I Stayed Friends With My Ex: A Case Study
Mike, 31, split up with his wife three years ago and moved out of the family home. They have a 6-year-old daughter together and he says they have both made an effort, for her sake, to remain friends.
“Of course, it’s not how you hope things are going to work out. My parents divorced and I really didn’t want to put my daughter through that, but sometimes you just can’t make things work," Mike explained. "My ex and I would have split sooner if it wasn’t for our daughter, but we kept trying to make the marriage work so we could stay together as a family. When we finally came to the realisation that it wasn’t going to, I was heartbroken.”
Moving Out“I moved to a flat on the other side of town and although it was only a 10-minute drive away, it felt like forever. Going from tucking your child into bed every night, to sitting there alone is a horrible experience. My ex, to her credit, was very understanding and agreed that I could come round and visit whenever I wanted, as long as I rang her beforehand.
“I think it helped enormously that we didn’t split up on bad terms. Yes, we fell out of love and didn’t want to be together anymore, but nobody cheated, lied or did something awful. It was really hard going round there, the place that used to be my home, and feeling like a bit of a stranger. My daughter kept asking when I was going to stay over again and that gave me a lump in my throat every time.”
FriendshipMike and his ex-wife managed to agree a visitation agreement without going to court and he believes that staying out of the legal system really helped them to work together, rather than against each other.
“There is no bitterness between me and my ex-wife. It was pretty much a mutual decision for us to end our marriage and there is no sense of blame. I also think that not involving lawyers helped a great deal. I have seen my friends battle it out with their exes and it’s not a pretty sight.
Putting Their Daughter First“Ultimately, my ex and I will always be joined by our daughter and we are both committed to putting her first. It wouldn’t be any good for her if we were arguing or fighting with each other (see our article on Hiding Arguments From Your Children). I am lucky that my ex realises I need to be a part of my daughter’s life and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise that.
“I think that if people focus on what is really important – your child – then there would be less nastiness. It doesn’t benefit anyone and I know from my own experience of my parents splitting up, that children understand much more than you think they do. I mean, I don’t think we are ever going to be like Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, but we respect each other and our daughter enough to be friendly and mature.”
For information on keeping a good relationship with your ex, read our article How to Improve Relations With Your Child's Mother on this site.Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.