“You, Me and My Ex”: How one blended family sidesteps disaster to co-parent in peace

Nothing brings out the worst in people like a divorce and even messier custody battle. One blended Jacksonville family put the ugliest time of their lives on display to show it is possible to get past the chaos when co-parenting.

TLC’s new series “You, Me, and My Ex” premiered June 20. The show follows the awkward and uncomfortable moments of life for five couples who are still in some way intertwined with one’s ex-partner. On Sunday nights at 10, Jacksonville residents can break out the popcorn to find out what happened when two families collided.

“We try to help other families, especially military families,” said April Kirk, 40.

The show portrays what life is like today for newlyweds John and April Kirk as they co-parent with April’s ex-husband, Roy, and John’s ex-wife, Loren. The story began when the two families, each with three children and husbands in the U.S. Marine Corps, became next-door neighbors about five years ago.

April and Roy’s relationship hit the skids when Roy received orders to Japan. Their long-distance marriage crumbled, as John and Loren’s marriage imploded next door. Eventually, Loren and Roy were blindsided by John and April’s budding romance.

The families are in a more peaceful place today with a few bumps now due to how close April and Roy have remained since their divorce. “You, Me and My Ex” portrays John’s dismay as it seems April might have two husbands. She still does Roy’s taxes, they get matching tattoos and she still makes him “honey-do” lists.

“In my mind, I don’t think that we’re too close, but society or outsiders may think that we are,” said April.

There was a lot of poison before the families got where they are today.

“Loren and I started a blog and podcast a couple of years ago because we were going through a high conflict custody battle. That’s when the show found us and reached out,” said April. “We thought it would be a great idea to go on the show to promote positive co-parenting relationships.”

TLC approached the foursome about the series after discovering April and Loren’s platform called “Co-parenting Past Chaos” that rose out of the ashes of a toxic custody battle.

“What you see on TV, you can read about for hours and hours,” said Loren, 33.

Loren is not kidding. Readers should beware if they have important things to do. The blog itself is a rabbit hole that hijacks every bit of curiosity and emotion of the reader through 42 raw and heartfelt chapters written from very different perspectives. There’s tragedy and sweet victory as this family finds their way past chaos.

April and Loren don’t leave out much as they chronicle childhoods shadowed by domestic violence, broken homes and April getting pregnant at 14 years old. The ladies take readers through a sordid confessional of how they pressed on through failed first marriages, motherhood, infidelity, and a custody battle that would have broken most people.

“I regret some of the decisions I made along this path and my wrongdoings as I’m sure the others do, but I do not regret where we are now,” said John, 42. “Every child that’s in our family is loved by all of us.”

Today, the families no longer live next door but remain in close proximity with April and Loren doing most of the co-parenting as friends and business partners. The Kirk house is a busy place with six children ranging in age from 6 to 24 years old, a grandchild, and a dog named Teddy. Loren is in a committed relationship, and Roy is now stationed in California.

The show will air John and April’s wedding held at the Palo Alto Plantation in Maysville. John said it was nerve-racking tying the knot during COVID-19 with TLC cameras around. Loren was asked to be a bridesmaid. Roy was in attendance and blended into the background with the kids.

Since putting their lives on display, they have received a lot of praise and a bit of criticism over how April and John met.

“I really hope people take away a more open-minded approach to life and forgiveness and love and happiness and that it’s not going to look the same for every single person, and it doesn’t mean you should judge someone if it doesn’t look the same as yours,” said Loren.

April said “You, Me and My Ex” shows viewers how other people live, while introducing other norms and ways to be happy. The ladies agreed that filming the show was a blast and therapeutic in some ways. They encourage anyone aspiring to be on reality television to jump in.

“Have some thick skin,” said Roy, 39.

April and Roy agreed that filming the show helped them become better communicators. They have no regrets about putting their most vulnerable and raw emotions out there to show how good life can be as a blended family if everyone is willing to do the work.

“We’ve all gotten along so well, and we really have this whole dynamic down to a science. It just works for our family,” said April.

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