‘I’ve gained a best friend’: readers on getting on with ex-partners after divorce

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Marriage breakups are hard, but some people can rebuild relationships after they end things

Guardian readers and Adelina Adjei  –  The  Guardian

Sometimes divorce can result in stronger friendships between ex-partners.
Photograph: Phil Degginger/Alamy

Divorce enquiries have been known to spike at the beginning of the year starting on 6 January, so-called ‘divorce day’. Divorce support organisation, Amicable, said that over the past few years it has seen an increase in people wanting divorce information throughout January.

Usually a difficult experience, sometimes divorce can result in stronger friendships between ex-partners. Following a callout asking you to share your experiences, five Guardian readers tell us their stories.

‘I’ve lost a marriage but gained a best friend’

I met my ex-wife 15 years ago when we were out walking our dogs. We were married for 10 years until I was unfaithful. We co-parent on a 50/50 basis which has enabled us to have independent, fulfilling adult lives. We support one another emotionally more now than when we were married, and we are happier and so is our 12-year-old son. We live within walking distance of each other and even seek advice from one another about situations with our current partners. Our divorce was finalised towards the end of last year; I’ve lost a marriage but I’ve gained a best friend and an amazing co-parent. Tony, 57, self-employed, Frome, Somerset

‘We usually spend Christmas, Easter and summer holidays together’

I worked at Ann Summers in London and that is where we met in 1982. We were introduced through my old school friend who Giovanna was dating at the time. We moved to Verona in 1989 and were married for 22 years but grew apart and divorced in 2005. Once the pain ebbed away we still liked and respected each other, even if there was no possibility of getting back together. We have a son and live just down the road from each other now. We usually spend Christmas, Easter and summer holidays together (with her new partner). Some people close to us think we’re either saintly or stupid, but we are certainly neither – this is just how it went. Robin Jackson, 60, teacher, Verona, Italy

‘We talk about everything from life to love issues’

We met while I was living and working in São Paulo as a consultant. We lived together for five years and then were married for an additional four years. We drifted apart, our sex life became non-existent and neither of us were able to talk about it with each other. Ultimately this led to infidelity on my part; it was like I wanted to be found out as I eventually made it so obvious. She did indeed find out when she saw messages on my phone, and that led to the divorce. We ended things three years ago, and after the split we didn’t speak much.

But because we travelled to different countries together and had to rely on each other in life-or-death situations, we were able to become proper friends later. I would consider her my best friend; she’s helped me when I suffered from anxiety and depression. We often meet for coffee or dinner and I have no problems meeting her with my current girlfriend. We talk about everything from life to love issues (she is now dating a woman and I was among the first people she came out to). We definitely miss each other since I moved to India for work, but we still talk daily and we both know we’ll do anything for each other no matter where we are in the world. Ben Weber, 38, consultant, New Delhi, India

‘Now we’re back together’

I met my ex-husband at primary school and we were married for 27 years but divorced because of his infidelity. We have two children, one grandchild and carried on talking afterwards. He was very supportive and kind especially after my new partner died in an accident. He was the first person I told and he even lent me money for the funeral. Now we’re back together but our relationship dynamic is different. I’m more mature and not afraid to use my own voice and he respects me more for that. Life is so short and forgiveness is a good thing. Karen Smith, 56, trainee life coach, Tadworth

‘Our humour helped us deal with ending the relationship’

After being married for 11 years, we divorced because we couldn’t have children. We didn’t recognise we were grieving and deflected the emotions on to other issues. We took our time getting divorced, completely against what books, family and friends advised by getting it over and done with quickly. It was tough and the final ending was terrible, but we cared about each other and didn’t lose our humour or compassion. Friends said our humour helped us deal with ending the relationship and come to terms with not being able to be parents.

We both accepted the role we played in the situation, which helped us move on and remain amicable after our divorce in spring 2015. We have a stronger friendship now and he is a supportive and caring confidant. I often joke that he’s a much better ex-husband than a husband and we are ready to start new relationships. Zakyeya Atcha, 52, doctor, Lancashire

 

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