From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
After splitting last fall from her husband, former Bachelor Bob Guiney, Rebecca Budig was single for the first time in seven years. So when she found herself with a "very special" new man in her life several months ago, the All My Children actress knew exactly whom she wanted to share the happy news with: her soon-to-be-ex-husband. "Bob was like, 'Are we really having this conversation?' " Budig recalls, laughing. But since filing for divorce in April, Budig says the couple have maintained a close friendship because "we really honor the commitment we made to each other."

Exes as confidants? It's the stuff of soap opera storylines. But this time there are no undercurrents of deception or debauchery, just a happy ending for the actress, who plays All My Children's Greenlee Smythe, archenemy of Susan Lucci's Erica Kane. Relaxing in her newly redecorated three-bedroom Hollywood Hills home, Budig, 37, gushes that she's in a good place. "Work is great. Home life is great. I am incredibly fortunate."

And yes, that good fortune includes having Guiney as a BFF. Says he: "A lot of therapy," along with "our love and care for one another, makes our friendship work. I truly want her to be happy, and I know without a doubt that she wants the same for me."

It's a far cry from the life Budig imagined growing up as the youngest of eight children in Cincinnati. She was a zoology major at Miami of Ohio University but dropped out in 1993 to pursue acting. Two years later she played Chris O'Donnell's love interest in Batman Forever, and that same year she moved to New York City to star on Guiding Light. That led to All My Children, where she's worked on and off for more than a decade.

Budig met Guiney when the two cohosted a Bachelor special for ABC Family in 2003. Ten months later they married in a low-key ceremony in Michigan, where Guiney's parents live. "We were in our bathing suits within an hour," she recalls. "It was very sweet and fun."

But the fun ended last September when the two decided to separate. In April, Budig filed for divorce. "Every relationship has issues, and you can either work through them or you can't. Ultimately we couldn't," says Budig, who credits her parents-George, a convention organizer, and Mary Jo, a homemaker, in Fort Mitchell, Ky.-for her continued belief in true love. After 40 years of marriage, she says, her parents "still have a fire for each other."

Budig believes that she too will find her happily ever after, whether it includes a family of her own or not (she declines to name her boyfriend). These days, she says, "I'm sort of letting life lead me."