Last Saturday, I went on a double date…with my ex-husband. Okay, it wasn’t exactly a double date, it was my 14-year old son’s birthday party. But for all intents and purposes, it was a double date.

Picture this: we’re in Buffalo Wild Wings with eight teenage boys at one table (wanting nothing to do with the accompanying adults), and my ex-husband, his live-in girlfriend, my boyfriend, and me at the next table.

The four of us sat there for two hours, laughing, joking, and chatting like we were couples who’ve been friends for years. Only, two of us sitting across the table from one another, each cozied up to someone new, were once married. To each other. For 15 years.

My ex-husband lost interest in me long before our marriage officially ended. I probably should’ve seen the divorce coming but I didn’t. When he informed me of his intentions to leave, I was blindsided. Within weeks, he was gone.

I was angry, sad, and confused. My heart was shattered as was my ego, and I hit bottom. I hung out there for a while – in the fetal position rocking back and forth. But here’s the thing about the bottom, once you’re there, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Little by little, I rebuilt myself, and as I did, I had an epiphany: the marriage really hadn’t been serving me in any meaningful way either. I’d been settling for a long time and I deserved better.

From this place of healing, the anger subsided, the pain eased, and I began to feel strong, whole, and secure in my own skin. With a sense of inner peace, I was able to move forward in life and love. I was also able to forgive my ex-husband for nearly breaking me. This was a critical building block to the friendly and productive co-parenting relationship we share today.

As we sat around the table noshing on wings and making friendly small talk, I unemotionally watched the man I once vowed “till death do us part” show loving affection to his new partner. That’s when it hit it me: maybe it wasn’t just me who was settling in the marriage, maybe he’d been, too. Maybe he, like me, deserved better. He was the one who chose to leave the marriage, so naturally, I made myself the victim. He was the bad guy, I was the good guy, and that was that. But possibly, I wondered, could he have been a victim, too?

He was animated and almost youthful in his interactions with her – playful, light, and doting. I hadn’t seen that side of him in years. He looked happy. He is happy! He wasn’t happy with me, but he clearly is with her. Let’s face it, had I been meeting his needs in a meaningful way, he would’ve paid more attention to me and showed me the loving affection I was watching him show to her.

I turned to the man sitting to my right, the true love of my life, and locked eyes with him. In that moment, I felt so completely content. It was abundantly clear to me that the four of us, all ex-spouses to someone, were exactly where we were meant to be.

Marriages go south, blame is placed, and hearts are broken. But at the end of the day, we’re all human. We all want to be loved, and feel needed, and have certain needs of our own met. Sometimes you just can’t find that in the person you married. Sometimes it takes a failed marriage, some crippling soul searching, and a new start to see that.

Three years after my divorce, I’m proud of the relationship I have with my ex-husband, and I’m thrilled that our extended circle can peacefully co-exist on a friendly level. Is it a little weird for ex-spouses and their dates to enjoy lighthearted conversation on a pseudo double date? Sure. But how great is it that we’re all weird enough to do so?