7 Tips for Communicating With Your Ex After Your Divorce
You will have to continue communicating with your ex if you share children. You’ll have to talk to your ex after your divorce if you have shared assets, a shared friend group, and sometimes if you share pets. Unfortunately, communicating isn’t always easy. Instead, many exes fall into a pattern of anger and frustration every time they talk.
It can be very helpful to know how to communicate. The more you demonstrate respect for one another, the easier it gets to talk to each other.
Seven tips for more positive interactions with your ex after a divorce include:
- Negotiate post-judgement legal issues
- Focus on your long-term goals
- Transition to a business relationship
- Communication the way it's most comfortable for you
- Focus on the situation
- Practice active listening
- Look for positive intent
Negotiate Post-Judgement Legal Issues
Things will continue to change for your family, you, and your ex after your divorce has been finalized. Whether it’s a business deal, child custody issues, or something unexpected, it’s completely normal to have to change aspects of your divorce agreement.
If you want to work on having a positive relationship with your ex, you should try to negotiate directly with each other, if you can. If you could use some support, try mediation with a third party before you feel like you have to bring issues to a judge.
It’s way easier to negotiate directly with each other about any changes that need to be made to your situation. It gives you a chance to practice communicating in a collaborative way, which increases the chances that you’ll continue speaking cordially after negotiations are finished.
Focus on Your Long-Term Goals
Take some time to think about the future and what you want it to look like. How do you want your relationship to look and feel a year or two from now? How do you envision interacting with your ex at your child's graduation? Or their wedding?
Chances are, you’re hoping for a harmonious relationship. Keeping that in mind can help you adjust how you speak with your ex. When you focus on your long-term goals, you’re more likely to communicate in a way that supports those goals.
Transition to a Business Relationship
If you’re struggling to have a positive relationship with your ex, try treating it less like a personal relationship and treat it more like a business relationship.
In business relationships, it's important to be reliable. You communicate clearly and concisely, and you work towards presenting yourself in a relatable and confident way.
There’s a certain detachment in business relationships that can help you communicate more effectively with an ex, especially if they often stir up your emotions. Pretend like you’re talking to a boss or a team member instead of your ex and you may discover that speaking to them gets easier.
Communicate the Way It’s Most Comfortable for You
How do you prefer to communicate? Are you part of the 31% of Americans who prefer texts to talking on the phone? Or maybe you prefer to talk face-to-face, when it’s possible? Or maybe the situation matters, and you prefer talking in different ways depending on what you’re talking about?
Don’t be afraid to ask to communicate the way it’s most comfortable for you. If you have a hard time not being reactive when you talk to your ex, ask if you can communicate through text messages so you have a chance to take a deep breath and collect your thoughts before responding. If you prefer phone calls, create boundaries around the times you’re willing to talk and when you’re not.
Focus on the Situation
There are things about your ex that caused you to get a divorce in the first place. Those things may continue to bother you, but instead of focusing on your ex and their behavior, try focusing on the situation.
For example, if you’re experiencing visitation issues, don’t deride your ex for not being there for your kids and share a few choice words about what kind of person they are. Instead, zero in on the situation, which is figuring out how they can spend more time with the kids. When you focus on the situation, you’re more likely to listen with an open mind and they’re less likely to get defensive.
Practice Active Listening
If you’re listening to your ex with the intent to formulate a response before they’re even done talking, you’re hearing but not actually listening to what they have to say. If you want to have more positive interactions with your ex, you need to practice active listening.
A few ways to practice active listening include:
- Giving good eye contact
- Asking open-ended questions
- Paraphrasing what you hear
- Withholding judgment in the moment
It’s also important not to interject when your ex is talking. You might be surprised by what you hear if you give them the space to finish their thought. Not to mention, it demonstrates respect. Your ex is more likely to return that respect when you’re willing to be respectful first.
Look For Positive Intent
Assuming positive intent requires you to spend less time thinking about what your ex is saying and doing and think a little bit more about why.
Your ex probably isn’t acting the way they’re acting just to get a rise out of you. The choices they’re making probably have nothing to do with you. Instead, there’s probably an underlying reason why they’re behaving the way they are.
Are they late picking up the kids because they’re working more to pay child support? Maybe they’re feeling defensive because of an interaction they had before talking to you?
When you start thinking about your communications from the angle of positive intent, you’re less likely to get offended and you’re able to build a deeper understanding with each other.
You don’t want to dread communicating with your ex after your divorce. When you get past the hurt and actively practice communicating in healthier ways, you’ll have a more harmonious relationship.