Technology is constantly advancing, and with it, so are the ways we communicate. Instead of hoping to catch someone on the phone while they are in their house, we can talk to them whenever and wherever we want. In theory, this seems like a great idea. However, sometimes it can be overwhelming and stressful, especially when the person who is trying to communicate with you is your ex.
Feelings are guaranteed to get hurt when a relationship turns sour, and sometimes it can be difficult to see past the disdain or hatred one has for their ex-spouse. Making a clean break is nearly impossible if children are involved, and sometimes your former flame can make it difficult to successfully co-parent. Whether they are leaving broken hearted voicemails or sending you texts about how you're failing to be a good parent (at least, in their eyes), constant communication can be a huge stressor and only add fuel to the fire of resentment.
To prevent yourself from getting caught up in a heated battle of words with your ex, there are a few rules you can follow to reduce stress and tension, in turn allowing you to be part of a successful and thriving co-parent team.
- Decide how you want to communicate with your ex. Do you want to speak via short text messages in an attempt to minimize any chance of drama, or would you like to speak in depth over the phone a few times a week? This really depends on how well you and your ex get along. If you remained friends and there is no hostile energy between you two, then maybe you can even go the extra mile and meet for coffee or having mother-father-child outings. If you can't even be in the same room as your former spouse without feeling like your blood is beginning to boil, then it is best to communicate from a distance (text or e-mail) and keep it short and to the point.
- Create a timetable. We live in a society that craves instant gratification, and we expect to get responded to in a very short period of time. How many times have you received multiple phone calls or messages in the span of an hour from your ex accusing you of ignoring them or demanding a response? To avoid these situations, agree on a time period with your spouse that would act as a window to respond to them. For instance, you would have an hour to respond to a phone call, text message or E-mail during the evening hours or over the weekend, and 2 hours while you are at work.
- Wait before responding. If you get a snarky text along the lines of "I told you to pick Jack up from school today and you were half an hour late. You need to get your priorities in line and learn to be a responsible parent," ignore it. Do not respond right away. Let the message stew and your anger diminish before continuing the communication. Instead of saying, "I was at work earning the money I pay you each week for child support. Maybe you should try getting a job and see how difficult it is to change your schedule last minute", say "I changed my schedule as much as I could so I could pick Jack up after school, but there was an emergency meeting at work that I couldn't get out of. Next time this happens, I will let both you and the school know that I will be running late".
- Set limits. Unless there is an emergency, try to not contact your former spouse after 9 or 10 o'clock at night. There isn't really a need to ask your ex-husband if he made sure your daughter dried her hair before she went to bed. These types of questions will be seen as annoying, and may even violate court orders or agreements.
- Hit "Ignore". Does your ex call, text or e-mail you multiple times every day, just to rant or berate you? If the answer is yes, it's okay to simply ignore them. Eventually, they will learn that you do not want to speak if it is only going to lead to hostility. Sometimes, things just don't require a response from you.
Adapting these rules to fit your specific situation can make co-parenting a whole lot easier. With set guidelines in place, you and your spouse can avoid having a stressful or strained relationship. This will not only benefit you, but also your child. And after all, isn't the best interest of your child the ultimate goal, anyway?