Dear Ex: Things Turned Out Okay For Everyone. (We're Older Now, But Wiser.)

Letter #1


Remember how you used to brag to your friends that your wife was so smart? Well, I've been accepted to a college out West and will be moving soon. Perhaps Jenny already told you--I know the two of you still keep in touch. As you know, getting married right out of high school put a stop to my college plans and caused me some regret. I had always wanted to go back to school and, now that the kids have moved out, I've finally grabbed the opportunity.

I was thinking about our marriage the other day. Actually, the thirteen years of my life that I spent with you come to mind fairly frequently as I continue to try to make sense of it all. It hit me with some force recently that our relationship, even though it failed in the usual sense, was truly successful in another important respect because it accomplished an essential purpose of marriage--it brought healthy children into the world. Everything else--the pain, the tears, the trauma--are all short-lived and fairly unimportant in the grand scheme of things. What matters most is that three children grew up reasonably healthy, found stable husbands and, in their own individual ways, have helped to make the world go >round.

I think you know that Lisa was an airline attendant for a while, Jenny started her own little art business from home, and Anna is a mail carrier with the post office. In the past few years, as you know, all of them have also brought healthy children into the world. I don't know how the reality of having four grandchildren has affected you, but I'm feeling very matriarchal right now. And those children and grandchildren wouldn't have been possible without our relationship, stormy though it was. The point is, even though our divorce was final many years ago, the successful results of our marriage remain and go on quite nicely without us.

Once in a while, Jenny lets me know how things are going on your end. She told me that you're taking a computer course at the shop. Sounds like a good idea--maybe it will help you get off that backbreaking piecework. Most decent jobs seem to require a certain amount of computer savvy nowadays. I'll be using a computer myself to write all those college term papers. I'm glad that both of us are still working on increasing our individual potential.

Jenny also told me that you still have your country-western band and play on the weekends as you always did. I remember it was a great outlet for you after a hard week at the shop and it would be a waste not to share your talents and charisma with the world. I have many good memories of going out with you when your band played on Saturday nights. In fact, one of the greatest pleasures of my life was dancing on a slick wooden floor while you sang and played in some smoky tavern.

The beginning of the end came after Anna was born and it was difficult for me to still go out every Saturday night and support you. I realize now what a powerful distraction the inevitable band groupies must have been, especially as the years went by. At any rate, I think if we got together again we would discover that we had outgrown each other--an inevitable risk of getting married when we were both so young and immature. Nevertheless, you were the great love of my life and the father of my children. I hope you still have some regard for me as your first love and the only mother of your children. I also hope you found whatever elusive happiness you were looking for when you left us. Perhaps some Saturday night you could dedicate a song to your ex-wife--for auld lang syne.

Letter #2


I hope this letter finds you well. I can't believe that it's been almost a year since we last talked. Time flies, doesn't it? How are things going for you? I know you talked about changing majors before--did you switch to business administration, or did you decide to stick with child psychology? I'm sure whatever you decided to do, you're doing just great. You were always such a good student, and it's one of the things that I admired most about you. If I'd been as dedicated as you when I started college, instead of chasing after a certain brunette, I wouldn't have had to take some of those blasted G.E. classes over again. But it was worth it. We had some good times, didn't we? Like the time that we started a riot in the student union because they wouldn't let us roller blade around campus.

Anyway, things are going pretty well for me these days. You may remember that I was planning to apply for law school last fall. I was accepted to Washburn University back in February, and I'll be moving to Kansas in September. I'm really looking forward to continuing my education. I guess you'll be applying for grad schools soon, too, huh? Taking a year off has been really good for me (no homework and a lot less stress), but I have to admit that I've missed the challenge that comes with doing papers and projects. I never thought I'd say that. I bet you didn't think I would, either!

I'm sorry that things ended up the way they did. In retrospect, we made some pretty big mistakes, didn't we? But I think that you would agree that things are better this way. I wish I hadn't caused you the pain that I did, but I'm glad that we've both been able to move on and start rebuilding our lives. When we were freshmen everything seemed so simple, and after we fell in love so quickly, getting married after only a couple of months of dating felt natural. Obviously, we both had a lot of growing up to do still; we didn't even know who we were, let alone who we wanted to be. Though it was a rocky road, things turned out for the best in the end, didn't they? We learned a lot about ourselves, and I think we're both stronger and wiser people now.

I wish you success in all that you do. Good luck as you continue your studies. I know that you can accomplish all of your dreams. You certainly deserve to.

Letter #3


When we were married, you always urged me to try my hand at business. Of course, I deferred because our children were small at the time and I couldn't think how I would juggle mothering and a career. But we grow older, don't we? I just wanted to drop you a line and tell you that I've taken the plunge (maybe Paula or Matt already told you). I applied for a small business loan and I'm starting my own mail order scrap-booking company. You remember those funny creations I used to make in the evenings? Well, some people began to ask for them and I actually believe that they might be marketable. I wanted to thank you for the encouragement you gave me years ago.

I sometimes wonder how life is treating you. I only receive scanty updates from the children, so I hope all is well. Every so often I think about our marriage--fondly now. I know it was hard for both of us at the time. Emotions ran high; things were said we both regretted. No one likes the feeling of failure. But time heals, as they say. I remember a lot of good times and two incredible kids who are the product of both of us. There's no failure in that. I look into there eyes and see bits of both of us. They are good, productive human beings. I see your good qualities in them, and that helps me to remember how much I admired you.

Now that Paula and Matt are on their own, I feel older and a little wiser. I know we were both young when we married--probably a little immature and very naïve. Life threw us some curves that we weren't expecting so I don't really know if things could have turned out differently. At this point in my life, I remember you with respect and fondness. I'm happy for your successes and hope that life brings you much happiness. I hope that you will remember me fondly as your first love and as the mother of your children. As the years go by, I hope we will both continue to take pride in our greatest success--our children.

Letter #4


Just felt like dropping you a line. I've been really busy lately--how about you? In March I took a trip to England to meet with some investors. Now I understand how you felt about driving on the right side! I can't say I loved it, and I was glad to get back home. I took a community cooking class last fall, and I've actually become a pretty decent chef. Now dinner isn't limited to macaroni and cheese or microwaveable pizza. I feel that I'm settling into life and, for the most part, I am content. I hope life is going well for you, likewise. Could you drop me a line and let me know?

Our little daughter, Karen, is not so little any more. As you know, she has come to visit me a couple of times. I am so proud of her. She's going to make a great doctor--she'll "change the world for the better" just like she always said she would. She is a beautiful result of our life together and I am grateful for any time I get to spend with her.

I'm happy to hear that you're going back to school. I admire your decision, and I hope you are enjoying yourself. When we were college students, we had some good times, didn't we? Remember when we fell asleep studying in the Hall of Flags after hours and got thrown out by the janitor? You didn't let it frazzle you, though, and you managed to ace the test the next morning. I'm sure you're still the top-notch student today you were then.

For all of our good times together, I realize how much happier we've been since we decided to go our separate ways. I've noticed how my stress level has gone down, and I hope yours has, too. We both seem to be enjoying life more now and successfully finding ourselves in ways we never could before.

I want you to know that I only try to remember the good times. I have no ill feelings, and I don't bear any grudges. We'll always be Karen's parents, and I hope we can keep in touch from time to time. I wish you all the happiness the future has to offer.

Good luck with school and all your new endeavors.

Letter #5


I was looking into our son's eyes the other day and I thought of you. He has your blue eyes. It seems that every day he looks a little bit more like you. He brings great joy into my life, and I know that you feel the same way. Although our relationship didn't work out the way we thought it would, I have never regretted it because of him. Without our relationship, he wouldn't be a part of my life or yours. I can't bear that thought.

I want you to know I'm doing well. As you know, I've remarried and now have a little girl. We are very happy together and I am content with the way my life is turning out. It doesn't have all of the excitement that we had together, but it is steadier and more secure.

I do occasionally relive some of our times together. We sure had some crazy times. Do you remember the time that, on the spur of the moment, we jumped in the car and drove to the Jersey shore? We bought hot dogs from a street vendor, slept on the beach, and came home the next day a little sunburned. We sure had a lot of fun!

I hope that you are doing well. I bear no grudges against you and wish only good things for you. I think we're both happier apart than we would have been together, but you are an important part of my past. I will always love you for giving me our son and a lot of good memories.