The idea of being able to create a friendship after a divorce may be absurd to some people but is actually more common than you would think. For those who spent a good amount of time in their life with that person, completely detaching from them can be difficult and may not even be the ultimate goal for others.
This is especially true for those who started out as friends before dating and then deciding to get married. Friendships are also extremely common among divorcees who have children together. The difficulty with creating friendships with your ex-partner is recreating boundaries that are healthy for a friendship and not a relationship.
Building a friendship after a divorce requires due diligence and patience. One way to know you mastered a friendship after divorce is when you find yourself willfully adding your ex to your car insurance or helping them with any other necessity, financial or legal.
Though getting to a place of true friendship after a divorce can be challenging, it is not impossible if you take time to build the friendship slowly and in the right way.
When is it a good idea to be friends with an ex-spouse?
In most cases, you will be able to tell if friendship with your ex-spouse is a good idea or not. Each situation varies, but it can be difficult to create a friendship when both parties were never okay with getting a divorce.
If you were the one who pushed for a divorce, this could have resulted in negative lingering feelings with your ex. They may need a lot of time to heal and forgive before the thought of a friendship is even an option.
It can also be difficult to build a friendship if the process of getting a divorce was messy and exhausting. This is why it is best to keep emotions in check while divorcing because you never want to get too deep in the muck that you completely ruin any chance of a friendly relationship with your ex.
Choosing to be friends can be a simple voluntary choice if both of you are okay with the divorce, and there are no lingering feelings of regret. Though often, it’s a decision that is made simply due to the fact of having children together.
Parents may realize their children benefit from nesting co-parenting, where the children stay in the marital home and the parents swap in and out, taking turns caring for the children. All forms of co-parenting require a friendly relationship after a divorce, but this form of co-parenting demands a friendship in order to work out well.
Give Each Other Space to Grieve the Loss of the Marriage
Before considering a friendship, the first thing that both individuals should be focusing on are ways to heal from a divorce. Creating a friendship before grieving the marriage and healing from that loss can easily set the friendship up for failure because of the negativity that is carried into the friendship.
No matter if you wanted the divorce or not, you need to take time to grieve. Deciding to divorce someone you vowed to spend your life with is not a simple choice, even if you feel it is the right one. Divorce takes a toll on you emotionally, even if you do not realize it at first.
So cry, drink, dance, party, binge-watch Netflix, go to counseling, redesign your home, and do whatever else it takes to make peace and truly accept that your marriage is over.
Start by Just Checking in on One Another
Once you have taken the time to grieve your old marriage, go out and make new friends post-divorce. This step is crucial because you have to learn how to be by yourself out in the real world without a ring on your finger.
Who you are as a newly-single individual will probably differ drastically from who you were as a married person. So take the time to find the things you like and do not like. Basically, just find your tribe — the people who like what you like and support you as an individual.
When you find yourself as an individual and you’re happy with yourself, then you will be ready to start a friendship with your ex.
Start by simply checking in with them every now and then. After checking in here and there, try spending time together as friends. This time should be where you both get to know each other again because you will no longer be the same people you were married to.
Help One Another, but Do Not Become Intimate
Simple proof of a healthy friendship is if you can humbly reach out and accept help from one another. When making the decision to marry one another, you likely did so because the other person had qualities that you did not have.
If you need help with something that your ex-spouse is skilled with, reach out to them for help. It is also best to give help when it is asked of you. The key thing with helping one another is to remember the fact that you are not obligated to help if you do not want to. Most importantly, helping one another should never result in intimacy or sex.
Unless getting back together with your ex-spouse is something that you feel you truly want, you should always respect the boundaries of your friendship. Even if getting back together is something you want, you should be sure you both want the same thing before making a move in that direction.
Rebuild Trust in One Another and Focus on the Positives
Learning to trust the other person as who they are now in your friendship post-divorce and not who they were as your marital-partner is significant to the health of your friendship. This is even more important if you have children together.
Focus on the good that is happening between you two during your friendship and not the bad that happened while you were married. Consistency and positivity is the key to any long-lasting friendship.
Here are some ways to rebuild trust:
- Not overreacting to things and respecting boundaries
- Refraining from bad-mouthing your ex to friends and family
- Telling the truth, no matter what
- Keeping your promises to one another
- Keeping private matters between the two of you
- Taking the initiative to better your communication
- Correcting your co-parenting mistakes
- Nurturing your ex’s relationship with your children
Imani Francies writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsurance101.com. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media and specializes in various forms of media marketing.
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