Its not communication, its “Ex-Management”
Soon after my divorce, I realized that my ex-husband and I no longer knew how to communicate with each other.
Fifteen years, two children, 4 years of therapy and a divorce later, we were unclear as to how to be “partners” instead of “spouses”.
Our marriage had not worked out, but having kids, we now needed to manage our new “family” and the two little boys we call our children. I quickly realized that although our marriage had ended in divorce, we had taken the time for marriage counseling and I had a much greater understanding of who my Ex was and how he approached things in life. And although it had not worked for me in our relationship, I was going to have to work with him for the rest of my life as a “parenting partner” and this was going to take some skill, thought and effort.
It is easy to fall into a pattern of regret, anger (both at yourself and your ex) for not knowing that it would not work out, and frustration at having to work with this person for the rest of your life. However, this serves no positive purpose and will result in many failed conversations, destructive communication and un-ending drama with him/her that will cause your friends, family and co-workers to avoid making eye contact with you. Rather, it is time to once again take the high road and learn to manage this newly forming relationship.
The following tips will help in developing a new strategy for “Ex-management” and provide a method for creating positive communication:
- Affirm and acknowledge all the good things that he/she does as a parent…you will want to inspire the greatest performance from them as a parent.
- Share with your Ex any cute, funny or amazing things that your child(ren) do – through email or a phone call if you are able to have positive direct communication. No one will appreciate your children more than you and your Ex as their parents and it will keep the parenting relationship open for communication.
- Remember that your children will share with your Ex everything that goes on when they are with you – The same is true in reverse. If there is anything that you think may frustrate, upset or aggravate your Ex, send a brief email letting them know what they might expect to hear.
- Patience – you are no longer married, so you do not have to live with your Ex any longer. You do, however, owe it to yourself and your children to be patient with your Ex and foster a positive parenting partnership.
- We all had children knowing that it was a 24/7 commitment – Although you now live with a custody arrangement, you are a parent all day, every day. Do not get aggravated when there are parenting things that interrupt that schedule and infringe on you when it’s really “his day”. Remember that it is about the children, not about convenience.
- Flexibility – try to remain flexible. If you are able to be supportive, collaborative, and helpful when your Ex needs it, it will be much easier to gain the same when you need it. There will be times when you do need it and having a “give and take” with your Ex will be extremely beneficial during these times.
Your relationship with your Ex will become one of the most important relationships that you will have during your lifetime if you have children. Practicing patience, flexibility and compassion will ultimately benefit your life and the lives of your children. After all, it is about them….divorce does not hurt the kids, your relationship with your Ex does.
Have a great week!