When I first started talking to Swedish Hodor he told me about his living situation, which by American standards is pretty unusual. He’s divorced, but actually lives in the same house with his ex and two kids. I asked him about this, why they do it this way, if it’s awkward, etc. and his answers were very interesting.
He said partly it is because after they looked at finances and started thinking about custody arrangements for the kids, they realized that if they split up, neither of them could provide the sort of secure, comfortable lifestyle that the kids presently had. They also couldn’t think of a custody arrangement that wouldn’t either result in one of the two missing out on seeing the kids a lot or shuttling the children back and forth between two homes in a way that would disrupt their lives. Therefore, they decided to keep on living in the same house. They’ve arranged the living space so that they both have separate bedrooms, they’ve separated their personal finances, but have also worked out a detailed plan for how to handle living costs, chores such as cooking and cleaning, etc. in an equitable way. He says that while it has been very difficult at times and has taken a lot of work, they were willing to put in the effort because of their kids. They’ve gone from having a love relationship to a very strong friendship.
He said another good thing about continuing to be close with his ex while taking away the stresses of a marriage is that it has allowed them to “keep” the good things about their relationship — the fact that they get on well, really like each other, and share a lot of good memories. Because they have a long shared history, it would be strange to lose that by completely parting.
That’s something I ought to think about. I’ve had a lot of discontinuities in my life. Oftentimes, it’s my fault. I tend to see conflicts as things that permanently end relationships. I remember I was in college when I first realized that people could have a conflict, but talk it out and repair the relationship. Still, the method I often use to deal with conflict, especially with other women, is to withdraw. There are plenty of people I’ve had long friendships and a lot of shared, good experiences with, but now I am cut off from them. I’ve lost the chance to have someone to revisit those memories with. I’ve also let those friendships end on a sour note, which might be painful for the other person. I’ve missed out on a chance to continue those friendships too.