months.