End the emotional turmoil by avoiding confrontation with your co-parent
No one said that divorce would be easy. Although many people look forward to the legal dissolution of their marriage as the end of a stressful chapter of their lives, it’s also the beginning of a new set of challenges.
After all, your inability to get along likely led you down this path to begin with—and now you have to establish a new relationship that requires collaboration to raise your children in a peaceful environment. If you’re finding yourself in a continuous cycle of conflict, consider the following suggestions for ending arguments, or avoiding them altogether.
Fight, flight, or freeze
Both parties often have residual anger about not only the end of the relationship but also the legal battle that followed. You may feel you’re still in ‘fight’ mode when all you want to do is move on, yet ‘flight’ is not an option, because you have a solemn shared responsibility: to take good care of your children. Retreating and doing nothing—‘freezing’—doesn’t work either. You simply have to find a way forward.
The first step towards establishing a new foundation to build upon is to accept that you may never get the closure or justice that you feel entitled to. And although you can work toward moving past those issues, you can’t force your co-parenting partner to do the same—which can spark ongoing disagreements. Work on doing the following instead:
Remember your purpose
You want what’s best for your kids. That may be the only reason you are continuing any form of a relationship with your ex. Keep that in mind and also try to focus on the health, happiness, and general well-being of your children.
Don’t engage in personal discussions. Don’t try to make the other parent see the error of their ways in your previous relationship. Don’t worry about their personal life unless it affects your children. And don’t discuss the other person with, or send messages through, your children. Raising your kids well is the most important job you’ll ever have in your life, and the other parent is your business partner. Maintaining a professional demeanor in your communications can help avoid conflict.
Find new ways to communicate
Identify when the arguments start and how they continue. Sometimes, it’s easy to speak without considering your words, and even easier to react. If a conflict happens whenever you talk on the phone or see each other in person, try to limit communication to text, perhaps through an app dedicated for that purpose, which can help avoid the personal nature of some text messages. Also, remember that not every comment warrants a response and not every time is ideal for replying. Wait until you feel calmer, or just choose to move on from the conversation completely.
Decide what you want
Do you want to win? Do you want power over the other person? Or do you just want to move on with your life and find a new normal for the next chapter of your family? It’s likely (and hopefully) the latter.
When you start feeling provoked, remember that you’re fighting a losing battle as long as you’re fighting. If the matter at hand doesn’t affect the well-being of your children, “let” the other person “win.” Your ex doesn’t have to agree with you—and is unlikely to do so. Stop trying to convince them. Not everything will be right or fair, but you have a job to do together—so refocus on what’s important.
Give it time
Start establishing that you won’t be engaging in arguments—by staging a graceful exit every time one begins. State that you don’t want to argue and that it may be best to revisit this conversation later when you’re both in a different frame of mind. Once you’ve calmed down and considered what you want to say, begin the conversation again by acknowledging that the previous discussion wasn’t headed in the right direction and you’d like to work this out without fighting.
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t get along, it might be time to consider professional help. A therapist may be able to mediate the situation in a way that will enable you to have calmer conversations in the future. Remember that the best interests of your children are at stake and that you may have to make sacrifices or concessions to secure a future where both parents can raise your kids effectively and peacefully.
Family Plan is committed to empowering parents after divorce or separation and creating harmony by improving collaboration, helping with organization, and simplifying payment obligations to reduce stress and eliminate potential conflict. Download our app to get started.