couples

'Since splitting up, my ex-husband and I have remained best friends. People can't stand it.'

“That can’t possibly work!” was what one of my mum’s friends said when mum told her about a trip at Christmas where we all drove to the coast together - me, my ex-husband, my mum, and the kids - to visit my in-laws. 

I really hate to disappoint, but if you’re looking for drama, you’re not going to find it here.

When we decided to separate, my ex-husband (well, we’re not actually divorced yet, but this seems to be the most fitting label) and I knew that we wanted to make sure we were still a family for our kids, even if we weren’t together anymore. 

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We both grew up in families where there were volatile parent relationships and nasty separations and divorces, so there was never a question about it: we were never going to put our own kids through that - or the old-fashioned “just stay together to for the kids”. 

That’s not to say it was never difficult for us or for them - they were pretty distraught when we told them we were separating and it was really hard to watch, but 18-ish months down the track, when asked about the situation, they say it actually hasn’t been as bad as they thought it would be. 

Due to the C-word of 2020, they had some time to adjust to the idea before we actually stopped living together. 

In order to keep the split kid-centric, we went with the “nesting” way of life, where the kids remain in the family home and we do the switching in and out (week on, week off). 

We also do family dinners each week on our changeover night, and coordinate each day so he’s doing school drop offs (even during my week with the kids) and I’m doing the afternoon pickups. Essentially, little has changed aside from the night-time arrangement.

The one thing that has surprised me throughout this whole change however, is that society isn’t as accepting of it.

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It almost seems more socially acceptable to have an acrimonious split where both parties hate each other and the kids are torn between homes than to actually (genuinely) get along well. 

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Family and friends have told me that when they talk about my situation with other people, they’re met with scepticism or outright disbelief.

Birthdays, Christmases, and other special days are spent together as a family, including with our own parents (I still probably talk more with his parents than he does!), and day-to-day living - groceries, school forms, appointments, bills - are worked out fairly between us as we go. 

We communicate constantly; often about the kids, but probably just as frequently with funny anecdotes from our days or relatable memes (see also: tagging on Instagram).

It’s frustrating that people find it so unbelievable, but I’m not wasting any energy on it. 

We’re more than a year in to our arrangement and so far, it’s working pretty perfectly. 

I honestly think the people who can’t accept it are projecting their own insecurities onto us; whether it’s because their own separation was messy (and no judgement here - it takes both people making a huge effort, and that isn’t always possible), or because they know that if they were to separate from their partner, they wouldn’t be able to put aside their pettiness and anger to make it work like this. 

We’ll just continue being the best version of our modern family we can be, and hope it pays dividends as our kids grow up in a conflict-free environment with two happy, but separate, parents. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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