What Happened When I Stopped Referring To My Son’s Mother As My ‘Ex-Wife’

Divorce isn't the end of everything for parents.

by David Williamson
Originally Published: 
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Should you still love your ex-spouse?

When I split with my wife years and years ago, I began to call her my “Ex-Wife.” Then, I met this man, Russ Francis, some people may have heard of him. He was a football player, and won a couple of Super Bowls. He played for the Patriots, and the 49ers, I think. Anyway, we developed a friendship that was heavily mentor-based. He is a very wise man.

One day he told me that I should not refer to my ex-wife as my ex-wife. He said instead, I should refer to her as “My Son’s Mother.” He said it was important to recognize that she had given me a son, and that I should honor her for that, regardless of how we feel towards one another.

Unsplash (Mikesh Kaos)

I thought it was good advice, so I began to refer to her as my son’s mother, and our relationship improved. We didn’t have an acrimonious break-up like some people do, so it was easy to just shift the wording, and move forward. The thing that Russ stressed to me is that we will always be our son’s parents. We will be his wife’s in-laws. We will be his children’s grandparents. The list goes on.

We’ll be at weddings, births, graduations, and one day, our son will have to suffer one of us dying while the other one lives. How could I possibly comfort my son if I am the one who remains alive, if he thought I hated his mother? That really taught me a lesson when Russ asked, and it changed my attitude. I decided, then and there, that I would cherish her in my fashion for the gift of my son, and the beautiful life experiences we would share, that I didn’t want besmirched by animosity.

We will always be our son’s parents. We will be his wife’s in-laws. We will be his children’s grandparents. The list goes on.

Today, I am remarried. I have a 4-year-old with my wife, and my older son is 17. His mother is the God Mother of our 4-year-old! We get along great. Yeah, she bugs me sometimes, and I am sure I bug her too, but our son comes and goes from either house. We never did the whole fight over custody thing. We never fought over child support. We made a deal with each other that neither of us would move from southern Vermont until our son was 18 and off to college.

She’s from Idaho, and I’m from Virginia. If one of us moved the other would move, and we’d go back to our home towns. Well, that’s practically shared bi-coastal custody, and we didn’t want that. She spends the night at our house on Christmas Eve so she can wake up in the morning with the kids, and we all agree that it’s important that the boys experience Christmas morning together.


It’s not like this for everyone, I know. And in some cases the other person may have done something that leaves the other person too raw to love them again, ever. In our case, yes, I love her, I care for her, because she is the woman who gave me me my older son, and all those things that he will do and experience, will be shared between us. Also, my wife today is viewed by my older son as equally his mother, as his biological mother is.

My older son’s mom likes this. She feels my wife is the best thing that has ever happened to my older son. If it’s possible, and particularly if their are children involved, it’s best to just try to get along. If you can, try to like each other. If at all possible, although I know it’s hard, try to love one another in a way that works.

David Williamson is a Hospitality and Tourism Industry Management Consultant and Professor. You can read more from Quora below:

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