Effective Communication: How to Deal With Your Ex During Divorce
There will be times during your divorce, especially if you have children, when you will need to communicate with your ex. Although emotions can be raw and feel at times uncontrollable, it is essential that you and your ex are able to remain civil to one another and treat each other with respect for the sake of any children.
Your Role is as Parents, Not Ex-PartnersIt is important from the outset, especially if your divorce is particularly acrimonious, to set boundaries when it comes to the lives of your children. If each partner has a clear parental role to play, there is less likely to be disagreement during the times you and your ex are in contact with one another.
Steer Clear of Old IssuesThere will undoubtedly be times when you see or speak to your ex when the subject of old arguments come up, and these can rapidly descend into point scoring sessions as well as reopening old wounds. As a result it is highly desirable to steer clear of issues raised in the past. If your ex brings up an old argument, remind him or her of the purpose of your discussion and steer the conversation around it. Another way to open up lines of communication with your ex is to apologise for past wrongs. However, this is only advisable if you have something to apologise for, and only then if you actually mean it.
Different Points of ViewRemember that the emotions you are experiencing are natural and, while they may feel completely alien to you, they are in fact a normal reaction to emotional pain. That said when you are upset and angry you may end up saying things you don’t mean, which can damage communication channels further – and of course it is vital to remain calm if you are discussing your children, and even more so if they are present.
Maintain Your PostureWhen you need to communicate with your ex, be clear about what it is that you want to say beforehand. If your ex brings up old arguments or becomes either aggressive or defensive, remind them of the purpose of your conversation. If you can, it helps to visualize the conversation you are about to have beforehand and speak to your ex maintaining the same polite stance as you would when talking to a business acquaintance. That also means listening to your ex’s point of view and acknowledging their opinion (even if you don’t agree with it.)
When it Gets too MuchNo matter how frustrating the situation gets, it’s vital that you keep trying – if not immediately, at another time. It also helps to remember that if you are able to stay calm you also retain control of the conversation.
Although it can be hard to do, especially when you are deeply hurt, it is important to remember that you and your ex were once happier together and that you are both human beings with valid emotions and points of view. People often find themselves unable to communicate without it ending up in a shouting match. Sometimes things can become so fraught that they feel as though they are losing touch with themselves, and that this ‘isn’t like them’ at all. However it can help to visualize a future in which you and your ex are both able to live your lives, as individuals and parents to your children, without your conversations descending into arguments and bitter exchanges.