Can you be best friends with your ex-spouse?
That’s not a question I’ve been asked before. Most people I know who are divorced, including my clients, are ready to put the past behind them and want a fresh start.
Best friends with your ex spouse?
The short answer: Not usually.
There are exceptions. It depends on the circumstances of your divorce and your feelings towards your ex-spouse after the settlement.
When I think of a best friend, I think of someone I can trust and confide in. A friend whose company I enjoy, share favourite activities with and give support to one another.
Is that the relationship you want with your ex-spouse?
Perhaps a more relevant question is: Can you have a friendly relationship with your ex- spouse?
By friendly, I mean one that is respectful, cordial, and cooperative.
Yes, it’s possible.
You can choose to have a have a friendly relationship with your ex-spouse but it usually happens over time. It takes time to recover from the emotional upheaval of your divorce and gain perspective on what happened.
The need for a friendly, cooperative relationship with your ex-spouse is especially important, if you’ve had children together. Your ex-spouse will be part of your children’s lives and therefore still part of yours, long after the divorce. The two of you will be in contact through custody arrangements, birthday celebrations and milestone events as the children get older.
It’s easier for everyone when you let go of any lingering animosity and allow respect and cooperation to lead the way.
That’s what Jane and Phil learned. They divorced when their children were in their late teens. Initially, Jane and Phil had separate holidays with their children, taking turns at Christmas and birthday celebrations. But in time, as Jane and Phil moved on with their lives, they started having family celebrations together. When Jane hosts Christmas dinner, she includes Phil and his new wife and they reciprocate. It’s easier for their children not having to choose one parent over the other.
If there are no children from the marriage, it’s less likely that your ex will be part of your life after divorce. Again, it’s part of the fresh start you want to create after the emotional upset of your divorce.
That was Ann and Steve’s experience.
Ann and Steve divorced when they were in their thirties. There were no children from their marriage and each went their separate way after the divorce. Ann moved to another city focusing on her career and Steve eventually married again.
But sometimes life is full of surprises.
Many years later, Ann and Steve reconnected through a chance meeting. By then, Steve’s was divorced a second time and Ann was nearing retirement. They slowly established their relationship as friends. They both live on their own and prefer it that way but stay in touch regularly having created a supportive, caring friendship.
When it comes to your divorce, time can be the great healer. Over time, the anger and resentment of a divorce become a thing of the past.
So, you may not be best friends with your ex-spouse but in time you can choose to have a friendly relationship – one that’s respectful, cordial and cooperative.