What Living With My Ex to Co-Parent Looks Like for Us

My husband and I split up three months ago when I came out as a lesbian. I encouraged him to date again but found myself jealous the morning after—and not for the reasons you may think.

An image of Linda Fruits and her husband.
Photo: Main Image: Courtesy of Linda Fruits.

I encouraged my husband to have a one-night stand. You may think I'm out of my mind after reading that, but I promise, I'm not.

When I came out to my family as a lesbian, my husband and I decided to continue living together to raise our kids but see other people. So now everyone wants to know what dating will look like moving forward.

I wanted my husband to have the physical touch and love he deserves and what I could no longer force myself to give him. But, I wasn't prepared for how I would feel when it happened.

The First Date

The inevitable first date and hook-up arrived. My husband told me his date wanted to meet at a hotel, and I thought, well, buckle up, buttercup, here it comes. It was time for us to practice what we had been discussing for the month prior. Let the dating games begin!

During the days and hours leading up to the date, I felt a little nervous but overall fine. I could tell he was also a little nervous but obviously excited. Since we live together, I helped him pick out his outfit, and just like that, he was on his way.

My nerves and feelings were mostly anticipatory—what would come up knowing what was about to happen? I'm already a light sleeper, so I decided to take melatonin to try to offset my creative mind. It helped—a little.

My mind raced, and I tossed and turned until about midnight and finally dozed off. Yet, I couldn't stop picturing them. When you're with someone for a long time, you know all their "moves." It's like a dance—a pattern you know all too well. But why could I not stop torturing myself?

The Feelings

Because I have not been able to enjoy or be intimate with my husband for years, I thought for sure I couldn't be jealous of the act. On the contrary, I wanted no part of it, so what was I feeling? It's not like I have many friends to talk to about this; we were in uncharted territory.

When he came home the next morning, I almost couldn't look him in the eyes. He asked me if I had any questions, which was a hard no. It felt weird. I felt disgusted. I needed some time to process alone.

I ran to my local hot yoga studio and sweated it out. Mid-session, my favorite mania song of the week came on, and I started crying. Silently, of course, in the shadows of the yoga studio. Thankfully it was so dark in there that no one even knew, and it was apparently the release I needed.

I felt some jealousy, but the more I dug into this feeling, I realized it wasn't about the sex; I was just more jealous that he got to stay at a hotel, kid-free on the beach. Burnt out mom over here realized that I, too, needed a break.

The Grief

I recognized that up until this point, for me, nothing had changed in our relationship. We were already not having sex—acting like friends and teammates, platonically raising our children together. But my love for him had never changed.

When I told him about my being attracted to women, he started grieving our marriage. But since we still lived together and saw each other every day, nothing had changed for me until now.

Now it was my turn to grieve for our marriage for the first time. We talked about how both of us were feeling and cried at times. It was a healthy part of processing, and at the end of the day, I am so proud of both of us for continuing to put our family first.

Relationship Complexity

I'm not sure if we learn jealousy or if it's something that has always been within us, but some of us can love more than one person at a time. That's where polyamory (consensual non-monogamy) has gained more acceptance in the last couple of years. Cheating is still cheating, of course, if the other person doesn't know or doesn't approve. That means that for polyamory to work, you have to set boundaries and be honest with each other.

One person cannot provide everything you need to be emotionally fulfilled, and that's where friends and family come into play too. You may not even realize it because, for many people, it's already in action. For example, think about how different parts of you shine more when you are with different friends—maybe you laugh so deeply with one of your friends, or maybe it's a sensitive, caring, nurturing relationship you have with a family member.

This need for different relationships is also why parents need a night out from time to time—we are refilling our emotional selves. Polyamory is the same concept, just more romantically or sexually speaking. I don't consider us poly since we are no longer intimate together. But the groundwork is still the same—communication, boundaries, and having hard conversations about feelings are necessary since we have kids and plan to live together for the foreseeable future. So we have to be as open and honest as possible.

We Did It!

After the first 24 hours had passed after his date night, our emotions started to settle, and by 48 hours or more, we were back to our normal routine. We did it. We made it through what could potentially ruin most relationships.

He went on another date with another woman a few weeks later, and the burn of the first-time experience was gone; I was much more relaxed. I was just worried about him getting home safely because I genuinely care about him.

You might be thinking, how the hell could you even go through something like this? You're picturing yourself and how'd you feel if this was you.

Well, we didn't get here overnight. It took weeks and constant communication to figure out what we were comfortable with and how it made us feel. Just talking about our feelings almost made most of them go away, oddly enough. But, wanting to understand each other's emotions and perspectives goes a long way.

What's Next?

Many people also want to know if we are going to get divorced right away or at all. I take a step back and think about people who get divorced; they usually are so fed up with each other and never want to see each other's faces again. We have a different situation—we are still living together and continue to be a great solid team raising our children. So to answer the question, there's no real rush. Yes, eventually, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

For now, we will continue to put love first: The love for our family, the love for our children to have both parents every day, and the love for each other's happiness and fulfillment.

Linda Fruits is the writer behind the Fruits of Motherhood blog, whose mission is to normalize motherhood. She has a talent for making mothers feel less alone in the daily struggles of parenting with a side of side-splitting laughter. You can follow her on Instagram @fruitsofmotherhood and Tiktok @fruitsofmotherhood and connect through email at fruitsofmotherhood@gmail.com.

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