Boys On The Side: Why Women Should Never Fight Over Men

03/03/2011 11:25 | Updated 22 May 2015

According to reports earlier this month, Halle Berry is apparently 'aggravated' at the idea of her ex, Gabriel Aubry, dating Kim Kardashian because she doesn't want the gorgeous reality TV star in her daughter's life. This, commentators have suggested, may be the to blame for the recent nasty turn this previously good-natured shared-parenting project has taken.

Reading about this, I couldn't help reflecting how lucky I'd been with the broads who came into my son's life after I left his father in 1995. To a woman, they were people I would have chosen as friends. But one of them, Mei, who subsequently married (and divorced) my ex-husband, is actually the best person I know. Though I had little respect for my ex's parenting skills (he and my son are long estranged, mostly due to his vile temper) it was knowing that Mei was, and is, there for my son in London while I am here in Brighton which has been a great consolation since I was denied custody of him fifteen years ago.

On paper I should - as the first wife - hate the second, according to current codes of female competitiveness. She is young, beautiful, slender and good beyond all rhyme and reason - all the things I am not. But from the first time I saw her I wanted to stand up and cheer. I would later find out that as well as looking like a film star in a way so few actual film stars do these days she is also an incredibly accomplished and worthwhile person who used to be a style director on a glossy magazine but gave it up to retrain as a psychotherapist working with sexually abused and trafficked women. She is also a world-class wit, an amazing mother and just about my absolute heroine right now.

I've always despised women who squabble over men - there are SO MANY of them to go around! - and making friends with Mei has led me to believe that there's never any reason for inter-related spouses not to get along. In theory it should work for ex-husbands, too, but as two thirds of all divorces are now sought by women, that's going to add up to more bitter ex-men than you can shake a decree absolute at - and hell hath no fury like a husband dumped. As women are divorce instigators so much more, after suffering every unpleasant marital affliction from being bored to being beaten, I suppose that means that we are generally more able to look back in well-earned languor.

True to the stats, I left my second husband, not he me, and have now been with my third for a whopping sixteen years. So I obviously have no right to be regretful. But if ever I feel that my second marriage was a total waste of time, and ate up a decade that might have been put to much better use having freewheeling fun while still in my twenties, the thought of two people I love, who I gained through that marriage, always persuades me otherwise. The first is my son, Jack - and the second is my friend, Mei.

Julie Burchill is a renowned journalist who has contributed to The Times, The Guardian and The Sun among other publications - she currently writes a weekly column for The Independent. She is also the author of several successful books including Not In My Name: A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy and Sugar Rush.


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