By Denise McKenna
Denise van Outen, the TV presenter and actress, admits that getting divorced was “devastating”, but says that she and her now-ex-husband made sure they kept the process as civilised and amicable as possible. For their young daughter’s sake, yes – but also for their own.
The 40-year-old, whose marriage to fellow actor Lee Mead ended in 2013 after four years, says it’s possible to go through a break-up in a dignified fashion.
“It’s not impossible. People make it impossible because some people are selfish and we’re not selfish people.”
It is not even just about putting children first, she says in an interview with the Daily Mail on Saturday, March 28, ahead of her debut appearance on BBC soap EastEnders. “It’s also about putting ourselves first. You only cause yourself stress – why would you put yourself through that? We don’t have that stress. It’s not just about the children, you also have to make it work for you. You don’t want a miserable life. Some people bring it on themselves because they like the drama of it. I’ve just watched it with some other friends and I think, ‘You’re causing something that’s not necessary’.”
This is despite the fact her split with Lee Mead was “horrible”.
“It’s hard. I’m not going to lie. I’ve since watched another two of my friends go through it and I have so much empathy because I know exactly what they’re experiencing. It’s horrible.”
Now, she says, she and Lee are great friends. “We’re one of the few couples I know who’ve remained really good friends. We message every day…… We’ve got a very, very nice arrangement – I don’t even like to call it that because it makes it sound really formal and it’s not. We’re friends.”
Of course, there are cases in which it is difficult to remain civilised, let alone end up “really good friends”, but Denise van Outen does highlight a very important aspect of the divorce process – looking after Number One.
She is entirely correct in saying that making the process nasty – in order, perhaps, to “get your own back” on your estranged partner – will only cause you stress and make you miserable. When you are already going through a difficult time in your life, why make it harder still?
Wreaking revenge on your former partner won’t make you feel better in the long run; it will just make you bitter and twisted, and if you’re eaten up by negative, angry feelings, you won’t be able to move positively into to the next chapter of your life.
Two years after her divorce, Denise van Outen has obviously moved on to a happy place: she’s dating again and taking on new work ventures. In short, she’s testament to a dignified divorce.
* Denise McKenna is a senior associate with Benussi & Co