If you are a parent with joint custody, it is inevitable that you will have to interact with your ex-spouse after your divorce. While you do not need to be friends, having a civil relationship is especially important for your children.
Taking a moment to prepare yourself mentally for meeting with your ex can help keep the awkward moments from turning into shouting matches.
Determine the Type of Relationship You Want to Have
While it is possible to be friends with your ex, you may want to start with just maintaining a courteous and professional relationship. To prepare for a scheduled meeting with your ex, envision how you want the meeting to go. If you are imagining showing them up or making them jealous, it is time to sit back and assess the health of those feelings.
You should be working toward a civil relationship at the very least. Keep in mind that if you try too hard to have a happy relationship and act like nothing is wrong, it may come across as strained or fake and your children will feel that something is wrong. Start small with just making it through short meetings to pick up or drop off your children and you can work your way up to longer interactions with your ex.
Pick Safe Topics of Conversation
Talking about your marriage or your current relationships are surefire ways to start an argument. To start interacting with your ex again, start with the things you still have in common, namely your children. Discuss their behavior, upcoming school or extracurricular schedules, and any things you need to work on as a family. Once you can easily talk about your children without feeling the need to lash out or argue, you can move to other safe topics of conversation.
Compliments, even small ones, go a long way when trying to maintain civility in your interactions. Just be mindful of over-complimenting, as that can be a sign of false intentions. Additionally, asking your ex for their opinion on a choice you have to make regarding your child is a subtle way to show that you still trust his parenting decisions and respect his views.
Remember Your Children Come First
Even if you are not in front of your children while interacting with your ex, it is important to keep your cool. Children can pick up on cues that their parents are fighting or upset even if you are careful not to fight in front of them.
My firm, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, helps Washington parents handle their divorce and child custody arrangements quickly and with much less stress than a do-it-yourself divorce.
Contact me at 425-460-0550 for help with your child custody agreement and starting your new life.