5 Secrets to Cooperative Co-parenting On Holidays Reduce Stress and Maximize Visitation Time with Your Kids

5 Secrets to Cooperative Co-parenting On Holidays Reduce Stress and Maximize Visitation Time with Your Kids

The Thanksgiving holiday is now in the past, and Christmas is fast approaching. This is a tough time of year for any divorced parent who is not the primary care giver. This is especially true for divorced Dads as they are least likely to be the primary care giver. Kids naturally gravitate to spending time with their custodial parent which is with whom they spend most of their time. They view their custodial home as ‘their home’ and they don’t naturally think of Dad’s place as ‘their home’. It might not seem fair, but it’s reality.

To find more time with your kids during the holidays, you must act more cohesively than ever with your Ex. You have to co-parent on holidays to get the most from your kids and get the most for yourself. Keep in mind, this is not about you, Dad. This is about your kids and what they want and what they need.

Holidays are full of traditions. Your kids likely have traditional things that they do with Mom. Maybe they bake cookies and decorate the tree while drinking their favorite cocoa. But, what traditions have you established with your kids? What have you done to create new traditions for you and your loved ones? Time is on your side and you have time to think of new ways to connect with your kids. If possible, go out and cut down a fresh Xmas tree. Go Christmas caroling with them. If you have daughters, take them to the Nutcracker. If you have boys, take them hiking in the woods or camping in nature. There are lots of creative things you can do to establish new traditions. But it starts with you.

Co-Parenting Agreements Can Help

Some divorced families stick to rigid scheduling around holidays that have either been agreed to previously, or are court ordered. While it can ease co-parenting tensions to have clearly defined dates set far ahead of time, I also believe it is valuable to have flexibility.

After our separation, the mother of my daughter and I had a detailed support agreement to rely on when issues arose. We used that as the final say, though in most circumstances we simply communicated effectively about what our needs were, what our child’s desires were, and sought to find resolutions among our choices that would best benefit our kid.

His and Her Holidays

I recommend having at least one holiday a year that is “yours” and one holiday a year that is “hers” and work to keep those traditions in line as much as possible. I would also suggest that these holidays are not the big ones like Christmas and Easter (or Hanukkah and Pesach if you’re a Jewish family).

Making permanent co-parenting schedules for minor holidays can help to ease the tensions surrounding the major ones, and also ensures you will have the opportunity to have at least one special time of year with your kids, where you can instill traditions, knowledge and that cherished feeling of family togetherness.

Family Traditions of Her Side of the Family

Thanksgiving has always been a pretty big deal for my ex’s side of the family. My daughter’s mother has a large extended family with three great aunts and many cousins. One of the great aunts had made it a tradition, years before my daughter was born, that she would visit the rest of the family every Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, while my family isn’t small, we also don’t have long standing Thanksgiving traditions. I’d love for my daughter to spend that holiday with me and could easily have argued for my rights within the stipulation agreement, where it outlines we trade holidays yearly. Honestly, the only real point in doing so would be to disrupt my ex’s family’s traditions and assert my own egotistical needs.

Instead, when we first looked at holiday times, we decided since Thanksgiving was an important one for her family, my ex would always have our daughter for Thanksgiving, and I would always have my daughter for Halloween (which happens to be one of my favorite holidays).

Special Time With Daddy’s Girl

From the time my daughter was old enough to trick or treat, until the year she graduated high school, we have had almost every Halloween together, and over that time we also established life-long friend for her that joined us in our celebrations.

Equally over that time, my daughter has enjoyed the richness of her mother’s traditions concerning Thanksgiving and will hopefully want to continue those into her adult life. Personally, I really look forward to a Halloween evening out with my adult daughter some year.

Here’s That Flexibility Thing Again

Over the course of my daughter’s life, there have certainly been one or two times when this has changed for various reasons (one year the great aunt was sick, and my sister in Texas asked if we could join them, so we switched it around that year), though for the most part, those holidays have become the least stressful of our planning year. My daughter came to expect Thanksgiving with mom and Halloween with dad, which also created ease for her.

Co-Parenting on Holidays and School Vacations, Too!

Concerning the major winter and spring holiday breaks for schoolchildren, I would recommend a flexible approach that places emphasis on raising the children with the influence of both families over time. An “every other year” policy seems to be the best, at least from what I have experienced.

Again, it is important to listen to your kids. Ask what they want concerning holidays (once they are old enough to reason, of course) and do your best to accommodate.

Bottom line: When holidays and vacations are approaching, work to plan far in advance with your ex. If you know that next spring break your side of the family is planning a reunion, don’t wait until three weeks from break to start asking your ex and your child how they feel about the vacation. Co-parenting on holidays and vacations can be stress free if you start negotiating as soon as you know about special events.

My ex and I were pretty good at scheduling on holidays and vacations. We often had our daughter’s summer schedule worked out by late winter!

Early negotiating made long term planning much easier on us both, and gave our daughter the comfort and security of knowing where and when she would be while on school breaks. My daughter was never left hanging until the last minute, and could make advance plans with other kids that live where she would be on break.

Co-parenting Conflict Resolution

No matter how carefully you plan, no matter how good your relation with your ex is, there will be times when you have to find a resolution to a scheduling conflict.

Obviously, one of you will have to give in. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, okay?

Listen, as the years go by, the important thing is your continued presence in your child’s life, and one holiday isn’t going to make the difference. Keep that in mind as you negotiate.

By the same token, it is important to give your children routines that they are comfortable and familiar with. One of these is keeping holiday schedules intact. Though it isn’t critical to adhere too strictly, it is definitely a good idea to keep a comfortable schedule your children are familiar with when possible.

The Art of Negotiation

Giving your kids routines around the holidays (and frankly, around just about any recurring activities in their lives) provides them a sense of comfort and security.

So, let’s say you both want to spend the 4th of July taking your kids to see fireworks. What can you do?

Well, the most obvious first question is; do you already have a set routine between your ex and yourself concerning this holiday?

For the sake of argument, we are going to assume that she normally has custody on this holiday. You’re disturbing the co-parenting routine with your request. So, be certain to ask yourself how important is it that you get the kids? Do you just want to spend time with them on a date you normally don’t, or is there a compelling reason to ask your ex to shift schedules (family in town, great deal on a houseboat, special activities for the kids, etc.)

If you honestly believe the children will benefit more from time with you than from their established previous routines on this holiday, then you should proceed with careful negotiation.

I feel the first fair proposal to make your ex is to see if you and she can both spend time with the kids on the holiday. This makes a huge impact over the years, when kids can see their parents interacting without malice.

If it is already established that you and your ex will not share a holiday together, then there is no point in trying that route. Concerning the children, the real question is what will make the most sense. If you know that having the kids will best benefit them, then I suggest you do your best to discuss your position with your ex. Explain how they will benefit, and be willing to make a counter offer.

Effective Co-Parenting On Holidays Means There Has To Be Some Give And Take

Perhaps if you take them for Independence Day, your ex will take them for Labor Day weekend when you would normally have them?

When working with your ex towards finding co-parenting holiday schedules that will work for the both of you, compromise is key. (Mostly, your compromise.)

Remember, the goal is to find the best experience for your kids. Though you may have ideas of how you want your holidays, you will have to negotiate in most cases. Always try to keep the conversation focused on the resolution, not your personal wants or desires.

Again, try to keep a bigger picture in mind. Swapping holidays is really pretty common among single parents, and unless you have some type of stipulation either clearly defining each holiday or clearly stating your rights, then there is going to be room for redefining your holiday scheduling.

I have mentioned this previously, and it bears repeating: The farther ahead you can plan holidays with your kids, the easier it will be on all involved.

The farther ahead you can plan holidays with your kids, the easier it will be on all involved.

The sooner you are aware of the need to change an existing schedule, the better the chances of getting it accomplished. Use your first available opportunity to communicate with your ex what you would propose for a change, and be willing to make concessions.

Remember, anything that isn’t already defined is going to be a disruption for her, so keep that in mind as you ask. If you know you want your kids for one holiday, perhaps you can come up with ways that taking them will actually look like support of your ex. Just being willing to work with her will make a difference, for you, for her, and most importantly, for your children.

How are you dealing with the challenges of co-parenting on holidays? Tell us what works – and what doesn’t – in the comments below!

Now is the perfect time to check out Melissa Ricker’s tips on Using Google Calendar for Effective Co-parenting. You won’t want to miss Sara Gabriella’s reasons why Co-parenting Agreements Put Your Kid’s Best Interests First.

 

Thank you for visiting Guyvorce.

If you enjoyed this article, please share!

Related Posts

  • 73
    Before the divorce, you and your wife probably had parenting rules for the kids for everything from curfew to cell phone use. All those things that you had agreed on with your ex? Those are about to get tossed out the window.  The parenting rules will be ever-changing now, and…
  • 71
    Most guys aren’t thinking about co-parenting success in the heat of divorce. Anger, resentment, guilt, self-righteousness, and self-pity tend to take over, whether you want them to or not. You’ve been screwed over mentally and financially, and your anger is justified. As a dad, you have more tough choices to…
  • 69
    The holidays after a divorce are never easy. Fraught with endless uncertainties, the holiday time period is disturbing and unrelenting in emotional turmoil for the newly divorced, regardless of gender. The holidays, book-ended by Thanksgiving and Christmas, or other religious holiday, are a seemingly unending challenge for who will have…
Co-Parenting With Your Ex Because You Have No Choice

Co-Parenting With Your Ex Because You Have No Choice

The mother of my daughter hates my guts. She doesn’t just dislike me; she loathes me with a passion

And yet, we have no choice but to learn to co-parent together. To be perfectly honest, she’s not really my favorite person in the world, either. However, strange as it might seem, it is more common than we might want to think in this world that you can share your greatest love with your worst enemy.

While she and I are barely civil to one another, we have never allowed this to influence how we set ground rules for our daughter.

This fact alone has allowed us to navigate the last fifteen years of our daughter’s life with a mutual understanding and respect, while maintaining a safe distance from one another.

I am proud to say that my daughter is a sweet, charming, thoughtful and delightful young lady who graduates high school with honors next month, and her mother’s and my early decision (we separated when our daughter was less than two) to keep our personal feelings for one another out of the parenting equation apparently had good results. We didn’t have to like each other to keep teaching our child to make good decisions. In a way, we are very fortunate that we were both raised with the same general principles, social mores and taboos, though we often have very differing opinions about them. And while there are certainly grey areas and some difficult negotiations along the way, we are both coming from basically the same place; we want our child to be happy, and we want to support her growth in learning to think for herself and make choices that will serve her best throughout life.

While we worked hard at putting aside our feelings and personal biases in discussing what is best for our kid, we’re polar opposites in the way we manage our personal lives, and we both take responsibility for exposing our daughter to both the good and the bad of our own personal choices, so that she might make up her own mind.

For instance, my daughter has been raised religiously non-denominational for the most part. This is not because her mother and I don’t both have our individual beliefs; but that they are not the same beliefs, and rather than force one upon our child, we decided to just let her make her own choices and make ours available to her. Her mother is a non-practicing Catholic who still celebrates Christmas and Easter; I am a reasonably practicing Jew. (Which is to say, I observe high holidays and try to at least acknowledge Shabbat.)

The fact of our different heritage has another interesting aspect for raising our daughter. Since Catholicism is passed down patrilineally, and Judaism is passed down through matrilineally, our daughter does not belong inherently to either religion. This oddity in our religious backgrounds actually forced her mother and I to take this issue very seriously and were probably some of the longest discussions we ever had concerning her upbringing. (The other big issue for us became medication, as our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD early in her life, and it has been an area where we disagreed on appropriate treatment, which in turn forced us to have very passionate dialogues about what was important to us.)

While this could have become a really difficult part of parenting, instead it became perhaps the most important aspect for us in learning how to parent together while separate. Because this particular aspect of raising our daughter was a bridge that could not be crossed, what we had to learn early on was how to share our differences to our daughter without making the other party out to be “wrong”.

Now, in some ways, I have to admit that this particular aspect of my parenting might leave others angry or questioning. Even from members of my own faith I have experienced a small and subtle backlash in choosing not to push my personal beliefs upon my child. Still, I am fortunate that her mother shares similar views. So we choose to focus instead on things that we both agree are important. Instead of teaching about Jesus or God (or Buddha, Mohammed, etc.) we talked about sustainability, responsibility, compassion, conservation, philanthropy and other core values we mutually consider important. These are principles that are demonstrable and have proven results. We are also pretty solidly agreed on our lessons concerning work, school, play, friends, and a host of other subjects, so in the grand scheme of “what our kid needs to know”, religion really is pretty low on the totem. We feel that we can talk about religion when she brings it up.

I believe the only truly morally responsible act to take as separate parents is for both to strive to keep the welfare of the child or children the most significant part of any communication, and to strive to create harmonious outcomes (or at least ones that are fair compromises) concerning consequences and rules.

Whenever possible, you should agree on basic principles and expectations and be consistent in both homes:

  • If a behavior is not allowed at one house, for example, it shouldn’t be tolerated at the other
  • If a punishment is meted out by one parent, it should be upheld by the other
  • Curfews should be consistent, as well as what “grounding” means in your home.
  • Don’t try and out-do one another on things like allowance and tooth fairy visits – take turns or divvy them up, but always keep them equal
  • Compromise on things like healthy eating and the amount of sugar intake, have zero sugar at one house and a veritable treasure trove of gummy bears at the other won’t help anyone

While your child might seem innocent and you are confident they have been brought up well, the urge to play one parent off the other, especially when the parents hate each other and can barely communicate with one another, is just to delicious and irresistible to a child who wants something really, really bad. It becomes easy, and before you know it, they will master the art of lying and manipulating to get their own way. Don’t ever underestimate how smart they are, and don’t make the mistake of thinking they aren’t listening and seeing what is going on when you least expect it. 

Don’t Forget Another Very Important Factor

Make sure your new partners respect your wishes with your ex, and are on board with your plans in being consistent. It isn’t a competition. If you aren’t in agreement with your ex, and your new partner supports you in that decision, you can escalate very quickly to a situation that is not manageable without being in a constant state of anger and frustration, or heading back down the very expensive road of court costs.

You don’t have to like your ex, but you have to work together where the kids are concerned. After all, you made them together, right? Well, now you have the responsibility of raising your kids together…and that means getting on the same page when it comes to parenting, even if in no other aspect of your relationship. You owe it to your kids.

Related Posts

  • 53
    Consistently co-parenting after divorce can be excruciating. Co-parenting consistently if you’ve never done any kind of parenting before feels almost impossible. There are countless articles out there about how to co-parent with our respective exes: Co-parenting with a crazy ex Co-parenting peacefully The Zen of co-parenting Co-parenting with a narcissist I’m…
  • 47
    Co-parenting is your single most important right, as well as your single most important responsibility with your ex-spouse post-divorce. If you can co-parent amicably (and no doubt that's a challenge), your children gain stability and the chance to maintain close relationships with both parents. But just how can you deal with or…
  • 45
    We are in an era of people telling us that being vulnerable is being strong, that you need to express your feelings, and that the needs of your children are more important than your needs. Peaceful parenting is not only possible but easy! All you have to do is be…
Letter To My Daughter On Her Graduation Sensitive and Inspiring Words from a Divorced Dad

Letter To My Daughter On Her Graduation Sensitive and Inspiring Words from a Divorced Dad

For you, my incredibly amazing, magnificent and beautiful daughter on her graduation from High School, I give this ‘Letter to My Daughter on Her Graduation.’ It was hard to write this then, and still hard to read today. Several years have passed since I first wrote this to you, and as I read it again, I’m struck by how true it still is! It will still be valid in another couple of years, and even more beyond that. You continue to amaze me daily and I’m struck so often by how you “have it!”

Hi. This is your father. Many things below I’ve said to you in person. But I believe important things are best backed up with the written word. Most of this letter is a bunch of stuff you may, or may not, decide is useful. I know when I was graduating high school I didn’t give my father’s advice much thought. But I promise you, if he had written it down for me, I guarantee I would find it valuable today. Hopefully you’ll find a few nuggets buried in this letter to my daughter now and later.

You’ll excuse me for overstepping my boundaries if you feel I have in writing it down. Since I can’t buy you a car for graduation or fly you around the world as a present when you turn 18 soon (both things I’d love to do, but alas, it ain’t gonna happen), what I can do is this. I can write a letter to my daughter. Sure, I can write you a letter any time, but I’ve decided to pour out what I consider to be the real morsels of truth in life. I’ve found these over the years, with most coming from pain and wrong choices. You’ll make those too, but maybe this letter will help you avoid the ones I made so you can go make your own, less painful ones.

To My Daughter

So… here’s the most important stuff (read this next paragraph if nothing else, please):

In all the time you have been on this planet, I have loved you more than words will ever express. You are my daughter, and I am amazed by you. Always and forever. I wish I had more to offer you than simply my pride and love, though I hope they will suffice in this moment. I’m truly in awe at what a smart, sweet, kind, caring and optimistic young woman you have become. You are quite simply the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m really glad you’re here. I love you. Looking good, kiddo!

Now, on to the graduation address…

That I am sitting here writing to you on the eve of your high school graduation and a month before your official status as a young adult has me simply flabbergasted. I could not possibly have prepared for this day, and yet here it is. What I find more odd is how vivid my memories are of my own graduation and then later your birth. I can still see you as you were before school began for you, when the world is full of wonder. And now you are about to set out on the next chapter. I can’t describe the joy and sadness that swirl in my emotions.

You are a young lady now, hardly the small child of my memories. I haven’t the foggiest notion of how to really talk to you, though it is absolutely my honor, privilege and duty to keep trying, for as long as I live.

Truth told, I’ve never considered myself a very good father, and in many ways I’ve been simply lousy. I’m sorry is about all I can really offer. The older you get, the older I get, the more likely the struggles of my adult life will become things you know more about, and in so doing, will likely shift some of the distance between us, though it will never excuse the places where I failed you. For this, all I can do is say I’m sorry and ask for your forgiveness.

Of course, there are also many little things that I have had a part of along the way that have certainly helped shape the fine young woman you are today. I’d like to think that some of the adventures, people and places I have shown you had an impact, and that my family has had some positive growth for you as well.

Your mother and I made a deal a long, long time ago that no matter what happened, we would always do our best to teach you about the world as best we could without disparaging the other. I think it served you well. I hope it did. It wasn’t easy, for either of us.

Somehow, I missed the part where you stopped being a little girl and started becoming a young adult, and it definitely happened along the way. The young woman I see before me is really an amazing person, and I want to do everything in my power to help ensure she stays that way.

So, I’ve been watching you for awhile now, and I’d like to offer some insight into the world you are about to enter. There are things your father still knows that you do not. There are some pieces of advice you’re unlikely to hear from anyone else, and some of them may piss you off a bit, but if I don’t tell you, no one else will, and forewarned is forearmed.

Know that first and foremost, what I want for you is a joyous and happy life filled with love, friendships, adventures, learning and growing. I also know that there are going to be tough days. I hope you’ll count on me as a voice of reason and wisdom as you grow into adulthood.

Know also that no matter what anyone ever says, you are perfect just exactly as you are. You’re never going to be too short, too fat, too dark, too weak, too dumb, or anything else that people may come along and tell you that you are. Surround yourself with people who remind you of how awesome you are, and avoid the ones that don’t. The only person you need permission from, from now on, is you.

I hesitate to say this part, and I think it is necessary. The world is sometimes cruel and evil people really are out there. You have been incredibly blessed so far that perhaps the worst hardship you have endured is your father’s lack of presence. I’m not aware that you have broken any bones, required surgery or had any close friends die on you or really fuck their lives up horribly while you had to watch. While I truly don’t know what personal struggles you have overcome (though I do know that you have a perseverance about you that is admirable, and that simply learning itself has been a life long challenge for you, and may well continue to be), what I do know is that you really have lived a fairly sheltered life compared to what many children in this world endure. There are a great many “bad” places on this planet, and I hope you’ll steer well away from them, or enter only safely with a good guide. I mean this as much about real, physical places and people as I do about bad decisions and poor judgment, your father being somewhat of an expert on bad decisions and poor judgment.

Your conservative father is deeply concerned that you may not give enough credence to the idea that capable as you are, you are also diminutive, attractive and generally optimistic. While these are cherished things, they are also traits a bad person will try to capitalize on. I don’t want you to be afraid of the world in any sense, and I do want you to be prepared.

My second really important point I want to get through to you is this: There is a huge, amazing world out there, too. Go see it.

You aren’t in a hurry, of course, and I don’t want to see you wasting a minute of your life longer than you have to here. There is an entire planet out there, and you should strive to see as much of it as you can. My largest regret in life is that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities presented to me to travel in my youth. I got scared and stayed put. Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from travelling abroad or moving out of state for college.

This point you seem to grasp really well, but I want to say it anyway: Do what makes you happy! Find your passions and do them! They are absolutely the most important real life work you have to do. When you are passionate, you energize others. When you are working with purpose, you show the way. Trust the little voice in your head when it tells you that you should make art, or plant a garden or help someone. It’s a good voice. Too many ignore it, and after some time, they lose it. I can’t imagine how different and wonderful the world might be if more people listened to that good side just every now and then. Be unique and be that one that does!

Lastly for now, (since I expect to write you again at 21 and offer you a few more pieces of wisdom that you would currently call “lecturing”), I want to remind you again of something that is becoming more and more relevant as you mature.

You are a creative person. Unquestionably. So is your dad.

So, please, help me help you.

I don’t know enough about your inside life to really know what to offer, though I am quite certain that I have some answers for you, and I don’t want to pretend I know which ones are relevant. I just hope you’ll still consider asking me when you feel you have a tough one. This old man might know some things. My life hasn’t been easy. I haven’t followed the cookie-cutter path. I’m certainly not perfect. That’s where I can help. If there is one guarantee in this life it is that you will make mistakes and you will fail at something, and actually several things. I know I have. Dealing with it is extremely tough. I can speak to you as one that’s fought through many tough times, and continues to do so. Don’t seek advice from those that just don’t know.

My dearest daughter, all I really want you to know is that you are loved and supported by many.

I am so proud of you.

With Much Love,
Dad

Related Posts

  • 51
    It’s over. Finished. Your divorce is final. Now that it’s over, what are you going to do? Maybe you had pictured what life after divorce was going to be like, maybe you never thought about it until after the final decree was entered. Either way, now it’s time to face…
  • 47
    If you don’t think you need to find a therapist after your divorce, you may want to reconsider. Dealing with a divorce is tough if you try to do it on your own, and although your friends and family members may mean well, they likely aren’t equipped with the right…
  • 46
    Do you remember the scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  when Ferris wants Cameron to come pick him up? Cameron was in bed, sick and miserable. Ferris persists until we see Cameron in the driver’s seat, furiously arguing with himself. He starts the car. Revs it up. Yells. Shuts it…
Erectile Dysfunction In Your Post-Divorce Dating One man's odyssey with impotence, aging and loving

Erectile Dysfunction In Your Post-Divorce Dating One man's odyssey with impotence, aging and loving

On this late evening, women and crying babies are on my mind, which leads me to write about erectile dysfunction, a condition that many of us have and almost none of us talk about.

This was an almost perfect evening, abruptly interrupted by two facts:

  1. A two year old missing her mother is inconsolable after six hours and
  2. I can’t get it up easily anymore.

My Story Right Now

You may have guessed by this article that I am divorced. Maybe that’s part of the issue, still dealing with the stress of that. But it has been a long time since the divorce, and I’ve had many lovers in my efforts to build my life after divorce.

I had my current lover in my bed much earlier tonight when our focus was interrupted by my housemate’s daughter howling and wailing uncontrollably in the front room, as an exasperated babysitter tried fruitlessly to calm her.

Granted, it is certainly understandable to lose your attention in such a predicament, though it really just served as a reasonable excuse for me to mask the second issue, which was the real reason we hadn’t already conducted our coupling an hour or so earlier.

Few men really talk about erectile dysfunction, the condition formerly known as impotence. There are rampant commercials speaking to erectile dysfunction, but not really about erectile dysfunction. Various ideas are thrown about and quick fix solutions are only a doctor’s prescription or an easy diet change away. And if it lasts more than four hours, call your bookie. Seriously, though, at this point in my life I feel that at least three prior relationships were ruined because of this problem, and I stand at an invisible precipice with my current lover that is disconcerting.

A pattern is emerging, and it starts with my dick and the bad messaging in our society that I have somehow gotten into my psyche (and perhaps more importantly, permeating the psyches of potential long term mates) about my ‘performance’ abilities.

Is It New Or Been A Problem For Some Time

I’ll have it known, perhaps only for my own ego and edification, that I am a wonderful lover. I have years of training with dozens of women that have shown me the glories and wonders of the female form in many of its incarnations, and I have delighted in them all. I like slow, long, sensual exploration; I’m well versed in massage, have been told many times I’m a great kisser, and I have a lovely bag of tricks to unveil over time with a willing partner.

What I don’t seem to possess right now is a dick that responds by mere thought, not taking its sweet time to warm up to touch. I have tried various holistic approaches to overcoming this erectile dysfunction deficiency. Blackberries, salmon, avocados, oysters and almonds, while all tasty and healthy, also did nothing for me. Of course, trying these foods and hoping for results only confirmed what I already knew. For me, it’s not about blood flow or testosterone; it’s about feeling connected. No diet will change that.

Two Possible Problems with Erectile Dysfunction

Where the commercials apply their focus is on the blood flow issue. As men age, our blood vessels become weaker for a myriad of reasons, such as poor exercise, buildup of cholesterol or both. The medicines work to solve this issue. Sildenafil and Tadalafil are the most common ones available.

Sildenafil widens the blood vessels and lower the blood pressure. As a result, the hydraulics of our dicks work easier. The effect is somewhat short lived, about 4 hours, but that’s enough time to take care of business. And the onset can be as fast as 30 minutes.

Tadalafil was not originally targeted to help with erectile dysfunction, but through its enzyme inhibitor testing, a common side effect to this heart medicine was erections. The scientists recognized this as a helpful side effect and this medicine was released as a daily option, with its effects lasting about 24 hours, as opposed to Sildenafil’s 4 hour effect.

For many, applying these drugs to the blood flow side of the equation fits their need and they are happy. For some, though, like me, the problem is deeper.

Heart Driven Sex (and not the flow)

Unfortunately for me (and them), it seems we place a huge emphasis on an erect penis. Since I developed this basic problem, well over 20 years ago now (that my cock doesn’t jump to attention when my brain is horny), I have had numerous short-lived encounters, because there wasn’t a second date, or they expected me to act upon them when what I actually require of my partners is the opposite.

Do the pills help? Sure, but I’m not in it. I’ve just got a rod there for the job and that’s all.

I have heard this preference as a ‘feminine heart’ where the partner prefers to be acted upon rather than to act. See, here’s the thing; my Johnson actually works just fine, IF you turn me on. I masturbate on a regular enough basis to be certain I still possess a life below and I have had at least as many positive encounters over these past decades as negative ones. There is always something to be said for basic chemistry and compatibility, too.

Still, my best consistent lovers have had one thing in common; a tremendous patience and genuine deep affinity developed over time. And therein lies the rub…

Just Sex, Or Something More?

See, I certainly appear to be a normal guy and, in everything outside the bedroom, I am clearly a dude and a fairly dominant one at that. I exhibit tendencies of a man who knows himself and his world and is competent in it. I like to be in control in my environment.

So, it certainly leads that women I attract have expectations that my behavior in the bedroom should be aggressive, dominant and, well, manly. The problem is that most women in our culture are taught sex as an act of being dominated and penetrated and objectified, and over time develop exactly the opposite expectations that I have.

In blunt, simple terms; I want to make love to a women and most women I encounter just want to fuck. Truth told, I just don’t fuck that well anymore. There seems to be a disconnection between mind and body, along with the fact that I’m just not 19 anymore. While my mind is desperately fucking you like that wild animal I was in my youth, my Willie just isn’t whistling the same tune these days. I am slipping into late middle age and my desires have become much more intimate than physical. In fact, it would seem the physical aspect only responds when my spirit is properly nurtured. This really sucks when I’m with a new person and trying to find out if we groove.

I lose what I consider to be potential mates after my particular tendencies are unveiled, either in the first sexual encounter or soon thereafter, if chemistry somehow initially overcomes my usual disconnections. Frankly, this alone is enough for me to really want to go get those little blue pills. I do know that I can cheat and make erectile dysfunction vanish. I’m just not sure I want to, especially at something as important as creating good intimate relations with my partner.

Thing is, at a deeper level, I feel like perhaps erectile dysfunction is some sort of built in protection for aging men that our society doesn’t view correctly. I understand that if I cheat by taking artificial stimulants then I may be capable of performing even when I feel no connection. I’m fairly certain that is a bad way to start, since my partner is going to believe that I am responding to her when actually I am just going through the motions (pleasurable as they might be).

For Me, I Want More Than Sex

I have come to the realization that, at least for me, it’s not that it doesn’t work. It’s just that I don’t give a fuck how sexy you look anymore (well, I do, but not nearly as much as I once did; and the size of the hips of the women I consider attractive has generally expanded through age, as I did) as much as I really want to know if you’ll stick around. Finding a sexual partner in this world of hookup sites and instant messaging is really fairly easy; finding a suitable companion is not.

I was frustrated with all the push to just hook up when dating after divorce.

This makes a sort of evolutionary sense in later adult life. If an adult man chooses his latter life partners based on the same criteria he had as a youth, he would inevitably choose poorly. Erectile dysfunction (our accepted clinical definition) is the male equivalent of menopause in women. Our reproductive interest is waning, even if our mental capacity for even deeper intimacy continues to evolve. We have accumulated more experiences and therefore have even deeper biases for what we appreciate and what we recognize as unsustainable to long term healthy relations.

The Truth

Perhaps (and to my chagrin) the truth is that we aren’t supposed to be competitive in the mating arena in later life. If we do manage to find a partner at this stage it would be to help us not die alone, after all, and that hardly requires sexual prowess or the absence of erectile dysfunction. Of course, the other thing we have to offer is our companionship, which can be a real asset to a younger woman seeking to learn wisdom from us elderly statesmen. As an older man, this is far more interesting to me than finding someone to sleep with. I want someone to talk to, someone who will appreciate me whether my body works or not, since I have the wisdom of experience to know that a shared life is much more about intimacy than sex.

In base terms, men my age who aren’t already in long term relations face a difficult enough challenge in finding a suitable partner without having to also be concerned with performance. Yet, this is the criterion most women use. Well, young women. So, we have to overcome our disadvantage with artificial means just to compete in this society. I think it’s a mistake. We should be willing to wait for a partner who understands all this and embraces it. The irony is that I would spend the rest of my life savings on those little pills if I knew that my partner already accepted me without them.

That’s my issue in a nutshell, or at least a very large nutshell. For many of my friends, though, the problem is purely in the pumps and lines, like having older plumbing in your home that has clogged over time. After all, these pipes aren’t that large. And if we’re worried about clogging the big ones near the heart with our love of red meat over decades, it stands to reason that we likely clogged the little lines at the extreme ends of the system. Unfortunately, those are in our dicks. Fixing those pipes so you can connect with your lover is fantastic, nothing worth shame, and we should all stand behind the need!

The Solution

I’m not going to say that solutions to erectile dysfunction don’t exist or that I shouldn’t be using them to ensure I can always perform for a potential partner. I’m saying that perhaps we shouldn’t be in such a rush to jump into bed and that maybe the ‘problem’ with our penis is really an opportunity in disguise. I’m going to continue to see my dysfunction as a chance to find out where I really stand before entangling myself, simply because I can. I deserve a lover who makes me respond without having to resort to medication. I can’t know this without taking the risk of being honest about my condition up front. So, my decision is to accept this as part of who I am now, and to hold onto the belief that my next long term partner will appreciate me all the more for my willingness to take it slow.

Then again, my advice to you; maybe you should just go get those pills. I’m probably an idiot.

Related Posts

  • 43
    You are about to enter into an odd contract. Congratulations! Whether it'll be big or small, packed with guests or at City Hall, putting it all together took strategy, planning, and compromise. Despite all of the time and energy you spent getting down the aisle, the overall odds your first…
  • 42
    Looking for love after a divorce can be daunting. The prospect of starting all over may seem unnerving, but at some point, you may wonder if you’re ready. The internet is full of advice on dating after divorce, but the reality is that there are no rules. It will be…
  • 41
    What to Know Before Your Second Marriage 3 Important Factors to Consider Ahead of the Big Day I'd wager every one of us walked out of our final divorce swearing off marriage. If the problems in the marriage weren't enough, the roller-coaster of divorce certainly kicked you in the butt.…
Overcoming Depression After Divorce Gratitude as a Survival Strategy

Overcoming Depression After Divorce Gratitude as a Survival Strategy

Establishing a gratefulness practice is an excellent way to combat stress and overcome the effects of depression after divorce. A simple plan to be more thankful is likely to be one of the most profound changes you can make as you begin to adapt to your new environment as a divorced man.

Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.
― Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Appreciating What You’ve Got 

The concept here is very easy to understand, and it really doesn’t require you have a particular faith, only that you are willing to look at your life as a gift. We often go through our daily lives forgetting to take stock and be thankful for all the wonderful things that we have. Learning to recognize these gifts and show appreciation for them is one of the keys to living a happier life, and goes a long way for overcoming the lingering effects of depression after divorce. 

One of my favorite quotes concerning life is from author Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic series, spoken by the character Death: “You get what anybody gets – you get a lifetime.”

Personally, I really do subscribe to the belief that our merely being here is a ridiculously amazing thing beyond comprehension. That we are here at all is astounding, and that we can observe this and “feel alive” is certainly something I would consider a blessing. Life is a gift, whether granted from a higher power or simply the luck of a billion years of DNA recombining; either way, learning to appreciate it will have a profound affect on your sense of well being.

The point is; in order to experience life with a sense of joy and wonder, we merely have to remember to be thankful for what we have. Learning to do so, on a continuing and very conscious level, is what I mean when I refer to having a gratefulness practice.

Taking Stock Helps Combat Depression After Divorce 

What is the first thing you do in the morning? I would suggest that here, when we first awake, is a really good place to begin our practice. True, we all take a minute, sometimes longer, to get present when we come out of sleep. Some hit the ground running while others linger with their dreams as long as they can. Whichever approach to your morning applies for you, once you begin the process of assessing your day, as we all do, work to notice the good things first.

Is your bed warm and dry? Did you sleep well? Do you have running water to look forward to? Is there food in the refrigerator? Is the sun shining? Do you get to do good work today?

These are just a very few ideas of things to focus on to get your grateful, thankful self to start running the show. Take a few minutes as soon as your brain starts to focus on the day, and begin to practice gratefulness. Say silent (or spoken) words of thanks for at least five things before you even rise out of bed. I promise you that within days you will begin to feel a noticeable shift in how the progress of your week feels.

The more we focus our thoughts on what is going right in our lives, the more we experience life as positive and meaningful, even when we are dealing with some level of depression after divorce. The trick is training our minds to actively seek out the good while dismissing the bad (dealing with negativity without giving it any additional space in our thoughts). Sure, we all can get frustrated, feel like we are being maligned, suffer unfortunate events or feel we’re having a run of bad luck. The point is to try and find things that make us happy, Learn to look for the silver linings.

The Only Change is to Your Perspective 

A gratefulness practice does not require you to suddenly change all the little aspects of your life you are dissatisfied with. On the contrary, the practice is best suited to just learning to reframe your experience. Instead of getting mad because you seem to be continually late for engagements, use your practice to notice that you like to take your time, and embrace the part of you that moves slowly, instead of cursing it for making you late.

Of course, we aren’t trying to excuse problems in your life or lessen the need to address them. We just want to keep getting better at looking at what IS working, and keep reinforcing those behaviors. Taking time out of your day both scheduled and impromptu, to look at the good in your life, will slowly and surely transform your entire outlook on life.

So, if you’re feeling depressed, if you’re overwhelmed or just generally stressed out; take heart. Applying a simple practice of being grateful for the gifts of life that are right in front of you, will keep you finding more.

 


(c) Can Stock Photo / Gajus

Related Posts

  • 53
    Before you experienced divorce for yourself, you may have been under some false impressions about divorced men. Maybe good.  Maybe not.  After all, the guy at work seemed to do just fine following his divorce last year.  Truth be told, you were a little envious.  He had a dating profile…
  • 51
    There’s no shortage of advice on how to recover from life after divorce. Even with all the information available, the experts often overlook one crucial thing—divorce offers positive opportunities and aspects. As with anything, you have to take the bad with the good, but make no mistake, there is plenty…
  • 49
    Dating after divorce, how do you know you're ready? Well for starters, the ink is dry. The actual divorce is final. That’s a great first step. Boxes have been packed. And unpacked again. Days are brighter and a weight has lifted. You’re settled into your new life. Routines have started…

Pin It on Pinterest