My once husband and I have weekly dinner dates. We’ll eat at his apartment sometimes, and follow the meal with a game of Scrabble. We’ve been playing Scrabble since we met, when we were 20, and we still compete with gusto. He tells me I’m the only one who beats him, which is pretty cool, since he’s a voracious reader and one of the smartest people I know, with a darn fine vocabulary.
Scrabble aside, we enjoy each other’s company (most of the time, that is!) We talk about politics (I’d venture to say that he knows more about subjects like American history and the presidency than most PhD’s in those subjects), current events, movies, music, and, of course, our two “kids,” and Primo, our ridiculously handsome, charming, and brilliant 28-month-old grandson 🙂 .
Ever since we separated in 1988, after 20 years of marriage, my once husband and I have remained friends.
We’ve traveled together; for a glorious week in Paris, a few years ago, with our son and his friend. We’ve weathered storms together (not the meteorological kind). I slept on the floor, next to his bed, after he had brain surgery in 1996. He unhesitantly wrote me a sizeable check to help me pay my taxes when I was strapped for cash a few years ago. He truly cares how FabOverFifty is doing, and I genuinely care about the turnout for the fascinating current events discussions he leads with groups of retired men and women all over New York City.
We celebrate holidays and milestones together. To this day, my sisters still generously welcome him into their homes and invite him to family events. He’ll be at the wedding of one of my nephews next year. My partners also have willingly accepted that he is part of my life.
I will be there for him as we age, as I know he will be for me. We may not have stayed together as husband and wife, but that didn’t preclude us from moving forward as pals. We’re worlds apart in many ways. (He doesn’t own a TV; I adore TV. He’s a collector; clutter isn’t my thing. He’s watches his pennies; I should watch mine more. He’s determined to see Primo a few times a week; I see Primo a couple of times a month.) But those differences matter not when they don’t interfere with your day-to-day lives.
It’s often understandable, if not unfortunate, when divorce becomes acrimonious. Men and women, who once vowed they’d be together til death did them part, turn on each other and are out for blood. It may have been pretty funny to watch Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas try to destroy one another in War of the Roses, the 1989 movie, but it’s pretty tragic when we see something like this happening in real life. We all react differently when adultery, money problems, abuse and anger wreak havoc on our lives.
I know all sorts of couples, married and not, who’ve stayed together for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with true love and commitment, including comfort, guilt, finances, “the kids,” and sickness. And I know lots of divorced couples, like my once husband and me, who’ve “stayed together” because they really do like and respect each other. They might even love each other. As a matter of fact, I wrote years ago, in teeny tiny letters, on one of the Scrabble racks from the old set we use: “I love Douglas.” You can still see the words.