Friends with Exs

Yummy Mummy Faye K. from Cobourg, Ontario asks:

I am divorced and have a 7 year old daughter. My boyfriend has a 6 year old daughter and 18 month old son. Recently we seem to be fighting about his ex wife. I feel there should be boundaries she needs to respect, but he wants us to all get along. My boyfriend has become good friends with his ex-wife's new boyfriend, and we seem to be doing a lot together. Is it possible for us be friends? Do you have suggestions on how get past the stigma that is associated with ex's being friends?

Dear Faye,

What a fabulous question you have posed. Is it OK to get along well with the EX-SPOUSE? Is there such a thing as getting along too well? Moreover, if it is OK to be friends the EX and their new partner, how do we deal with the rest of the world’s response to our very positive relationship and even friendship?

Getting along with the EX is in the children’s best interest. It is also in the best interest of your new relationship.  When EX-Spouses get along well it takes up less space in the new relationship than when they are engaged in conflict. While many new partners may feel threatened by the Ex-Spouse friendship, it is the war or lack of friendship that gets in the way.  The opportunity for a cooperative and peaceful life is even greater when all parties get along well.

As for children of divorce, I have yet to see one landing on my couch with the presenting problem being that “my parents get along too well.” When it comes to dealing with an audience that is more comfortable with war than peace you don’t need to convince anyone that getting along well is “the better way.” You just need to believe it yourself.

If you need a line to share with others who don’t seem to get your divorce dynamics, try the following:

The relationship works well for us and for the children.
It is nice that we can come together.
I appreciate it may seem strange to you, but it works well for us.
I hear that it makes you uncomfortable. It is working very well for us.
Different strokes for different folks.
Getting along well makes sense to all of us and works for us.
I understand it may be a different way than you might be familiar with.
We are very proud of our relationship.
The friendship is important and we value it.
Thank you for noticing how well we get along.

Congratulations Faye, for working so hard at doing the right thing!


Deborah Mecklinger is a Professional Coach as well as an accomplished Lawyer and Master of Social Work. Her extensive professional and personal achievements have fueled her passion and commitment to coach others to achieve and realize their goals. Deborah walks the talk!

In addition, Deborah is an experienced Mediator and Therapist with a successful private practice in Toronto. She is well known for her exceptional work in the areas of divorce, mediation, conflict resolution, and individual, couple and family therapy. She has worked as a Coach, Mediator and Therapist at the Family Mediation & Conciliation Program in South Florida and as a Mediator and Trainer with CDR Associates in Boulder, Colorado.