It can be extremely difficult to let go of the conflicts that caused a marriage to fall apart. However, it’s vital we disengage ourselves. Failure to do so may negatively affect the way we react to situations post-separation. Change your thinking and treat this time as an opportunity to give yourself fresh start on life. Don’t dwell on or analyze the circumstances that caused the divorce to happen.
Think of your ex as a piece of fly paper. Every time you have contact, you will get stuck. Find ways of solving your issues with your ex in your own world. Be creative without being sneaky.
Engage in your children’s safety by educating them. Make them responsible in bringing the things they need with them from one house to another and ready to go when you pick them up. If they are involved in sports or some other activity, they need to bring what they need with them, etc. Teach them to swim if the ex takes them around pools. Get them into habits at your house that will keep them safe at you ex’s. These things will help you stop worrying about what goes on when you’re not around.
Make an agreement with your kids that they don’t come home and tell what the other parent said or did, what the new person in their life is like, or that dad/mom doesn’t do it that way. They should understand that each house has its own rules they are expected to follow.
Have a counselor for the kids. This way, if there are any safety issues for behaviors that may need attention, they are addressed from a professional – not you. This will have a much greater effect and keep arguments between you and your children at minimum. They will also appreciate that their voice is being heard.
Think out of the box. I had a father come to class so stuck and locked up in the divorce conflict, he truly believed everything his ex did was wrong. Litigation seemed the only solution to solve any problem. When asked what the main issue was, he said his ex was irresponsible with his two boys, ages 8 and 10. He explained how his ex and her new boyfriend liked to go to the desert to ride quad runners and motorcycles. The safety of his boys riding these machines was a big concern for him.
I explained to him that was only his perception and it was unlikely he would be able to stop her from taking their boys on these trips, and the court would likely do nothing to stop the activity as well. After hearing this, he was at a loss. He became even more upset because the situation was beyond his control. This was only one small issue he had with his ex and her boyfriend, but it turned out to be the lynch pin that got the rest of the issues in perspective and under control.
I suggested rather than argue withy his ex about the trips to the desert and the safety issues, he take the boys to a motorcycle safety course to learn all about the proper equipment and safety rules. He looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but agreed to think about it. The very next week, he enrolled the boys in a weekend long class. Two weeks later, he came back to class excited about the experience he shared with his boys and how they are going to take motocross classes. He was happy to have found a new way to share the experience with his children. When asked about the safety issues, he said his boys took the safety training with them to their mother and wouldn’t ride unless they had the proper equipment and supervision. The boys were empowered to be in charge of their own safety and equipped with the proper education.
Dad now had a new connection with his boys, as well as new way of thinking about how to handle things with his ex. Soon, the entire dynamic of the conflict changed and dissipated over time. Dad became less stuck in his persistence and less concerned with what was going on at the other house.
His underlying fear was that he would become disconnected with his boys and they would want to spend wore time with mom. Through this change in perspective, he found a new way of relating with his kids that they took with them into mom’s world. In other words, he was always with them even when they were with their mom.
© Brook Olsen 2007