Dealing with a difficult ex spouse is a delicate matter.
Getting along after divorce is easy for some and challenging for others. If the marriage ended amicably and there are no ties between spouses, both can move on freely. But if there was acrimony during the breakup, or if there are childcare issues, or ongoing financial ties, dealing with an ex spouse can be difficult.
Here are several suggestions for dealing with a difficult ex spouse so you can have a more peaceful relationship.
Set clear boundaries. Getting along after a divorce requires setting clear boundaries with your ex. If you cave in one day, you’ve created precedence for the next time. Be clear with yourself and then with your ex wife or ex husband around what is appropriate behavior, deadlines, childcare responsibilities and so forth. Make sure there is an agreement between you both (in writing helps) so there is no confusion.
Don’t play the game. When a relationship becomes challenging there is usually a game being played. It might be a manipulation game, a distancing game, a control game, or some sort of power struggle. Name the game being played and choose not to play it. Every game needs at least two people to be active.
Own your part. In order to stop playing a game or unhook from an unhealthy pattern, you need to take responsibility for your part, your role, and your trigger spots. Step away from judgment and blame long enough to look at how you contribute to the challenging relationship. Are you being a difficult ex spouse? Do you have unhealed wounds that are triggered by your ex? Are you hooked into playing an unhealthy role? Remember there are two sides to every relationship – even a bully needs a victim in order to play his role.
Set your intention. Take your power back by setting your intention for how you want to relate to your ex spouse. What we focus on grows so pay more attention to what you want than what you don’t want. If getting along is a priority, look for ways to do this without compromising your integrity. Find ways to interact that support peace and harmony. This may mean walking away from fights, not making excuses, not defending yourself, and not attacking your spouse.
Have compassion. Even difficult ex spouses have a heart and soul. Look past your ex husband or wife’s behavior to see the person you once fell in love with. Remember that underneath this person’s unhealthy coping mechanisms is a wounded inner child trying to get his or her needs met. Have compassion for their inability to relate in a healthier manner.
Be amused. Humor and laughter are the best ways to diffuse any difficult situation. Bring your funny bone along anytime you have to deal with your ex spouse. If you can’t laugh together, use your own inner amusement as a way to avoid being reactive. This will help you to be more neutral when communicating with your ex.
I hope these suggestions help you deal with your difficult ex. If you have any questions or further suggestions on getting along after a divorce, please comment below.