Life & Love

I Want to Date, But I Still Live With My Ex-Husband


Dear E. Jean: I’m almost 34, but I look like I’m in my twenties, and my only addiction is Pepsi. I married my husband 13 years ago. I cheated once and confessed. He forgave me. A year later he had an affair with the woman who lives across the street from us, and we divorced by mutual agreement.

But how unusual is this situation? We still live together! Our 12-year-old daughter has severe epilepsy, takes four serious drugs every day, and her seizures are not yet controlled. (She can experience as many as 15 tonic-clonic seizures—formerly known as grand-mal—a day.) So when she’s sick, my ex stays home from work and cares for her, or I do; and we agree about most other things. When we divorced in 2010, the only thing we had any disagreements about was his 401(k). (Since I hadn’t earned the money, I didn’t want to take any of it; he insisted on giving it all to me.) We share household cleaning responsibilities equally. He pays our mortgage, the household bills, and medical insurance. I pay for clothing, phones, and incidentals for our daughter, like school pictures, haircuts, and so on.

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There’s no fraternization between my ex-­husband and me (except once when we both were drunk and stupid). So my questions are: Can I start dating? Am I crazy?—You Tell Me, Ma’am

Hells bells, you heroic woman! You’re living more contentedly with your ex-husband than most of the married women I hear from who live with their current husbands. So, yes. At this point it might actually be advantageous for you to start dating. And as it so happens, I have a dude for you. He’s gallant, generous, does the dishes, loves your daughter, pays your mortgage, and enjoys getting drunk and sexy with you. Text him now: “Cocktails tonight, darling?”

The hard part’s over. You’ve both divorced your old selves. You’ve got a friendship built for love. If you can each tweak the personal behavior that caused problems the first time around, I think you may safely sneak away together for the weekend. And if the fling turns so lusty that it threatens your platonic relationship? Excellent! Here’s hoping it turns into an exclusive lifelong love affair!

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at


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