Dealing With A Difficult Ex-Spouse

While most divorced parents would like to have a friendly, ongoing relationship with their ex-spouse, few can actually achieve that. Dealing with a difficult ex-spouse can be very discouraging and defeating. Sometimes it seems as though there's almost no end to the sources of anger after a divorce and on occasion, just talking to your former spouse can land you somewhere between annoyed and enraged.

So, how do you deal with an ex-spouse Marriage Counseling Questionsand keep the lines of communication open and healthy when circumstances are difficult? First, be sure to notice your own part in the ongoing conflict. Often, ex-spouses feel justified in their anger toward their "irresponsible" ex-spouse. Learn to let go of what you can't change so you don' keep power struggles alive. Second, keep your meetings with your ex-spouse impersonal to avoid excessive conflict. Face to face interaction has the most potential for conflict. Use the phone, email, or faxes when possible. Keep the children from being exposed to negative interaction when it's possible. Third, use a script to help you through negotiations. Before making a phone call, take the time to write out your thoughts including what to say and what not to say. Fourth, whenever possible, agree with some aspect of what your ex-spouse is suggesting. Even if you disagree with the main point, find some common ground. Manage conversations by staying on matters of parenting. It is common for the conversations between ex-spouses to gravitate back toward negative personal matters of the past. Actively work to keep the conversation focused on the children. If the conversation moves back to issues that were in the marriage, try to saying something like "I'd rather we discuss the schedule or the weekend." Fifth, when children have confusing or angry feelings toward your ex don't capitalize on their hurt and put down the other partner. Listen and help them explore their hurt feelings. Remember, that for children, choosing sides is not good. Children don't want to compare their parents or choose one over the other. And finally, think about forgiveness. Hurt feelings from the past are the number one your ex and you overreact with one another. Do your part in striving to forgive them. And remember work hard to respect the other parent and his or her household. For the children's sake, find ways of being respectable even if you honestly can't respect your ex-spouse's lifestyle or choices.

If you are finding it difficult to deal with an ex-spouse, I can help you find coping skills. Give me a call at 631.692.9689, or email me at [email protected].

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