After divorce one of the hardest things to do is to communicate with your ex. If you have children together, it is imperative that you relearn how to do this. More than likely the main culprit of your divorce was lack of communication so this is a particularly difficult task.
Please read the article below which I wrote for Divorcedmoms.com on this very topic.
If you have any specific strategies on how you have learned to communicate with your ex, I would love to hear about it.
8 Strategies For Building Effective Communication With Your Ex
By Christine Marie, Guest Author - March 23, 2016 (divorcedmoms.com)
Does your stomach churn at the thought of having to communicate with your ex? It is often curious to me how exes are expected to be able to communicate about important issues relating to their children when they could not communicate while they were married. According to a 2012 study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), a whopping 67.5 percent of marriages failed from a breakdown of communication. Interestingly, most of the other top reasons for divorce such as infidelity, financial issues, and sexual incompatibility are often offshoots from lack of communication.
Many former spouses continue to experience significant problems in the ways that they communicate with each other, which spark more conflict when they need to talk about parenting, finances, holidays, illnesses, school issues, and other aspects of daily life that they must deal with following divorce.
Let’s face it: effective parenting after divorce requires effective communication – both between the co-parents and between the parents and children. Even if parents don't like each other, or disagree on many issues, divorced parents still have to work together as a team for their children’s sake. In addition, the lines should always be open for the children to express their thoughts and feelings and to be aware of the new rules and boundaries.
Your marriage may be over, but you still need to be able to communicate with your ex. If your ex is controlling, hostile, manipulative, drug dependent, or narcissistic, communication can be especially challenging. Deciding up front what issues are most critical to take a stand on, setting limits on how you interact with your ex and planning possible responses ahead of time can help to improve communications with your ex over the long run. After nearly six years of being divorced, I have come up with eight strategies that can be beneficial to all.
1. Be a team about the important things.
Even if you do not particularly like your ex, you both must be firm on the big ticket parenting items that periodically pop up as children grow and change. Putting egos and lingering anger aside can be crucial when children need both love and consistency from their parents. Remember, they need to know that they are the focus, and not a prize to be won by being the “popular” parent.
2. Don’t take the bait.
Most exes are brilliant at pushing each other's buttons, and it usually happens when one feels like they aren’t getting their way. Remember, you’re divorced and there is no need to play these games. Don’t engage and say things that will harm future interactions. Have a script, whether in front of you while talking on the phone or in your head if in person. Stay focused and stick to it. You can always end the call or walk away if he is being belligerent.
3. Be flexible.
Whenever possible, try to be flexible with the schedule. In essence, give what you would want in return. If you would like a day switched here and there to fit your schedule, then by all means be the bigger person and do it when the request is cast to you. Make note of it so you can refer to it if need be when you have a request that the ex is reluctant to approve.
4. Show restraint and be civil.
Although changing the way your ex communicates with you is beyond your control, you can change the way you interact with your ex. Keep verbal exchanges as brief as possible, screen your phone calls, and respond only to emails that are not hostile or demeaning. You set the tone for what you are willing to respond to from your ex. You can also encourage more respectful interactions by keeping your own messages short and direct and editing out the emotional parts you are tempted to include. When writing an email, think of it as though you are writing a business letter, whereby nothing personal would be in it.
5. Be calculating.
Look, you know your ex best. You understand how he ticks. Use that to your advantage. Work him to get the situation to work for you. Use whatever tactics he will respond to positively to get him to behave rationally, calmly, and reasonably – of course, notwithstanding the difficult ex.
Try to listen more than speak. You’re already divorced; you do not need him to understand your feelings or thoughts. You’re done with that! Instead, by allowing your ex to feel “heard,” it may subconsciously enable him to actually take your point of view. Also, remember that listening doesn’t signify your approval, so let go of the fear you will lose control of the situation by allowing your ex to voice his opinions. You can always say, “I will have to mull that over” or “I will think about that.”
7. Be fair and polite.
It can be extremely difficult to be fair when your ex is putting you down to your children or to your face. But in the long run, fairness will serve you well. It won’t take long for your children to figure out what’s going on and will be able to see who is causing the issues. It helps to think of your ex as a workmate that you don’t like but have to get along with.
8. When all else fails, just write.
Sometimes the best communication is written communication, especially if you are dealing with someone challenging. If you find that you and your ex argue every time you converse, then keep communication limited to text and email only. You certainly do not need to get aggravated by him ever again. After all, that’s probably one of the main reasons you divorced him in the first place.
If you know someone who is struggling with making the decision to divorce, I wrote a book that can help figure it out.
With divorce, change is inevitable. If you have children, many adjustments will have to be made in your daily lives, and routines will also need to be amended. The unknown is always frightening as many women, and men, forge into this new role of “divorcee” with much trepidation. It is, of course, understandable since one day you are legally married and the very next day you’re divorced. Everything you knew, good, bad, or otherwise is new territory and the unknown can make us all anxious.
If I could sit and talk with you over coffee or wine, I would reassure you that you are going to be okay. You will get through this, even though you may doubt your every decision and feel like you are at an impasse from the pain and hurt. The doubt and pain won’t go away overnight, but I promise you will be okay. In fact, not only okay but you will be stronger and more vibrant than ever! No, this is not a sales pitch for some new product (it did sound like it, though) but it is your fresh chance at starting over.
However, even fresh starts can have bumpy beginnings and feelings of uncertainty, even if you initiated the divorce. Some of your feelings may take you by surprise – since you thought for sure you were over him or her, you will be startled to realize you still feel betrayed, alone, frightened, overwhelmed, and angry. After so many years as a couple and a family, being put in the position of having to start all over again with new and different rules than were in place before can feel insurmountable. But I promise you – it will get better!
I’m sure many of you are just nodding your head and perhaps rolling your eyes thinking – who cares about better, I’m just trying to survive here – and I get it. Survival is the initial focus, and day by day you will get through it. The first weeks and months your children and work will keep you grounded and the occasional night out with friends will be good for your healing soul. Then as the veil of darkness begins to lift, you will see the sun shining, you will notice people smiling, and the greenery will appear greener as you begin to settle into life on your own.
With each passing day, you will focus less and less on your spouse’s betrayal or verbal abuse. You will be elated walking through your own front door knowing you no longer have to tiptoe around your angry spouse, explain why you spent $250 at Target this month, or why dinner is not on the table. You will be free to play with your children and make noise without the ex-shushing and getting annoyed. You will be free to have friends over whenever you want – basically, you will be free to come and go as you please without answering to ANYONE.
For some of us it can be the first time we are on our own, and after that initial fear dissipates, an elation or a freedom hits us like never before. And, like Mary Tyler Moore in the opening credits of her television show of the same name from the 1970s, we will want to throw our hat in the air with joy knowing we “are making it after all.”
If you are still teetering as to whether you should stay or leave, please check out my book on Amazon for Kindle or in paperback here.
Sorry, but this writing is not about the 1982 song by the Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” - though it is a question many have asked themselves in relationships and marriages time and time again. It is one of those questions that has more variables than can be found in algebra.
I often find myself talking with other women, no matter where I may be – grocery store lines, airports, doctors’ offices, etc. about personal subjects: marriage in particular. I think women like talking to virtual strangers since it gives them a measure of anonymity and the ability to talk frankly about what they are going through without any judgement.
Let’s face it: our friends and family do not want to hear any more about the litany of checks in your head as to why you should stay or leave your marriage, nor does the one contemplating leaving want to hear opinions from others since they are biased. We all truly want to come to life changing decisions on our own, for after all, no one know what goes on in our homes and hearts as well as we do.
When I was miserably married, I talked to strangers as well, but mostly I scoured the Internet for a “how-to-know” guide to know if my leaving the marriage was the right thing to do. I searched for self-help books for signs, for a list of some kind to TELL me whether I was valid in my thought process, for me and my children. I never found that answer I had been searching for, however I did find it within, but it took a very long time.
The one thing I do know is that we only have one go around in this life, no matter what your religious belief is: this particular life is the only that matters right now. Even if you believe in reincarnation, do you really want to live this life miserably? Going through each and every day as though you cannot wait for it to end?
Believe me, if you do feel this way, I know exactly how you feel. I was right there for a long time, until one day I had an epiphany. It was really so simple: I have a right to be happy! It was that simple! But it took me a longtime to get there.
The question as to whether to stay or not however, looms large for many. Even if you believe you have an inherent right to be happy, how do you know it’s the right decision to leave? One day you feel positive that you are going to leave, and the next day you feel stuck in the mud.
Since I know those exact feelings, I have written an e-book: To Stay or Not to Stay: How to Know When it’s Time to Leave Your Marriage? It is available for purchase on Amazon for Kindle here. By writing this e-book, it was intention to assist others in their quest to find that answer from within, that answer that only they know.
Ii includes marital and divorce statistics, information about children and divorce, words from other women on how they knew it was time to go, and much more. If any readers are interested in participating on how they knew they had to leave, I would love to hear from you. You will of course remain anonymous.
Let me just say, that by no means is this an anti-marriage book. I still believe in marriage, heck I just became happily engaged, and I have an abundance of faith that it can be, and is for many, a fully satisfying coupling of two people who love each other above all others. Keep in mind that each day we are given on this planet is a gift! It is a present that requires your full presence. No matter your circumstance, you can turn it around.
Wishing you love and peace! I would love to hear from you!! Xoxo
I have always believed that there is life after divorce. Even when I was in the thick of it and life couldn’t have been any more miserable, I had to believe in that premise or frankly I may not have gotten through it. But more than five years through it, I have survived and thrived.
During the past five years I went back to school and received my Master’s in Communication, strengthened the bonds with my children and reconnected with old friends. In essence, my life became enriched in so many ways I never thought possible.
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