Can Co-parenting Be Amicable After Divorce?
How do you parent together after a divorce? When the relationship ends both spouses are often filled with resentment and hurt that can cause damage. If you have kids together how do you keep your pain from destroying your ability to parent?
Where to Start
It starts with acknowledging that divorce is hard. It's gut-wrenching. You will not be at your best especially during the first year. Lowering expectations of yourself and your family is an act of self-care. Remember that even your ex is probably struggling much more than you can see on the outside.
The biggest trap I see is that people expect their ex to be different than they are - even after they split. This leads to frustration. Focusing on what your ex "should be doing" is a losing battle because you can't make them change.
What if instead you expect them to be exactly who they are? That means acknowledging the good and the painful. The relationship wasn't all bad or else you wouldn't have picked them in the first place.
If you think the ex is the problem, you stay in the problem. The vicious cycle of blame continues and everyone loses. Your kids suffer because they are caught in the middle.
Find Your Power
You have the power to stop that negative cycle of blame.
It only takes one person to shift the dynamics in any relationship. When you makes small changes your behavior, your influence has a ripple effect.
You stop worrying about what they're doing and instead focus on the greater good of creating an amicable connection.
Look at how you can change YOUR behavior. Think about it. How do you treat your ex - like a friend or foe?
Tips for Improving Your Relationship after Divorce
- Stop fighting about the marriage, the marriage is over right?
- Accept each other's limitations. It will save your sanity.
- Avoid rehashing old arguments. Focus on today.
- Ask for their opinion about the kids. It shows respect.
- When you talk, focus on one thing at a time. No dumping.
- Be flexible when asked for a favor. Kindness creates more of the same.
- Never use your children to pass messages between you. Commit to talking directly no matter what.
How do I stop fighting?
Don't try talking when you're stressed. When you're hungry, angry, lonely or tired it's not going to end well. The conversation will escalate faster and one of you will loss it.
Stop focusing on your ex, and focus on what you need to handle in the moment. Stick with one thing at a time. It's the first step towards creating an amicable divorce.
You can set a different tone by being "light and polite." Manners disappear in a divorce but you can put them back. Saying please and thank you - even if you think you're going to choke on it - creates a more positive interaction. It's much harder to fight with someone who is polite - so fake it until you make it!
The Benefits of an Amicable Divorce
In the long run, co-parenting will be much easier if you start now. Research shows that the connection you have after the divorce directly impacts how well your kids will adapt later. If they see both of you being respectful, they learn that ending relationships - which is an important life lesson - can be handled with integrity. You can survive and move on. Isn't that a message worth sending? Click here to read more on How to Create an Amicable Divorce.
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