From Ex-Spouse to Friend: Reinventing Relationships After Divorce

Tips for Making Peace with your Ex

Friend-ly, okay, but friends?

Opinions vary on the viability of post-marriage friendship. Tivers believes that as long as the relationship is based on honor and respect, you can't go wrong. Many divorcing couples don't have friendship in mind after dividing the assets, but there are exceptions. Sometimes friendships between former spouses spring naturally from the freedom of being out of the marital bond. Some couples even maintain a physical relationship, continuing to sleep with each other after they split up.

Dr. Constance Ahrons, author of The Good Divorce, notes that some couples don't even begin their marriage as friends, and therefore have no friendship to return to. "Sometimes friendships develop over time," Ahrons says, "but it's not the goal of the post-divorce relationship. How would you act toward a colleague you don't see very often?" You can be friendly and courteous without actually being friends.

If there's one unwavering constant about divorce arrangements, it's that children of divorce always suffer from animosity. Even if friendship isn't in the cards, avoid turning your child into the go-between, the peacekeeper, or from having to take sides with you or your ex.

  • Never express negative sentiments about your ex in front of your children: venting and name-calling is damaging to their identity. Even if there's no contact between the two of you, speak positively or not at all. Your children will eventually form their own opinions.
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