Have you ever experienced working with a difficult ex-spouse? Do you find it challenging to set boundaries and detach yourself from him or her emotionally? A friend of mine divorced about five years ago. She and her wasband have a son. She found it challenging to detach herself emotionally from her wasband whenever they discussed parenting issues. The conversation always seemed to end up in an argument and fighting often occurred between them. The hurt from old wounds of the past continued to have a grip on her whenever they’d talked. Even though she told herself she wasn’t going to allow him to get to her, he did. My friend often comes to me and ask for advice. Here are 10 tips I share with co-parents who are struggling with a difficult ex-spouse.
TIP 1: Redefine Your Relationship with Your Ex-Spouse.
- Redefine your relationship with your ex-spouse. When you divorce, your relationship with your spouse changes. Establish new ground rules and boundaries and determine your expectations of your ex-spouse.
- Decide what kind of relationship you want with your ex-spouse. For example: do you want to remain friends and be interested in what happens in each other’s lives or do you want very little contact except as it relates to the children? You don’t have to be friends and like each other in order to cooperate and work together.
TIP 2: Limit Contact with Your Ex-spouse to Reduce Stress.
- Ask yourself how much contact with your ex-spouse can you handle? The less contact you have with your ex, the less conflict you’ll encounter which limits your stress. For instance, you may want to limit contact to email and or texting instead of cell phone.
- Ask yourself do you need to reschedule talking about specific issues with your ex-spouse until you feel you are ready to deal with them? Maybe you need to allow yourself more time to process an issue or to pray about it. It’s okay to postpone a conversation with your ex-spouse if you’re not in a place to talk about it.
- Listen within and honor yourself and your needs. Be reasonable.
Tip 3: Set Boundaries with Your Ex-Spouse
- Keep between-home conversations focused on just parenting issues.
- Schedule regular co-parenting meetings. This helps anticipate parenting matters and communicate expectations (When parenting concerns come up, they should be discussed during co-parenting meeting, unless there is an emergency).
- Try not to engage in personal topics. Redirect the conversation, “I hear you”, “I appreciate your concern. Let’s focus on what’s happening with the kids right now.”
- Ask ex-spouse to text you first to see if it is okay to come by instead of showing up on your doorstep. If not, give them another option.
TIP 4: Be Nurturing and Be Rational.
- Nurture your emotional side, and try to make decisions with your rational (mental) side. While it’s good to make sure you nurture your emotional side, remember to remain rational when it comes to making decisions concerning your children and what‘s in their best interest and well-being.
- Separate how you feel about the past with your ex-spouse from how you act. Don’t allow your buttons to be pushed or give in to anger or guilt. Practice remaining calm and grounded and think before you act.
TIP 5: Be Constructive.
- Make a commitment or agreement with yourself to practice self-discipline and to behave in a nondestructive manner, regardless if your co-parent is able to do so or not.
- Be responsible for your actions, choices, and words.
- Refrain from striking back.
- Remain rational when you are upset.
- Make decisions that are based on what is right, even when you feel you’ve been treated unfairly.
- Overcome evil with good.
- Be willing to listen to and negotiate about your co-parents concerns.
You Might Also Find These Articles Helpful:
Coping With a Difficult Ex-Spouse
Setting Boundaries for a Meddling Ex-Spouse
According to research on stepfamily statistics, there are 35 million remarried people in the US. Another 36 million are divorced or widowed and would potentially be in a remarriage situation. 40% of all weddings in the US today are remarriages for one or both of those partners; most include children and create stepfamilies. 1/3 of weddings form stepfamilies because they have children from previous relationships. Remarriage is common everyday part of our culture. But why is “remarriage” common in our culture today?
The overall divorce rate in America is between 45-50%, the remarriage divorce rate (when at least one partner has been married before) has been reported to be 60%. “Simple Stepfamilies” (where only one partner brought a child or children to the new marriage) divorced at a rate of 65%; when both partners had children from previous relationships (“complex stepfamilies”) the divorce rate was slightly more than 70%. Remarriage, overall, has a higher divorce rate in America. So then, is remarriage a step in the right direction?
In order to make a step in the right direction for you and your children, you first must understand the challenges of stepfamily living and then make an informed choice about remarriage. If you’re considering remarriage the 10 factors for single parents to consider before stepping into a stepfamily is a great article from Family Life.
If you are already remarried and don’t want to end up in the divorce rate, you might be thinking, “how can I prevent redivorce?” We can prevent redivorce by first educating ourselves on remarriage success and smart stepfamily living. Second, we can equip ourselves with communication skills, prayer, and faith. Third, we can empower one another by connecting with other stepcouples for support and be a part of a church community that supports and helps stepfamily ministry.
You might also find these resources helpful…
10 Things to Know Before You Remarry
Find a Smart Stepfamily Marriage Study Group
Find a Smart Stepfamily Educational Course
Blessings to you and your blended family Bobbi
Change has been a catalyst for me in my life learnings.One thing I’ve learned about change over the years is that it’s usually uncomfortable, it’s often challenging, and sometimes difficult to adapt to. Over the last four months, I’ve embraced many changes in my life, which is why this blog has taken me so long to write. The biggest change is the one that took place over winter break with our recent move to Colorado Springs. My husband, Geoff, and youngest son, Keerin, and I have made Colorado Springs our new home. We love it here! People have asked me what brought us here. After long explanations, it finally occurred to me—God brought us to Colorado Springs.
The last eight years, Geoff and I have wanted to move back to Colorado but it was never the right timing. Last summer, the three of us visited Colorado Springs and we knew then that we wanted to move here. We prayed about it and left all the details in God’s hands. If it was His will, He’d gracefully bring everything together for us with the right house in the right neighborhood at an affordable price. We also needed an opening at the school we had chosen for Keerin, and a transfer with the company Geoff works at. That’s not too much to ask for, right? I guess not because four months later, here we are!
Moving sounded exciting in the beginning but there were a lot of challenges we all underwent. One of the biggest challenges for me was leaving my family behind. It was very difficult to do. It brought me heartache and pain to leave my family. I grieved the loss of my family for several months. Another challenge I had to overcome when we moved was to obtain a new house, site unseen, for us to live in. Then, there was packing up the old house, saying goodbye to friends and my church, driving fourteen hours in unfamiliar weather conditions, moving into a new city and not knowing anyone, and having to learn my way around a new area. If you’ve ever moved away from your family and friends to a place you’re not familiar with, you understand.
The night we pulled up to our new house in Colorado Springs was cold and dark. There were no streetlights lit up on our block nor a porch light on to welcome us home. As I walked in through the front door of our new house, feeling exhausted and hungry and anxious to see what it looked like, I entered with high expectations. Continue reading