The hurt we feel from a breakup is never easy to get over. And in many cases, it is further exacerbated if we must have continual contact with our ex-spouses.
In the best of all possible worlds, when the relationship ended, you could avoid interacting with your ex ever again. In most cases, though, that’s just not going to work. In the real world, the odds are that neither of you will move out of town, which means that at some point you’ll run into your ex — be it at a local store, or through mutual friends and community interests, or through your job if you happen to work in the same industry.
And of course, if you share children, your ex is an integral part of your children’s life — which makes him or her a part of your life as well. Ongoing discussions about your children’s well-being must continue, and mutual decisions will have to be made, despite any pain you may have in calling or seeing your ex.
Even if you have been lucky enough to find love again, any unresolved anger and pain you feel over a relationship with a former spouse can and will linger for years unless you take these rules to heart when communicating with your ex:
Rule #1: Don’t bring up the past. It’s gone, and nothing is going to change it. The issue on the table is the future. Although you both now have different needs and desires, your future may still mean that you share some needs, and positive communication will serve your mutual benefit.
Rule #2: Speak with logic, not emotion. If you want to get your point across successfully and move the situation toward a conclusion that works for you, you must work hard to keep any unresolved emotions out of the conversation. Now is neither the time nor the place for resolving these feelings. Instead, speak factually, and remember that anger and blame have no place in your conversation.
Rule #3: Always keep your cool. If your ex says something that upsets you, remember that the remark is coming from his or her own inability to deal with anger or hurt. So put it into perspective and don’t let it ruffle your own emotions or thoughts. Instead, acknowledge the pain to your ex, but request that the issue at hand be addressed first.
Rule #4: Consider writing a letter instead. If face-to-face communication with your ex is too painful but it is still necessary to resolve the issues, by all means put the communication in writing. Just remember that all the rules listed above apply: don’t bring up the past; speak with logic and not emotion; and by all means, keep your cool.
Rule #5: If need be, consider a mediator. This may be a person whom you both love and trust, who can help you get your point across while encouraging you to keep your feelings in check. It may also mean utilizing a licensed counselor or professional mediator. Then again, if there are enough issues that may have legal repercussions, go to a lawyer for advice, or consider having your lawyer make your point for you. This would be a worst-case scenario and hopefully, it won’t come to that. Keeping your sense of balance and staying clear and on point will help you to communicate without continued conflict.
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