Friendship After Divorce
Can there really be friendship after divorce? I am having such a hard time wrapping my head around this. I mean what do you do when you know someone over 20 years, grew up with them basically, have a marriage and it falls apart? Be friends? What does divorced friendship even look like? What do you do? Meet for dinner or drinks and talk about your dating life and new relationship? No thanks!
People typically divorce when they realize that they grew apart. They know they want to move forward in their life and obviously not with their spouse. Usually after they separate one of two things happen. Either the couple takes their break, sees they don’t want to live without the other person, regroups and works to change their dynamic. Or, the couple remains separated which without a purpose, leads to emotional limbo.
Eventually someone will move on with another person or will get tired of being stuck in their life. This just leads to more distance and more unraveling. How can friendship come from this? I feel like once the divorce happens it is over, no contact ever again. Unless of course, there are kids.
People actually told me I’m lucky because we didn’t have kids. “Lisa you don’t have to be fake and be friends for the sake of the kids. You can just get divorced and go live your life and never see him again.” This breaks my heart. Losing my husband sucks enough, add on losing a friend of 24 years and this deeply saddens me.
You have this whole life together. At first it’s awesome. When you marry your best friend as I was blessed to do, marriage is a really good time. Then, as time goes on there’s stagnation. You both get into a routine of work, eat, sleep, repeat and stop dreaming together. Other than vacations, there aren’t any goals. You’re not going for anything together. Communication is superficial. You get along great, never argue yet something is missing. The sex, despite being highly attracted, is vanilla because of the lack of deep connection.
When stagnation happens in life, the universe presents challenges to rattle you and the marriage to the core. This is how we grow. True, but as you’re going through hell, it sucks!
The lesson: avoid stagnation. Always have a purpose as a couple. What do you stand for? What are you contributing to the world as a couple? What are the big accomplishments for the month? What’s the plan to get things done? How are we supporting one another? Where are we with money? Where are we with personal growth? Failure to ask these questions frequently and be creators in your marriage leads to disaster. Once the universe arranges the upheaval, you choose to do terrible things, say heartbreaking things and one or both people eventually fall out of love. Trust me. I know.
The worst is when that person repeatedly says that they love you and always will. They say they couldn’t imagine you not in their life anymore yet, they don’t want to be married to you. Yet, they don’t file. This creates limbo. People can fall into this “hope trap” for years. I did.
You settle for scraps. No sex, yet hanging out with your legal spouse, cooking dinner, watching movies or TV! There’s no plan or progress towards reconciliation and then the person who wants to either reconcile or move on, has outbursts! “What the hell are we doing? I mean I adore you and I love hanging out with you but what are we doing to get back together? We should negotiate a plan!” That conversation is then met with a long list of reasons why the other person doesn’t see how it can work. Ok, so then let’s divorce! Then no one files and it’s the same cycle again.
You’re not living together and you have a whole other life going on outside of this “sort of married limbo dynamic.” It’s confusing and an emotional roller coaster. Above all it is unkind, unfair and unloving to yourself.
You hang out for weeks months even without any issues and there’s a closeness that happens yet no one makes a move sexually. It’s awful. You feel worthless and confused. This is why people who separate and file for divorce the second they see a shift are smart! The lesson: if you separate and can’t get it together after a year, file for divorce and move on with your lives.
The bond is special and for people who know one another 20, 25, 30 years and more, they consider each other “family.” “I’ll always love you. You’re with me in my heart every day. I’ll see things multiple times a day and it will make me think of you.” However, does this translate to friendship after divorce? How? When? Why?
I can understand people who divorce with kids making an effort to be friends because they are linked for life through parenting. Even once the kids are grown they may see one another less but eventually there will be a wedding, and possibly grandchildren. Both spouses move on with other people and even blend families like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have done.
Childfree people have nothing linking them. So can friendship after divorce actually happen? How? Why? Also factor in when one of the people announce they are seeing someone (obviously this “someone” matters enough to warrant mentioning it).
While I was willingly stuck in emotional limbo, I knew that the second my husband felt compelled to tell me he met someone, I’d file for divorce. For me that’s confirmation all hope is gone as is any hope for friendship. I know myself. I’m not sticking around to watch my husband fall in love unless he’s falling back in love with me. Sorry. I can very easily wish him all the happiness in the world from afar.
I think the whole “let be friends” thing is great on paper and on a spiritual level. We can wish each other love and light whenever we have a memory pop up. See, we’re friends. Our bond will be reduced to a happy holiday and happy birthday text just to acknowledge that the life before our divorce existed. This just makes me very very sad.
Lisa Concepcion, a 20 year marketing veteran is founder of LoveQuest Marketing. She uses proven marketing tactics to help people personally brand themselves to find, give, and keep love. Lisa is also a writer, speaker, and video blogger based in Miami, Florida.