What do you do if your ex has a way of pushing all your buttons, and you can’t seem to start a conversation without things devolving into a shouting match? Here are tips to get past the hostility and into a more peaceful coexistence with your ex.
See the divorce as adjusting the relationship, not ending it
No matter how much you might dislike your ex right now, if you have children together, this person will likely be in your life for some time to come. To deal with this reality, try viewing the divorce as an adjustment of the relationship, rather than as a termination. Divorce simply changes the ground rules by which you interact. You obviously couldn’t get along as a married couple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get along as friends or as co-parents. By unplugging from old scripts, you can forge a new relationship based on a more realistic set of expectations.
Focus on the common ground
Pay attention to the common reasons why this person is still in your life—which in most cases will be the children you share. Avoid irrelevant “hot-button” topics and focus on how the two of you will successfully co-parent the kids. Also, never use the kids as leverage to manipulate the other person. Emotional fitness expert, Dr. Barton Goldsmith, warns that: “One of the most damaging things people can do is to put their kids between themselves and the ex. This makes everyone uncomfortable and will make your relationship with your children and current partner more difficult.”
Respect your ex
The idea of respect might be a bitter pill to swallow, especially if your divorce was exceptionally volatile. But even if you can’t respect the other as a person right now, you can at least show deference to his/her right to an opinion, especially when it comes to raising your children. If you can do nothing else, start there—and when you do, that deference will probably be reciprocated. Over time, this mutual respect can evolve into a peaceful coexistence.