Question: Dear Luise: Is it possible to end a marriage and create a friendship? I know people who say they have done that and on the surface it looks like they have but it seems impossible to me. How do people find anything left after a divorce to resurrect into something even resembling a positive relationship? I am divorced and would like to try to reconnect with my ex-husband. I miss him in my life and keep thinking of things I would like to send him on email, or times I would like to share with him if that were possible. We have been divorced for over ten years and both of us are remarried and doing well. I don’t know if I should try or even how to begin. Do you have any suggestions? Lee
Answer: Dear Lee: I not only know of people who have done exactly what you are describing but I count myself among their numbers. My husband and I get together with my ex and his wife, (who was the person we divorced over), and everyone enjoys it. Love has many forms and faces. Marriage is just one of them.
However, I don’t think it is always possible. Some spouses leave each other with such terrible animosity that there is just no room for anything resembling cordiality. In such cases the best and probably only thing to do it to let sleeping dogs lie.
My youngest son and his ex-wife are good friends and they also enjoy each other’s spouses. There were no children involved so it’s purely a matter of everyone deciding that even though being married wasn’t supportive, friendship works.
In such cases it’s very important to be clear about values and to keep priorities straight. There can’t be any hidden meanings and/or hidden emotions floating around under the surface. Nothing will remain hidden for long and there’s absolutely no chance of friendship if such games are being played.
In your case, I would discuss this with my husband first. That’s square one. If he’s uncomfortable you can’t move on until that is resolved, if it can be. Otherwise, forget it. In my case, my husband had a huge resentment against my ex because he saw him as totally to blame and me as the victim. Until that concept could be erased, it was a no-go situation. Eventually I convinced him that we were equally at fault, there was no “bad guy” and we were both much happier after having moved on. Now, the four of us just hang out and enjoy each other. Not often…but when we do, it’s fun.
If and when your husband agrees to it, you need to contact your ex and he has to see how he feels about the idea of pursuing a possible four-way friendship. Beyond that, his new spouse needs to be consulted and brought into the equation. The plan can fail at any juncture because it needs everyone’s OK and honesty for it to work.
Think about this for a bit before you go any further. It is possible for some people to end a marriage and create a friendship but how about the four of you? If you want to go ahead…do so very carefully with great sensitivity and patience. Blessings, Luise