lthough it’s typically a life-altering experience, separation can be a window to a better, happier life for everyone involved. Before finding that silver lining, however, most couples go through a bumpy road to establishing positive communication practices with their ex.
Juggling the transition and all the changes that come with it may not be easy-breezy every day, but communication doesn’t have to be filled with tension and hurt. Moreover, healthy communication will simplify the transition and help both parents reach that after-split happiness faster.
While you may occasionally lose your temper or send a questionable text to your co-parent, there are helpful principles to help you stay calm and keep your cool.
Here’s a list of useful co-parenting tips and strategies I found incredibly helpful in keeping civilized levels of communication with my ex during and after the separation. Hopefully, they’ll help you have a smoother transition from one household to two.
Even if you and your ex-spouse have gone through an amicable divorce, the rawness of feelings involved in the process may trigger communication problems. Those are times when it’s all too easy for negative emotions to take over. One way to establish healthy communication patterns and turn unpleasant convos into amicable discussions is to ditch talking and start writing.
It’s usually easier to be kind to your ex in writing than it would be in a face-to-face conversation. Luckily, we live in an era of text messages, emails, and apps for everything. You have lots of options for finding an effective way to communicate in writing.
For example, you may not agree about the kids’ holiday schedule. Instead of having a potentially feisty argument in person about essential matters, write an email.
Make it a full proposal and include all the reasons you think your plan is fair for both of you. Use amicable language about how you’re aware you both want to spend enough time with the children and how you’re trying to make a schedule that works for everyone. Take your time and read the email before sending it to make sure you sound calm and positive.
An email proposal will give your ex-partner time to process all the information you just sent to them before responding. If you were to communicate about the issue in person, neither of you would have that processing time on your side or be able to fine-tune your message.
Separations can be challenging, and if there’s one thing that makes things even bumpier, it’s money talk. Even when parents communicate reasonably well regarding other issues, expenses often create tension, especially if one or both parents struggle with finances.
The good news is, there’s a way to sort out shared expenses without direct communication. The Onward app has opened up the door to an entirely new world for me.
Not only does it allow me to keep track of all expenses easily, but it also enables me to create and send proposals for past and future payments — all the while without ever having to talk to my ex. The app handles everything and helps both of us minimize tension when we talk about money.
Setting family boundaries is a crucial step, no matter how smoothly the divorce process goes. You were once life partners with this person, and you know each other very well. It’s easy for either of you to cross each other’s boundaries — often without even realizing it.
You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run by establishing boundaries upfront and being very clear about them.
Determine the way you communicate and how often it will happen. For example, you may be upset with your ex for calling or messaging you too often. Instead of blocking them or doing something even more radical, communicate your boundaries and make sure your ex understands them.
If you’re uneasy with phone calls, switch to written communication. If you feel like speaking once per day or even once every couple of weeks is your limit, let them know.
I was once guilty of expecting too much from my ex. I used to lean on him for help regarding various things that weren’t directly related to co-parenting. And I would go ballistic on him for not doing those things the way I wanted and when I wanted them done.
On the other hand, he still expected continuous messaging and felt he had the right to make decisions for me. After a decade spent following specific patterns, it was hard to brush them off and change our perspectives.
Since we’d hit a wall we couldn’t jump over, I asked an unbiased professional for help. A psychologist specializing in divorce communication helped me see things for what they were — lack of boundaries on both sides had made us super confused.
I realized I was imposing on my ex. I expected him to continue doing many of the things he wasn’t obligated to do anymore. The therapist helped me realize it was way easier to propose arrangements and make decisions if we determined boundaries and focused on the practical side of things.
I was lucky enough to have an ex-partner willing to work on this with me. However, I realize many people don’t know how to set boundaries or respect their partner’s new rules. Using a mediator for tricky situations like this is a great idea — which brings us to our next tip.
The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests using a mediator to improve poor communication between ex-partners, stating that “Research shows that mediation can be beneficial for emotional satisfaction, spousal relationships and children’s needs,”.
A mediator specializes in ensuring the best possible communication happens between ex-spouses during the divorce process. They’ll listen to both sides and encourage effective communication under given circumstances. They’ll also offer support and suggest practical solutions for various issues.
Let’s say you have a hard time agreeing on parenting styles for your teenager, and the tension is starting to affect your teen’s day-to-day life. A mediator doesn’t have the enmeshed perspective you and your ex have. The only thing they look for is to reach a compromise that works for both parents. A mediator will propose a practical solution and give both ex-partners enough space to maneuver their day-to-day co-parenting efforts.
Using an impartial third party whose backgrounds include family law, child custody, or psychology will help clear out the fog that stops you from finding practical solutions.
The very fact you’re reading this article is a huge step forward. You’re already interested in improving communication with your ex, and you’re likely ready to take steps to create a healthy environment for you and the kids.
Crafting an amicable relationship with an ex-partner is always worth trying, especially with kids involved. There are many communication methods to help you and your ex-partner make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone. Hopefully these simple tips will help you keep the separation civil and respectful.
Diana is a writer who specializes in blogging. She's on a mission to inform and uplift people in complex and confusing life situations she's been through herself. When not working, you'll find her at the seaside or in the mountains.