This week, a friend of mine took her ex-husband to the hospital. It was a move which, I thought, demonstrated a kind heart and mature relationship. Of course, not everyone thinks like me.
A little background: Penny’s ex called her one evening and asked if she could pick up their children because he was too sick to drive them to her house. She obliged, and the next day she checked in to see how he was doing. Unfortunately his condition was such that he needed immediate medical attention. Penny drove him to the hospital, assisted him in the ER and later drove him home. Her fiancé was neither angry nor threatened by the situation. In fact, he offered to help if necessary.
The scenario sparked quite a debate between our friends. Among the comments:
“I would’ve done it.”
“It’s disrespectful to your current partner to help your ex like that.”
“I would’ve let my ex die.”
“He’s still a person. We’re not talking about the Axis of Evil.”
“He wouldn’t have done that for her. She’s letting him take advantage.”
“I guess it’s OK since they have kids.”
Naturally, I was in the “I would’ve done the same thing” camp. Here’s why…
It’s a matter of co-parenting. Doing the best for the children means supporting the wellbeing of their other parent.
The end of the marriage isn’t the end of the relationship. These days, Penny and her ex aren’t exactly friends, but they remain friendly. This incident serves as evidence as to the evolution, not dissolution, of their family.
Familiarity in a scary situation. Exes have been through a lot together, quite possibly including previous hospital visits. A little reminiscing can ease the anxiety.
The right woman for the job. At a time when her ex had difficulty speaking, Penny was able to communicate much of his family and medical history to the ER staff.
Reality check. Sometimes we humans have a tendency to romanticize the past. Maintaining a certain level of contact helps to remind exes why they’re better off apart.
In the years that Penny and I have been friends, I’ve heard a fair share of complaints about her ex-husband. Yet, she stepped up to support him when he needed it, and I’m sure he would do the same for her. Even though they’re exes, they’re still human beings. I’m proud to have such a caring and open-minded friend.
What would you have done in that situation?