Dealing with a difficult ex-spouse can be very discouraging, frustrating and defeating. If there are children involved, we feel it is our responsibility to try to have a healthy relationship with our ex-spouse. At times, your efforts may not be returned, hence the frustration. Hopefully the following tips will help you when dealing with an ex who doesn’t seem to want to deal.
1. Be sure to notice your own part of the ongoing conflict.
Ex – spouses often feel justified in their anger. They may feel you need to change or they may not trust you and your desire to have a conflict free relationship. Any time you try to change anyone, even for the best of reasons you invite hostility as a response. Learn to lower your expectations and to not try to change what you don’t have control over. The more you try and change your ex or the situation the more conflict you are going to deal with.
2. Whenever possible, agree with what you ex-spouse is suggesting.
This good business principle applies in parenting as well. Even if you disagree with the main point, find some common ground. Be willing to give instead of standing your ground. You may no longer be married but the concept of give and take is still very important.
3. Manage conversations by staying on topic.
It isn’t unusual for conversation between ex – spouses to drift back to issues related to the marriage. Work at keeping your conversations on topic and don’t rehash history. If your ex – spouse insists on engaging in conversation over old issues try and direct the conversation back to the topic at hand. If you are unable to do this, then excuse yourself from the conversation by walking away or hanging up the phone. Come back to the conversation in a few days and try again.
4. Respect your ex - spouse and his/her household.
For your children’s sake, find ways of being respectful even if you honestly don’t respect your ex-spouses lifestyle or choices. Do not personally criticize them, but don’t make excuses for their behavior either.
5. Keep your meetings impersonal.
Face-to-face meetings have the most potential for conflict. Use the phone when possible or even talk to their answering machine if personal communication leads arguments. Use email or faxes when also. Keep down your children’s level of stress by keeping them from being exposed to negative interaction between you and your ex – spouse.
6. Work at forgiving.
Hurt feelings from the past are the number one reason you and your ex overreact with one another. Do your part by striving to forgive them for the offenses of the past and present. This will help you manage your emotions when dealing with them in the present. It also helps cut down on the degree of stress you will have during and after the divorce process.
7. Dont allow financial issues to control your behavior.
If you’ve been to court and either reached an agreement or a judge handed down a court order pertaining to financial issues. Live with it. Don’t let your unhappiness, after the fact, taint your relationship with your ex or your children. If you came to an agreement with your ex – spouse, live up to that agreement. If you have a court order, follow that order. No amount of anger over financial agreements is worth contaminating your relationship with your ex or your children.