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Strategies to help you cope with a hostile former spouse

by | Jul 23, 2021 | Divorce |

Explosive marriages often lead to explosive divorces that, sometimes, lead to a high-conflict relationship for the rest of your life. When kids figure into this family equation, matters can become more tension-filled, too.

How do you deal with a former spouse who, at nearly every turn, attempts to squish you, stamp you out and disregard details within a divorce agreement, especially those that address child custody matters? Well, it will not be easy, but with some internal discipline, crucial strategies and ignoring personal attacks, you can create a more manageable situation.

Have specific communication goals, ignore the attacks

This may seem to be an unwinnable situation. However, remember, you are not out to win. You simply want to effectively manage the communication between you and your former spouse. Expect to take the high road, too.

Here are some things that may help:

  • Ignore the unruly and obnoxious behavior of your former spouse as best as you can. Understand that your former spouse’s goal is to hurt you. Can you co-parent in such a situation? Not likely. So it remains important to build the necessary boundaries between the two of you. Focus all conversations on parental matters and the children. The problems you confronted in your marriage could not be resolved then, so do not expect to fix them now.
  • Ignore the personal attacks and steer the conversation toward what you really need to address. Understand that you cannot control your ex-spouse’s emotions. But also remember that you can control yours. You must communicate with your ex, but only in advocating for your child.
  • Protect your children and protect yourself. You do not want your kids to witness such negative behavior. Subscribe to limited contact with your former spouse. Document incidents of verbal attacks and his or her attempts to sabotage you. Avoid making negative remarks about the other parent in front of the children.
  • Focus on specific goals when discussing topics such as adjusting your child’s schedule when new events surface, scheduling medical and dental appointments or choosing summer activities, camps and educational opportunities. Do not take the bait when your ex-spouse subscribes to hostility.

High-conflict divorce situations are never easy to deal with. They often require a generous sprinkling of civility to remedy them. Focus on what you can manage and protect your children and yourself. As a result, this approach may lead to more manageable situations when dealing with a former spouse.

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