‘We’re very close. We couldn’t not be’: the secret to a friendly divorce
Maintaining a positive relationship with your ex-spouse may seem like a rarity, but it doesn’t have to be. Every marriage and divorce is unique and perhaps your uncoupling can be more amicable than you might think.
The chances of healthy reconciliation entirely depends on the emotional maturity of both involved.
Going through the separation process can be made simpler as long as you each focus on the important and make your decisions based on the interests of your family and personal health and happiness.
A few weeks ago, a man came to stay at my house and he and I made so much noise at 1am that we feared we might wake the children. The next morning at breakfast, we had to explain ourselves and apologise.
The man was my ex-husband, and he was telling me an anecdote in the early hours that had us both in fits of laughter. We separated in January 2009, and divorced a year later. He has since remarried, and lives in another city, but often comes to visit our three teenage sons. We have spent several Christmases, Easters and birthdays together.
If liking and being nice to your former partner is the essence of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling”, it could be said that my ex-husband and I are living that dream. In the three years since they announced their much-ridiculed approach to family life and relations post-marriage, the idea of the friendly divorce has become increasingly mainstream. As Helena Bonham Carter said of Tim Burton, her former husband of 13 years, “I think we’ll have something very precious still.” Actor Kate Beckinsale is so friendly with her ex Michael Sheen (the father of their daughter) that she’s often seen hanging out with him and his girlfriend, Sarah Silverman.
And then there’s the rise of the divorce selfie, taken outside the courtroom, showing smug ex-marrieds beaming away together in the spirit of a bright future ahead of them (with a caption such as “We smile not because it’s over but because it happened”). January traditionally sees a spike in calls to family lawyers from couples wishing to uncouple. The first question for many is: can you really have a happy split?