Sunday, August 11, 2013

5 Secrets to Living With My Ex-Husband and Not Killing Him

Everyone from my parents to my followers on Twitter is shocked that Max and I are still living together – peacefully – and not killing each other. Just last week we cooked eggplant parmesan together. Tasty.

(Let's get this out of the way: I do not hate my ex-husband and he does not hate me. The reason for the demise of our relationship was the complete absence of physical intimacy [which also impeded full emotional intimacy]. It is a very sad reason for a marriage to end: that Max’s demons were more powerful than his love for me. That says an awful lot.)

Anyway, if I hated my ex, I wouldn’t be able to tolerate still living with him as we wait for our condo to sell. We’ve been divorced since February, and if we had been renting instead of owning, I would’ve moved out in October 2012. So really, it’s been a long ass time living with someone I don’t love In That Way anymore.

Here is how I survive living under the same roof with my ex-husband:
  1. I don’t treat him like a husband. Obviously this includes the sweet stuff like snuggling, sharing a bed, saying “I love you,” and bringing him a black and white cookie from a bakery for no reason. But this also includes the mundane (and sometimes crappy) stuff, like arguing about how to load the dishwasher, compromising on what to have for dinner, and reminding him to send his mother a birthday card. It’s been extremely hard for me to readjust, but I don’t do any of these things anymore.

  2. ...but I also don’t treat him like an ex-husband. I try to look at him as a roommate [granted, a roommate with whom I happen to have an involved and complicated past as well as a shared mortgage]. I remember why I liked him before I loved him. Max is smart. He’s got a quick wit. He can be silly and really funny. Before we fell in love and moved in and went to therapy and all that relationship stuff got in the way, I sure liked him a lot. Now that we’re not in a relationship but still having to see each other most days, I’ve worked on adjusting my perspective on Max so that I see him as a person, not my ex-husband who broke my heart.

  3. I don’t ask where he’s been. Max doesn’t do anything. He’s home on the couch about 85% of the time, reading ESPN.com and watching The History Channel. On the other hand, I’m all over the place. I mostly go out with friends but sometimes I’m out with guys and attempting to date. (In fact, I'm finishing up this blog post early this week because I have a date tonight.) To keep him from asking me questions about my whereabouts, I am very careful to not ask where he’s been or who he’s seen. What we don't say won't hurt each other, and that is best for peaceful cohabitation.

  4. I don’t use the D word. This might sound weird but we never say “divorce” in front of each other. I’ve said “not married” or “people in our situation,” but never the D word. I know he can’t handle it.

  5. I don’t joke around about our imminent departure. Unfortunately I learned this the hard way.

    This week, I discovered a glass bottle in the kitchen trashcan. Max knows this drives me bonkers. As the resident tree hugger, this totally appalled me. I fished out the recyclable, I playfully yelled at Max to quit killing the earth and turning me into a garbage lady. He teased back that I was a nag. Then, I apparently crossed the line and said, “Well look the bright side! Soon enough you won’t have to live with me anymore and you can throw all the glass in the trash you want!”

    No sooner did I say it did I realize I'd crossed a line. He looked terribly hurt and retorted, “Thanks dick.” (Yes, he actually called me a dick!)

    He retreated to the guest room (AKA his room) and slammed the door. The next morning, I knocked on his door. When he answered, I said, “I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings last night.” I gave him a hug as a peace offering. With his chin resting on my head, he said quietly, “Look, I know eventually we’re not going to live together, but I don’t like thinking about it so I don’t like talking about it.” Wow, ouch. But, OK, another lesson learned on how to keep the peace with my ex-husband/roommate.
So these are the secrets to how I’ve survived all these months. Hopefully I won’t need these tricks much longer, because we are planning a drastic price drop for our condo this week; the new price should finally do the trick to unload this damn condo so we can both move on with our lives – whether Max likes it or not.

Did you have to live with an ex after the relationship was over? How did you cope?

See also: Divorced But Still Living TogetherHow to Hire a Real Estate Agent in Divorce.

21 comments:

  1. wow! I really don't know how you do it. You're really brave and I admire you for it.

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  2. Thank you, but truth be told, I have no other choice! So we may as well do our best to be grownups about our unusual situation.

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  3. I.. don't know how I would have dealt with that. Sharing bills for our house that he lived in for the past 10.5 months was enough of a pain in the neck to deal with but actually living together? No thanks. He had the decency (*snort*) to move to the basement at his parents' house once he asked for the divorce and admitted to his affair and then moved back to the house after I left to move up here. I couldn't even look at him when he was at the house making repairs, packing, cleaning or painting so living together would have been horrible.
    I guess we had already been sort of treating each other like roommates so that wasn't too big of a change.

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  4. Yeah, we had the platonic relationship already going for us, so that helped. But if he'd cheated on me or something terrible like that, I would've lived in a cardboard box to keep away from him.

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  5. You seem to be making the best out of an unusual situation - I admire you for that. I hope your place sells quickly and you and Max can get places of your own!

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  6. Thanks, Dana! You and me both!

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  7. Stephanie @ Life, UnexpectedlyAugust 14, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Wow, that is an awesome post. I couldn't imagine living with most of my exes. You two seem to be very reasonable and strong adults. I second the other comments, I totally admire the two of you! All the best for both of your future!

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  8. Thanks Stephanie! One of my mottos while living with Max has been: "We are grownups, so let's act like grownups." We should be getting *very* close to moving now... details to come!

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  9. Hi Kat - found you through the blog hop and I am so addicted. I would stay up all night reading every single post if I didn't have to wake up for work! now following via Bloglovin. Looks like your move is coming up in days here and I'm looking forward to reading what's ahead.

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  10. Thank you, Sarah! That's the best compliment a blogger can get. :) Happy to have you join me on my journey!

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  11. Thanks for writing about your experience with living with your ex. I also live with my ex and have followed many of the same rules you have suggested. We separated 2 1/2 years ago and because of financial strain (he started his own company at exactly the time we split up) he had to move back into the house. I await the day when we are financially stable enough for him to move out and finalize our divorce.
    The biggest obstacle has been parenting our two sons while living as roommates. We have certainly had to set some strict rules to help them better understand the situation and to keep us from going mad in the process.
    First, we told the children when he moved in exactly why we were doing this and that nothing has changed in relationship to the divorce and our personal lives (when were not being mommy will and dad). Daddy still has his girlfriend and mommy has here own personal life. They seemed to understand that this is a temporary situation and that mommy and daddy are not getting back together. We talked about how lucky they were to have their dad living under the same roof and that he would eventually get his own place nearby.
    My youngest sometimes draws pictures of my ex and I holding hands and I ask him why we are holding hands. He says "because you are friends and sometimes friends can be married and have a family too." My oldest just seems annoyed that he has two of us to parent him and that he can no longer manipulate us as easily as when we had two homes.
    We learned very quickly that if we are going to live together and be successful parents that we would have to stick together as a team. That means that we mustn't give them any reason to think that we don't respect each others parenting decisions and that we back each other up at all times. If dad says no electronics until homework is done and one of them asks me I simply say to them "what did your father say?" "He said we have to do our homework first." End of story and that is that. If we do disagree on something we talk about it later in private so that they do not sniff out our momentary weakness.
    We have to be mindful to not poison the well by talking negative about one another in their presence. Of course when I'm with my girlfriends and away from tiny ears I can let my words run free from my mouth.
    As you said in your entry, I don't ever treat him as though we are married and have completely reprogrammed my brain to think of him as a roommate and not my husband while still allowing him the ability to parent. We are co-parents after all but the trick is to find the balance and not over step our bounds.
    I hope that your condo sells quick and that you have your freedom back very soon. I know I can't wait for that day but, for now, I'm enjoying the advantages of having a partner living in the house.

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  12. Oh, Shannon, that is one heck of a story. Sounds like you are really doing your best of a very complicated situation. My condo sold in the end of August, so we ended up living together 6 months after the divorce was final, but really a year since the marriage was over. It was very difficult at times -- cannot imagine it with children! I hope you're both able to go your separate ways soon.

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  13. I have been separated for 10 years and divorced for 3 and my ex and I have been living together since November 2012. we were married for 35 years and split up when he had a long term affair with a close acquaintance of mine. He moved away and came back many times but not as a lover but for financial reasons because he was looking for work. Now, we are supporting my son who is trying to start a business and he needs money. we moved out of two houses and now live in a small duplex. I will have to say that I am angered when he still contacts his girlfriend that we knew together who lives in another state. Anybody but her!!!!! he has ingratiated himself into my soon to be married other son's future family and we spent the holidays with them. Right now I want him to move out because I am so annoyed with him. He treats me like an employee and it is hurtful.

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  14. Yikes, that sounds so complicated and hurtful. Hope your living situation changes very soon.

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  15. i want to use this opportunity to thank my great doctor who really made my life a pleasurable one today. This great man Dr Saibaba who brought my husband back to me, i had 2 lovely kids for my husband, about 3 years ago i and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me for one lady. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows an Ad pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, until one day i met a good friend of mine that was also in a situation like me but her problem was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that mine was a small case and that i shouldn't worry about it at all so i asked her what was the solution to my problems and she gave me this great man phone number and his email address. i was doubting if this man was the solution, so contacted this great man and he told me what to do and i deed them all, he told me to wait for just two day and that my husband will come crawling on his kneels just for forgiveness so i faithfully deed what this great man asked me to do and for sure after two days i heard a knock on the door, in a great surprise i saw him on his kneels and i was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart flew away,since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are happy.that's why i want to say a big thank you to Dr Saibaba. This great man made me to understand that theirs no problem on earth that has no solution so please if you know that you have this same problem or any problem that is similar, i will advise you to come straight to this great man. you can email him templesaibaba@yahoo.com

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  17. I am based in London, England, i was amazed my husband left home to corner girl, i found out he was not longer interested in anything i do, i contacted Dr Lawrence who cast a spell that made my husband realize his mistake and come back to me at the time and period appointed by Dr.Lawrence i appreciate your Good work keep it up contact him today drlawrencespelltemple@hotmail.com

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  18. I may have to do this with my husband of 32 years with whom I have not been intimate for a LONG time. He is extremely obese and seemingly unmotivated to do anything except post on FB and watch tv. I have done all the cleaning our entire marriage. I have asked nicely for his help, nagged, and begged. He is a slob We both worked full-time so I wasn't a stay-at-home mom. Now I'm battling cancer and he just isn't what I Need emotionally.

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  19. Whew, that sounds likes a really hard situation. Take care of yourself.

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  20. Thank you so much for posting this. I have one week under my belt since I found out about his indiscretions and three days since he told me we would only be roommates. The adjust is difficult. I don't show emotion around him, but the hardest thing is our three children which are 18, 16, and 18months. He has gone out every night since the split and it leaves me in constant unknown. Wish me luck, we have til November til we can split.

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  21. Whew, you are right in the thick of it. I"m so sorry to hear that, and I can only imagine how much more complicated it is because your have children. Take good care of yourself and ASK FOR HELP.

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