My Husband And I Separated Before We Hated Each Other

Originally Published: 
Katie Bingham-Smith

My ex and I decided to separate over a year ago. We came to the decision together, and even though it was what we both wanted, the weeks to follow were some of the most difficult of my life. We are both on the other side of this nightmare now, and over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about love, loss, and letting go.

I consider the man who used to be my husband a friend. We are raising three kids together, and we live close to each other. I’ve met (and like) his girlfriend. We go to lunch together occasionally and talk about what’s going on in our lives and our kids’ lives. And last Sunday when he dropped the kids off, he stayed for dinner. After a few hours, we exchanged looks that said he was ready to go and I was ready for him to go, but that look also acknowledged that we know we are doing what’s best for us and our kids — and we are okay with it.

Our situation is ours, and some people have told me it goes against the grain. And maybe it does. But the truth is, it’s the right path for us despite the fact that people we know, and even people we don’t know, have asked us why we aren’t together any longer.

I have to admit, at first these comments made me feel confused. They would stop me in my tracks and make me question our decision. Should we be together because we aren’t at the point where we hate each other yet? Do we have something worth saving?

But I’m able to laugh about it now and move on. I now know the answers. No, we aren’t making a mistake to divorce, and yes, we do have something worth saving — we are saving our relationship by walking away now.

Spending a few hours together and being able to share a meal every now and again is very different than coexisting under the same roof, isn’t it? There are a lot of people I love spending time with, but I don’t want them as a life partner and they feel the same about me.

You can still like someone and not want to be married to them. And while that’s confusing as hell, the way we feel about our current situation is all the proof we need. We can live most of our life separately and still share things together. We will always be connected by our three kids. The love we have for them is stronger than any resentment or anger we hold for each other. And I believe one of the reasons we are able to put any negative feelings aside is because we are no longer a couple.

In many ways, we are still a family, and I do feel lucky about that. We also know we could have stayed together and tried longer, but we both agree it would have killed anything we had left and things may have grown unbearable.

I know it sounds weird and maybe even annoying, but there are actually parents out there who might still like each other and can tolerate each other for a few hours. However, it doesn’t mean they should be married anymore. There are exes who decided to split before the water ran dry and they started doing and saying things that would do even more damage to an already-horrible situation. They felt like they had a little something left and knew the only way to save it was to split. And I think there is something to be said for that, but it doesn’t mean that the “you two should get back together” idea follows. It doesn’t mean they gave up or took the easy way out. It just means they did it their way.

Of course, there are couples who can take that little spark of something and completely save their marriage and find each other again. But we weren’t that couple. We wanted to be, but we weren’t.

When you try, and try, then try some more, but you both know you can’t keep going on like this and want to salvage the rest of your life, you absolutely should walk away if that’s what it takes. And if you are able to speak civilly, grab lunch once in a while to discuss the kids, and be happy that the other has moved on, well, that’s an added bonus.

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