Navigating the co-parenting relationship can be difficult. It certainly has been for me. It’s taken me almost four years to manage, and I have still not mastered it. It does take time. But I have learnt some great things over the years and I would love to share them with you. Here are 5 tips to deal with a difficult ex-partner.
1. It’s not about you.
My ex has always said horrible things to me. He tells me he hopes I die and that he feels sorry for our daughter having me as a mother. Yep… OUCH!! And those are some of the nicer things he says to me. He has so much anger towards me for ending the relationship and moving back to my home town (despite agreeing to it at the time) that he lashes out at me at every opportunity. I am surprised that his level of anger has not diminished.
I used to get so upset by his words and take them to heart. I didn’t understand why someone would be so horrible and nasty to me. I used to cry and cry after reading the latest text message or after having a phone conversation with him.
Now I know that it’s not about me at all. It’s about HIM and his need to say things to hurt me. It’s also about his own grief about the relationship ending and the fact that he doesn’t see his daughter as much as he’d like to. Since coming to that realisation, his words don’t affect me too much. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t enjoy hearing those kinds of things from him, but I have learned to not let it affect me so much because I understand the motivation. If you can do this too, it will change your life for the better.
2. Don’t get sucked into the drama
Sometimes a good rant to a friend or family member will make you feel so much better and is a MUCH better option than engaging in unnecessary conversations and arguments with a difficult ex-partner. It’s easy for the past to be brought up time and time again. Stay calm and stay focused on the issue at hand, and pull it back when it veers off track.
I spent years having the exact same argument with my ex over and over again. It’s emotionally draining, frustrating and unnecessary. As soon as I learnt to stop engaging in these arguments, our relationship got better.
3. Look at it as a business relationship
I like to think of my co-parenting relationship like a business relationship. I don’t engage in any personal conversations, I stick to the point at hand, and I always remain civil. I treat my ex just like I would a colleague, or anyone I come across in a café or restaurant. People often say to me “Why are you so nice to him?” and it’s true, he probably doesn’t deserve it. But at the end of the day, he is my daughter’s father, and I am setting an example for my daughter. I know that at least I have stayed true to who I am, and I am not behaving in a way that I will ever regret.
Having said that, there is a line. I will not tolerate any nasty or abusive treatment, especially in front of my daughter, or in my home. And I do tell him that when it occurs. I also don’t want my daughter thinking that that kind of treatment is normal or acceptable. But I keep it business like, and speak how I would to a colleague in that sort of situation.
This has helped me immensely over the years. I started doing this about two years ago, and life is SO much better.
4. Think about how you respond
Respond, don’t react. Leave your emotions out of it, and just look at the facts. Whilst we cannot control the behaviour and actions of others, we can choose how and if we respond, and how we react. This is something that is in your hands and it really can diffuse or prevent an argument.
5. Write down and recite affirmations
If you are really struggling, writing down some affirmations and sticking them where you will see them can be very helpful. Here are some ideas:
- I no longer believe the hurtful words that (insert name) says to me
- What (insert name) says to me IS NOT FACT
- I am a strong individual
- I am happy and much better off without (insert name)
- I will let the words of (insert name) wash over me
- I will no longer let (insert name) know that his words hurt me, and more importantly, I will no longer let them hurt me
- I always overcome challenges
- I will move forward with my life
- My life has improved so much since my relationship has ended and I will continue to grow as a person
Remember that dealing with a difficult ex partner really is a working progress, and these things take time. It’s normal for emotions to be extreme during and initially after separation, particularly if there are legal battles going on too.
These tips are definitely easier said than done, but all you can do is practice, practice, practice. And over time, practice makes perfect.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Are you thinking about leaving your partner but not sure how, or if you should?
- Have you already decided to leave your partner and need assistance to help you get the ball rolling?
- Have you just parted ways with your partner, and feeling lost?
- Have you been single for a little while now and need assistance with getting your life back on track and feeling empowered?
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The purpose of the Clarity Call is:
1. For me to get to know you and understand an overview of your current situation and where you are at.
2. For us to establish what you need assistance with to move forward.
3. To see if we are a good fit to work together.
I look forward to chatting with you xx
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