My ex and I get together once every couple of months for a coffee to catch up on what the kids are up to. We celebrate our kid’s birthdays and other occasions together without any friction. We are beyond civil.
Fact or fiction?
FICTION. I lied just now.
Fact is we’re more like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. I won’t ask anything about you… you won’t be able to ‘tell’ anything about me.
After almost 10 years apart, we’re not on speaking terms. Three years ago when my son graduated from high school, my ex told my son he didn’t want to sit with me at the banquet. So, best friends? I think not.
I enjoy watching Reba since my divorce and the reason is I like how she and her ex maintain civility with humor and honesty. It’s fiction, I realize, but it is something to model after. I also enjoy other films that depict friendly exes, especially those with children. In the end, the children are what matter, right? One day you will be grandparents together. Well, maybe not so much together but I’m willing to bet there will be some common occasions surrounding those grandchildren.
One day the divorce will be over but your children? They’ll still be there. Your ex? He’ll still be there, too, and keeping that reality in the back of your mind while hammering out a divorce deal is important. Before you decide to fight over things that have little value in the big picture, think about 10 years from now. What will matter then? Probably not that $3,000 you were fighting over.
I have a friend who has managed to remain friends with her ex. It didn’t happen immediately. They had to grieve the marriage and where there is grief, there is anger. After a couple of years, they began to truly co-parent in every sense of the word. They made joint decisions, joint birthday parties, even shared Christmases which meant that the children benefited immensely. The cohesion between them turned the phrase ‘broken family’ upside down. In fact, my friend would tell you they were less broken post-divorce than they were as an intact family.
Once her ex found a new love though, things shifted slightly. It wasn’t terrible but the togetherness was reduced and rightly so. There comes a time when the ex and you embark on a new life with new partners and new traditions, too. This will mean a more exclusive life but that’s a healthy step in itself.
My friend eventually remarried. Interestingly though, she invited her ex to the wedding with the caveat that he couldn’t bring his girlfriend. I thought it was a strange. He declined the invitation and I wasn’t surprised. Really, who wants to witness their ex take vows with someone else, anyway? It’s déjà vu, only this time you’re a witness and not a player.
No situation is perfect and although I hold my friend up as an example, I know they struggled too.
Then there’s the extreme opposite. As I said, my ex and I are the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ model of divorce. Truth is, my kids enjoy talking about their dad with me — good, bad or indifferent. I smile and nod and don’t say a whole lot. I (try to) take a neutral and pleasant tone.
Some couples don’t speak to one another ever again. Too much contaminated water has rushed under the bridge. The children become adults with two parents who pretend the other doesn’t exist. It’s unfortunate but it’s also the most common result of divorce. The mental illness, addiction, hatred, bitterness and old pain live on and on. In some cases it only ends in death.
Maybe if we could try to find a middle ground with our respective exes? Somewhere between my friend’s situation and complete alienation would be ideal. Finally, we have to ask ourselves one question, “Were we friends before we were married or during the marriage?” If the answer is” No,” then it is unlikely you will be friends after divorce.
In the meantime, we can live vicariously through fictional characters like Reba. In a perfect world things would be happily imperfect and we would joke around with our ex and live next door to one another. Well, maybe that is a little too close. It was for Reba, so I’m guessing it would be for us, too.
Is your ex your best friend? Fact or fiction?