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SuperMouse's avatar

Does a couple have to break apart completely before coming together as friends?

Asked by SuperMouse (30738 points ) January 31st, 2009

I am in the final stages of a divorce. It is imperative that we have a strong and civil relationship because we are the parents of three children together. Do we have to break apart completely – I mean get to the point where we’ve totally let go of all those old feelings and pain – before we can come together as friends for the sake of our boys?

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15 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

If you can do that it will place the two of you in a very small minority. I guess if you both go into it with no expectations and no baggage from before.

You have a hard road ahead of you my friend. Sorry you have to travel it.

elijah's avatar

It’s easy for my ex husband and I to get along, because when I look at him I just feel sorry for him now. In the beginning I was mad and it made it more difficult, but I did it for the sake of my kids. I guess it depends on if you are happy or sad about the divorce. I was happy about it, I wanted it. I was angry at him because he never amounted to what I deserved, what my children deserved. It took about two years to realize I was wasting my time.

bythebay's avatar

@supermouse: I’ve never been in your shoes, but many of my close friends and family members have. From what I’ve observed the answer to your question is yes. A broken marriage creates a tremendous amount of baggage. As hard as you try to put your kids first, the baggage will be in the way. Sometimes when people are deeply hurt, bruised and disappointed, friendship is not an option. You may have to let go of the dream of friendship and just settle for co-parenting. It could be that the hurts are just too great to expect a friendship to either remain or bloom anew. Only time will tell.

I would think, for the sake of your children, your future will hold an immense amount of tongue biting, cooperation, and compromise. If civility can prevail your children will be all the better for it – and so will you. Good luck to you.

gailcalled's avatar

The parental marriage continues until everyone is dead. The father of my children, whom I divorced decades ago, and I still communicate in an amiable fashion. It can be done if you choose your areas of concern carefully and think about the well-being of the children.

But you need to deal with the marital issues separately, if they are still tormenting you. It is not easy.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

My attorney is telling me to document what my ideal circumstance looks like on paper. Perhaps that would be helpful to do with how you would ideally like to see what your roles as parents for your sons look like going forward; have your husband do likewise, and see if you can’t reach common ground before things become an issue. My mother thrust us into the middle of her relationship with my father, and the end result was that my dad “divorced” all of us, and in doing so, gave my mom not only all the authority over us, but all the responsibility as well. It would have been a lot less stressful if they could find a way to come to put me and my sister’s well-being first, but we somehow always ended up as pawns, and my mom, whether she meant to or not, always played the martyr. In the long run, if my dad had to interact with us more, he would have had better appreciation for my mom.

marinelife's avatar

First, SuperMouse, let me say that I am sorry you are going through the difficulty and heartache that is divorce—even when one wants it.

Friendship takes work on both parts, time, and sometimes is not possible.

I think you have to compartmentalize that from parenting. (Right, easy for me to say.) I know that is not necessarily easy. The starting point has to be the common ground you share: a desire to have the divorce impact the children as little as possible along with your shared love of your children and dreams for their success and happiness. If you can keep that as a touchstone for both of you, it will help.

Take care.

augustlan's avatar

My ex and I are friends and amiable most of the time. We knew from day one that we wanted to put the children first and have been able to do that. That is not to say there weren’t rough times (and still are every now and again). When we were separated, but not yet divorced, we fought more than we ever did while we were together! I suppose we were just finding our way after 17 years of marriage. At one point we thought we’d never be friends again, and would only be good co-parents. It passed :) Good luck to you, and your entire family. Sending you good thoughts.

cdwccrn's avatar

Put your kids first, and everything will fall into place. Blessings.

cak's avatar

First, I’m so sorry you are going through this – it’s hard, on everyone.

For us, we outlined what we would agree to do, as parents, together. We were clear that our personal lives, were just that, personal. We didn’t ask questions or grill our daughter about each others life. We respected that each house had rules, but agreed on core rules. It wasn’t always perfect, but for the better part – it was working.

It wasn’t easy. The pain can stand in the way, but you have to remember that you have children involved and you have to do the best you can, for them. To me, yes. The complete break had to be there – somehow, that made it easier to deal with – not perfect, but easier!
Until my ex’s wife expressed such a hatred about child support – he and I actually did fine. We are both remarried, we both lead very separate lives. She raised a stink – to everyone that would listen, that she hated him paying child support – scary thing, I don’t even hold him to everything the court ordered. In fact, it’s less than half.

After I was diagnosed with cancer, she even tried to convince him that my daughter should live with them, because I was going to die.

THAT is what you don’t want and that is what has stopped, with us. We recently had a conversation about all the things that had been happening and how much it has stressed us and strained the relationship.

Communication and the ability to admit when you are wrong, is important. For 8 years, before his wife started kicking up dirt, we managed a very civil relationship. Now, we agree that things need to be fixed.

wundayatta's avatar

I think this depends so much on individual circumstances. You must both put your children first, as others have said. If you agree on that, then you have a good basis for going forward.

Once the divorce is through, if you both put all the shit behind you, and focus on moving forward, it will help a lot. What’s done is done. You can’t revisit it or keep on fighting it some more. That doesn’t help anyone, and just makes it harder to work together to make this difficult time for the children any easier.

(I should note, that none of these things are easy, but they are principles from which you can guide your actions)

Individual circumstances: if either of you has to keep on fighting, or using the kids as weapons, then friendship is unlikely. If you both agree that your goal is to, if not become friends, at least become good partners in this child-raising business, that will help.

Money will probably be a sore point. You’ll both probably feel like the other is getting too much. Remember that. I don’t know if it helps or not. I think it does. It allows you more compassion for the other. This is important, especially when they have hurt you.

The other thing is to remember that there is always guilt on both sides of a marriage that breaks apart. If one person had an affair, it is partly because the other move away emotionally. You both want connection and love, and you couldn’t figure out how to get that from each other. That’s extraordinarily painful. Depression might be really, really the worst thing you ever experience, but so is losing a love.

Given that you both hurt, the odds are small, but maybe you can figure out how to parent at a remove.

As time goes by, and you build on co-parenting, and you each have new relationships, you have a better chance of seeing each other empathetically, and that might allow you to become friends. Indeed, sometimes people become so friendly, they remarry. Isn’t that a kick in the head? My point is that good relations can develop.

I surely hope things work out as best they possibly can. If you are strong, you can be kind to him for the sake of your kids, and if he is wise enough, he’ll be kind to you for the same reason, and they you have an excellent chance of making the best out of a bad situation.

Then again, what the hell do I know. I’ve never gone through this, and I only got close…. well, that’s a story for another day.

galileogirl's avatar

We did but the thing that makes it harder is the things you didn’t like when you were together are still there. My ex was kind of undependable when we were married and while it no longer was a serious problem for me, it was difficult on our daughter when he didn’t show up. I stopped telling her he was coming and just put a bag aside in case. When she was about 12, I turned the arrangements over to her and stayed out of it completely.

He also had a lackadaisical attitude about support, so within about 18 mos I told him I was going to help him out by going through the DA and there never were any more late payments.

At first he liked to ask me personal questions about who I was seeing and how much I was earning but I would change the subject and that soon ended.

I saw him through a second divorce and into a third marriage, quite happy when he started another family. We talked every few mos and I was invited to family parties, occasionally attending one. As I have stated elsewhere, his widow called me to the hospital when he was dying and insisted I sit with the family at his funeral.

amanderveen's avatar

You might be interested in watching this. It’s a program that recently aired called How to Divorce and Not Wreck the Kids. It follows three couples trying to come to terms with divorcing and maintaining a healthy relationship with each other for the sake of the kids.

fundevogel's avatar

An ex and I are in the process of re-aquainting as friends. It was something we had considered while we were together and again when we broke up. My experience has been that you do need to be completely over the ex before friendship becomes viable. You can’t be complete friend if you’re still hoping to rekindle, that’s and ulterior motive. And you won’t be able to be a friend if seeing your ex still hurts you.

That said, I don’t think it’s impossible. Just difficult. It’s something both people have to be serious about making happen. Ultimately they have to be a person that you care about and appreciate whether or not the relationship is romantic. But give yourself time to pull yourself back together and that will go easiest if you don’t have your ex around.

My parents were in your situation and they did maintain a good relationship, but it was hardest right after the divorce.

star_bug's avatar

As I’m a child from a divorced relationship I can definateley say that you both need to drop the baggage for the kids sake, NO ONE IS ASKIN YOU TOO BE BEST BUDDIES! just always be civil in front of your kids and one last word of advice:- dont say horrible things to the kids about each other, let them make up their own minds what they want to do.

druebeall's avatar

My first husband, my childrens father and I are strangely enough not on speaking terms. I am not sure why, except that the new wifey is extremely insecure even though it has been 14 years now. LOL Like when my Mother passed away, my ex husband came and picked me up and took me to my parents house. It was weird. It was our 3 kids, he and I. We really make a good looking family, but the next day at the funeral he didn’t even say hello to me because the new wifey was there?!? Go figure. So I guess the answer to your question is . . everything and everyone is different. Some may and some may not. We will find out when or if it happens.

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