A MUM has shared how she and her ex-husband are planning an epic party to celebrate their upcoming divorce – after she moved on with his best friend.
Luana Ribeira, 40, from Anglesey, North Wales, was married to James Cohen, 39, for eight years when they realised their relationship had “evolved into friendship”.
The couple, who share daughters Seren, 12, and Electra, 11, split amicably in 2016, but continued living in the same house for a further six months while they navigated their new normal.
While James moved on with a new partner, Luana found love in an unexpected place – James’ long-time best friend, Al Meyer, 36.
The pair reconnected and Luana went to visit him at his home in Portugal.
“It felt so right with Al, it wasn’t weird at all when we got together,” Luana, founder of Dauntless PR, told Jam Press.
“James and I were well and truly apart by that point, so Al called him to see if he was OK with it and he was totally fine.
“Mine and Al’s relationship had evolved into something more than friendship, while for James and I it was the opposite, and we had naturally become just friends.
“The kids didn’t take the news badly either – even with the divorce we didn’t sit them down and deliver sad news, we just explained that the marriage had become a friendship.
“I remember telling them I had a crush on Al and they were like ‘ooh, tell me more’ – it was all just very positive.”
As well as falling for Al, Luana realised she was head-over-heels for the country, and decided to bite the bullet and see if a move out there was possible.
She said: “I got off the plane in Portugal and it just felt like home, so I called James and explained and asked if he would be up for moving too – and he actually said yes.
It felt so right with Al, it wasn’t weird at all when we got together
“He came and we all lived together in a house in Portugal for a year. We all just accepted the situation and it was fine.
“I’m not saying it was always easy – these things take a lot of letting go, which is hard and painful – but we did it.
“We all focused on the future and what each of us wanted, and we made it work.”
Luana and Al eventually moved out, first moving to a remote home for three months living off-grid, where Seren and Electra would come to camp on the weekends, before then getting an apartment.
James stayed in the house with the children before moving back to the UK for work early last year.
When lockdown hit, Luana, Al and the children followed suit, with the loved-up couple settling back in Anglesey all together.
Luana said: “People find it hard to understand our dynamic but the three of us always got on really well – so nothing has really changed there.
“James is now my best mate – he comes and stays with us at least every month for the weekend.
People find it hard to understand our dynamic but the three of us always got on really well – so nothing has really changed there
“He lives in Leeds for work, which is further away than we would like, but we all really look forward to his visits.
“There is no bad feeling whatsoever. Al and I have a three-month-old son, Celyn, and James was really happy for us.
“I don’t look back and have any negativity – I had a great marriage and he was a great husband, and now he is a great friend.”
The unlikely pals are so close, in fact, that they have decided to celebrate the upcoming finalisation of their divorce together – by throwing a big bash.
Luana said: “Everything was delayed because I was unhappy when filing for divorce that I had to give a negative reason.
“It is so outdated – the language used made it seem we were opposing each other, but we have always been on the same team.
“I couldn’t bring myself to accuse him of something I didn’t agree with so I waited for two years – as once you’ve been separated for two years you don’t have to state a reason for divorce.
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“When James and I were discussing the divorce he suggested we have a party when it’s finalised, and I thought ‘why not?’.
“We want to celebrate our experience and the fact we had two amazing children together and a really good marriage.
“It’s about celebrating that time, as well as the future that we are heading into.
“We’re going to invite close friends and family – numbers will just depend on the Covid situation."
As for whether she's keen to tie the knot again with new partner Al, Luana revealed: "Al and I aren’t planning on getting married in the foreseeable, but never say never.
“For now, it’s just great that we are all so content with one another.”
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