In every relationship, communication is important. And a lot of marriages end in divorce due to communication problems. Unfortunately though, when you have children together and you get divorced, communication becomes even more important and even more difficult!
When my ex and I divorced, we agreed to keep it amicable and so far, we have managed to do that. It was an intentional decision we made and it’s something we’ve really had to work hard on maintaining.
“Studies show that shared-custody situations work best when both parents are cooperative, respectful, agree on shared custody, and manage their emotions,” says JoAnne Pedro-Carroll, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies to Help Children Thrive Through Divorce. (source: https://www.parents.com/parenting/divorce/coping/making-shared-custody-work/)
So exactly how do you go about being cooperative and respectful while managing your emotions? For solid advice, we turned to the experts.
This article on Help Guide suggests keeping a business-like tone for all communication. It’s really important to keep emotions out of your communications with your ex… especially when your children are around to hear your conversations. Practice listening without interrupting and make it a habit to make requests instead of commands. My favorite phrase is “would you be willing to…”
Dr. Phil makes a great point in suggesting that you should never involve your children in communicating with your ex. For example, Dr. Phil says you should never make your child choose a side when there’s an argument or scheduling conflict, never say bad things about your spouse to your child, and never use your child to manipulate your ex.
In his article ’10 Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Ex’, Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., psychotherapist, and author of The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time, makes a good case for being friends with your ex, while also setting proper boundaries. Dr. Goldsmith says, “being friends with an ex can be a good thing. It shows your kids how mature adults should behave and helps both families deal with the inevitable speed-bumps that occur along life’s highway.”
So I guess to sum it all up, the best ways to communicate with your ex are with kindness and without emotion, in a business-like manner, and without bringing your child into the discussion to take sides or to speak poorly of your ex. The age old adage is true, treat others like you wish to be treated.