Communicating With Your Ex

When we are going through a nasty divorce or child custody case, it is so easy to harbor feelings of resentment and anger. A lot of times, we already still have these feelings lingering from the break up. So when we go sit down in mediation or in court, all of those feelings come creeping back on us, and we may say things about our ex, their parenting, or make nasty accusations just to make ourselves feel better. All of the pain that person caused us in the past combined with the difficulty of our surroundings and situations can cause us to lash out in illogical ways.

The additional emotional damage that is done during these periods of time can be extremely difficult to process, and can further strain an already strained relationship, depending on the results, especially if they aren’t in our favor. I have found that so many people will text/call/email/direct message horrible, criticizing, and, honestly, inappropriate comments towards their ex in an ineffective, unhealthy attempt to relieve the emotional dam that has been built up during the difficult process we endure.

Being on the receiving end of a text message of this nature immediately sparks the anger right back up, and it is so easy to lash back. (This is really true for angry endings to any type of relationship- friend, family, etc.-as well). It takes serious mental self control to not type back a response angrily or to yell at them over the phone. In any instance, I would recommend ignoring the message (or deleting, so it can never be read again- or brought up in a nasty court battle) or hanging up the phone, if they have called you. Doing so creates a line you are not willing to cross with them. They may continue this habit, but they will eventually stop when they realize they aren’t going to get a reaction out of you.

The same can be true for inappropriate messages lamenting about the break up, and their personal emotional struggles. I have friends whose partner will continue to text and call them crying or in an emotional state just wanting to talk it through. Divorce or breakups and custody “battles” are difficult for all parties involved, and your ex needs to find someone appropriate to confide in; you are no longer that person. It pulls on too many heart strings and brings too many questions (“Is this the right thing?”, “Do they regret their part in this?”, etc.) into our thoughts when an ex calls or texts us in an emotional state. We have to be stern in these situations as well that these kinds of communication are inappropriate.

We have to draw a line in the sand with our ex about what kind of communication is appropriate and what is not. By reciprocating inappropriate texts and calls, we are telling them that we are okay with that form of communication continuing.

When we respond to negativity with negativity, it opens the doors for a continuous stream of toxic sludge into our lives, minds and hearts. Having these kinds of conversations with an ex will drain us further, which is often the last thing that anyone going through co-parenting, especially the initial stages, needs. If we are to truly heal, we have to let go of everything that happened in the past. We have to do something so difficult, and that is, to forgive someone who may not be sorry, or who may not see why they are in the wrong. (If we are honest with ourselves, we are not always in the right anyways.) Going through this healing and forgiving process is so important for our emotional well being, and the emotional well being of our children. It won’t make everything perfect in the future, but it helps us to set up a pattern of forgiveness, rather than resentment.

Forgiveness also makes communication much easier. When it comes to communicating, it’s best to always keep it professional. Limit discussions to things pertaining to school, after school activities, day care, pick up/drop off, and very minimal issues with custody that have already been established in your parenting plan (i.e. vacations, holidays). Discussions about personal things should be kept to a minimum, especially over text message, and they should never involve emotions whether that be anger, sadness, resentment etc.

Thanks for reading! I know this can be a really difficult subject, so I thought I would touch on some of the things that I have practiced myself!