Dealing with Divorce- Developing the Courage to Communicate Differently
If you are unhappy with the relationship with your ex, then it is time to make a change.
Divorce...the word itself has such a stigma attached to it. When I tell someone that I am divorced the first words out of their mouth are ' I'm sorry.' What do you think of? Fighting, bitterness, a family broken apart, financial struggles, broken hearted kids and parents, etc. It is frustrating to observe so many families stuck in the pattern of battle over many years. The pain, the battles, the heart ache is so draining that who wants to put any more energy into it. It is easier to give up. Don't give up! Make the choice to try new approaches in communication. In this article I provide tools to try out when coping with divorce that may make your family stronger. The prerequisite to communicating differently...develop guts!
Every family is different and every situation unique. I am not here to tell you what to do. This article is meant to get your creative juices flowing so you can create the blue print for your family's happiness. I made a decision when I got divorced that it was going to be different. I would except nothing else. My ex agreed, and when his new wife came into the picture she jumped on board. It has not been easy. We all have had to work at it, and it keeps getting better and better. We could see we would have to spend the next 15 years in close contact. Our common goal: We want to make the best of it, and not fill it up with pain. The key is communication! If your current communication tool is not working, dig into your tool belt and choose another option. If you do not have the right tool, then find it. Below are 5 tools to get you started that may come in handy.
1- Develop Yourself in Mind, Body, and Spirit. The better you feel about yourself the less you will live as a reaction to others. Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling at any given moment. When someone makes a comment to you and you feel pain it is probably one of three reasons. First, there may be a part of you that agrees with them. As you develop a stronger personal foundation you eliminate the part of you that may agree with the insult. Secondly, you take what they say personally when it is really about the other person. For example: If your ex exhibits anger because you never took care of his/her needs and you feel that you went above and beyond the call of duty, then look at it from the view point that your ex probably has screaming unmet needs that he/she has not been able to fill. This is causing a void in his/her life that brings out anger. You then develop compassion for him/her. Please do not mistake compassion for taking care of your ex or tolerating the anger. Compassion in this context is a state of mind that you do not need to act upon externally. It simply is a shifting of your attitude towards the other person. Thirdly, you may need to set up stronger boundaries. This does require action. Make a decision about what you will and will not put up with and stick to it. An example may be if someone raises their voice to you it ends the conversation. You inform them of your boundary. You can not change others. You can become stronger yourself.
2- Compartmentalize Strengths and Weaknesses. No one (or at least very few) are all good or all bad. People are often puzzled by my relationship with my ex and his wife. I have recently recognized that I have the ability to compartmentalize. Therefore, I can see my ex for all that he is. In other words, look for the strengths in people rather than focusing on their faults (which is really only what you perseave to be their faults and not necessarily the truth). Again, the perceptions that we have are not truth. They are only our opinion. When you can focus on the positives you can change the energy flow of the relationship. 3- As Humans We Want to Be Liked, Respected, and Appreciated. This is pretty straight forward. Think about the past when you had to make a dreaded phone call and the person is actually in a good mood and says something nice for a change. What a relief! It quickly shifts your mood, tone, and the energy of the conversation. Compare it to a business relationship when you have to deal with that difficult customer. When you help them to feel good about who they are, you contribute to the relationship rather than contaminate it. 'Kill 'em with kindness' is how the saying goes. Right? Let's face it, most people don't get their fill of pats on the backs. When we get one we appreciate it and are often inspired to do more on our part.
4- Take a Risk to Communicate Differently. If the relationship with your ex is putting a damper on your life then consider stepping out and taking a risk to make a change. You may want to have a meeting with your ex and any significant others. Have it in a neutral zone such as a restaurant, coffee shop, or a park. Try to find a common goal that you can all get excited about. Use honest communication with compassion. Use your guts! Try something new.
5- Work to create a win/win family environment. Remember that if you win your ex loses, and vice versa. You know how it feels to lose. Get creative and find ways that you can all win. Reflect upon how geese fly in their V formation. They all know where they are headed and are prepared to take the lead at any time. The geese receive uplift from the flapping of the wings of the geese in front of them. At any given moment a member of the flock is able to take over the lead without a fight so that the leader can drop back and rest. Working together in this mannner they are able to maintain speed with the least amount of effort to reach their common goal. Each member of the flock is contributing to create a winning environment for all members.
Keep in mind that this is a process, not a magic trick. Take a small step, use your courage, and communicate...Starting Now!
About the Author
Beth Tabak is a Professional Life Coach and owner of Starting Now. She coaches business professionals and those who want to make big changes to upgrade their business while upgrading their life. Prioritize, systemize, stay focused, and take action. Working with a coach adds support and accountability for greater success. E-mail to set up a free 'Try It Out' session and have your questions answered. To learn more e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.