Dealing With Your Ex
When a marriage ends, some sort of relationship with your ex-spouse still remains. Maybe you have children that you still need to raise together. Maybe you have mutual friends or similar social circles. Or maybe you still remain friends after the formal partnership has ended. Whatever the circumstances, here are some tips to consider when dealing with your ex after divorce.
Understand Your Motives, Know Your Limits
Rebuilding your life and your identity after a marriage can be a very lonely and challenging experience. It is very common for people to reach a point where they are romanticizing their former marriage and wanting desperately to get certain feelings or a sense of security back. It is important in this rebuilding process to look at the pros and cons of your previous partnership objectively and sometimes too much interaction with your ex can prevent this from happening. If you decide to reach out to your ex-spouse for support, make sure you understand your own motives. Do you really just want someone to talk to or are you still hanging on to the possibility of reconciliation? Realistically, will the interaction help you or hinder you on the road to creating a new life for yourself? Even if your long-term goal is to have a lifelong friendship with your former partner, sometimes it is necessary to keep contact to a minimum while you process the divorce and move on.
Take the High Road
If your ex remains in your life because of children or mutual friends, it is important not to fall into the habit of using this link to bash or lash out at them. Even after your marriage has ended, certain feelings do exist and it is normal to want the people you have in common to be on “your side.” However, bringing children or friends into the ugly side of divorce is inconsiderate and unnecessary. Use your own support network to vent your feelings of anger or betrayal. Realize that divorce affects more than just you and your partner and all the people in your lives will have more healthy adjustments if you are taking the high road.
Balancing Compassion and Being Counterproductive
Many marriages end because one partner wanted out, while the other is left longing for a relationship they didn’t want to end. This causes pain for both people involved. If you find yourself in the position of being the one who instigated the divorce, you may also feel a great deal of guilt and responsibility at the pain your ex is experiencing because of your decision. It is a valid instinct to want to offer support to the one you have hurt. You must also realize that your presence may be counterproductive to your ex’s rebuilding and recovery process. Balance your desire to support your former spouse against the reality that they need to build a life for themselves. If you are extremely worried about the effects of the divorce on your ex, consult a therapist who may be able to intervene and help the two of you find some sense of closure.
When you got married, you vowed to stand beside your partner for better or worse. Even when the marriage ends, if is still your responsibility to weather the worst with dignity and respect. Make decisions and behave in a way that is responsible and allows you and the people in your life to go forward peacefully and productively.