As I approach September 1st and what would’ve been my 10 year wedding anniversary, I look back on the almost three years Lee and I have been separated. It has been one hell of a roller coaster ride full of emotions and growth. It has been the true test of personal values and maturity, of trust and respect and commitment, towards myself, our children and our relationship moving forward.
Although our marriage didn’t work, Lee and I have always (most of the time) been good friends. In fact it was our companionship and friendship that was the strength of our marriage. In the time we have been separated I have often found myself questioning my own integrity, that I broke my vows and our marriage failed and our family fell apart. However, I feel that it is in this separation that my integrity and those now invalid wedding vows have been put to the test and have had the opportunity to be realised.
When you are married, you are there side by side, and you roll through life together, because you’re married. Because ‘that’s my husband’ or ‘that’s my wife’. There is an obligation to your partner, there’s roles and responsibilities and commitment. When you separate, the roles change, the commitment to each other is no longer implied and you are no longer responsible for each other’s well-being or happiness. Unfortunately, in most cases, this can lead to a complete reversal in the relationship, with couples fighting and being absolutely horrible to each other. You now have the choice of how you want your relationship with your ex-spouse to evolve.
Lee and I separated amicably (most of the time) and have both been committed and agreeable to our co-parenting relationship (most of the time). Don’t get me wrong, there’s been ups and downs, many tears, frustration and anxiety along the way, but for the most part we have worked together and supported each other and our commitment to our children, for better or for worse. From the first meeting at the accountant, to inspecting houses with real estate agents, to school and sporting functions for the kids, people often comment on how well we get along. And that makes me proud, and grateful. But I also feel that’s how it should be. I married this man, I had children with him, we were together for over 10 years, married for seven. I don’t hate him. He was my best friend and he is still one of my closest friends. Our marriage fell apart and we weren’t happy in our relationship but we still have two beautiful children together and we are still good friends. We are both good people. That didn’t change when we decided to separate.
It’s not every day that your ex-husband comes on the Saturday morning real estate run to look at houses with you or helps you repair a pipe you damaged in an over-zealous gardening episode but it’s nice that our friendship is strong enough that we can do these things together, and that he is still there for me when I need him. This was none more apparent than when I was really sick recently. Having no family here on the coast, Lee looked after me, bringing the kids to visit and checking in that I was ok. When I had to go to hospital it was Lee and the kids who took me and who picked me up again the next day. Our family may not look like a ‘normal’ family but it is our family and we are there for each other – for better or for worse.
I am proud that (most of the time) we have been able to sort our crap out, parent our children, support each other and maintain a friendship where we can still enjoy a chat and a cold beer. And as new relationships come and go and our lives take on their various characteristics and changes in direction we will always support each other’s happiness whilst maintaining our friendship.
Just as I look after the kids school and activities and Lee calls me to talk about business stuff, I too call him to ask how to fix my squeaky door or to vent about a crappy day at work. And I believe we are now setting a much better example for our children. We are there, to support each other, for better or for worse.