“I’M GREAT FRIENDS WITH MY EX-HUS­BAND”

Gwyneth Pal­trow and Chris Martin are an anom­aly – di­vorce has worked out well for them. No ugly dra­mas, no petty griev­ances, just an en­vi­ably good friend­ship. It’s not mis­sion im­pos­si­ble. Two women tell Davelle Lee how they’re bet­ter off as friends with t

Herworld (Singapore) - - NEWS -

Two women show it’s pos­si­ble to side­step the ugly fall­out of a di­vorce, and main­tain good ties with an ex-hubby.

“Imet Noel* through mu­tual friends when I was 21, when he hosted us dur­ing a visit to China in 2007. We clicked, and de­cided to see where this could go. A lot of our dates took place over Skype, and after a year, we of­fi­cially be­came a cou­ple. In 2009, Noel, who was train­ing to be a pi­lot, lost his job. We saw this as an op­por­tu­nity for him to nd work in Singapore, so we could nally be to­gether.

But things got off to a rocky start. As a for­eigner in Singapore, he could not ap­ply to be a pi­lot with Singapore Air­lines as only cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents were el­i­gi­ble. It was the only air­line he wanted to work for, so he ob­sti­nately re­fused to ap­ply for any oth­ers. This meant he had to put his dreams on hold and look for al­ter­na­tive job open­ings. The per­fec­tion­ist in him could not deal with this set­back. He would com­plain about be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against, and lamented that he would not be happy till he se­cured a job as a pi­lot. He was of­ten in­suf­fer­able, and noth­ing I said could lift his mood.

Things be­tween us weren’t per­fect, but when Noel pro­posed, I ac­cepted. A part of me sus­pected he was do­ing it to in­crease his chances of get­ting per­ma­nent res­i­dency here, so he could get a job. But I pushed it out of my mind, and we got mar­ried in 2010. Things only went south from there. Noel con­tin­ued to be bit­ter and sullen, and at the same time, other cracks were beginning to show. He was up­tight about money, and be­gan nd­ing fault with ev­ery­thing I did.

I nally threw in the towel seven months into the mar­riage, after he snapped at me to ‘be quiet, or else’. I told him to pack his things and move out. I was so ex­hausted from hav­ing to tip­toe around his toxic at­ti­tude, and re­sent­ful that I’d tried so hard to in­ject some op­ti­mism into his life, yet re­ceived noth­ing in re­turn. So ling for di­vorce and go­ing our sep­a­rate ways was a huge re­lief.

We didn’t see each other for a year and a half. In that time, I dated some­one new, but things didn’t work out. I ad­mit I felt empty and longed for com­pan­ion­ship, and reach­ing out to my ex-hus­band crossed my mind. I had heard that Noel was still sin­gle and work­ing in Singapore. I de­cided to take a chance and meet him for a catch-up.

I was sur­prised at what I saw when we met. Noel had got a job in sports en­ter­tain­ment, and was vis­i­bly hap­pier. With­out the neg­a­tiv­ity, I found him to be good com­pany. We be­gan to hang out once or twice a week, en­joy­ing deep con­ver­sa­tions over meals at restau­rants. When we were apart, we con­stantly texted about what was go­ing on in our lives. He also be­gan invit­ing me to gath­er­ings with his col­leagues and friends. None of them knew that we’d once been mar­ried. It felt like the early days of our re­la­tion­ship. I toyed with the prospect of giv­ing things an­other go, but ditched the idea when I found out his con­tract was ex­pir­ing soon, and he had no in­ten­tion of stay­ing in Singapore. Still, we con­tin­ued to spend time to­gether. I re­alised that with­out the pres­sures and ex­pec­ta­tions that came with mar­riage, we could ac­tu­ally be really good friends.

In 2013, Noel left for the United States to pur­sue his dream of be­com­ing a pi­lot. Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion slowed, but we would still check in on each other once in a while. We ex­changed travel pho­tos, and he would up­date me on his train­ing progress. When he grad­u­ated from the pro­gramme and went back to China to be­come a full-edged pi­lot, I was happy for him. One day, Noel texted out of the blue: ‘Do you re­mem­ber why you used to get frus­trated with me?’, adding that he was hav­ing prob­lems with the woman he was see­ing, but could not put a nger on the cause. This came as a sur­prise be­cause Noel never wanted to hear how I felt when we were to­gether. I was touched by how much he now val­ued my opin­ion.

I knew his idio­syn­cra­sies and blind spots bet­ter than any­one, and wanted to help him. By now, I had moved on en­tirely. Noel was still im­por­tant to me, but strictly in a pla­tonic sense. I wor­ried that he was sab­o­tag­ing his re­la­tion­ship and was at risk of los­ing a good catch. So I del­i­cately laid out the griev­ances that I spec­u­lated his cur­rent girl­friend would have. I felt like I was get­ting through to him in a way I hadn’t been able to when we were mar­ried. From then on, Noel would con­sult me over text ev­ery time he fought with his girl­friend, and I would an­a­lyse the sit­u­a­tion for him.

Later this year, I’ll be head­ing to China with my hus­band – whom I

JES­SICA*, 31: “We get along way bet­ter now that we’ve split up.”

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