How to not just survive but co-exist happily with your Ex.
Divorce happens to over 50% of all marriages and over 70% of all second marriages, however,
There are many levels to coexisting with him or her post divorce.
- You have a child/ren and can’t really split
- Living together for financial reasons
- You’re no longer together, but share the same friends, church and run into each other often
- The gold standard: a clean break and maybe one of you leaves the state
Here are a few strategies for living a happy and fulfilling life with your Ex.
You have a child/ren and can’t really split
In Utopia, every child has a healthy relationship with both parents. This can happen, but it takes both parents. It really comes down to doing what is best for the child/ren. Easier said than done, for sure, but bad mouthing your Ex is only going to hurt the child. Labeling statements like, “You’re just like your mother/father,” if spoken in a negative way will only bring shame on the child, and isn’t childhood difficult enough without dealing with your parents’ issues? The same goes for name calling or sharing needless information with a child.
A level of maturity is needed to keep calm, bite your tongue and get along for the sake of getting along. If the two really can’t be in the same room together without snide remarks and glares (that the kids do pick up on, by the way), perhaps it’s best to communicate in writing, drop off without interaction and keep it calm for the kids’ sanity. They really don’t want to see you fight.
Additionally, parents shouldn’t use the kids as pawns. Statements like, “Don’t tell your mother…” are so damaging. The child is now in a position they don’t want to be. Again, this is a child, that you’ve now asked to deceive their mother. If you can be in the same space, communicate honestly and maturely about bills, children, concerns, etc., have a joint parent dinner once a month so the child/ren know that you do indeed speak and manipulation is kept to a minimum (and yes, they will try to manipulate the situation).
In the end, you are connected by that beautiful baby you brought in the world. Yes, the dreams the two of you had of growing old together are gone, but your children’s dreams are still brewing and you don’t want to destroy them before they can start to realize them.
Living together for financial reasons
There’s something to be said for the brave couple who splits and stays together. This has got to be one of the most difficult decisions to make, however, cohabiting post divorce has been on the rise. Sometimes it just makes good financial sense. If you find yourself in this predicament, I think it’s extremely important to have your own room in the home. You are indeed divorced and spending all your free time with this person may not serve you best as one person may have a desire to rekindle the relationship. On the other hand, not being able to escape can lead to needless arguments.
Communicate Openly discuss how you want to handle issues like cleaning communal areas, cooking schedules, dating, bills, etc. Get it all out in the open so there are no surprises or hurt/hard feelings.
Be respectful of one another. Treat each other like the roommates you now are.
Save your money. You’re staying in this situation to save money, so do it and decide how and when the two of you will sell the home (if that’s the case) and move on so that you can get to the gold standard (I’ll get to that momentarily).
You’re no longer together, but share the same friends and hot spots
There’s nothing more awkward than running into your Ex when you’re out and about, anticipating having a great drama-free night. And hopefully it is. If there are unresolved feelings from either of you, it may not go so smoothly. Someone wants attention, someone wants to make the other jealous. Things just spiral after this.
Again, maturity will have to be at play. Is it a multilevel establishment? Go to another floor if you’re uncomfortable seeing your Ex hit on. Keep it light and polite and keep it flowing.
This might be a great time to venture out and find new spots in the area and make them hot. Also, your mutual friends are in a hard position as well. Maintain your relationships, and let him or her take the lead (they may know well in advance that your Ex will be at the event if you want to avoid him or her). Maybe you take a new person up on their offer to visit a new restaurant. Change up your routine and have fun when you’re ready to venture out post divorce.
The gold standard: a clean break and maybe one of you leaves the state
This is the easiest way to coexist, because you don’t have to. A friend of mine told me of her divorce, which took all of two months. She left the state, moved back home and never really looked back. They settled their assets, shook hands and said good bye.
Their divorce, while hard, was less acrimonious than most and the distance between them made it easier to part. They had no children, few shared assets, and they didn’t run into each other.
After time apart there’s always that chance of lingering guilt, or what if, or just plain curiosity that may draw the two of you back together. Don’t do it I’m kidding. Never say never, but always be honest with yourself and don’t return on a rebound, because you’re lonely or because you have something to prove.
The two of you came together and perhaps fell in love. There is something that made you propose and you say yes. Remember this should you divorce and heed the suggestions based on your situation. I know you know this, and sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder. That’s what I’m here for.