When I hear stories of other divorced couples being friends with each other, I turn a little green with envy. A lot of times it’s for the kids, of course, but there seems to be a lot of “we just didn’t function well as a couple” going around. I guess it’s easier to be friendly with someone you don’t have to live with every day.
That’s not my story. I can wish it was all I want, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. It’s been almost a year since we ended things, and I can count on one hand the number of conversations we’ve had that didn’t involve the logistics of the divorce or the children.
And you know what? I’ve accepted that. Maybe things will change someday, and I’m certainly open to and hopeful for the possibility, but for now I’m OK with not having my ex in my life.
I don’t know why or how some couples are able to settle into friendship after a divorce. I’ve certainly tried, but the results have not been good. I invited him for ice cream with the kids at the mall once, and I thought we might be crossing over into the land of friendship, but I made the fatal mistake of mentioning it.
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“This is nice,” I mentioned, as our daughters were playing together in their own world. It was a little awkward, but the conversation was flowing and much to my surprise, I realized I was actually enjoying myself a little bit. “It is,” he agreed.
“Just because we’re not married doesn’t mean I don’t want to be friends,” I said. You think I’d know by now not to say such nonsense, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted a friendship not just for the kids but also because there are parts of him that I genuinely enjoy -- I did marry him for a reason. No such luck.
He just stared at me and said, “I can’t be friends.”
“What do you mean?” I cautiously asked.
“It’s all or nothing. I can’t be just friends if I can’t have you for my wife.”
And that’s basically it right there. The fundamental personality differences that made it impossible for us to have a mutually satisfying long-term marriage are now making it incredibly difficult for us to have any semblance of friendship, no matter how superficial.
So we make the best of it. We both love our daughters and make sure they know they are loved and that this has nothing to do with them. We communicate when we need to, but we do our own things the rest of the time.
Just like every marriage is different, every divorce is too, and sometimes the best option isn’t to remain friends. Trying to force a relationship of any kind when it’s not mutual is just a recipe for disaster.
Do you think ex-spouses can really be friends?