Family and Relationship
I share my husband with his ex wife – and I don’t mind (honest)
Adele and David had a heart-wrenching divorce – but still live in each other’s pockets and even have a joint bank account. Here, his new wife insists she’s happy with their unlikely harmony
The room was festooned with flowers and the guests sat in expectant silence as Mendelssohn’s Wedding March began to play.
The groom, David Gavin, waited nervously at the altar, turning occasionally to try to catch the first glimpse of his bride.
All eyes were on the woman who walked down the aisle wearing a long, flowing gown and carrying a beautiful bouquet. But some guests frowned when they saw her, while others did an incredulous double-take. At least one of them gasped in disbelief. Were they seeing a ghost?
The woman in the long gown was not David’s bride. She was his ex-wife, Adele Carrington, who had agreed to be matron-of-honour at David’s second marriage ceremony.
Even now, five years after that wedding, Adele, 37, has an astonishingly close relationship with 35-year-old David. They are best friends, godparents to each other’s children, see each other most weekends — and even share a bank account.
That an ex-husband and wife could be this close is, of course, highly unusual. But what’s incredible is that David’s second wife, Korena, grew to consider Adele a best friend… so much so that she invited her to be matron-of-honour.
Unusual set up: The trio are so close, Adele was even matron-of-honour when David and Korena
Adele, a writer, was 18 when she met David, then 17. They married four years later, in 1998, in front of 150 family and friends.
‘We had a dream white wedding,’ Adele says. ‘I wore a big meringue dress, David was in a kilt, and it was a wonderful day. I thought we’d be married for ever.’
The couple bought a home in Doncaster, and at first they were very happy. David worked as an accountant, Adele in adult education, and they planned to start a family one day. But after two or three years, romance began to cool.
‘We never had blazing rows. It was more of a gradual decline from lovers to friends as the passion faded,’ Adele says.
‘Eventually, I realised we were different: I loved going out all the time, David preferred not to. We’d been together for ten years and we were simply growing apart.
‘In time, I realised we wanted different things. David was very dependable; I tended to flit from idea to idea and was much more impulsive and free-spririted. We became friends rather than lovers.’
One day, Adele told David that she didn’t think their marriage was working. ‘It was heartbreaking,’ she says. ‘There were tears. David was my best friend and I hated hurting him. We talked in a very adult way, although David was very upset, as was I. We cried.’
Adele and David kept in touch following their separation in May 2002.
She says: ‘We called and texted each other, checking if the other was all right. We even went to the cinema together as friends six weeks after we’d split up.’
David found it hard to accept the failure of his marriage. ‘I did still love Adele very much, so it was upsetting for me,’ he says. ‘There was no one else involved so no reason to hate her, but it was still hurtful.
‘But the fact we were still in each other’s lives gave us time to grieve and accept the end of our marriage.’
Adele and David decided to legally separate, but remained the best of friends, going out to see films and even continuing to run a local amateur football team together.
‘We’d been such a part of each other’s adult lives, we wanted to keep in touch,’ David says. ‘But I had accepted it was over between us.’
Teenage sweethearts: David and Adele tied the knot in their early twenties after meeting in their teens and while their marriage didn’t last, their friendship did
Within three months of splitting up, David met Korena at work. He insists he wasn’t on the look-out for a new relationship, but that it was a case of a friendship blossoming into something more.
Understandably, he was nervous about introducing his new girlfriend to Adele, but he didn’t want to hide the relationship from her.
Korena, 33, an accountant, admits to concerns when David told her he was still very close to his ex-wife.
‘At first I found it threatening. I wondered: if they were this close, did it mean they’d get back together? Did he still love her? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous. What new girlfriend wouldn’t be?’
In fact, Korena was to learn that Adele and David shared more than close friendship. They also still had a joint bank account — as they do today.
Both Adele and David deposit £200 ‘when they feel like it’, and both can take small amounts from it when needed. There’s only ever a few hundred pounds in it and they use it in an emergency if their bank cards are ever lost or don’t work on holiday.
‘I asked David why he still had an account with his ex-wife,’ Korena says. ‘He said he just hadn’t closed it when he and Adele separated, but I did find it unnerving.
‘I said to David: “You having a joint account with your ex-wife makes me feel insecure.” But he replied: ‘You can’t expect me not to look out for Adele — she’s my best friend.’
Again while some might commend David’s loyalty to his former wife, others will undoubtedly question it.
As for Korena and Adele, both laugh nervously when they recall their first meeting. It was at a football match for the team Adele and David ran.
‘I don’t think David had warned Adele I’d be there, because she didn’t seem very happy,’ Korena says. ‘Before David went onto the pitch, he gave me a reassuring hug and Adele told him to put me down and concentrate, that I was a distraction. I sat on my own during the game. I certainly didn’t think we could ever be friends . . .’
After a few more strained meetings, David suggested the two women go out for a drink without him.
As the two women chatted over a glass of wine, things took an unexpected turn. ‘I realised we had so much in common,’ Adele reflects. ‘Instead of feeling jealous or upset, I was thrilled that David had chosen such a nice woman.
‘We found ourselves roaring with laughter at the same things, and I realised that even if she wasn’t David’s girlfriend, I would have chosen her as a friend.’
Korena agrees: ‘As I got to know Adele, I realised I had no reason to feel threatened by her.’
As for gossiping about each other’s quirks and comparing notes on David in bed, Adele says: ‘If anything, it’s my sex life that gets discussed more than theirs. It would be too weird to talk about that with her.’
Korena agrees: ‘We avoid those conversations, but what we do joke about is the fact that when he’s grumpy the best thing to do is feed him and then he chills out. We do have a giggle about that.’
But friends of the three were less understanding of the situation.
Dream white wedding: Adele and David on their big day
Take two: Some of the same guests then saw David marry Korena years later
‘They couldn’t see why I could have David’s ex anywhere near us,’ says Korena. ‘It wasn’t that people didn’t like Adele — it was just the whole, strange situation.’
Couples counsellor Denise Pickup says that although Adele and David’s relationship is unusual, there is a growing trend for couples to remain close after divorce.
She explains: ‘Fifty years ago, there was a sense of shame surrounding divorce. But now, with social networks such as Facebook, it’s easier to stay in touch with an ex-partner.
‘Perhaps some people who marry do see it as a relationship for life and want to continue that as friends.’
The time to worry, Denise says, is when a new partner is unhappy about a friendship with an ex, when one ex-partner wants to be friends more than the other, or when someone keeps their friendship with an ex secret from a new spouse.
There was no secrecy between David and his two wives — only an unlikely harmony.
Adele even did a reading during the service, entitled ‘How to have the perfect marriage’. ‘The irony wasn’t lost on me,’ she said
That said, when David and Adele sent off their divorce papers, they were returned to them because the court couldn’t see a valid reason for their split.
Adele recalls: ‘We had no examples of unreasonable behaviour. They even suggested we go to Relate for counselling.’
Instead of feeling threatened, though, Korena remembers laughing at the idea: ‘They were like siblings, not an ex-husband and wife. We all found the thought of Adele and David getting back together funny.’
The divorce was finalised in 2005. By this point, Adele was in a new relationship, too — ironically with a friend of David’s.
When Adele announced she was pregnant, Korena and David revealed they were planning to get married. And Korena asked her fiance’s former wife to be her matron-of-honour.
‘David asked me if I was doing it to please him. The truth was, I wanted to — Adele was our best friend.’
Adele was experiencing big changes in her life, too. She gave birth to her daughter, Keisha, in 2006, but her relationship with Keisha’s father broke down and she found herself a single parent.
‘That’s when we became really close,’ says Korena. ‘Adele was on her own and I helped her out. If she couldn’t get the baby to sleep, I’d go over to give her a break.’
In February 2007, Korena and David were married at a castle in Shropshire. Korena decided she wanted Adele to walk down the aisle first as matron-of-honour, which she duly did.
Adele says: ‘I hadn’t considered how odd that would be until I walked in and saw David standing in his kilt at the end of the aisle. A thousand memories flooded back and, for a second, it was as if I were walking down the aisle all those years ago at our wedding.
Unlikely best friends: After an awkward start, the two women found they had a lot in common (including their taste in men)
‘Some of the guests had been at that wedding, too, and seeing me walk towards my ex-husband must have seemed quite bizarre.
‘But even though lots of eyes were on me, David’s were not. He was looking at the door behind me, waiting for Korena to come in. Everything was as it should be.’
Adele even did a reading during the service, entitled ‘How to have the perfect marriage’.
‘The irony wasn’t lost on me,’ Adele says. ‘There were a few stifled giggles among the guests.’
David and Korena, who live in Doncaster, now have two sons, Alexander, four, and 18-month-old Ethan. And Adele is their godmother.
‘When I had Keisha, no one could have helped me more than David and Korena. So I asked them to be godparents and, when they had their children, they asked me to be godmother in return,’ she says.
The two families meet up most weekends. They spend Christmas together, regularly go on holiday together and babysit for each other.
‘If you’d told me at the beginning that we would all end up like this, I’d never have believed it,’ Korena says. ‘I can’t imagine feeling threatened by Adele. She is part of the family.’
Adele, who remains happily single, says it was sad that she and David had to part. ‘But when he met Korena I didn’t lose a husband, I gained a best friend,’ she says.
Denial – The Varcolac Journals, by Adele Carrington, is published by Netherworld Books; thevarcolac-journals.com