An Open Letter to My Ex-Husband

Dear Ex-Husband,

When I saw you in your driveway yesterday, at our routinely scheduled pickup time, it occurred to me suddenly that I have not seen you naked in almost two years.  I know that my face must have conveyed the relief I was feeling at this revelation, and I’m sorry I lied and said I was distracted by the dog.

I was actually distracted by your penis.

I am just trying to be honest.  I figure this is important now, since it’s something neither of us could manage to do while we were married. So in keeping with this new philosophy, there are a few things I things I think it’s important for me to say to you.

First, I am sorry.  I am sorry that we promised ‘forever’ to each other when we had no concept of what ‘forever’ meant. If there is fault in that promise, it lies in the stars—how can we blame each other for what we could never have possibly understood then?  We were young, we were clueless, we were still growing when we made our vows.  We did not know that we would grow apart.

But thank you, anyway.  Thank you for giving me a ring and lending me your last name. Thank you for teaching me about resiliency and patience.  Thank you for these little creatures that often look and laugh like you. They are the best gift anyone has ever given me.

Thank you for being brave enough to fight for me.  And for being tired enough to let me go, when I told you I needed to go.

While I know our Divorce Agreement spells out the visitation schedule and parenting times and who pays for the kids braces, there are a few areas left undefined. Every time I see you, there are questions lingering in the air, questions far too awkward and inappropriate even for me to ask.

Some of them will only make us both sad. They will take us back to the softer places, the times when we woke up in bed beside each other, smiling.  Like, do you remember those first few nights at home with our daughter, when we just sat there and marveled over her tiny hands, the miniature fingernails that somehow, magically we created together?

Do you hear our wedding song on your ipod now and skip ahead hurriedly, or do you sit for just a minute and remember that weekend at the beach and my hair falling in my face?  Or did you delete that song once and for all–afraid that hearing it would only take you back to a page in a book you closed forever?

And sometimes I wonder about what your life is like now. Do you love someone?  Does someone love you?

Is she good in bed? Is your sex life better now? Does she do that thing you always wanted to do, but I had told you that the thought alone made me want to vomit?

Has your new love made you question whether you loved me at all, whether you even knew what love was when you gave it to me?

Then, there are questions about how we exist in our new space.  When is it okay to hug you?  At band concerts or when our daughter has scored the winning goal, when our son graduates from high school?  When your aunt has died and I see you at the funeral, with your new wife at your side? Should I touch your hand and say kind words?  Or should I just wave and turn away?

Everything has changed and that is the way it has to be. I get that. We aren’t Facebook friends, we don’t even talk on the telephone. Instead we text in short hand. l type ‘TY’ and you send back a ‘np’, like teenagers who have never handwritten a note or a Christmas card.

Like strangers in the driveway.

Finally, I want to tell you I am not angry anymore.   I went to therapy, I read all the books about moving on. I learned how to tie it to a balloon and to let it go. But I know you are angry still. I can see it in the way you twist up your mouth when you see me.

Which makes me think of one more question.

Do you think you’ll forgive me soon?

With Fondest Regards,

Your Ex-Wife

About the writer


Nicole Jankowski is a mom of four kids and two awesome step-kids, a divorcee, a writer and very good at saying all the wrong things to the right people. Read about her experiences with autism, addiction and awesomeness at


kaylie 3 weeks ago

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Wendy 3 months ago

My ex-husband and I are still really good friends. Even though our 17 year relationship didn’t work we are better apart than together. I’ve asked him all those questions and I’ve forgiven him. Our new families spent this labor day together. Some people find it weird and not accepting, but it works for us.

Anonymous 3 months ago

Ouch. My life except with grown kids. I had to move on after a 32 year long marriage. My heart still hurts.

ThatLady 3 months ago

Amen! Even being happy in my life now i still feel this way!

Anonymous 3 months ago

Crying my eyes out right now because my husband and I are like this, even though we are still married ( so far). It’s so hard because there were so many good times, but it’s been a long time. Now we both just have so much contempt for one another. I can just picture us a few years from now trying to figure out how to act in public, because of all the history. Thanks for sharing this honest story.

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I somehow relate to this

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Life With Teens and Other Wild Things 6 months ago

((hugs)) Mama. I’m not to that place yet. Don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but it’s refreshing to hear such deep honesty from someone who has.

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Coco 9 months ago

I feel like this with my ex-husband. We have been divorced for 4 years. He is so angry at me, he visits our son about once a year and I always want to ask if he is happy and what his life is like now.

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Ellie 10 months ago

This made me cry because this is exactly how I feel.

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Amy 11 months ago

I do feel badly for this writer. I see many young people rushing into marriages in their late teens /early 20s well before they are fully mature and well before they I have thought through the ramifications. This writer seems to think her youthful mistakes were inevitable, despite what sounds like objections from parents or those in authority to her. Marriage is not a way to “grow up” because you are too insecure or afraid to pay the price of being on your own for a few years. Young people need to get that message. This idea the writer gives off that it’s just a sad part of her development is very short sighted and narrow. Y out children will not be children forever, you will soon be middle aged, then elderly and you will have no control over their choices, they will only now what they have grown up with. That their parents’ relationship was disposable. You will be feeling the effects of your decision to end your marriage for generations to come. It will afftect how your grandchildren are raised and how their children are raised. I wish you would have thought that through before you married so young and had children.

Pete 11 months ago

I liked it. My wife and I are still together after 15 years but 6 years ago we separated for 8 months not by my choice. She ran away with our 4 year old daughter at the prodding of her meddling mother whom my wife decide to not talk to anymore after she realized her mothers aim was to steel our daughter and any money she could get her hands on. It was ugly to say the least and difficult. We still have moments that are tough because of that episode in our life but we work though them. What I got from this was that its the little things that we miss the most, both when its over and in current motion. Write a letter, smile, tell him or her how great they look before your asked, a gentle touch and a passionate kiss first thing in the morning, those are the things that we need to do now before the hurt destroys it all. Life is difficult and we all have no idea what we are doing but we try to do our best with what we know/taught. Love each other, tell your mate as much and forgive. At night when your alone its easy to see what’s wrong but a lot more painful than sorry or I Love you. Thanks for not hiding this in your journal.

Brianna G. 11 months ago


You are a beautiful person. You still love that man because your bigger than the divorce. He obviously still loves you because he is still mad. Just let it go Nicole. He will forgive when he lets go the hurt and remembers the good. My soon to be ex-spouse is a roller coaster of emotions. One day nice, next day angry but all the time manipulative. Sad. I still love them too but as you know, that love becomes something else greater than what we can understand or control. Best thing to do is embrace the love quietly and let it go where it belongs. As I get older and I look back, I realise that there is no blame, just lessons. You can grow and always have a place in your heart for the people you left behind. It can be a love lesson.

I have chosen not to remarry or engage in any more relations due to my children and their frailty. I am really happy with my course! I am now happy being with people who love me unconditionally without strings attached whom I cherish and it makes me glad to be alive again!

Your ex’s anger is just a reflection of how deeply he loved you. The longer it takes for him to let go, the deeper he loved you. Not your problem anymore. He will find his way but he knows he will never be able to replace a wonderful woman like you! Take care friend. You are precious.

RB 2 years ago

This one hit home. Wow.

Jennifer Weedon Palazzo 2 years ago

Beautiful and honest.

C. Lee Reed of Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad 2 years ago

Poignant! Great post and I fully understand where you are coming from. It will all work out.

Tammy 2 years ago

I admire you for sharing such a personal thing. Your letter very sweet and honest. It made me cry thinking of the things I would say to my ex husband. I have thought many times about writing him a letter but never having the courage to give it to him. He was, well still is, a bit of a control freak and still after 6 years of being divorced I tip toe around him in the things I say and do as not to cause problems. I can only imagine how liberating it would be to not only write a letter but send it as well. Thank you for sharing.

sarah in AU 2 years ago

Loved your letter, but i have only one question. Why was he standing naked in the front driveway with his penis out at a designated handover time? Am i the only one here who found this weird. ?

Lyndia 2 years ago

Wow! This hit home for me. My divorce was just finalized Aug. 2013 and all of these questions have crossed my mind. I wonder from time to time if our age ripped us apart. We got married very young and rushed into things. We have a son together and I am glad that I still have a reason to have his father around. We were such great friends before our marriage and I miss those days something awful. Thanks for sharing your honest feelings, it’s nice to know your not alone.

Mari 2 years ago

There seems to be a sadness, like she is reflecting back on their failed relationship. If my husbands’s ex was half this normal, I would take it! BM is generally unpleasant, does things for show and still turns into a fire breathing dragon on occasion.

Christine Garcia 2 years ago

Great letter, might want to borrow parts for my letter, after 10 years we still can’t be in the same state muchness the same driveway!

Patti 2 years ago

I feel the same way about my ex. We have been divorced for 16 years, but co-parented our now 20- and 22-year olds fairly well together. He remarried relatively quickly, which didn’t surprise me, but I still see him occasionally, and he looks ridiculously good. I’ve known him since I was 12 years old, and the biggest thing I regretted about our divorce was the loss of his friendship, which meant a great deal to me. Even after all these years, it makes me feel sad to have shared something so deeply with him, and to know that it’s gone forever.

    Nicole Jankowski 2 years ago

    Patti, your experience and mine are very similar. I got married when I was 20 and was married for 13 years. Even though I know the divorce was best for me (and him) and I am so happily married now—it was terrible to lose that friendship. Especially when you grow up together. And unlike a regular breakup, when you have children together, you have to see each other and work together for the rest of your lives. It’s hard to confront and accept the new definitions of who “we” are together, when “we” were so close for such a long time, isn’t it? Anyway…Thanks for reading and for commenting, Patti and best wishes to you!

      Question from a guy 10 months ago

      I’m guessing that you cheated on your first husband and eventually married your affair partner, right? I ask because the majority of your post smacks of cake-eating.

        MrsL 6 months ago

        Honest question but really,not your business or relevant to the post dude. This isn’t about why the marriage didn’t work. It’s about how things are after it’s over.

Rachel 2 years ago

IDK, this is weird to me too. Not saying it’s bad or wrong, but definitely weird. Distracted by his penis? Why? It does kind of sound like you haven’t moved on, or maybe wonder if you made the right choice. I honestly don’t care at all what my ex-husband’s new girl is like in bed. Nor do I have any desires whatsoever to hug him. But then again, my ex-husband is a douche. I’m sure it’s different for people whose exes are actually decent men.

Diana 2 years ago

This letter is truly an “honest look at motherhood”. I appreciate your brutal honesty… this open letter.

Erin 2 years ago

This is beautiful – so raw. so sad.

so many things that I KNOW others feel – my sister is going through a divorce now and I know the ugliness, the pain, the awkwardness from the inside. It is the strangest thing to become one and then break away.

Thank you for giving me pause. And thank you for NOT leaving it in your journal!

Sarah Rowden 2 years ago

I loved this post! Just found your blog and I have been loving every post! Thanks for being honest!

    Nicole Jankowski 2 years ago

    Thank you SO much Sarah! Writing the blog has been my only special brand of therapy.. 😉

Jenni 2 years ago

I think this is just beautiful. It has to be a weird feeling being so close to someone and then to be strangers. You can know that you aren’t supposed to be with a person but still feel sad. Creating a new “normal” for yourself has many stages. I love the honesty. Amazing post!:)

Mandy 2 years ago

SOME PEOPLE ^^ are an ass. I think the purpose of articles like this are to help other people along who might be in similar situations. It also helps those of us who are still in their marriages to remember to be tender, forgiving… loving. Thank you for sharing.

Mabel 2 years ago

T!his is weird. It sounds like you haven’t quite moved on. No shame in that but these things are better left in your journal.

    Katie 2 years ago

    I think it sounds like she’s moved on, but genuinely wishes the best for her ex and hopes he can be happy. People who haven’t moved on are usually angry…and also not married to other people, as the author is.

    Nicole Jankowski 2 years ago

    I can totally understand feeling uncomfortable in reading what I wrote above–I felt uncomfortable while I was writing it! It does feel like a journal entry. But they are all true feelings–ones I know others share– and writing them (and other things in the last few years) has helped me move forward in a way that I can’t fully articulate. I had a professor I love very much once tell me that my writing was the best when I was completely honest with the world, and myself. So since then, that’s what I try to be. Thanks for reading, regardless and for taking the time to comment.

      Allison 11 months ago

      I think it was bare bones truthful. It made me cry and usually I think these types of letter have malice thinly disguised in the careful wording. That is also normal. The sense of failure and unworthiness one naturally feels after going through one of the most devastating things a person can go through in life without a death being involved makes the mind race for words that might elicit some sort of forgiveness or validation from the other. It is normal to worry about the next love. You wouldn’t be able to say you ever loved him if that didn’t make you a little nervous. The thing is, this letter made me cry. I think it’s because it was the truth and it was so wonderfully humanly faulty which made it perfect. The only thing that may have been out of line would be if you actually sent it to him. That is chucking in a potentially damaging object if he does indeed have a new love interest whose integrity deserves better. It is, however wonderful for the rest of us to read it as being what was on your mind after your mind went through an admiral amount of re-writes until it was authentic in your mind. It takes strength to dare to expose the lies we tell ourselves… like, “I have a right to impose on him with a letter that might hurt him to get.” But the high risk of interfering with others whose lives were disrupted painfully too while they are delicately trying to overcome the toll it took on them makes it a bad idea to actually send it. You know what your shared together and so does he. Also, when you promise to love honor and cherish till death do you part, it doesn’t have to mean staying married to do it. Often times it turns out that you love honor and cherish them enough to realize that you are keeping each other from being happy if you stay in a failing marriage. You can’t lose love for someone if you really love them. You didn’t fail your vows. Just remember what it means to truly show love for someone. In this case, it would be to remember him in your mind and don’t interfere unless he asks, and even then I would think about it first. I did love your letter. Kudos for leaving the penis comment in. More women probably related to that even if they would never say so. Ha! I wish you much love in your life. (Tears again.)

        Iris 8 months ago

        wow you have the concept of marriage all wrong. when you promise to love, honor and cherish someone, YES that means staying together in order to do it. I’d say her husband would agree. Please refer to the bible.


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