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Positive steps to take when dealing with an ex partner
These are four thought-provoking and positive steps post-divorce by Rosalind Sedacca (author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?). If you would like advice on your separation or divorce, please contact myself or a member of the Family Team at Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors.
LEARN TO LET GO
If you truly want to move on from your divorce you must learn to let go of negative emotions that hold you hostage. These include anger, resentment, blame, jealousy, hatred and anxiety. Of course, there is a time and place for experiencing those emotions. Feel them; mourn the dream that turned sour. Then make a decision to let them go. Do this for your benefit - not on behalf of your former spouse.
Negative emotions can hold you in limbo and suck the life out of you. You get stuck in a place that's painful to experience and it makes you unpleasant to be around. For the sake of your children - if not for yourself - decide to let it all go. Determine to move on. It's not always easy to do, but the contrast of living in your pain is not an easy place to be either. Which state would you prefer?
The big step after letting go of your negative emotions is learning to forgive. This starts with you. Forgive any mistakes you made related to your marriage or divorce. Forgive your poor choices, immaturity or naivety. Acknowledge yourself as someone who is open to personal growth, change and transformation. Feel your worth and start doing things that express self-love.
Next take the big step to forgive your ex. This does not mean condoning their actions or hurtful behaviour. It means you are determined not to let it affect you any longer.
You are cutting the emotional chords that bind you and keep you from enjoying the new possibilities in your life. Behind forgiveness is freedom. Don't you want to be free of the pain, hurt, insecurity and rage that previously had power over you? Cut the chord and be free!
MAKE TIME FOR YOU!
One of the healthiest things you can do in creating a positive attitude is making time for you! This is a gift that pays off on many levels in your life. Think about reinventing yourself in new ways that excite you. Take a yoga or meditation class. Pursue a new hobby. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Start a craft or business enterprise that excites you. Make time for strolls in nature, physical exercise, watching your weight and diet. Treat yourself to a message or facial. Indulge when you can.
When you nurture yourself, you can then give your children your total attention when you are with them. During and after divorce your kids need you more than ever. You can't be there for them if you're not there for yourself to renew your spirits. It's all part of the Child-Centred Divorce formula and it works if you play your part.
Do the best you can. Be the best parent you can be. Take it day by day. If you need help, reach out for it without embarrassment or shame. You're not alone. And the help you need is out there for you!
HANDLE YOUR CONFLICTS
Disagreements are inevitable between divorced parents from time to time. Develop good communication skills and you will minimize the damage that results.
When a conflict with your ex arises, be a good listener. Most disagreements come about from misunderstanding. Clarify what you heard to make sure that was the intention. Often one of you made an assumption that was erroneous and feelings got hurt.
It's a good idea to get into the habit of paraphrasing what you think they said and ask for clarity. Apologise if you made an error or omission. Be understanding if your ex made the error. Try not to put them on the defensive or jump to negative conclusions.
Find a middle ground that you both can live with. Trade off getting to "win" the discussion or issue at hand. Agree to disagree if necessary. Learn to move on.
Bonus Step: TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
Dr. Phil often says, "Every relationship needs a hero." Be the one who can step up and look beyond the ego gratification of being right, winning the battle or getting your way. Why? Because it will be in the best interest of your children for you to minimise conflict as quickly and smoothly as possible.
That doesn't mean you become a door-mat. Stand up for your values and make your points. If concession won't be harming your children's overall well-being, consider whether you can let go. It's not about being "right." It's about being the best parent for the kids you love.
If you must stand firm, do it without ego interference or "I told you so" put downs. Make your points objectively. Use "I" language - stating your feelings as yours. Avoid "you" language that's insulting or insensitive. It rarely gets you where you want to go - to the place that best supports your children's authentic needs.
It takes a mature, aware adult to take the high road when a conflict is taking place. Be that person. By modelling maturity you are laying the foundation for your ex, in-laws and others in your life to respond on a higher level. Be a catalyst for behaviour you can be proud of. In the future your children will remember who behaved as an adult and made them feel secure, protected and loved. They'll acknowledge you for it. Wait and see!