Creating a Different Kind of Family

by Jesse Holth – 

For Magella Reynolds and Elyse Pitcher, friendship is the root of family. The two women met five years ago and quickly formed a bond – their children were around the same age, and would spend hours playing together. “We just hit it off so well,” explains Magella. When Elyse’s marriage ended, Magella supported her through the divorce – and when Magella’s marriage ended two years later, she wanted to stay in the family home.

“I wanted consistency for my kids, and I have a home-based business – I couldn’t fathom giving all that up while separating as well. It just seemed overwhelming how to make everything work.” The pair talked about buying a house together, but decided that Elyse could buy into Magella’s house. “We realized we could make it work that way, just take over the suite to make everyone fit in the house,” says Magella. “But we had the hardest time with the bank; they wanted us to be partners in a relationship, not friends.” The whole process, which should’ve taken only a month, took four months and the bank denied them twice, until they finally got someone working on it who would listen to them. “We explained that we had both been in marriages that didn’t work, so why would it be safer in a relationship instead of a friendship?”

They were finally able to seal the deal and moved in together in June last year. “It’s almost been a year now, and it’s probably been the best year ever – it is so amazing,” Magella explains. “The support for each other is wonderful; we alternate taking the kids to school and making dinner. Elyse is just here and I don’t even have to ask – I feel like she knows what needs to be done and just picks up where I leave off. It never feels like a burden; it’s really balanced and doesn’t feel like we “owe” each other anything.”

“What I really want people to know is that it can be so easy – I think a lot of us get married young, believe that we’re supposed to get a house and have kids, and I think some people rush into it. And when it’s not the way they want it to be, they don’t believe there’s a way out so they sit in these unhappy marriages. But you can have a happy and fulfilled life; people think there’s not an alternative, but there is!”

“All the kids are sharing rooms, and they’re beyond happy,” explains Magella. “It feels like this big team – they’ll take the hockey net out to the cul-de-sac and they’re always out there playing; they’re so so happy. I feel like a better parent, and we all like to be around each other so much.”

“When you get used to a marriage and then you’re just expected to be alone, it’s totally draining: physically, emotionally, and mentally. Especially when you’re going through the divorce process, it would be so hard without support. A lot of people rush into relationships for that reason – for the emotional and financial support. I’ve gotten to take this time to myself to be the best mom I can be for my kids, instead of getting into another relationship immediately.”

Magella laments the fact that this kind of arrangement isn’t more common. “There’s no word for this kind of family; there’s no term for it, but I think it should be so normalized! The coparenting is so wonderful, and I even find that it makes things easier for me to coparent with my ex-husband as well.”

“I’m happier, the kids are happier; it’s a win-win. I would rather invest with my friend than with a partner because partners can come and go, but friendships last for a long time, especially when you get to a certain age. You just have to talk to someone knowledgeable who knows the ins and outs, otherwise the banks make it super hard.”

Elyse also moved to a new company and is able to spend more time with her kids. “I wouldn’t have been able to make this move financially if we weren’t living together,” explains Elyse. Magella even opened up a second business because of the support they have for each other. “This move has allowed us to grow in ways we wanted to, but did not feel we were able to before.”

Photo by Kathryn Alvarez Photography.

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