I am very grateful to have the good relationship that I have with my daughter's mom (I hate to call her an 'ex' anything). It often feels hard to explain and seems so far from the 'norm.' There shouldn't be a norm. Coexisting in a very conscious state of mutual respect is the only way that I can imagine divorce being tolerable and not an excruciating life experience.
This state is always something that I have had trouble putting into words. I recently saw an article in the NY Times that sums it up excellently. Please give this a read and see what you take away from it. It is possible. There is a conscious choice involved. I have heaps of respect for these folks, and I'm personally delighted to be living in a very similar scenario.
An Optimists Guide to Divorce from 11/24/17
This time of year is rife with expectations. If you are a kid, you have aspirations of presents for the holidays. If you are an adult, you have an expectation of your family and how they handle themselves, what they do, if they send you a Christmas card and so on. The bottom line is that the more expectations we have of others, the higher our chance to be disappointed. What do I mean? Well, when we try to anticipate the actions of people we don't control, we will invariably not be able to predict accurately. People do things that are unexpected. We can, however, choose how we react when that happens. I'm proposing to dial back our expectations. The natural byproduct of this will be less disappointment. Conversely, when people do something sweet, we'll view it in higher regard since we weren't 'expecting' it in the first place.
It's a change in mindset. When you load up on expectations, and people fail to meet them, then you start to view the world in a very dark and cynical way, and that doesn't do anybody any good. You likely know some people like that.
Keep in mind too that we don't ever have full insight into other people's lives. We don't know what they are going through and what they may be struggling with. For us to base resentment on a limited base of knowledge isn't fair. We also shouldn't categorize everything that doesn't go as we anticipated as some slight or transgression against us.
Keep an open mind this holiday season. Just be you and let others be themselves. It doesn't always pan out the way we expect or hope but, that has to be ok. The more comfortable we can be with that, the happier we will be.