Is it possible to remain friends with your ex after a divorce? There are circumstances where friendship between ex-spouses can work, but there are also situations where it makes no sense at all. At the end of the day, only the divorced couple can decide if staying friends after a divorce is right for them. While no one, including us, can make that decision for ex-spouses, we can provide divorced couples with a few things to consider before deciding whether to stay friends or not.
Pros and Cons of Staying Friends with Your Ex After a Divorce
Under the right circumstances, friendship after divorce is possible. However, while there are exceptions, divorces are generally not the product of healthy relationships. Therefore, the idea of continuing a relationship in any form with an ex following a divorce may not appeal to many. In some cases, exes have no choice but to keep in touch, because they have kids together. However, even in the case of co-parenting, remaining friends is a choice, not a necessity, and as a choice, it has its pros and cons.
Here are the pros and cons of staying friends with your ex-spouse following a divorce:
- Pro: It gives you a chance to forgive each other. One of the best gifts you can give to yourself is forgiving someone else. Holding onto anger against your ex-spouse often hurts you more than it hurts them. Plus, one of the biggest steps you can take as you try to move on with your life after the end of your marriage is forgiveness.
- Con: You don’t have time to grieve the loss of your marriage. Another big step you must take before you can put your marriage in the past is grieving the loss your romantic relationship. As you go through the steps of the grieving process, such as anger and denial, trying to maintain or build a friendship with your ex could prevent you from completing the process and fully healing. Even if you decide to be friends with your ex, you should spend some time apart at first to mourn the loss of your marriage.
- Pro: It can help improve your co-parenting relationship. If you’re friends with your ex-spouse, you will be more likely to maintain an open line of communication, which can make co-parenting your kids much easier. In addition, as your friendship deepens, so will your level of trust and understanding. Being more trusting and understanding can also benefit your co-parenting relationship.
- Con: You need time away from your spouse to figure out who you are without them. When you’re married, your and your spouse’s identities as individuals can sometimes take a backseat to your identity as a couple. After your marriage ends, you need time to let go of your identity as part of a couple and rediscover your identity as an individual. The is hard to do if your and your ex-spouse’s lives are still intertwined.
- Pro: It’s less stressful for both of you. If you’re on good terms with your ex, it will be less stressful for you both. You will be less likely to argue about your kids or make things awkward for your families and mutual friends.
- Con: If you have kids, it can be confusing for them. Seeing you and your ex on friendly terms after your divorce can confuse your children. They may mistakenly believe it means you’re getting back together and be heartbroken when you don’t. If you and your ex decide to be friends after your divorce, make sure to sit your kids down at some point and explain to them that you’re just friends and that you’re not getting back together. It can help them avoid confusion and heartbreak.
This pros and cons list can be helpful for making your decision. However, the decision to maintain or end a relationship of any kind should never be taken lightly. Therefore, in addition to considering the pros and cons, you should talk to your family, friends, and divorce attorney before you ultimately decide whether to stay friends with your ex-spouse or not.
Tips to Stay Friends with Your Ex
If after considering the pros and cons, talking things over with your family and friends, and discussing the subject with your attorney you decide to stay friends with your ex, don’t expect it to be easy. A friendship, like a marriage, is only as good as what you put into it. To help you out, here are a few tips for staying friends with your ex:
- Grieve the loss of your marriage first. As we mentioned before, this is a big step you need to take before you can move forward with your life. You must let go of your past before you can embrace your future.
- Make sure your kids understand that you’re not getting back together. Seeing you and your ex getting along might confuse your children. They may mistake your friendship for something more. Explain to them about healthy relationships and that although you and your ex-spouse aren’t a couple anymore, you still care about each other as friends.
- Avoid physical intimacy. Do not have sex or engage in any other type of physical intimacy with your ex, such as kissing or holding hands. No matter how casual you two think you can keep it, things will get messy. Someone will form an attachment and the other won’t reciprocate, which will lead to hurt feelings and awkwardness. Plus, if you have kids and they find out, it could trick them into believing you’re getting back together.
- Take the time to learn what makes a good friend. While physical intimacy is generally considered the dividing line between friendships and romantic relationships, there are differences between the emotional intimacy of couples and friends too. So, before diving into a friendship with your ex, make sure you study up on what makes a good friend first. It may sound simple, but doing so could prevent you from crossing emotional lines you shouldn’t cross with your ex.
- Hang out. It takes time to develop a friendship. One of the best ways to build a friendship is to just hang out. Go to a movie. Grab lunch. Hit a concert. Go to a ball game. Whatever things you and your former spouse like to do with your own friends, try to do some of those things with each other.
- Wait until you’re both comfortable before discussing new relationships. Talking about someone new that you’re dating with your ex or hearing about someone new that they’re dating can be uncomfortable. One or both of you may not be ready to talk about that type of thing with the other. Even if you think enough time has passed, everyone heals at their own pace. Don’t add that dynamic to your and your ex’s friendship until you’re sure you’re both ready.
Divorce Questions? We Can Help. Contact Us Today!
Whether you expect an amicable divorce or a contentious one, the family law attorneys at Leavitt Law Firm can provide you with the legal support you need. Our team of legal advocates have been helping clients through the divorce process since 1989. We’ve seen the stress that divorce can put on a person, even if their relationship with their spouse is friendly. You need a divorce attorney on your side who is experienced, knows family law inside and out, and who will prioritize protecting your interests above all. That’s the kind of representation you can expect from our legal team.