For days and weeks afterward, they roamed the house in virtual silence, chirping happily with the boys but saying little to each other. Gray Carr, never one for self-pity, went at the situation head-on. "I wanted to come out of this in a positive light," she says. "I prayed four or five times a day, 'Let this divorce be happy.'" She "froze" everything in the house in place so the kids wouldn't sense trouble. The wedding pictures remained right where they were. A dry-erase calendar went up in Jon's office with her schedule in purple, Jon's in blue, and the kids' in green. They told the boys, "Everyone gets their own room now!" The Piejas explained the "in-home" separation to friends at the golf club and endured the popping eyes and insensitive remarks. They even threw a dinner party, though that turned out to be awkward, as guests whispered in groups in various parts of the house. "It was very weird," says their friend Amy Petty. "You didn't know which way to look." By the end of the evening, all four couples sat at the dining-room table trading small talk. It was vintage Gray Carr: a bold plan for everything.

Jon was still stunned. How was he supposed to play the happy ex when he didn't even want a divorce? One night Gray Carr took the boys for pizza and stayed out late. Jon waited up and tore into her when she returned. "They're my boys too!" he screamed. There was no place to cool off. "You couldn't even go out for a beer," he says, "without someone bringing it up." He could only go to his bed, right off the living room, while Gray Carr climbed the stairs to her bedroom, directly above Jon's. The next morning they agreed to put up a better front for the boys. And then they settled into a yearlong routine.

Gray Carr wakes every day at around five, hits the treadmill, rouses the boys, now 7 and 5, and makes them breakfast. She's not supposed to make Jon coffee, but she does anyway. ("I don't give a shit," she says.) Jon emerges from his room at seven and kisses the boys on his way to the office—four steps away. Gray Carr returns from school drop-off and signals to Jon at his desk, pointing down if she's going to the basement, waving her hands near her head if she's off to the shower. He spends the day on the phone managing a group of medical sales reps, and she works, also from home, for a Texas-based biotech company, often lying upside down on a curved yoga bench to read marketing materials. At 2:30 she goes to pick up the boys. Then the two worlds merge.

On a muggy April Monday, Jack runs into the house at around three looking for his dad. Ben follows. Jon scoops Ben up and walks into the kitchen. Gray Carr is there. They do not say hello. "What's with the cargo pants?" he jokes, noticing that the boys have lifted their pant legs in the heat. "Show Dad what you have there," Gray Carr says, and Jack presents a sheet with lyrics. "Sing it!" she tells her ex. He grins but says only, "I need to clean out my car." He vanishes into the garage, then leaves for a doctor's appointment. The boys spend the rest of the afternoon floating around the house like ghosts. Jon returns to take Ben to T-ball. The night, like every night, ends with story time, a book read by Gray Carr or Jon. She is usually in bed by nine; he watches TV or grabs a brew with some buddies in town.