This Heartbreakingly Honest Podcast Between Two Exes Is Our Latest Guilty Pleasure

Divorced couple Serge Bielanko and Monica Bielanko
image source: serge and monica bielanko

“I think you might have a little podcast problem,” my husband said to me, as I violently scrubbed a baked-on casserole dish. “What are you listening to now?”

Ripping out my earbuds with sudsy hands, I told him I was listening to Our Ex Life, the new and totally addicting podcast about divorce and the co-parenting aftermath by Monica and Serge Bielanko.

“Our what?” he asked.

Our Ex Life,” I repeated. “You never listen! Monica would understand.”

“Jeez, you act like you know these people!” he chuckled.

“I do,” I declared, “and if you listened to their podcast, you’d know them, too.”

Because the truth is, he would. I mean, sure, I know Monica and Serge perhaps a little better than some. I’ve been writing alongside of them since forever. And yeah, I devoured their chronicled love story on her blog, The Girl Who, in one fevered sitting. And OK, I hung out with Monica at a blogging conference once. But it’s Our Ex Life where I’m really getting to know these larger than life personalities as parents, exes, and yeah, I’ll say it: friends.

“OK, but why are you listening to a podcast about divorce and co-parenting?” he mused with wink.

That was actually a very good question. Next week we’d be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary, after all. We weren’t divorced. We weren’t co-parenting. So what was it about this spirited woman and soulful musician who rushed off to get married? What was it about this rock-and-roll couple who moved east, then west, then east again, had a trio of adorable kids, and then divorced, only to move just four doors away from each other to co-parent like a couple of evolved and enlightened experts?

image source: serge and monica bielanko

Hell if I knew, but I was hooked.

Our Ex Life is the messy, beautiful, heartbreaking, and reaffirming true story of two people madly in love as friends and parents. And at only three episodes in, it’s clear this podcast is as much a love letter to their passionate past as a testament to their hopeful future.

Take it from me, you don’t have to be divorced or co-parenting to appreciate the special brand of vérité Monica and Serge are serving as they navigate choppy co-parenting waters. One reviewer commented, “As someone who’s been married for 27 years, I didn’t know if this would resonate with me. It does.”

If we really dare to examine why, it comes down to our collective hunger to digest something real. A reviewer stated, “I feel like I’m invading their privacy by listening to this, but I can’t deny there’s something different going on here, something that’s missing in all the glossy social media sameness of today.”

Described as “a living document of their current situation” by another reviewer, it’s become clear that listeners far and wide can’t get enough of this modern family.

I sat down with Monica and Serge to discuss the wild ride of living, loving, and learning as exes who put it all out there. While their honestly might sound fresh to their listeners, Monica’s been blogging about her relationship with Serge since 2005. And in the 12 years that followed, she and Serge have both shared their highs and lows of marriage and divorce on outlets such as Babble, YourTango, and Mom.me.

But sharing (and reading) such intimate details about their relationship hasn’t always been easy. Monica admits:

“I think after our divorce Serge did a lot better at avoiding me and my writing online. Initially I’d read everything he wrote and there were a couple things in there about flirting and dating that felt like arrows to the heart.” She goes on to say, “Sometimes, the way he’d frame our marriage and our post-divorce relationship would hurt my feelings as well, but I’ve become a lot better about honoring his truth because I know that he writes from the heart and I have to respect his perspective, even when it’s vastly different from mine.”

Respect. It’s an underlying theme in My Ex Life. Respect for their personal truths. Respect for their kids. And above all, mad respect for each other as parents.

Serge and Monica
image source: serge and monica bielanko

While most co-parents I know only talk when they absolutely must, this dynamic duo is simply “recording the very conversations we’ve already been having now for years,” says Serge.

So whose idea was My Ex Life, anyway? “I’m a podcast junkie and have always wanted to create one specifically with Serge,” Monica says.

“When we were first divorcing, I would search for anything related to divorce and co-parenting that could help me navigate the soul-crushing madness of it all, and it was just a bunch of sterile, self-help stuff hosted by therapists and motivational speaks, and that’s not my jam,” she admits. “I wanted truth. Raw, unfiltered uncomfortable truths that anyone who’s been through a divorce knows about … so I decided to do it myself.”

Thankfully, Serge didn’t need much convincing. “[Monica] was right: there are so many fantastic voices and stories being told through podcasts. So when she brought up the idea of us doing one together, I knew it could really work.”

And work it does. At only three episodes in, Our Ex Life has already charted in the top 40 of the “Kids & Family” category on iTunes. But the friendly exes aren’t too surprised. Serge explains:

“I think people have always turned to books and paintings and films and music to feel connected to humanity in ways that are often difficult to achieve even in real life. Podcasting is a modern way to strive for that connection. Divorce is everywhere in the 21st century. It’s a massive chapter in a lot of love stories, and not necessarily the last chapter either.”

Indeed, we have a feeling this is just the beginning. In episode 2, Serge had just told Monica that he has a girlfriend. While it’s clear Monica wants the very best for her ex, her emotional processing of “her person” now belonging to someone else is as haunting as it is beautiful.

As the title of that episode “Tricky Orbits” suggests, broadcasting such raw emotion is indeed tricky, but it’s not without tremendous value. Monica affirms:

“The best thing is all the emails and comments and Facebook messages of people sharing their divorce and co-parenting stories, and when you realize there are millions of other people going through the same thing you’re dealing with — quite literally the worst time of your life — you feel less alone and start to understand that, yeah, it really sucks but you’re going to make it through.”

We have no doubt they both will. While we eagerly await episode 4, Serge confesses:

“Trying to find our individual balance as single parents is really tough. So if we can maintain some kind of collective, if we can figure out how to remain in each other’s lives as co-parents, and hopefully even friends — even on the days when it seems like the absolute worst idea in the history of the galaxy — then it simply has to mean that our lives and our kids’ lives will be infinitely better in the long run.”

No doubt, because the heart of Our Ex Life is all about their kids. Co-parenting continues to teach Monica and Serge life lessons they share with us all. For example, Serge has learned that “life is beautiful and short. So get out of your own way.” For Monica, getting out of her own way involves conscious emotions. She concludes, “You can choose to dig deep and let it all go. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but you can do it. Every day is a new day to choose a different reaction. It’s up to you. And your kids are watching.”

… and their fans are listening.

Catch up with Our Ex Life with Monica and Serge on Our Ex Life.

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Article Posted 2 years Ago

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