Mayim Bialik has holidays with her ex: we’re ‘together, that’s what’s important’


Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik, 40, has been divorced for three years (which I didn’t realize until now but apparently it’s not a secret) and has two sons, aged 7 and 10, with her ex. Bialik has been outspoken about her somewhat conservative beliefs. She’s an Orthodox Jewish woman who has spoken out against sexist children’s programming, revealing advertising aimed at children, Hollywood’s obsession with appearance, and more. She’s opinionated, and her thoughts on coparenting with her ex come across that way too. Mayim recorded a video revealing how she gets along with her ex, and it’s like she’s lecturing us instead of explaining what works for her. You can see the video above, there are so many jump cuts it made my head spin, and in case you’re at work or otherwise can’t listen to it for some reason, here’s some of what she said.

This is something I’ve never spoken about publicly… However I’d like to talk about it in a way that might help some of you that are going through something similar, or might educate people as to what divorce could look like in some families. So what does it mean to create the healthiest possible environment for children in the context of a divorce?

Number one, we do things together. We celebrate holidays together like Passover, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving. We go to synagogue together for major holidays. Is it always perfect and exactly what I want? Of course not. Do my kids sometimes complain that they’d rather have Passover at their dad’s house instead of mine? Of course they do. But we all end up being together and that’s literally what’s more important.

Number two, we continue to be part of each other’s families. I still talk to my ex-husband’s mother and father and grandparents and aunts and uncles. I still send them pictures of my kids throughout the year. My ex and I have attended funerals for each other’s families…

Number three, we try to model good behavior. We don’t trash talk each other… marriage can be really awesome and it’s a lot of work. Being divorced is lame, it’s bad, it’s not a fan way to raise kids. Things my ex did when we were married that annoyed me then annoy me still. So why put the effort in? Well, life’s not a dress rehearsal. My kids get one chance to be kids and this is their situation. I have to put them first because I’m their mom and he’s their dad. Their dad has given over his life to care for them completely and so courageously.

I’m the working mom and when I’m the one working, he’s the one [caring for them] I miss them a lot and I miss that life a lot. So the best thing I can do is be tremendously grateful what a wonderful ex husband I have and what a great dad he is and to continue to shatter the image of the perfect family that I thought my intact family would be.

We get to make the most of what we have and in some cases we get to make the most of what we have left. That’s what families do…

I guess that’s how life is a lot of the time, it’s not what you picture. The less time you spend wondering what might have been and the more time you spend being present with what is, the bigger potential for that happiness to grow.

[From YouTube via Fishwrapper]

She came across as somewhat preachy and know-it-all, but I guess that’s just her personality and she did win me over at the end, when she expressed gratitude for her ex and talked about how you have to let go of expectations. There were some moments when I thought that she was saying that this is how everyone should deal with a divorce with kids involved, like this was the mature way and the best way for the kids. It does sound admirable on the surface, but not everyone is in her situation and not everyone agrees with this approach. If she personalized it a bit more and added some more caveats about how this works for the two of them and may not work for everyone, I think it would have been a better message. Also, did anyone else get the impression that this wasn’t necessarily her choice but she’s dealing with it?

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52 Responses to “Mayim Bialik has holidays with her ex: we’re ‘together, that’s what’s important’”

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  1. jeanpierre says:

    My parents did That and it was great for us kids. I agree with her.

    • Erinn says:

      I have a second cousin who did this kind of thing. The marriage didn’t work out. I don’t think either one of them was the ‘bad guy’ in it, per se. But her family loved the husband, and when he became the ex-husband little changed. He was invited to every holiday dinner, and every big gathering. The kids didn’t have to split up their time awkwardly – and it was never a case of ‘dad never came to x holiday’. I’m sure it was hard at first – honestly, I applaud them for it. When they both eventually started dating, the new partner was just as welcome into everything, but never forced to go along if they didn’t feel comfortable. I actually saw him at my great aunts funeral last spring – because she adored him as well, and to him, it was the same as losing one of his own relatives.

      Their kids are all grown now, and they have kids of their own. I’m pretty sure they all still get together still for holidays and special occasions – I think that this worked out so well because before they were married they were really good friends, and they were able to rebuild on the friendship for the sake of the kids. It obviously doesn’t work for everyone, but it was great in this case. And I’ve been told by my family that they’re ‘keeping’ my husband if we ever decide to divorce, assuming nobody does anything awful to cause this hypothetical divorce.

    • Easypeasy123 says:

      My daughter’s father and I do this. I’m surprised at how many people around us think it’s weird. It’s our normal though.

    • Bre says:

      I think it is great when that can be done. My BFF and her husband go on vacation with his ex and husband. They consider the kids that are not related to them at all their own children and are in all their family photos. She says it’s not always easy but she doesn’t want her kids to grow up the way she did with parents that wouldn’t even speak to each other except to yell.

  2. HH says:

    I didn’t listen to it. I read it. So, I’m not sure about the tone it’s delivered in, but at worst it’s preachy, at best, it still sucks. I appreciate her brain power (she has PhD in neuroscience, so major props), but I found her annoying.

    • kanyekardashian says:

      I like some of her beliefs in feminism, but she does come across as condescending a lot of times. I remember her on Howard Stern kind of putting Robin in her place, it did not come off well. And over the weekend, I saw her on a celeb edition of ‘Cupcake Wars’ with her tasteless vegan cupcakes that no one would want to eat, but she insisted they were the greatest. Eliminated after the first round. I bet the air in my mouth tasted better than her sugar-free, eggless cupcakes.

      • ol cranky says:

        just out of curiosity, did people not want to eat them because they assumed that they were tasteless due to being vegan? In my experience, vegan baked goods are pretty damned tasty (and the reason you will find that not all vegans are thin/fit)

  3. Here's Wilson says:

    Preachy. I know she’s educated but here sounds so condescending. Most anyone who is seperated and has kids is fully aware of what the textbooks say we do. Good for her being able to make it happen. Should we all be that fortunate.

    • JudyK says:

      I totally disagree. I like her and found her comments common-sense and worthy. My daughter doesn’t even have a father in her life anymore, because it’s easier for him not to have to deal with anything that isn’t perfect.

  4. ana says:

    ok blossom

  5. Little Darling says:

    I don’t think it’s ever any parents choice to not raise their kids with divorce.

    I think the only preachy part is when she says this is the healhiest way to do it, as though it’s this way she says, and no other ways. We’ve seen this model fail as well, like maybe with Jen and Ben where the continued guise of “family” doesn’t seem to always be the healthiest.

    My parents did this for my sisters and I, and I always commended both of them, my mom in particular for she was cheated on, and one thing that always stuck out for me was that they always reminded us when they would argue that is wasn’t about us and they both loved us (my mom would say daddy loves you and he would say mom loves you).

    My ex and I managed it the same way, and during holidays and birthdays we really try to be back to friends. Sometimes I want to wring his neck, other times I can slightly remember what I liked about him, but I can honestly say my kids never had to choose between us, they never had to feel bad about the divorce and it benefitted us all immensely.

    But MAN is it a hard pill to swallow in order to get there.

    • Naya says:

      To each her own but If I ever divorced, I would be aiming for what Ben and Jen, Gwyn and Chris, and Michael S and Kate B have. Put in the time and effort to work through the drama, dont separate things that dont need to be separated and keep a unified front. I am not a child of divorce but those scenes in movies where the parents celebrate holidays seperately and shuttle the kid between them just make me so sad. I just want to scream “work out your sh*t and spend the day together”. Your kids wont implode if they see you enjoying time together, they will just learn that this is the new normal. If they are confused because they have been taught that divorce looks different, then correct them. The evidence is that the real damage is done when they have to compartamentalize their lives into two.

      • Little Darling says:

        @naya was that comment for me?

      • Naya says:

        Not at all. It was just a train of thought that germinated from your Ben and Jen reference. Tbh I generally just post my thoughts on this site. Its rarely directed at anyone and on the rare occasion that it is, I address the person directly.

      • Little Darling says:

        Yeah with Jen and Ben I said it because in my experience it’s better to separate, extract and then rebuild. I find their situation (from afar) to be super muddy, and in her best interest I wish there had been a cleaner extraction after the nanny debacle. But I still think that’s way more preferred than a Brandi/Eddie situation.

        Divorce sucks but grown ups who have their best interest at hand can usually navigate it these days.

      • Winnie says:

        I would put Ben and Jen in their own category here. Paltrow and Martin seemed to have remained cordial for the most part and have even been spotted vacationing in the same place at the same time with their kids, but I don’t think they continued to live together during their separation. Both started dating other people within a reasonable time period. Garner and Affleck still seem to live as a married couple, neither is dating (publicly) and from the outside looking in, if they hadn’t issued a press release re: their intent to divorce, would anyone even know?

      • Mikismom says:

        Well, this WOULD be just wonderful and I have this type of relationship with my BF and his ex (we all do all the big things together as a group–even the not so big things..she tells me that she just loves that I am good to her daughter and bugs her ex to marry me even…lol)–but MY Ex is a first class asshole who cannot be bothered to do ANYTHING in the best interest of our daughter. He cheated and wanted the divorce and he is going about his life because, as he put it, “I’m not getting younger and I have to plan for my future..not just until she is 18″. WTF? Because I must have missed the memo where we stop being parents once the child is 18. Oh well..it’s his loss, I have built a better life and my daughter has a whole new family that adores her. It still sucks to shuffle her back and forth though–because he will NOT give that up–just so he doesn’t have to pay child support. I’ve told him to just let her be where she wants…and that I don’t need or want his money–but it makes HIM feel better to say he takes her every other weekend and some holidays.

  6. ashley says:

    What’s the difference between this and when Garner preaches about literally the same approach to coparenting?

    • jeanpierre says:

      Garner-Affleck did a lot of painfully forced post-divorce pap strolls and it didn’t seem genuine at all. Nor did it seem to be really for the kids.

      • Little Darling says:

        Yeah this is what I noticed as well,
        and it seemed to be painful and obvious. It seemed more for their public perception rather than what was best for Jen, what was best for Ben and what was best for the kids.

        Amicable is always better than not though.

    • Wren says:

      For me, the main difference comes from the Lifetime movie/soap opera story arc played out in the media, with regular installments, recognizable character tropes, and a coherent plotline. Actually it’s still on. I think Jen’s thinking about taking him back, because she really still loves him! She’s hurt, but she’s trying to be strong for her children. But will Ben ever change? Can he be the loving father and family man? Stay tuned!

      • ashley says:

        You’re right. And Jen and Ben play right along with the media, too. I suppose no one is really checking for Blossom and her civilian ex-husband.

    • Naya says:

      The only difference is that Bennifer 2.0 was always extremely unpopular here. They would have been sh*t on regardless.

  7. Sam says:

    The sad thing is that stuff like this needs to be said. Ask any attorney who worked in family law for any appreciable amount of time and they’ll tell you how quickly adults can become the children in these situations. It can be genuinely hard to put your own issues aside. It DOES take real maturity and control to be able to maintain a decent relationship with an ex.

    I always wondered partially if the divorce was because the family seemed to be dictated by her beliefs. Her husband was a Mormon who converted to Judaism before they got married, and she was always open that the home was run in line with her beliefs about childrearing, etc. I wondered how much the poor guy actually got to be himself.

    • Wren says:

      Would you wonder so much if it was the other way round? If she had become a mormon and they raised their kids as mormons? The only way I’d feel sorry for him is if he somehow was unaware of how things were going to turn out, like if she hid her true personality from him until after they were married or something. Strong, opinionated people are difficult to live with, I get that, but he also chose to do so. If he decided he couldn’t continue, that’s sad, but that wouldn’t be her fault exclusively.

      • Sam says:

        Except she’s been very open that the conversion was an essential thing for them getting married. Now, I’m not against conversion – my husband converted – but I do think it’s not very smart to preface a marriage upon conversion. A lot of faiths won’t even accept conversions for marriage, because they question your sincerity in them. It’s easy to think that you can convert, but it’s actually a genuinely hard thing to do – and if you’re not doing for genuine faith reasons, that’s 10x harder. I personally don’t think that conversion should ever be a mandated part of a relationship – if marrying within your faith is critically important to you, only date within your faith.

        I think you make too many excuses for “strong” personalities. To me, a strong personality needs to work to be able to compromise and not steamroll the other person. Saying “well, you chose this” is a cop-out.

      • Wren says:

        He still chose to marry her. He chose to convert, and if she made it a condition for marriage then he knew what was going to happen going in and he chose to do it. If he later decided it was too much for him or not what he wanted, how is that her fault? You may not agree with such things, but if she was open about it and not steamrolling him, I don’t see the issue. I don’t see how it’s different from other make or break marriage conditions, like having kids or not, what kind of debt is acceptable, whose career takes precedence, or where you’re going to live. It’s a sacrifice on one side sometimes, but you can decline if that’s not what you want.

        Saying one should do this or that is unproductive. You can’t control the other person, and you need to make decisions for yourself based on what you see right now, not what might be or what should be. I’m sorry for both of them that their marriage didn’t work, but it doesn’t really sound like anyone’s “fault” and they’re doing the best they can in the circumstances.

      • Sam says:

        It comes from her own account of their meeting. She told him on the first date that she would only ever marry a Jewish man. But to me, that begs the question – if you are so insistent upon that, why are you even dating non-Jewish men? If sharing a faith with your spouse is critically important, why even consider somebody who would need to go through a conversion process, and – due to the marriage – whose sincerity in it would almost always be in doubt? That makes no sense.

        And I think you’re making excuses. A “strong personality” does not give one license to dictate or dominate the relationship. Part of, you know, being successful in relationships is that you learn to compromise. But truthfully, I just get the impression that the relationship wasn’t especially strong from the start.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        Mayim is Orthodox, and marrying a non-Jewish spouse is definitely not done in Orthodox Judaism. The requirement to marry inside the faith is met if the spouse has converted — it isn’t necessarily so much about whether the converting spouse has a personal spiritual awakening, as about whether the converting spouse is willing to live openly as a Jew and in accordance with Jewish laws and practices, profess belief in Jewish theology, and raise their children as Jewish. AFAIK, maintaining community standards and a strong Jewish identity is a much bigger deal than how passionately a convert believes in the religious specifics. But having a Jewish spouse, whether that person has grown up Jewish or converts later, isn’t something anyone who identifies strongly as an Orthodox Jew would or could compromise on.

  8. VegasSchmagus says:

    I guess she’s got it all figured out – good for her. Won’t work for everyone, though. But I loved her in “Beaches” – that’s all I’ve got.

  9. Kimble says:

    This is how my ex and I are. It’s not that hard if you put the kids first and neither of you are asses.

    • Jenn4037 says:

      Agreed! My ex and I are the same. Unless you were abused, I don’t understand why people WOULDN’T put their kids first. Mighty selfish to me. Do I wish my ex would burn in hell? Most days. But as long as the child support clears, we’re going to be a team. Our “til death do us part” became real once she was born.

  10. AristaCthonia says:

    I didn’t find it preachy but I do understand how others whose situation falls short of this might. Ideally this is how it could go but the truth is that not all of us are as lucky as she is in the ex department. I say this as a stepmom (of a 2 yr old) who started out with every intention for this to be the way her family would function and was sorely disappointed. When one of the parties isn’t over the end of the relationship or willing to put their feelings aside for the sake of their child “doing things together” just doesn’t work. But good on them for attempting to do divorce as best as they can.

  11. BendyWindy says:

    To put this in context, she regularly writes a column and makes videos for Kveller, a Jewish parenting site. This isn’t just “Blossom takes on parenting.” In particular she writes a lot about how to make it work after divorce because Judaism is a very family and child centered tradition and divorce is still a little taboo in Orthodoxy.

    I’m not an Orthodox Jew, but I’m in the process of converting to one of the more liberal streams of Judaism and although I don’t always agree with her, I appreciate her perspective because it’s one that not many Orthodox women are giving voice to.

  12. Crumpet says:

    “The less time you spend wondering what might have been and the more time you spend being present with what is, the bigger potential for that happiness to grow.”

    So true, yet so hard to do. I find it difficult to stop grieving and to instead live in the moment. Sometimes I wonder if I have PTSD so vividly to I re-experience some of the awful moments.

    • Kitten says:

      I’m the same way, Crumpet. I’ve also been told that I am overly-empathetic and I have trouble establishing strong energetic boundaries with people that I love and care for.
      Wonder if there’s a connection..

  13. Winnie says:

    I remember when she went on Howard Stern several years ago before her divorce. She was promoting her cookbook, I think. She was talking about her parenting and how she decided not to use diapers because she believed that her kids would give her “clues” as to when they needed to go. There was poop and urine everywhere all the time. She made it sound like her husband was really, REALLY not a fan. She is a total whackjob.

    • kanyekardashian says:

      I remember she called herself a “crunchy hippy” in that interview. She sounds nuts, and too obsessed with kids.

  14. nn says:

    What about the new partner in a situation like this? How would they feel about the parents spending every holiday together and vacationing together? Idk I think I would feel weird about that.

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      My brother got divorced after over 20 years of marriage, and is now remarried. My sister-in-law was pretty devastated about my brother divorcing her, but because they had children together and she had been such an integral part of our entire family for so long she learned to accept the situation. We have family dinners, picnics, holidays, etc. where both my brother’s wife and ex-wife are there, and it’s fine. My former sister-in-law (who I just call my ‘sister’ because we’ve known each other for 34yrs now) now has a boyfriend and he comes along for the ride, too.

      I am divorced, and our situation has never been contentious. I still communicate with my former in-laws, my ex gets on fine with my husband, etc. He doesn’t come over for Thanksgiving or anything, but we co-parent very amicably and I make sure to NEVER bad mouth him in front of our son. I never cease to be shocked by how many parents choose to fight and make their childrens’ lives miserable out of hurt and spite. It only comes back to bite you in the butt in the end.

    • Sam says:

      A new partner needs to understand what they came into. If you date a person with children, then you need to understand that person has an ex and children – and you will always have to come secondary to the children and what is best for them. If you can’t handle that, do not date people with children. Simple. The children deserve two parents who can be around each other and still behave as a family. New partners have to understand where they fit in the situation.

      • nn says:

        I guess I feel like it’s better that the kids get used to the fact that you aren’t a nuclear family anymore and that spending every holiday and vacationing together is not going to be a reality when you have a new partner that no doubt wants to have her/his own private time with their partner without the kids. Kids birthdays? Sure. Every holiday plus vacation with ex? ….

    • Mikaila says:

      ditto!!! Currently in this situation and am trying to figure out how to voice my concerns without seeming selfish.

  15. Zuzus Girl says:

    I’m not a big fan of hers but I guess I’m in the minority because I didn’t find any of it annoying or preachy. She’s just expressing what works for them. Doesn’t she write a regular column on parenting and marriage (or something along that line?)
    I think her way of speaking and body language do come across as preachy and stilted but that is just the way she has always been.

  16. CommentingBunny says:

    My boyfriend has this kind of relationship with his ex. It’s wonderful to see how much respect there is between them and how focussed they are on their kid. I think it says a lot about them both.

    I’m trying to get there with my ex. There’s a history of abuse between us (emotional only, he never raised a hand to me), and he is still trying to control me dots harder to get there. But we share brunch on Christmas morning, our kids have one birthday party each with both of us there, etc.

    And, probably because I’m Canadian and thinking about the Hip today, it really got to me when she said it’s not s dress rehearsal. No dress rehearsal, this is our life.

  17. Jane.fr says:

    I did not listen, but reading her text, three things come to my mind
    1- she is so right
    2- she’s a little on the defensive – The way she express her gratitude to her ex made me think that someone or many someone may have made some not so nice comments about her ex-husband presence in her life and his lack of professional occupation.
    3- she is so so right. About the co-parenting. About the after-divorce/separation thing.

    Then I went back the “sexist children programming” article (http://dev.celebitchy.com/387947/mayim_bialik_rants_about_frozens_sexism_bratz-like_animation/) and I agree with her.

    Since I always found her weird, should I be worried or is it a case of a broken clock being right twice a day?

  18. Jessica says:

    My boyfriend and his x wife get along like this. Im not entirely sure that he wants his life to be like this, but they all live in the same town and his mom treats her new children as her own grand babies because of their brother. She doesn’t want anyone to feel left out. They invite her and her boyfriend to all family events, they talk all the time and his sister babysits them. Even he does sometimes. I think its weird. I don’t live in their town, but if i did i don’t know how i would feel about it. I try to keep an open mind. They give her alot of support. I just think if i was in her shoes i wouldn’t want to be that close to my ex’s life. i dunno… its weird.

  19. CoolNewName says:

    She occasionally says smart things but it always bugs me that she makes extensive public posts about her parenting choices and then acts defensive when people question or criticize them. She also wrote a parenting book where she clearly defined her family as a “non-vaccinating” family (which is bad enough) and then she lashed out at people on her Facebook page for suggested she did not vaccinate her kids. She was the one who wrote the words!

  20. JenniferJustice says:

    Not preachy because she prefaced it with “…I’d like to talk about it in a way that might help some of you that are going through something similar, or might educate people as to what divorce could look like in some families. ” That is saying she knows it’s not for everyone, just what could be under similar circumstances. She knows if an ex is abusive, predatory, addict, etc. this style wouldn’t work for them. But if it can work, this is a good way to go about it. I see nothing wrong with that.

    I don’t know how I’d handle a divorce and my child involved. I’d like to think I would approach it her way, but I’m the first to admit I don’t know that I could. Most divorces cause a lot of resentment. I probably wouldn’t be any different. Her’s is an ideal approach to an ideal divorce (if such a thing exists).