Can Co-parenting Be Amicable After Divorce?
How do you parent together after a divorce? Often, the relationship between former spouses is filled with resentment and past hurt. But if you have kids together what do you do?
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 broken family unit is an act of self-care. Remember that even your ex is probably struggling much more than you can see outwardly.
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 you power
You have the power to stop that negative cycle.
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 are 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?
Pick a time to talk when both of you are ready. Don't get into it when you're hungry, angry, lonely or tired. 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. You'll have more energy to take care of yourself and your kids. 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 to the changes. 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?
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