Communicating with your ex can be difficult but necessary if you have joint children. In my practice, I encourage people to think about the impact their communication style has on their children. As challenging as it is to go through a divorce and to continue to communicate with your ex, look at it as an opportunity to learn new communication skills and to teach your children how to cope under difficult circumstances. What are your children learning from your example? How will they communicate with people they do not agree with in their lives? These are important life skills and lessons that will benefit everyone.
So how do you get started? First and foremost, keep your children in mind whenever you communicate with an ex. Focus the conversation on logistics and facts. When does your child need to be picked up from school? Stay direct and concise in your statements and do not include judgments or cloaked insults. Pretend your ex is a work colleague and try to keep your communication all about business.
Example: Freddie gets out of school at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays.
NOT: I know it’s hard for you to make it anywhere on time, but Freddie will be disappointed if you’re not at his school by 3:00 p.m. on Friday.
Remember your children are 50% you and 50% your ex. When people say negative things about each other in front of their children, the children can internalize the negative element as something that is also wrong with them. There are going to be times you say things that you wish you could take back. That is normal and part of the process of getting divorce. New habits and communication patterns take time and effort to build. It is important to stick with it and keep trying even when you have a set back. Your goal should be progress not perfection. Everyone will slip up, but the important thing is to keep the overarching goal in mind and work toward achieving it. As the adage goes, it is a marathon and not a sprint. In “8 Things to Consider When Communicating with your Ex,” Ms. Balakhane outlines eight important things to consider that are helpful to keep in mind when communicating with an ex.