our everyday life

How to Be Gracious When Interacting With an Ex-Spouse

by Shannon Philpott, studioD

Interacting with an ex can be an emotional experience, especially if you both have a long history together. However, these encounters do not have to be hostile, tense or stressful. Learn to put the hurt feelings aside and be gracious with each other by altering your communication strategies and showing genuine concern for each other.

Communicate Positively

Keep your emotions in check when communicating with your ex-spouse. Many times, interactions with an ex can spur feelings of anger, resentment and sadness from the past.

Avoid showing hurt, pain or sarcasm. Instead, talk softly and avoid raising your voice. If your tone drips of sarcasm or anger, it’s likely your ex will mimic your actions when responding.

Offer positive body language when communicating to have a gracious conversation with your ex. Smile often, nod your head and lean in slightly to show that you genuinely care about what your former spouse has to say.

Validate Feelings

Acknowledge that your ex has something important to say. Even though you may not want to hear negative criticism from a former spouse, keep an open mind when listening.

Validate what your ex-partner feels. Divorce is a painful experience for everyone involved. If you graciously acknowledge that his or her feelings matter, conversations will be much more cordial.

Offer words of support while conversing. Phrases such as “I know this is hard.” or “We will get through this.” show your ex-spouse that you are willing to be gracious and caring, even during a difficult time. If you acknowledge the pain your ex is feeling, it’s likely he or she will do the same, suggests the law professionals at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo in Naples, Florida.

Focus on the Positive

Focus on the positive aspects of your marriage or your lives with each interaction. If you know that your ex has achieved success or accomplished a goal, graciously offer congratulatory words or a compliment.

Demand polite interactions. If you and your former spouse’s conversations tend to rehash the past, set expectations for gracious communication, suggests Elly Prior, founder of Professional-Counselling.com.

Discuss rules for your conversations. If it is necessary to discuss confrontational topics, such as child custody, alimony or division of property, outline behavior that is acceptable and unacceptable.

Stop the interaction if rude or hostile actions occur. In order to be gracious, both parties must cooperate and name calling and the blame game will not foster a productive conversation.

Chat Quickly

Briefly express your thoughts when interacting with an ex. If tensions are high, brief conversations can help avoid arguments or disagreements, according to law professionals at Woodward, Pires & Lombardo.

Stay on topic and end the communication once you both have reached a resolution or plan.

Avoid arguments in front of children. When parents are not communicating graciously, children are negatively affected, says Liana Lowenstein, a Toronto-based child psychotherapist.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images