Life After Divorce – Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Relationship With Your Ex-Spouse
Let’s just face it after a divorce, relationships with the ex-spouse can be a little strained. If you’re one of the fortunate few who has always had a great relationship with their ex, then kudos for you. For the rest of us, let’s look at some specific steps you can take to try to move the relationship in a more positive direction.
1. Acknowledge that it’s uncomfortable – It doesn’t matter whether this is jsaid just to yourself or aloud to your ex. The point is to recognize it. That’s the first step in being able to fix anything.
2. Deal with your junk – You need to deal with any feelings you have about the divorce. Holding onto anger, resentment and hurt as a result of the divorce will make it almost impossible for you to be able to have a civil relationship with your ex-spouse. Just talking to them (or even hearing their voice) will cause all of those emotions to come flooding in and you won’t be able to make good decisions.
3. Your attitude – Change your perspective on the way you view this person. I recently had a coaching client who had a unique solution to this. He never refers to his ex-wife as his “ex”. Instead he calls her “my boys’ mom.” Ex-spouse has a negative connotation of someone from your past. Instead, he’s choosing to focus on the relationship they have together now – raising their boys.
4. Don’t let them push your buttons – This person knows you well. They know just what to do or say to hurt you if they want to. Rather than allow yourself to fall for that same script of arguments, turn the other cheek. I know it’s MUCH easier said than done, but what’s the alternative? You’ll just end up in the same argument you’ve had a million times.
5. Be respectful of their new life – You each have your own lives now with separate schedules and responsibilities. Try to be respectful of these, especially when it comes to their parenting time. Don’t just assume it’s OK for them to switch days with you or for you to drop the kids off an hour early.
6. Go out of your way to be kind – Have you ever heard the phrase, “kill them with kindness”? I know this is a hard one. If the relationship is especially difficult though, something needs to be done to make it better. Someone has to make the first move. Why can’t it be you? It’s not about being a doormat and letting them walk all over you. It’s more about you taking the first step. This is done more for yourself and your children than it is for your ex-spouse.
Ultimately, all of these actions are not only in your best interest but also the best interests of your children. While divorce is difficult for kids, the research shows time and time again that it is heart breaking for them when their parents don’t get along.
Alyssa is a Consultant & Counselor for Transitioning Moms – moms whose children are older and don’t need them as much anymore.