A divorce can mean one of two things: once the divorce decree absolute is official, it can mean parting ways as soon as possible. However, in many cases where kids and pets are involved, communication lines may have to stay open.
How to Communicate Effectively with Your Ex Post-Divorce
The trouble is, some divorces can get messy, which means the added pressure of having to remain civil after it all can be tricky. But, with school runs, family trips, and joint custody involved in the mix, it has to be done.
In this article, we’re going to provide some top tips to keep these communication lines flowing effectively for the sake of your little ones. Take a look:
Forge an Action Plan Early On
Regularly texting, calling, and speaking with one another might make things a little fraught at times. This is why creating an action plan early on – either during or just after your divorce – can come in handy.
This action plan should include everything from who takes the kids on which day, who picks them up from school, and who takes them to their extracurriculars. The plan can remain in place for as long as it works, saving you from having to talk too much.
Stick to the Plan
Disagreements are very likely to flare up if one of you doesn’t stick to the plan. For example, maybe one of you has planned a date night with a new flame; if the other doesn’t turn up to look after the kids, things will likely get tense.
So, once you’ve come up with an action plan, be sure to stick to it by the letter. This can save you any awkward conversations and can ensure you can both live your lives to the full without too much interference from one another.
Only Text or Call when Necessary
In our digital age, relationships are made and lost all on our mobiles and other electronic devices. This means that it becomes all too easy to fall into a pattern of messaging one another out of the blue.
The truth is, to make your divorce work effectively, it’s best that you only message one another when it’s totally necessary. For example, if you have to change your plans, you should send a quick text or call one another quickly to discuss.
If you have an action plan in place, as we’ve talked about previously, the need for texting or calling should be minimal anyway. By avoiding this unnecessary contact, you’ll likely be swerving some rather complicated emotions.
Don’t Discuss Each Other with Your Kids
One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is to unload their woes about their ex with their kids. This is all well and good if you’re talking about a new relationship, but if it’s their other parent you’re complaining about, this can get messy.
Remember, to keep everyone happy and communication lines flowing, you shouldn’t talk negatively about your ex with your kids. This can destroy communication, as the kids may start to choose sides.
If they do this, then any action plan you had in place could become ruined by your children deciding they don’t want to follow along with it. By avoiding complaining about each other with your kids around, you can keep your well-oiled machine running smoothly.
Discuss Controversial Topics Away from the Kids
Along similar lines, it’s important to avoid discussing any controversial topics at all while your kids are around. This could include discussions about new relationships with one another or even potentially discuss getting back together.
These talks can make emotions run very high. You may even find that your kids start to imagine scenarios in their minds, like a world where you two get back together. If these hopes and dreams are dashed, it might be too hard for them to bear.
So, be sure to have any private or emotional conversations or disagreements behind closed doors. Then, when you manage to have these conversations, taking on board your language and delivery with these topics is paramount.
Treat it Like a Business Relationship
Small talk and emotions aren’t something you see a lot in a business environment, so why not treat your new partnership like you would any business relationship? Jeffrey P. Wittman, Ph.D., a family therapist and mediator in Albany, says:
“This helps people to rise above their more primitive emotions, with a compassionate focus on what the child needs. It helps parents rediscover their power. The fastest way to peace is to focus away from getting your ex to be different and on the way to be better to the children.”
Always Put Your Children First
There will always be highs and lows with this new way of life, but the important thing is not to lose sight of what matters most. A divorce can be particularly upsetting for kids, and it can be even more so if there are many emotional lows. By putting everything in the context of the kids, you can avoid any emotional battles.
This can even help you to vocalize your issues with your partner. For example, if you have a problem with their parenting skills, don’t broach the subject as a character flaw in them. Discuss it as a concern about the kids. In doing so, you’ll be able to avoid arguments and attacks on one another, focusing on what truly matters most.
Leave Your Ego at the Door
If the divorce itself was messy, it could mean that tensions will run high whenever you’re in a room together. You may even try to one-up each other with news of your lives apart.
Although it might feel the only natural to compare with one another, it makes far more sense to leave all of this at the door. By focusing on the task at hand, rather than how good each of you is doing post-divorce, it’ll be much simpler.
As you can see, there are many ways you can work together to keep communication lines open post-divorce. In doing so, you will be making not just your own lives easier but the lives of those you love.
Although these tips may come in useful, these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you are struggling, be sure to seek the advice of a professional, for example, a counselor, to set things straight.