The devastating effects of going through a divorce can linger for a long time to come, but when you have children it becomes important to find ways to be amicable and even friendly with your ex and the new woman in his life. Remaining pleasant to these two important people in your children’s lives will help to promote better relationships all around.
Begin the path to healing by working on yourself. Seek out a therapist you can discuss your issues of frustration and anger towards your ex with. Find ways to focus on improving your own life by pursuing hobbies you have always been interested in and re-entering the dating world once you feel ready.
Create a list of the ways your ex knows how to push your buttons and contemplate how to alter your own reaction, suggests psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker. This will help you to be prepared for potential trigger behaviors, such as those times when your ex criticizes your driving or cracks jokes which leave you cringing. Remind yourself that you can’t change your ex, but you can change how you interact with him.
Step away if you feel yourself losing your temper. Rather than say or do something you will regret, take a timeout instead, excusing yourself from the situation to go to the bathroom or get a bit of fresh air. Give yourself a few moments to breathe and regroup before returning to any social setting where you and your ex or his wife might end up arguing.
Treat your relationship like a business arrangement. While it is great to be friends, most divorced parents do better if they remember that they still have the job of raising their children at hand, according to Robert Emery, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and author of “The Truth about Children and Divorce.” Keep things formal and polite and avoid becoming too involved in each other’s dramas.
Create buffers for group outings. Invite a few friends with you to school events and occasions when you, your ex and his wife will be expected to socialize, suggests family psychotherapist Brenda Rodstrom. Engage in a few minutes of pleasant conversation with the two of them, but then turn your attention back to your friends and allow them to distract you from any emotion-inducing encounters.
Don’t play your children against each other. Make a point of never speaking ill of your ex or his wife to your kids, regardless of how you may feel. Even if you catch wind of hurtful comments they may have made to your children about you, rise above and don’t allow your kids to see your reaction.
Accept that your ex is not likely going to change his ways anytime soon. Continuing to fight him on the same issues will only frustrate you further. Choose your battles and maintain the peace otherwise when possible.