Friendship After Divorce

parents

Can a couple remain friends after their separation? If I were to go off the popularity of the post “When Love Turns to Hate” it would appear that having an amicable divorce is very rare. Perhaps it is.

Having never been down that love/hate road, I don’t personally understand how two people who once loved each other enough to marry, can later show so much hatred toward one another. However, through the wonderful comments on that post, people have shared many reasons as to why this happens. It’s sad when love takes such a bad turn, especially when kids are involved.

What prompted this post, was a conversation I had yesterday with my son’s dad. Due to a last-minute trip, I asked him if he could keep our son for a couple of extra days this week while I’m away. He gladly said yes, and even nudged me along by saying that it would be good for me to go. He’s always been so kind and generous. He’s a good man.

We got married right out of high school. I was 18 and he had just turned 19. A few months later, we conceived our son. Three years after that, our son was diagnosed with Autism. Had we been ready and mature enough, we could have managed to keep our marriage. But, we weren’t ready. We were still trying to learn who we ourselves were. So trying to learn each other on top of that, along with the compromises that marriage requires, was just too much for us.

Eventually, we decided to separate. We remained friends through the entire process and even laughed our way through our final court hearing. It was obvious to the judge and everyone else in the room, that we were amicable. We walked out that day a little sad, but smiling because we knew that we were going to be okay.

After our divorce was final, we continued going out as a family. We would go to dinner or meet at the park. For several months, my ex would come over after his grave yard shift and sleep on my couch, until it was time for our son to wake up in the mornings. We would talk and laugh together, and then they would head out for the day.

We got together for our son’s birthdays and even a couple of Thanksgivings over the years. On our son’s first day of school, we both met there to walk him inside. As the school doors closed behind us, we walked side by side to our cars with tears in our eyes, proud of our little boy.

It’s been over 12 years now, and we still get along just as we did back in high school. We talk for long periods when he picks up our son. We laugh, joke with each other, and mourn as the other mourns. Our appreciation for each other has never been lost.

I am grateful that, unlike many out there, our love never transformed into hate. Instead, it was only the definition that changed. There are many types of love. For our son and for ourselves, our friendship remains and I believe it always will. That is something I have no doubt about.

Just because two people can’t make their marriage work, doesn’t mean that they have to become enemies. (Of course, there are exceptions.)

Love should be unconditional and true friendship should remain, even through the toughest of times.

If you can’t be friends for you, then be friends for the sake of your children. After all, it’s about them anyway. It’s not about you. Children should never be punished because of their parents’ decisions.

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30 Responses to Friendship After Divorce

  1. If it “transforms” into hate, it never was genuine love. You and your ex are lucky. Even if it didn’t work, it was genuine.

    This is speaking as one who has experienced marked hatred upon marriage failure.

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  2. The situation you have is an ideal one and in an ideal world that is how it should be. I have to say that I am still close friends with all my ex boyfriends but with my husband I simply don’t see him and don’t know whether he is alive or dead. I hold no animosity but unfortunately he does. I think that if you are rational you can react in the way that you and your ex husband have done however when it comes to emotions many people find it impossible to be rational. In the leadup to the final breakdown of the marriage very often a blame game will start and this will often lead to things being said which are hard to forgive, a desire for revenge, a desire to punish and hurt and although these negative emotions will normally lessen over time for many they can be rekindled with simple triggers. Forgiving is essential for a person to proceed and it is not just forgiveness of the other person, it is forgiveness of self.

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    • mewhoami says:

      These are all excellent points. When emotions are in involved, it’s very difficult to think straight and to put things into perspective.

      I’m sorry that you’re going through this with your husband. It’s a shame that people hold grudges toward one another. But, you’re right, that after a person has let bitterness creep in, it’s very hard to get rid of it entirely. Even the smallest incident can bring it all back again.

      Forgiveness is key, for both people.

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  3. April says:

    Your son is lucky. A child should have positive examples, not visions of adults bickering. I know there are exceptions, I have friends who have had perfectly good reasons for divorce. Some turned their love into hate, some just turned their backs. Some placed their kids in the middle, some learned how to be civil and work together in order minimize the disruption of the child’s feeling of safety. Humans are odd creatures. I wish there were more who thought of their kids, than their selves. (there are exceptions to this as well)

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    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you. I remember bickering when I was a child (no offense to anyone – things happen) but I refuse to do that to my son.

      There are many different scenarios. Why some people choose to put their kids in the middle or decide to show so much hatred toward each other is beyond my understanding. I suppose anger and bitterness can cause a person to make choices that they would never make otherwise.

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  4. suzjones says:

    I never hated my ex. I hated the things he did and just how messy it all became. He always managed to get in my face and under my skin and that is why it took so long to forgive him. But I do understand the animosity between people.
    Your son is a very lucky young man to have two people so invested in his future. πŸ™‚

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  5. DailyMusings says:

    I am glad for you and your son that you are able to have a communicative and friendly relationship with your ex husband & his father. It is a wonderful thing that you get along, it says volumes about the kind of people you are. Thoughtful, forgiving, understanding, considerate, unselfish to name a few. My husband’s exwife has remained bitter for 25 years now- made visitation a living hell, made every interaction that was necessary to have into a challenge. We are happy his daughter is now married and his ex wife is out of our lives. Her inability to ever move forward, move on, look inside herself and heal & grow I still find amazing to this day. Her anger seems to give her purpose -her which to me is just a sad way to live.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Thank you very much for your sweet comment. I believe our close relationship is a crucial in our son’s life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      What a pain that is to have deal with such a bitter ex. Behavior such as her’s is so pointless in my opinion. It’s a waste of time and energy for everyone involved and must of all, it’s unfair to the child. I also know someone like that and their actions make absolutely no sense to me.

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  6. Cindi says:

    Wise, wise words. Your son is fortunate, and you and his father are too!

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  7. AMEN! and YES! and BEAUTIFUL! You have something very special indeed. And I mean you, and your ex, have exceptional qualities. Good for you and your son.

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  8. Jenni says:

    I find in regards to my ex-husband it is hard to be friends with someone I don’t like. I married a mirage and the man I thought of as my friend and partner didn’t exist, it is why it is so difficult to remain polite as he is someone I would not normally be friends with. It’s sad but in this case I think it is for the best.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I can understand that. It is hard to be friends with someone you dislike. It’s sad that who you thought you married ended up being someone different entirely. That’s a scary part about marriage. Sometimes you don’t know, until it’s too late.

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      • Jenni says:

        The thing is I should have known – it took me two scotches and a Valium to get down the stairs on my wedding day so some part of me knew it was a mistake. I don’t regret the relationship because of my son but I regret not paying attention to my instincts. Just because everyone else thought he was wonderful didn’t mean I had to agree.

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        • mewhoami says:

          I believe that love does truly blind us…almost. We see signs, but put them out of our minds in an effort to convince ourselves that what we see will pass or is something we are imagining. I think that’s especially true when everyone else seems to adore the person and in their minds that person could do no wrong. So it must be us, right? No. They don’t have to go home with that person. Following one’s instincts is so important, but like you, so many of us ignore them.

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  9. Glynis Jolly says:

    I think, for the most part, pride gets in the way of being able to be friends with an ex. Maybe because you were young, or at least young enough, you and your ex didn’t have that element of pride getting in the way.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I agree Glynis. A lot of it is because of pride. It’s easier for a person to be resentful and hateful toward the other, than it is to admit that they too played a part in the relationship failing. Pride ruins a lot of things.

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  10. Mrs. P says:

    Without going in to details, after twenty years of marriage, my husband and I hit a deal breaker. Though we did marital counseling, our marriage was not able to be repaired.

    That did not mean that I did not like him still as a person…it only meant that I could no longer be his wife. We were separated as a couple but still lived together as room mates. It worked out for both of us. We agreed ahead of time that if either of us got involved in another relationship, then we would stop living together. We chose to handle our own divorce and worked out all of our own agreements on financial and property matters. He filed for divorce but after six months it was declined due to a clerical issue.

    At one point, I did get involved in another relationship. He moved out and although we remained friends, our lifestyles didn’t keep us in the same circles. Eventually, I felt I needed to put the past in the past and create in the future. Handling the divorce was something that I needed to move up in terms of priority. By the time the divorce was final, we had been separated for five years.

    To this day we speak when we need to and it is usually in connection to our daughter. I am supportive of his life and relationships and he of mine. I’m remarried now and he is fine with that.

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  11. TJ Petri says:

    Oh, Lawdy! I have so very much to say on this subject and so little energy. But it is incredible and honorable to your son that you maintained the relationship you did with his dad. Friends with the ” enemy” — Very nice. I believe it is only possible if the mental health of both is sound, and no borderline histrionics or whatever…lol!
    TjP

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    • mewhoami says:

      πŸ™‚ It could certainly be an interesting topic. I’m very thankful that he and I have been able to keep our friendship through everything we’ve been through. Sound mental health? I don’t know if that applies to me. Ha! I’m definitely not a drama queen though. Ugh. That’s a whole other post right there.

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