Can I Be Friends with My Ex? - Elisabeth Klein

I recently wrote about women struggling to get over their ex- or soon-to-be-ex-husbands (something we all have done) and in that post, I said this:

Your ex-husband is no longer your friend. Not only does he no longer have access to your heart, you no longer have the right to burden him with it.”

Someone on Facebook responded with, If we are ‘big people’ we forgive, become friends, let go of blame!”

Which led me to ask myself this, “Can we be friends with our ex-husbands?”

I cannot answer this from a personal experience standpoint as this is not my situation.  My marriage, separation, divorce, co-parenting and post-divorce life could not be characterized as amicable, something that I am ashamed of.

(However, sidenote: I will NEVER understand when I hear about a Christian couple who is divorcing amicably. If you can get through your divorce in a friendly way all the way through, you more than likely should have stayed married. But that’s for another post.)

But let me tackle this question.

I believe that there is a difference between being friends with your ex-husband and being friendly with your ex-husband.

I also absolutely believe that you can be a “big person”, that you can and should forgive, and that you can let go of blame.

But should you be friends?

First of all, I would say that until all disentangling has happened, you should not be friends.  If either of you still has feelings for the other, I do not think it is emotionally wise to be friends, to go out together, to talk on the phone, to share your feelings, to have sex.

Secondly, if you or your ex-husband are involved with someone else, for your new partner’s sake, you should not be friends with your ex-partner (at least in the beginning).  You must honor the new relationship as the primary relationship, bottom line.

However, I do believe that you should be kind and respectful to your ex-husband. Not kind as in baking him a cake for his birthday, but kind as in do not be mean to him.

As my mentor suggests, treat him like you would a neighbor. Pleasant but businesslike, giving him only the information needed and no more.  Facts, not emotions. Remember, both of you are vulnerable, and you might lead someone on unintentionally if you’re not careful.

The ideal, of course, when time has gone by and hearts have been healed, is to be able to deal with each other respectfully.  But that may come years down the road, and for some, it may never come at all.  But your friends right now should be all the other people in your life who you were not married to.

For further help in your healing, you would benefit from Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage.