Depending on what stage of your divorce you're in or what kind of day you've had -- or "what kind" of divorce you're in -- you might want to call me crazy if you heard me saying that you and your ex are "in a relationship." And I get that -- but really, you are. Dictionary definitions of "relationship" describe it as the state of "being connected" and it is the "way people regard and behave toward each other."
The truth is, especially if you have kids, you and your ex are going to be "connected" for a long, long, time. Even if you don't have kids together, during the period of the divorce -- which unfortunately often drags on for a what can seem like forever -- you will be connected with your ex while the issues of your dissolution (the divorce) are resolved. The nature of your relationship has undoubtedly changed -- the parameters are not the same -- but you are still "connected" and you are still communicating and engaging in behaviors with each other and which affect each other. While I am not suggesting that your ex is still your best friend -- maybe she/he will be or maybe not -- I am saying that it's a good idea to nurture the "relationship" and make conscious choices...just like in any relationship.
An important aspect of any relationship is good communication. We usually speak with our "besties" in a respectful way, conscious of their feelings, even if we are expressing something difficult. The same holds true when communicating with divorcing spouses. It doesn't have to mean that you still like/love/enjoy/trust/etc. that person -- in most divorces, even if exes eventually become "friends", there is usually a period of being "anti-friends." Probably there are times when you are not seeing eye to eye. At all. In most divorces there are major, important, disagreements -- about custody schedules and custody support and spousal support and who gets to stay in the family home and who gets to keep the dining room table that you both lovingly picked out every piece of wood for, etc. Etc.
And still...what I am suggesting is that even in the really tough times, if you work to keep the relationship and the communication respectful, you will feel better and things -- even the terrifically difficult issues -- will get resolved a lot easier.
- Good communication tips: utilize non-aggressive language and body posture; take deep breaths and hit the "pause" button if you need to in the middle of any communication;
- I'm not saying this is always easy; I'm not saying that sometimes you aren't dealing with Satan on the other side (future blog post: "Parenting with Satan").