Nobody wakes up in the morning dreaming of marrying someone and ending up in a divorce. It’s just too much emotional and mental burden for anyone to bear.
When people get into a relationship and decide to pursue it, it takes a lot of effort to get to know a person, manage differences and expectations, deal with each other’s ugly sides, and work things out and fight for the relationship. However, we’re all quite aware that life has a way of messing up our plans, even if we have the best of intentions.
The Ugly Face of Divorce
The fantasy and the dream of happily ever after are then replaced with the nightmare of a divorce due to irreconcilable differences, spousal abuse, or just simply falling out of love. In some cases, divorces end up with couples parting ways on good terms. But in most cases, marriages end on a really bad note.
Things can get nasty in divorces. It’s not as easy as selling a business with an attorney to oversee that things are going smoothly. The dynamics are very different and things can blow up and escalate pretty quickly. Dealing with a divorce case entails a lot of digging, and it usually involves revisiting all the bad things that both parties have done that led up to the filing for divorce.
A lot of hurtful statements are thrown around in divorce proceedings and, in most cases, the people involved and their families have a hard time recovering from the severe trauma caused by it.
The question now is, is it still possible for legally separated and divorced people to be civil, and even maintain a good friendship with their exes?
How to Build a Friendship after a Divorce
Contrary to popular belief, not all divorces end up with hostility, Some divorced couples are able to build thriving and strong friendships that are far more beautiful than when they were married. Just because couples are divorced doesn’t mean that they can no longer be friends.
Of course, context needs to be considered but generally, if couples are willing to get past the hurt and rise above their offenses, good friendships can stem from it, which is especially crucial when they are co-parenting.
For those who want to pursue a genuine friendship with their ex-husband or ex-wife, here are a few steps to take:
Give each other time to grieve and heal
No matter how you choose to look at it, divorce hurts people. Regardless of who’s in the right or who’s at fault, the couples and those around them go through a season of hurt and grief.
Allow each other some time to grieve over what was lost: the romance, the relationship, the fight they put up; and give yourselves time to heal. Just because you’re ready doesn’t mean that the other person is already over the pain. Be sensitive to the other person while taking care of your own restoration. When the time is right, then you can talk about it.
Take things one step at a time
Now just because both parties are willing to forgive each other and move on doesn’t mean that things will go back to how they were during your happier days. It doesn’t work that way.
Take time to rebuild the friendship slowly. Don’t rush it and never demand it. It’s different to start a relationship from scratch and rebuild one that was broken.
Spend time as friends
One of the best ways to rebuild your friendship with your ex is to start spending time with them as you would your other friends.
Check on them from time to time and ask how things are going. See if they need help with something around the house. Volunteer to watch over the kids while they go out with their friends or date. Go out for coffee and spend time catching up. Go out in a group with your common friends. Crack jokes.
Do things you normally would do with your other friends and nothing out of the ordinary.
Don’t slip into old habits
This is very important: do not get intimate with them, especially if you have no plans of being romantically involved again. Never let your old habits creep in. Set clear boundaries for yourself and talk it over with your ex so they know that you’re sincere. Doing this helps build trust and confidence in you as a friend. It means you value their friendship more than your selfish needs.
Rebuild the trust
In any relationship, trust is important. It is the foundation of long-lasting and thriving relationships, whether it’s romantic, platonic, or a business relationship.
Unfortunately, in a divorce, it is the first one the is lost. That said, rebuilding your ex’s trust is a lot harder after divorce. However, it’s not impossible. If you just stay consistent with what you say and do, you’re truthful at all times, you keep your promises, you don’t say bad things about him or her to anyone, and you regularly communicate, that trust can be restored.
Focus on the positives and stay positive
Lastly, do not talk negatively about your situations nor each other. Focus only on the good things and stay positive and optimistic about the friendship you’re building.
We’re not saying that you become delusional but it will help if you learn to see your ex in a positive light. If you have any doubts, talk to them about it in a non-invasive, non-aggressive, and respectful way. But always choose to give each other the benefit of the doubt and learn to stand up for one another.
Divorce is such an ugly thing but despite its ugliness, sometimes beautiful friendships can still blossom if people only know how to do it right. No name-calling, no insults, no blame-shifting. Just pure love and respect for one another can help turn things around and make it better for divorced couples.