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How to Handle Your Ex During Divorce

How to Handle Your Ex When You're Not Getting Along

Even in the most amicable divorces, you will have times when you and your ex don't get along, especially during the divorce process before all the details are final. My divorce has been very amicable, but still . . . we disagree. We have bad days and hours. If it were all sunshine and kittens, we would still be married, right? I am sure once it's final and as the years go by, we will get along even better.

But it's hard to know what to do if you and your ex are locking horns or, perhaps, he's not being very nice. Let's just put it that way. Your family and friends will give you all kinds of advice and little quips simply because they love you and can't stand to see you hurting, but sometimes this advice or those choice words aren't the best route to take. So instead of running away or trying to sell your ex-husband's services or body on the Internet, try these strategies when things get ugly between you and your former main squeeze.

Stick to Email

Don't even try texting your ex if tensions are high. Email as much as you can and as often as you can until things have quieted down. I have used this strategy from time to time, and so has my ex. It can be annoying to be frank — it's much easier to talk on the phone or in person about certain matters, but email not only gives you a paper trail, but it also gives you some time to write out your words instead of simply uttering them in potential anger. Plus, if your child is around, he or she won't read a tense email, but your kid will hear a nasty argument, and fighting affects kids badly whether you're in the same home or two different ones.

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Nasty Words

If your ex starts to use some "not so nice" words or raise his voice toward you, you will be tempted to fire back a few choice words rather loudly of your own. Hey, you're only human, and it's really tough to not fight fire with fire at times. However, joining in on the "rock-throwing," as I like to call it, will get you nowhere. All it will do is add fuel to the fire and create a bigger scene that may or may not be in front of your kids. Is this a good idea? Negative, Batgirl.

Instead, simply state, "If you're going to use nasty words with me" or "If you're going to yell at me, the conversation is over." And if that does not cool things down, you need to leave the situation, hang up the phone, or do whatever you have to to end it right now. Don't wait around for the drama. Be a big girl and stop it before it gets insane. Not only will this be good for your sanity, but it will also show your ex that you will not tolerate such behaviors and refuse to be roped into drama. This sets the stage for a smooth divorce and coparenting relationship.

Is It You?

Are you still angry over his cheating, leaving you, or simply about the divorce? I understand. It's devastating, but if you're the one instigating the trouble or if you happen to be supersensitive to anything your ex says, you will need to adjust your own actions. If you're nursing your wounds and still hurting, stick to brief calls that only, and I mean only, discuss your child or children's needs, and then hang up. If seeing him is hard, make the exchange brief by saying you and the kiddos have somewhere to be.

If you are still full of vitriol over the divorce, an affair, or whatever, you need to find a way to deal with these feelings, because they're toxic for you. You will waste your life and time exuding angry energy instead of dusting yourself off and moving on. Your kids will also sense that bitterness, and it can affect the way they view and respect both you and your ex, and that's a recipe for disaster. Don't do it to them or yourself. If you can't move on no matter what you try, see a therapist to dismantle and let go of these hurt feelings.

Have a Buddy

If things are really heated between you two, have a friend or family member around whenever (if possible) you have to see your ex. Chances are a fight won't erupt when there are other people around.

Text Me

Texting can get heated too, but if it's an important matter that needs to be attended to and you're afraid to call your ex because his feathers might get ruffled, why not text him and simply ask when you can speak to him. Explain what the important matter is about. And if he is an avid texter and prefers to do this rather than talk, keep the texts brief.

Is It Awful?

If you and your ex really cannot handle being around each other, I have a solution for you, and it won't be easy. Both of you need to man up . . . and see a counselor to help you learn to coparent better. Honestly, coparenting is one of the hardest things I have ever done, and I'm in an amicable situation. Having a third and neutral party step in to advise you two on how to tolerate each other is the best thing you could do for your kids. My daughter sees a play therapist, and she advises us on coparenting strategies and how to manage the two households. It's the best choice I made as a divorced mom. There are many therapists specializing in divorce, and it will help, I promise.

In Summation

In the long run, remember that this is your child/children's father. Don't feed them bad stories about him or hang him out to dry in front of them no matter how awful he might be. Let him do the damage on his own, and let the kids learn this for themselves. And if he's a great father and person but a bad match for you, you really owe it to him, your children, and yourself to always turn the other cheek and take the high road. At the end of the day, you own your own actions — not his — so make sure you go to bed at night knowing you tried your best for your kids whether he's Dad of the Year or a Deadbeat Dad.

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