Seven Simple Strategies for Befriending Your Ex After Divorce

Ending a marriage takes an enormous toll on your emotional life.  Many people don’t expect divorce to be as painful as it is, even if you were the initiator.  And if you were not the initiator, feeling traumatized and stressed-out are the norm. One of the first stresses you as a divorced parent faced is creating a healthy relationship with your ex spouse or soon-to-be ex spouse. My new book, Befriending Your Ex After Divorce: Making Life Better for You, Your  Kids and Yes, Your Ex  (New Harbinger Publications, January 2013) spells out why befriending your ex is a challenge worth taking and how to do it on a practical and emotional level.  One main message of my book is:  It’s important to befriend your ex because research finds that children do better when they have two loving parents they can count on. Second, befriending your ex can make your life easier, more stable, and more satisfying.  The key to befriending your ex is learning to manage  your feelings. This means learning to live with and let go of emotional fallout: grief and disappointment, anger  and resentment –not easy or simple tasks. But here are a number of specific and helpful things you can do to get started.  While all of them may not be right for you at this moment, see if you can find one or two strategies that you can do. Take a risk, now:

  • Compliment Your Ex on Something Ordinary: “Thanks for getting the kids home on time.  Knowing I can count on you makes my life run smoothly.”
  • Compliment Your Ex on Something Special: “The kids loved that pizza with mushrooms you brought over last week!”
  • Remind Your Children to Remember Your Ex’s Special Days: “Did you remember Mom’s birthday? Let’s go get a gift or card for Father’s Day.”
  • Include Your Ex in a Fun Moment: “The kids and I are making popcorn tonight, wanna join us?”
  • Work at Developing Compassion for Your Ex. Consciously remember the positive qualities and strengths you admired when you first met your ex.
  • Honor Old Rituals. Invite your ex’s sister or brother to one of the children’s family celebrations at your house.
  • Create New Rituals. Invite your ex to join you at a dinner to celebrate one of the children’s birthdays or a good report card.

Posted by Judy Rabinor

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