Divorce Done Right...a world with my ex
Written by
cheryl stahle
July 2012
Written by
cheryl stahle
July 2012


“Crap” spewed from my lips as I pushed the last digit.  I knew where the answer to my question would be but pride stopped me from calling until I had no more time to delay.  Departure now T-12 hours and counting.

 “How do you get to Mom’s house?” Stunned silence then laughter followed by a deep breath.  “Take the 220 exit off of the Turnpike, then hit 68 and finally 79.  Really after 20 years you don’t remember?”   

AAA didn’t pick up the phone to help me with directions; I had called my ex.

 Having to give an unexpected RIP to my beloved car a few hours before heading to mother’s , I didn’t take time to remove important treasures tucked in different cubbies and pockets, such as the directions to my Mom’s house in West Virginia.  I have never made this trip to my Mom’s without that scrap piece of paper riding shotgun. 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I always have a back-up plan when my spontaneity causes problems.  My ex-husband.    Surprisingly, Paul’s role has evolved to one who provides calm and stability in my life, more so than we were even married.  I seriously doubt he would say the same for me although my antics do entertain.    

So why couldn’t we stayed married when we now serve as each other’s source of calm and laughter?  Fifteen years and a helluva effort later we called our marriage quits for everyone’s peace of mind, especially our son’s.  Like most marriages that go south, we had our ups and downs, fights and icy silences then just apathy.  The apathy led to separate lives, different friends and finally, made us strangers living under the same roof.  It just became too difficult to breathe and pretend anymore so we parted ways.  At first anger consumed us then our son became extremely ill and required us both to travel through hospital stays and doctor visits together. 

Oddly enough a tragedy forced us to work together for the first time ever.  We became friendly then finally friends even though I’m not sure we would have said that during our marriage.  Could we remarry?  Only if flying pigs replaced cars as the primary mode of transportation.   But we can be friends. 

Divorce done right; that’s what we accomplished.

Before it became en vogue for baby boomers to have a “collaborative divorce” we had already climbed that mountain.    We negotiated our property settlement in a Starbucks over lattes and chocolate chip cookies (dutch treat of course).  When we had the asset division set up the way we wanted, we used one attorney to “legalize” it and file the paperwork.  All expenses split evenly despite the salary differential and “what could have been” had we followed a litigious route. 

From a latte in a public place to an occasional glass of wine on the back deck, Paul and I live 3 blocks apart now and our relationship has evolved from combatants to co-parents.  Far enough away that we don’t have to see each other daily yet close enough that a single phone call brings the cavalry to the rescue.  I help him organize his home and garden while Paul teaches me how to use tools.  When a repair project is beyond my skills, I call and get a tutoring session so that I continue to grow as a home owner.  Paul has finally mastered making my pasta sauce under my watchful eye, the one that has no recipe.   We still share the items that you only need once in a while as neither of us have much extra space.  Why spend money when we can work together?  That’s our philosophy.

Never would I have guessed that Paul and I would be friends and confidants.  It’s amazing what a little time and space has done for our relationship.  And most importantly, what it has taught our son about divorce and parenting.  While we certainly didn’t do much right during our marriage, we have certainly navigated the tricky minefield of divorce.



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  • Rita Kenefic

    Cheryl, You keep popping up in my life. Must be for a reason. At any rate, although you wrote this a year ago, I just read and thoroughly enjoyed this post. This is not just interesting and well-written, it is also an inspirational!