Twenty years since Jules Sheldon's parents divorced, the family are all back living together under one roof in a twist to their modern family no-one expected.
Preview above: Insight finds out whether it’s possible for a divorce to end well. Divorcing Well, Tuesday October 15 at 8:30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand.
Twenty-six-year-old Melbourne musician Jules Sheldon grew up in a happy household with childhood dreams of becoming David Bowie. But when he was six the family was thrown into turmoil when his father, Jeremy announced he was gay.
“I was deeply confused because when you're like, what, five, six years old, how are you meant to comprehend what it means that your dad's gay? How do you know that? All you know is the black and white of it because that's how kids are, kids are very black and white. All you see is one of your parents leaving and your parents breaking up and you don't know why,” Jules recalls.
Jules’s parents, Jeremy and Sue, had been married for 10 years when they reluctantly started the process of separation after Jeremy came out.
“Interestingly it took almost two years before we officially ended it. We kept thinking surely we don’t have to go down this path. We tried counselling because we loved each other, loved our child, loved our family and we didn’t really want it to happen,” Sue tells Insight.
But on New Year’s Day 1999, Jeremy and Sue decided it was time to divorce and move on with their lives.
“The solutions to sort it out and stay together weren’t something Sue and I wanted to be involved in, like an open relationship, it just seemed like we were putting off the obvious by doing anything else, I was gay and our relationship couldn’t continue in the same manner it had," Jeremy says.
"So the only option was to separate and divorce. There was a real sadness as we struggled to let go of our marriage because essentially we did enjoy it and the family we’d created with Jules.”
When Jules was a child, Jeremy moved out to another house in the same suburb and he went between his parent’s houses week on, week off.
“Their love and commitment to me as parents never changed. They always put me first and I’m very grateful for that. They’ve always been wonderful in that respect,” says Jules.
Despite this Jules does say he was deeply affected by the divorce.
“They did it as bloody well as you can. There’s no such thing as a good divorce, there’s absolutely no such thing, it’s a horrible thing to go through. What does exist is being able to pick up the pieces afterwards and still look at one another and see friendship and love which is what my mum and dad have done," he says.
"They’ve picked up the pieces and built a different relationship which is something I aspire to, a relationship with a solid foundation of friendship.”
Twenty years since the divorce, in a twist Jules didn’t see coming, he’s now living with both his parents in the family home again.
When Sue’s mother was ill Jeremy moved back to Melbourne from Adelaide to help Sue nurse her mother. The living arrangement worked so well they all continued to share the house after Sue’s mum passed away. Jules says the three of them living together makes sense.
“I feel like it’s a dirty shame thing to say but yeah, it’s really nice living with them. I don’t think there’s many blokes in their late 20s going, yeah, I’m back with the parents and it’s fantastic. Life throws you curve balls.”