But what if she’s playing games with the kids? What do I do?
Parenting post-divorce is tricky and doesn’t look the same as parenting while married. And if co-parenting when married is a challenge, try co-parenting when unmarried. Conflicts between the parents frequently emerge around such matters as times for picking up and dropping off the kids, when summer visitation periods start, who will be with the children if the custodial parent goes out of town or gets sick, rescheduling planned events, etc. In general, we would recommend that you go slowly in reacting to such conflicts.
Communication by e-mail or voicemail is often a good way to make arrangements regarding the children. Try to make your communications matter-of-fact. Avoid sarcasm, accusations, threats, and snide remarks. Like Joe Friday “stick to the facts.”
Direct phone calls to your ex should be limited. They are often difficult because they are more likely to bring up a lot of painful memories and emotions. Make sure that you call at a reasonable time of day. If she asks you not to call at a certain time because she is working, putting the kids to bed, or whatever, honor her wishes. Don’t put yourself in the position of being accused of “harassing” her. If you leave her a voicemail, make sure it will sound okay if played in court someday. Remember that many people who have gone through a divorce record their conversations with the ex-spouse. Of course, if you and your ex have good communications, then these precautions may not be necessary.
If your ex uses these communications as a way of attacking you, try to ignore the barbs and deal with the facts. If these communications are very upsetting, consider using a “screener”: a person who listens to the voicemail message or reads the e-mail for you and then communicates what you really need to know.
In most situations, after the divorce is settled and time passes, the conflict abates. Don’t assume if your divorce is off to a rocky start that it will always be so difficult.
One event that often serves to dissipate the animosity is when your ex develops a new romantic relationship. When that happens, her attention is usually focused more on the new person than on continuing to fight with you.
On the other hand, if you begin a new relationship, she may feel some jealousy and renewed anger towards you. This may be especially true if she herself has not begun a new relationship.
This book is for men who are in the process of going through or recovering from a divorce. Whether she moved out today, you just left the courtroom after the final hearing, or you have been divorced awhile and are already dating, this book will help you make the decisions and do the things that will make life after divorce better.
The Guys-Only guide to Getting Over Divorce and on with LIFE, SEX, and RELATIONSHIPS Authors Sam J Buser PhD & Glenn F. Sternes PhD.