The Healing Power of a Friendly Breakup

‘Free.’ Yes, I am that, after a long, long time.

Free to sip my morning cup of coffee and water my plants in peace, without feeling the sourness of sarcastic words inside my mouth.

Free too, to do as I like with the hours in between, be it skipping off to stuff street food in Old Delhi or catch the latest, silliest flick in town, without having to explain where I was and why it took me so long.

It hasn’t come easy, of course. 18 long years was what it took me to say that simple word: “Enough.” Enough of waking up with an ache inside my heart. Enough of going to sleep with a dull headache. And truly enough of trying to unlearn beautiful words such as ‘peace,’ ‘companionship,’ and ah!, ‘freedom.’ But as they say, better late than never.

Today, for the first time in all these years, I am the one who flicks open the envelope that informs me I have a hefty phone bill to pay. Though I know I can ill-afford the amount it is asking me to shell out, I stare back at the document quite defiantly, even managing a smile. I have hit bottom dollar, but then, the only way to go from here is up.

Breaking up with a spouse after 18 long years is by no means an easy or happy affair. And I would be lying if I denied the ‘funny, familiar, forgotten feelings’ that start walking all over my mind from time to time. But the wonderful thing is, we haven’t let it become bitter and ugly. Now that the initial bitterness has worn off, we both feel a friendship that had ceased to exist.

Even today, when I read the success story of an average writer who has made it big, I shoot him an e-mail, asking him to complete that novel he has been writing, because very few can write like he does. When we traveled together recently for unavoidable reasons, he gently advised, ‘Mind your right side—you have an injury there.’

Ex-spouses who aren’t divorced but not enemies? Ever thought about it? I hadn’t either, but now that I am one half of such a relationship, let me tell you it isn’t half bad a deal.

A whole load of negativity and compromised living has made an exit from our lives, ever since we decided to part ways. We are living for the moment, planning for the future, and trying to remember all that was good and beautiful about our past.

All we’ve really ‘broken up’ is the negativity.



Michael Wecke
Michael Wecke5 years ago

Hmmm - friendly, sprinkled with ice perhaps...But no - total detachment would do just fine

Ana R
ANA MARIJA R5 years ago

Brian M. i agree with you...
Thank you for sharing!

Lynn C.
Lynn C5 years ago

It wasn't a marriage "officially" but after partnering with someone for 6 years, we went separate way but have remained close friends to this day. I count him as one of my best friends, and always enjoy conversation, discussions, and sharing - the nice thing is, it isn't a requirement and that makes all the difference!

Bonnie D.
Bonnie Duvall5 years ago

It is liberating when you can let go of those hostile feelings and focus instead on the positive aspects of someone with whom you've spent a considerable amount of time building dreams and family. It's refreshing when you are able to look at them as another human being with feelings wants and needs and not feel obligated to help them attain happiness. I found I felt better about myself when I was able to remember the wonderful characteristics that attracted me in the first place, rather than being caught up in what wasn't good. Thank you for sharing! It is affirming.

John Ditchman
John Ditchman5 years ago

I broke up messily with a girlfriend I had in college. Now, we are good friends. We just are not good at living together. Sometimes, people are meant to love each other as friends, but not as lovers.

Helle H.
Helle H5 years ago

One of my friends husband married her best friend. It was hard for her in the beginning, but now she's seeing both of them. She even go and stay with them on vacations. Funny thing, her friend doesn't want her to be alone with her ex-husband. My friend doesn't want her husband back.

Suzanne L.
Suzanne L5 years ago

I'm not sure many couples manage to do this, especially if there has been infidelity before the separation, other situations where one partner's stuff became the centre of the relationship, or their are big differences about co-parenting responsibilities. For some people finality is the way they want to go and the healthier course for reclaiming their lives.

Marianne B.
Marianne B5 years ago

Good for you/ Not every one divorced stays friends. I never could understand when people say that. Maybe you have to be friends to begin with. After 26 horrible years. I always said I am happily divorced.

Ron B.
Ron B5 years ago

Many moons ago I broke up with a woman I had dated for a few months and that one definitely didn't go well. Can't believe at one point I blurted out that old line about hoping we could still be friends. Yeah, right...ouch. But then, breakups can be so damned awkward!

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Only you can judge.