Thursday, January 6, 2011

On living with my ex

Yes, you read that right! I live with my ex-husband, a wonderful man who is not only my ex-husband but my best friend.

Now, some people say that it's impossible to live with an ex without some hanky panky going on, but I can proudly state that there hasn't been any funny business between us since 2001. We're simply good friends.

Why do I live with my ex? Well, back in 2009, when my current husband (and ex-to-be, or X2B) kicked me out, Mark was kind enough to take me in. My other option was living with my parents in their retirement community in Bernalillo, and I sure as heck didn't want that!

Mark and I have been close friends since we divorced in 2002. During our divorce we made a pact to look out for each other; that is, he would represent my interests and I would represent his. The idea was so radical that I actually had an author approach me for a book she was writing on amicable divorce! We did it this way to not only protect our son, but because we still loved each other--just not as a husband and wife should.

Over the years our relationship has only strengthened. We support each other during times of stress, comfort each other during break-ups, congratulate each others' accomplishments, and co-parent two little boys.

The co-parenting has been a blessing. My second marriage (although I don't really count a drunken Vegas fiasco as a true marriage! lol) resulted in the birth of a very special little boy, Gabriel, in 2005. Mark immediately fell in love with my little fatherless boy, and somehow their relationship evolved into that of father and son. So Mark is not only the father of one of my little boys, but both of them! Even though he is not their biological father, he is their father in spirit and heart, and both of those matter more than any biological factor possibly could.

So how do we accomplish living with each other? Isn't it awkward and uncomfortable? Not at all! Like I said, he's my best friend. Our friendship of ten years has been stronger than our intimate relationship ever was. I don't really see him as someone I was in love with, or who I once slept with. I see him as Mark, my best friend and confidante. Mark, whose messes drive me nuts and who puts up (kind of) with my plethora of animals.

We live at opposite ends of the house, and we spend most of our time in our respective rooms. It gives us space. The boys tend to hang out in the living room, kitchen, and work-out room, which are between the bedrooms. They migrate back and forth between our bedrooms as their needs dictate. Homework, playing, fighting (!), work-outs, and family time take place in this common area. Mark and I actually don't even see each other all that often, if you can believe it!

And how does dating work, you ask? Well, that's a bugger! Women flat-out don't understand our relationship. It doesn't matter to them that we are only friends, they just see the potential for SEX. Apparently they don't believe it's possible for a man and a woman to be just friends, let alone be purely roommates.

Men are a heck of a lot more understanding. In fact, since I've been dating again (on and off over the past several months), I have only met one person for whom it has been an issue. Unfortunately, he was an incredible man with whom I shared an instant connection. It was so difficult hearing that he wouldn't date me anymore.

As my friends have pointed out, though, if a man can't even make an effort to understand this truly unique situation, he isn't the right man for me. Someone even suggested that a "real" man wouldn't have just walked away. And you know what? They're right. Whoever I end up spending my life with needs to accept the special relationship I have with my best friend, coparent, and ex-husband. He's been a constant in my life for the past ten years, and because of our children, that's not going to change.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you're living this way, too, I'd love to hear from you!

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