While some former spouses never get over the bitterness of a breakup, a fortunate few develop deep and meaningful friendships. Meet three couples who've bridged the divide.
Published in More Magazine in June 2012
Laura and Bob spend their time doing most of the things married couples with kids do: sit together in the stands during their son's hockey games; tackle household repairs; lean on each other for support; and make a point of connecting regularly.
What's unusual? They're no longer married. What's more, they've never gotten along better.
"We lost our friendship for a while after we split up, but thankfully we got it back," says Laura. "The best part is our kids tell us all the time how great we are as divorced parents."
Indeed, it was her determination to "do as little damage" to her kids as possible that motivated Laura to maintain a friendly relationship with Bob after they divorced. Still a regular fixture in her life 12 years after their separation, Bob spends Christmas morning with Laura and their three kids and has been by her side over the years during the kids' sports and school events.
When their eldest went to university, they drove her there together. "I talk to Bob almost every day and see him once or twice a week. He's a great listener and knows my history," says Laura, 51, who met Bob when she was 19.
How she makes it work
It wasn't always easy. After all, Bob had initiated the breakup. "He wasn't in love with me anymore and I wasn't sure if I was in love with him," recalls Laura. "We rarely fought and everyone thought we had a great marriage, but we'd drifted apart."
The first year after they separated she was hurt and angry, but says counselling helped her heal. "It would have been easy to blame him for being the one who left, and make him look like the bad guy, but I had to face up to some of my own flaws," she admits.
Their kids kept them connected, and their group of friends continued to include both of them at social gatherings. Pretty soon their connection morphed into an easy friendship, even when both of them started dating, and now Bob is in a relationship.
"It can be hard initially when one person gets involved with someone and the other person doesn't have anybody," acknowledges Laura. But, she adds, she's also developed a friendly relationship with her ex's girlfriend. "She's a wonderful person. I'm happy for him, and the kids like her."