• Thu, May 19 2011

Divorce Party: ‘I Really, Really Like My Ex’

I have a feeling not many people understand why Charles Bronfman and his soon-to-be-ex wife Bonnie are inviting 100 of their friends for an “elegant of evening cocktails.” That’s because the occasion is a pending divorce. Theirs.

We’ve all heard of divorce parties. But these parties are, to make a sweeping generalization, usually thrown by women (generally bitter) and planned with their closest girlfriends: to give pep talks, silly gifts and basically to get their newly divorced or separated friend drunk so, for the night at least, she doesn’t have to think about what a mess her life has become (and, hey, maybe she’ll even get laid).

Cynics in the journalistic and public relations world will probably say that Bronfman’s co-hosted divorce party is a sham or stunt to show the public that they are both okay with the divorce, are handling it maturely, and then they’ll probably never speak again once lawyers get involved.

But I am not cynical about this. Maybe they are going to remain friends and co-host yearly cocktail parties. Who knows?

I do know that more than three years after my separation from my daughter’s father, I still speak to him every day. I e-mail him multiple times a day. I worry about him. I ask him often for advice.

What can I say? I really, really like my ex.

Sure, we’ve never hosted a party together after we separated (save for our daughter’s birthday parties). But next week, when he comes to town, we will be going out to dinner after watching our child’s recital. In fact, whenever he visits, we all go out for a meal with our daughter. To other diners, we probably look like a married couple.

Few people, especially my boyfriend, but my friends, too, seem to understand my desire to keep in touch with the father of my child regularly. How many times have I heard, “You should only be talking about the child.” Or, “Don’t you think you should set boundaries?” And my personal favorite, “Won’t this confuse your daughter?”

Not too long ago, I actually took a vacation with my ex’s parents to Disneyland with my daughter for five days. Last year, my ex’s parents took me out to lunch, while my ex shopped for my birthday present. We were all in Scottsdale. I stayed at a hotel, while they stayed at their house there. But we met up for meals.

When his parents are in town, they usually meet up with my parents for a meal.

Friends can’t believe that my ex still buys me expensive presents on my birthday or Mother’s Day. I buy him birthday and Father’s Day gifts, too. It irks the guy I’m dating now, who is also divorced. He only texts his ex, and it’s only about their children.

But, I think it comes down to the way or reason you divorce. Just as all people are different, all divorces are different. If you have a bad break up, then most likely you’re not going to get along.

My ex and I didn’t work as a couple. That doesn’t mean he still isn’t one of my favorite people in the world. I’m as loyal to him as I am to my best friend. I will not take any bad talk about him (though some of my girlfriends can’t stop themselves.) I call him first when something bad or good happens to me. I call him or he calls me to “just check in” while my daughter is at school. He suggests books to me.

I can see why this irks my boyfriend. “How would you feel if I were like that with my ex?” Well, the difference is, I explain, you don’t like each other. My ex and I do.

As for my daughter being confused, I highly doubt it. I think she much rather have mommy and daddy take her out for a meal together than ignore each other entirely or, worse, bad mouth each other. (She seems more confused trying to figure out how to tie her shoes.)

I’m not going to say there haven’t been ups and downs. Of course there have been. We fight, but we make up, and not only for our child, but because we can’t stand to be mad at each other.

Others may find this confusing at best, or even unhealthy. But I’d rather be on good terms with him than bad. In fact, I want to remain friends with him.

I spoke about this with my therapist after hearing one too many times, from non-professionals (my friends and boyfriend), that my ex and mine’s relationship is unhealthy. My therapist explained to me that my ex is like a well-worn slipper. “He knows you the best in the world. It makes perfect sense that you go to him when you need to talk or need a pep talk.” Exactly.

He added that, one day, this will probably change and that my new boyfriend will replace my purely platonic friendship with my daughter’s father. I think this may be true. I also think it will make me very sad. Who ever wants to get rid of a solid pair of well-worn slippers? They’re the best kind.

 

(Photo: Jeffrey Hamilton)

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  • G

    Just want to say, I understand this completely. For the majority though it’s hard too, and I don’t blame them for being confused.

  • Abigail

    Good for you! How would it confuse your daughter to know that she has two, loving parents who respect each other not to treat each other like dirt. How exactly is that a bad example for her?

  • The sonj

    I completely understand. My soon to be ex was my best friend more than a husband. Sometimes you are just better in a friendship. Thanks for making me feel like we are not aliens for having a completely wonderful friendship. Our children will benefit so much from our relationship.

  • don

    Great Article – If you smoke crack! – Seriously though, you must have a great ex. Mine is at home polishing their horns and plotting their next bitter move. Good for you! Bad for me (and the kids)!
    :-)

  • R

    I definitely understand; I just don’t understand why people in this situation can’t make it work as a marriage? It’s far better to be friends and coparents than not, but it just seems like you have this deep bond and friendship and isn’t that the foundation of a marriage?

    A lot of times people divorce when an extended separation is really what’s needed. There’s a rush to divorce. Anyway, I had a lot of marriage issues and the website http://www.marriagebuiders.com helped me so much. I have no affiliation with them; I just used their free info and it was wonderful.

    At any rate, if she wants any new man in her life she definitely needs to limit the ex relationship. Anyone would feel threatened in that situation and it is totally understandable.