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:
- 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.
- ...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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Did you have to live with an ex after the relationship was over? How did you cope?
See also: Divorced But Still Living Together; How to Hire a Real Estate Agent in Divorce.