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My Continuing Friendship with My Two Exes

By Wendy Ann Hulbert July 30, 2023 Family

I received a ton of virtual hugs after my last Sixty and Me blog. Now let me share a bit of how I came to board that flight in Orlando.

How Can We Be Friends?

I ask myself this question often: how did I remain good friends with not one, but two ex-husbands? First, let me say that I am eternally grateful for that. There is no magic answer, but rather an ironic one; I chose two good men.

If tomorrow I were told that I would have to live with and spend my entire remaining life with either of them, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. They have very different traits in many ways, but both are – and always were – kind, decent, loyal, good fathers (not to children of mine as I have none), and are still caring and supportive towards me.

On both occasions it was I who instigated divorce proceedings, and in both cases I have not regretted my decision; merely the fact that I had to make those decisions in the first place. Of course, this has caused me a lot of soul searching over the years, and I believe what it boils down to is that I am an inherently solitary person; technically I am an ambivert.

I thoroughly enjoy being in the throng, but my conversing attention span is limited, and I rather crave a lot of alone time; this is not particularly conducive to a good marriage.

The End of My First Marriage

I met my first husband when I was 30, and we were divorced 10 years later. We had many good times, lots of laughter, few arguments, we ran a business together, we had much in common. Truth be told, even at 35 I wasn’t ready or looking for marriage, but after five happy years together, there didn’t seem a viable reason to say no to his proposal.

However, as time progressed, I sometimes felt smothered and that feeling started with a small drumbeat that just got louder and louder until I felt like I was unable to breathe. Just before my 40th birthday (which is now 25 years ago) I was done. He loved me a lot and he suffered – for a long time.

He remained in the background like a guardian angel all these years: even through my second marriage. Never intrusive, just always there, and now that I have returned to living in the UK, we have renewed this friendship quite fervently. There will be no remarriage, but there will always be a close bond between us. That’s good enough for me, and I hope it is for him.

The End of My Second Marriage

I met my second husband eight years after my first marriage ended, so this was by no means a rebound marriage. I did, sadly, put myself through a toxic three year relationship in between, which I chide myself for as it is totally out of character for me. Ah well, we can’t get it right all of the time!

My second husband and I were together for four years before I got a rather unromantic, matter-of-fact proposal. This time around I was looking for the proposal, so the answer was a happy, resounding yes. Once again, the early years were happy and content ones, and I truly couldn’t envisage a life without this man.

It was not to be my destiny: circumstances dictated that we gravitated more and more towards spending long periods of time apart in different countries, and this no doubt attributed to our demise.

I struggled for a long time once the seed of discontent started to germinate, and I pushed it away over and over again. I really did not want this marriage to come to an end, yet the day came over two and a half years ago when something he said was the straw that broke the camel’s back; it was time to cut the Gordian Knot.

I could not go on, and here I was again, initiating the inevitable. This divorce was a lot harder to get over than the first, and I am still dealing with the aftereffects, but it’s definitely getting easier.

Why Are We Still Friends?

There is still mutual love, respect, and gratitude for what we once had, and I believe the three of us do not want to muddy that happy place by spitting bile at each other with hatred, insults and contempt. We all are, thankfully, super rational (the two exes even met once and got on really well), and I am so grateful to have them both in my life.

Will There Be a Third?

A third marriage is highly unlikely. I have come to the conclusion that I am not great wife material, but I am great ex-wife material, and I aspire to be a giving partner in years to come, as I have been in the past.

However, I must take care to seek out somebody who also enjoys his own space and will not feel the need to lean too heavily on me for a commitment I seem unable to fulfill. If you know of anybody that fits that bill, I think I am ready.

So I want to throw it out there to all you lovely ladies who are going through or have been through divorces: it doesn’t do any harm to part and remain on amicable terms if at all humanly possible. It will give you far greater peace of mind than agonizing over how you have been wronged. One of my favorite sayings is “bless and release.”

As I did: twice.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you think society dictates that we should dislike our exes? Can old feelings be rekindled, or should they remain a thing of the past? Should a divorced couple move on and never communicate again?

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Jennifer

Definitely old feelings can be rekindled. I completely feel a lack of interest towards my ex. I think he is a bit of a twit. But I have had strong feelings towards some ex boyfriends that came after him. I keep in touch with one with an annual Christmas email, and the other one: I’m not sure really: I have his last message on my computer but not sure whether to delete it, and his address, completely. He was never in the friend zone, always much more. My husband and I have been together 23 years now. We are very different people but I am glad we are together and haven’t divorced, although it is something I used to think about a lot. We might not be on the same page about lots of things (interests, what we think is important, personality type, political views, attitudes towards work, friendships- we don’t have shared friends), but the things we share (a child and being parents, a home, running a business together, caring, tolerance, shared memories, shared responsibilities, kind words) make our marriage worthwhile.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jennifer
Wendy

Hi Jennifer, really interesting to read your perspective, and there are, of course, so many factors to whether or not one can remain friends. I guess I’ve been very lucky: neither are twits!

The Author

Wendy is a world traveler, having worked for many years on cruise ships, and lived in multiple countries during her adult life. In recent years Wendy pursues her passion for writing and sharing her gypsy soul experiences in various forms. Follow her on Instagram: wendygypsysoulcelebrant and read her Substack column at Wendyannhulbert.Substack.com.

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