Real Housewives of Atlanta star Cynthia Bailey tells PEOPLE about her relationship with ex-husband Peter Thomas and whether a romantic reconciliation is in their future
Of all of the divorces seen over the past 11 years across the nine franchises in Bravo’s Housewives series, none seem to have gone as smoothly as Real Housewives of Atlanta stars Cynthia Bailey and Peter Thomas‘.
The couple, who tied the knot in January 2011 during the show’s third season, have had a peaceful split — spending time together and remaining close friends despite weathering marriage struggles, cheating scandals, squabbles with Bailey’s pals and sexual lulls.
But is their romance really over? Sitting down with PEOPLE, Bailey answers the question fan’s minds — and what it’s been like watching the her divorce play out on television again.
You and Peter seem to be really close post-divorce, even going to Hawaii together on the recent group trip. Would you ever get back together?
No, that ship has sailed. I know it seemed like we just decided to go to Hawaii together, but I was invited by Kandi and he was invited by Todd. We had an amazing time together.
Was there any romance between you two while you were there?
It was a little awkward at first but we were still technically married in Hawaii. So that got a little confusing. If I wanted to take one last lap around the pool, it’s not like it would be that big of a deal because we were technically still married. But I didn’t want to confuse the issues at that point. Had I been I asked, I would have graciously declined to keep things uncomplicated.
How are you two doing now?
We’re doing good. We’re in a great place. I’m really pleased with the way we handled our divorce. I did not want to be mean, or ugly, or ratchet about it. I chose to be in my marriage. I was happy for many years in my marriage and a lot of great things came out of my marriage. I’m good, we’re good.
Is Peter going to model in any more Cargo ads?
Well Peter promotes and supports everything that I do. Although we’re not together anymore, we still support each other. Peter can definitely be a model for the older [customers] of the Cargo line. I think Peter looks great — he represents the products well.
What was the story behind the Bible you gave him in Hawaii?
I thought, ‘What do you give someone who you’re not with anymore? Something that they can always have?’ I thought, ‘What is the best book in the world?’ I just turned 50 and I’m in a very spiritual place at this point — a rebirth, if you will. So I decided to give him a very beautiful signed Bible.
Did Peter like it? It was hard to tell in the episode…
He was a little lukewarm about it. I thought it was a nice gift, something he can keep forever. Who doesn’t like a Bible? And it was a nice Bible! I made sure it was fancy and had jewels and stuff on it. All in the spirit of positivity!
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It’s shocking how smooth things went..
I think this might be the classiest reality TV divorce in history. Is there an award for that?
Were you worried about having your divorce play out on the show?
It’s my seventh season on the show and Peter and I got married on RHOA in my first season. So to see it come full circle, I thought it was going to be such a hard season for me. To have to go through a divorce in real life and on the show? But once I made the decision, I just did not want it to be dark. I don’t know how positive a divorce can be, but I know how negative life can be if you’re in a situation or relationship where you no longer want to be in any more. The only thing more tragic than a divorce is staying in something that you’re not happy in.
How did you stay positive with the cameras rolling?
You have to know life is not all positive. You’re going to have some negative situations in life and that’s just part of living your life. I went into it with an attitude of peace, love, and light. ‘As long as I just go into every situation this season with light, hopefully I’ll get light back.’ And that’s exactly what happened. None of my cast mates really came at me about my divorce. They let me be and left me alone about it, which was kind of unexpected and kind of awesome. I just was in a space where people felt like they won’t even go there with me.
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What has it been like watching it all back?
One of the things I’ll look back on after I transition on from the show and reality TV or this show in particular is how proud I am of how I handled myself throughout this divorce. I’m so glad I went high instead of going low — shoutout to Michelle Obama! These platforms aren’t always set up for you to go high. When you go low they just want you to go lower when the other person goes low. But I made a conscious decision to serve my soul and my purpose and so far it’s been working out for me.
I’ve gotten so much feedback from other woman who are actually happy in their marriage, but they say, ‘If I was going to get divorced, I would do it Cynthia Bailey style.’ I don’t want to be the poster child for great divorces. But I set a pretty great example to be in a marriage with someone and give it all I had and when it didn’t work out, to get out of that situation and still have the same respect for that person.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.