Who among us has experienced relationship breakdown? Everyone. It would be so nice to think that marriages could last till death do us part, but those that do are few and far between.
Why is it that the extended family has to 'take sides'? In fact, why does anyone think this is a battle? If two people establish that they really cannot make the relationship work, no matter what the reason, just move one. Shake hands, agree to part and leave it at that. Or, if children are involved, agree to remain civil at the very least. It is not hard - I know, I have done it. All it takes is a bit of effort from EVERYONE.
In my life I have met people who cannot get their heads around this concept, people who have no idea of how to be forgiving, understanding or just plain reasonable. And a few who have been what we call 'holier than thou' - normally totally hypocritical. But, I have been lucky enough to have met many more who never even consider bitterness as an option.
When my first husband and I split up, it took us a while to get to a point where we could be civil, but we worked at it and we got there. My hat is off to my ex-husband's wife who made the first move to contact me and find a common ground we could also move forward from. I am very proud of the fact that we have remained friends ever since and whenever I return to Ireland, all other things falling into place I will have dinner with my ex-husband and his wife and their children, and I am very happy to say that I am also friends with all of them on Facebook. I am also very proud that my ex-husband's nieces and nephews are still mine - after all I was divorced from my husband, not his family.
I am also friends with my current/second/last husband's ex-wife on Facebook. She too was immediately open to being at least civil, and we became good friends. I will say that she was the main reason I survived stepmotherhood. It was a very rewarding, but very demanding experience and I don't think I could have managed it without her support. Of course, it helped that I was stepping her son, it also helped that he was a hell of a good kid and has grown into a good man.
Two of my three children were unfortunate enough to have also had relationships that failed to survive - they both worked hard for 16+ years, but there is a point beyond which you have got to decide between stupidity and common sense. So far, their ex-partners have not managed to show any signs of getting past the bitterness and finding a way to be civil. I do hope that doesn't reflect badly on that generation. I console myself that it is probably just personalities and not generations as my own parents separated and never again spoke to each other.
What started me on this train of thought was the wonderful friendship my mother in law has developed with her ex-daughter in law, ex for over 22+ years. It is such a pleasure to me to see how well they get along. Of course they share in descendants but, happily, they share. The way it should be. It gives me faith in human nature.
So, thank you to Debbie, Evie, Jana, Anna, Dan, Rob, Nicola, Jamie, Mel, Paul & of course Travis for giving me that boost in faith in human nature. Thank you all for being above the herd.