You’re a good person, and your spouse is a good person – but you just aren’t any good together. You’ve chosen to seek a divorce, but you’d very much like to either remain friends with your ex-spouse in the future.
Is that even possible? Absolutely. It just takes a little commitment on both sides and some work. Here’s how to make it happen:
Be sure you understand why you want to be friends
If you’re hanging onto the past or still harboring romantic feelings for your ex, trying to stay friends can backfire – especially when they eventually find someone new.
On the other hand, if you have children together (of any age), staying friends can ease a lot of family tensions and make co-parenting easier. It’s also helpful to remain friends when you’re part of a tight-knit community, such as many LGBTQA couples, and couples who belong to the same religious organizations or to the same ethnic or cultural communities.
Establish new ways of interacting and create new boundaries
You can’t stay friends and still act like a couple. Instead of going to the restaurant you always went to on date nights, switch it up to the local coffee shop. Don’t aim for daily contact – a bi-weekly (or less) catch-up session is plenty.
If you have minor children together, keep your communications about the kids polite, graceful and a little formal. Put your thoughts and plans in writing, so that you create a little bit of emotional distance between you and your ex during what could otherwise be emotional encounters.
Consider mediation as you work through your divorce
Even couples with the best of intentions can hit a few sticking points during the divorce on important issues. That doesn’t have to ruin your plans to be friends. Instead of going to war, consider mediation as a way to find a middle ground on anything from custody and support to the division of the marital debts and assets.
It may seem like a lot of effort, right now, to stay friends with your ex, but the end results can be worth it – especially when your ex may remain a big part of your life well into the future.