Divorcing a narcissistic spouse can be an incredibly challenging experience. Narcissists often exhibit manipulative behaviors and an unwillingness to compromise, making mediation even more complex. However, with the right approach and strategies in place, it's possible to successfully mediate a divorce with a narcissistic spouse. Here's a guide to help you navigate this difficult process:
1. Prepare Yourself Emotionally: Before entering mediation, understand that dealing with a narcissistic spouse may trigger strong emotions. Recognize that their behavior is a reflection of their personality traits and is not a reflection of your worth. Make sure that you have techniques to decrease your anxiety when you get provoked by something your former spouse says or does like deep abdominal breathing, taking a break and bringing the focus back to the business at hand. Seek support from a therapist, divorce coach, friends, or support groups to help you manage your emotions and maintain your emotional well-being.
2. Set Clear Goals: Define your priorities and objectives for the divorce mediation. Decide what outcomes are most important to you, whether it's child custody arrangements, financial settlements, or property division. Having clear goals will help you stay focused and assertive during negotiations.
3. Get Organized: Narcissists often try to manipulate situations to their advantage. To counter this, gather all relevant documentation, such as financial records, assets, debts, and any relevant communication. Being organized and having evidence will provide a factual basis for your negotiations and reduce the potential for manipulation.
4. Choose a Skilled Mediator: Selecting the right mediator is crucial when dealing with a narcissistic spouse. Look for a mediator experienced in high-conflict situations and who is well-versed in dealing with manipulative behaviors. A skilled mediator can help maintain a balanced and productive atmosphere during negotiations.
5. Establish Boundaries: Clearly communicate your expectations for respectful behavior during mediation sessions. If they attempt to cross these boundaries, calmly remind them of the agreed-upon rules and refocus the discussion on the topic at hand.
6. Stick to Facts and Logic: Narcissists often thrive on emotional manipulation and drama. To counteract this, focus on presenting facts, figures, and logical arguments. Stick to the relevant issues and avoid getting drawn into personal attacks or emotional discussions.
7. Use "I" Statements: When expressing your concerns or opinions, use "I" statements to keep the conversation centered on your perspective and needs. For example, say "I believe it's important for our children to have consistent routines" instead of "You never care about the kids' schedules."
8. Focus on the Long-Term: Remember that the divorce process is temporary, but the decisions made during this time can have long-lasting effects on your future. Keep your long-term goals in mind when making decisions and avoid getting caught up in short-term emotional battles.
Mediating a divorce with a narcissistic spouse requires patience, resilience, and strategic thinking. By preparing emotionally, staying focused on your goals, and utilizing effective communication techniques, you can navigate this challenging situation and achieve a successful resolution that allows you to move forward with your life. Remember, your well-being and that of any children involved are top priorities, and maintaining your composure and determination will help you achieve the best possible outcome.
When a marriage or any relationship is over, it can be difficult to communicate with each other in a productive way. There are so many emotions that are left over from your past experience that it’s hard to put that aside those emotions and focus on the present and future. It’s likely that your ex has a pattern of responding to you that isn’t healthy and it’s easy for you to become triggered and emotional. Then you react in an emotional way and before you know it, you’re escalating into old fighting patterns.
But there are specific ways to communicate with your ex that will prevent you from falling into old bad habits. Here are three steps to more positive communication with your ex:
Step 1: Start with something positive, specific and connecting to reduce the reactivity of your ex. Here are some examples:
You want to show them that you’re coming from a place of respect and collaboration. You’re sending a clear message that this is not an attack. This may be awkward at first but it will get easier with practice.
Step 2: Be clear and specific when you’re asking for something
Qualifiers like, “I was wondering” or “I’m just checking” or “I think” lead to confusion. It can sound like the subject is up for discussion. Cut out any superfluous words and use clear statements like:
This will enable you both to understand what the purpose is for the communication and there will be less misunderstanding.
Step 3: Tie it up with a positive short sentence:
Then end with, “Enjoy your day” or some other positive ending.
These steps can be used in person or by email. There’s less of a chance of the conversation going in the wrong direction if you’re communicating by email so that’s a safer way to start out. Once you’ve been using these steps for a while, you’ll see how you and your STBX can be interacting in a totally different way than you have in the past. You and your children will be happier and much better off!
For individuals going through a divorce, the holidays can be a challenging time. Finding ways to manage the difficulties of a divorce during the holidays is possible. The following helpful tips can make your holiday season a happy one.
Surround Yourself With Family and Friends
Regardless of the time of year, going through a divorce can be an extremely emotional and lonely time. Surrounding yourself with family and friends is a great way to feel supported while going through a divorce during the holidays.
Close family and friends will want to be supportive as you go through divorce. But they may not understand how isolating the holiday period is. Even if it’s a little uncomfortable, reach out to close family and friends to let them know you’re struggling. Tell them that you don’t have plans or that you’ll be alone. Being with family and friends can improve your mental health and keep your mind busy with something other than the divorce. Plan something fun with people you’re close to and you’ll start seeing a positive future for yourself and your children.
Make New Traditions
While the holiday season is always filled with traditions, going through a divorce is bound to change them. Making new traditions will help families who have children keep the holiday spirit and distract them from the challenges of change. It may be the first time your kids are spending the holidays with one parent instead of two so having new activities planned can help them better adjust to this new time in their life.
Take Care of All the Logistics
Make sure to take care of as many logistical aspects of parenting time before the holidays. When you’re dealing children and all of the busyness of the holiday season, it’s critical to get the parenting schedule settled way in advance. With the help of an experienced divorce coach, you can make sure that you’re prepared so there won’t be any last minute conflicts and you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays without stress.
As you’re going through divorce, you probably won’t have a set parenting schedule. You may want to avoid speaking to your STBX about this, knowing that it will be a tense conversation. But avoiding the conversation only makes things worse. If you don’t want to speak to your STBX, email is a great way to communicate. Have your divorce coach or a trusted friend read over the email before you send it. While it may be stressful, planning ahead makes it easier on everyone. Children benefit when they know what the schedule is. Communicate with your children about holiday schedules to alleviate any guilt or sadness they may be experiencing for spending the holidays with one parent versus both.
You Can Have a Happy Holiday Season as You Divorce!
Reflecting on the past around the holidays is common, but it’s crucial to try to put the past where it belongs - in the past. When going through a divorce during the holidays, try to think of the future and make a list of all the things you want to do in the next year. Getting excited for new experiences is a great way to let go of the sadness around divorce and start moving forward in your life. If you put the past in the past and focus on the future, it will be easier for you to develop new traditions with your friends, family, and children and will enable you to be grateful and enjoy the present.
Divorce is complicated and men are faced with specific issues that they deal with when going through a divorce. Here are 6 guidelines for men who are getting divorced.
1. PLAN AHEAD
Whether you are the one who decided to divorce or not, it’s essential that you have a plan on how you’re going to get through your divorce. You can save thousands of dollars and a ton of time and heartache by having a plan for your divorce process.
Below are some pointers to help you prepare and plan for your divorce:
2. STAY CIVIL WITH YOUR EX
If you're hoping to negotiate your way through your divorce, which is the process that I recommend, it's extremely important to be civil to your soon-to-be-ex (STBX). Put your emotions aside for now and focus on communicate effectively with your STBX.
It's important to stay calm and avoid being provoked by any aggressiveness or hostility. Divorce causes people to become emotional so empathize with your ex and understand that they’re going through a lot. It's also important to watch your tone and keep your anger in check.
Remember, the goal is to make the process as amicable as possible, especially if you have children. By keeping these things in mind, your divorce process will be much less stressful and more likely to produce a favorable result.
3. DON'T MOVE OUT IMMEDIATELY
It’s not pleasant to live with your STBX while you’re going through divorce. Many men will be quick to move out of the marital home because they think that it’s their responsibility to move out and let their children’s mother have the home. But that’s not usually the best solution because in many cases, the court will assume that the first spouse to leave the marital home needs it the least. In addition, moving out makes it more difficult to see your children and get property that you’ve left at the house.
Of course, this isn't always possible or practical. If you and your wife are having difficulty living together, it may be best for everyone if you give her some space by moving in with a friend or relative. But if you can hold out until you have an agreement, you won’t have to worry about access to your children or your property.
4. HAVE A SOLID PARENTING PLAN WITH YOUR STBX
Your parenting plan is the structure for how and when you’ll see your children after you divorce. Many dads don’t realize how important they are to their children and will give their children’s mother more time than they want to. Children need both parents in their lives so make sure that you have a significant amount of time with your children written into the parenting plan.
If you have joint custody of your children, try to make decisions together about their care and education. Respecting each other's parenting styles and schedules is important. By working towards positive co-parenting, you can help your children adjust to the divorce and ensure they have the support they need from both parents.
5. UNDERSTAND YOUR FINANCES
Most people don't think about the financial aspects of divorce until they're in the middle of it. But if you're getting a divorce, it's important to be as prepared as possible financially.
6. NEVER SAY ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT YOUR STBX IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDREN
When you say something negative about your children’s other parent, it hurts your children. If you really want to put your children as your priority, you will support their relationship with their other parent. Children love both of their parents and don’t want to be caught in the middle.
Studies have shown that children are hurt emotionally when their parents have a bad relationship. Even if your STBX doesn’t communicate well with you, it’s your responsibility to do the right thing. Ignore the negativity, take a break to collect yourself and respond in a respectful way. It takes two people to fight so if you’re not participating in it, it won’t go anywhere. You’ll never regret taking the high road and your kids will benefit.
You are not alone in this process; there are people who can help you through it. Seek out resources like a divorce coach, a therapist and a divorce support group to help you through this difficult time. And remember, the decisions you make during your divorce will impact the rest of your life, so take your time and make sure you make choices that are best for you and your family.
When a couple decides to divorce, it's an extremely emotional and challenging time. One of the most important decisions they will make is how to proceed with the separation process.
Many divorcing couples opt for mediation because it is one of the most effective and least expensive divorce processes. If you want to get your spouse on board to mediate your divorce, there are a few things you can do.
Focus On How It Can Benefit Both Of You
There are many benefits of mediation, especially when compared to going to court. Mediation is typically less expensive and quicker than going to court, and it also allows the parties to have more control over the outcome. In addition, mediation can help to preserve relationships and allow the parties to move on with their lives more quickly.
The mediator is impartial and doesn't take sides but facilitates communication and helps the parties find common ground. Because mediation is more collaborative than adversarial, it can often resolve complex issues more quickly and much more effectively than litigating your divorce through the courts.
If Your STBX Doesn't Want To Talk, Find Other Ways to Communicate
Divorce can be incredibly challenging when couples are not on speaking terms. In addition to the emotional toll, there can be confusion and misunderstandings. It’s important to find a way to communicate, either through email or text. Let your STBX (soon-to-be-ex) know that 95% of divorces don’t go to trial and that mediation is one of the most effective way to avoid a trial. An experienced mediator can provide guidance and support throughout the process and offer resources that can help couples resolve their differences.
If your STBX is against mediation in the beginning of your divorce, allow for some amount of time to pass before you bring up mediation again. As people learn more about the divorce process and how expensive attorneys are, they usually become more reasonable with respect to mediation.
Make It About Your Kids
Trained family mediators can assist you in developing communication and conflict resolution skills during their sessions. This can be extremely helpful after divorce, as both parents must be able to communicate effectively to constructively resolve conflicts for the good of the children.
The mediator can help you understand the root causes of the conflict, develop a plan for dealing with future disagreements, and create a parenting plan that is in your child's best interests. With the help of a mediator, you can learn to co-parent effectively and create a healthy environment for your child.
Never Force The Issue
It's important to remember that mediation is a process for couples who want to resolve their differences amicably. Trying to force your spouse to participate will only lead to frustration on both sides. Take a step back and let some time pass. Revisit the issue after you both have had time to educate yourselves and understand what your options are.
Mediation may be the best option for you if you are considering divorce and want to do it in the most amicable way possible. Mediation allows both parties to agree without going to court and often results in a fair settlement for everyone involved. In order to be on the same page as your spouse, it may take time, patience, and education for you to both agree that mediation is the best option for your divorce.
Children need structure, even as their parents are divorcing. Many parents feel that they can’t discipline their children because they’re dealing with so much emotionally. But by having clear, defined limitations for your children, it will help your children feel safe and secure which they need, particularly when they’re parents are divorcing.
While maintaining clear rules and limits is important, it’s also important for parents to choose their battles. Now is not the time to be extremely strict or add new rules. Start with one or two of your most critical rules and let your children know what they are. Make sure that they’re used to them before adding more. Give your children about 2 weeks to get used to a new rule before adding another one.
It’s also important to involve children in determining what the rules are. Let them make some of the rules themselves and try to come up with some together. You can even add some fun ones like, “Anyone who’s sad gets to choose what’s for dessert.” Post the rules somewhere in your home where everyone can see them. This enables everyone to be on the same page and avoids miscommunication.
Too many parents focus on negativity and punishment. If you recognize appropriate behavior and focus on the positive, your children will respond better. Even if there is only one thing that your child does that’s positive, point that out. Children gain so much more from positive reinforcement than negative attention.
Remember to work with your children’s other parent and not against them. You can have different parenting styles as long as you respect each other’s differences. Children don’t need you to be aligned on everything but they do need you to both message them that tell they must respect the other parent. Children do best when both parents are involved and they have a good working relationship with each other. You don’t have to be best friends with your children’s other parent, you just need to work effectively with each other.
Raising children isn’t easy and when the family is going through divorce, that creates even more complications. However, if you maintain structure for your children, choose your battles, focus on the positive and have a good working relationship with your children’s other parent, you are well on your way to having happy and healthy children.
Co-parenting effectively is important for your children’s well-being as well as for your own. In many cases co-parenting can be a challenge because going through divorce is one of the toughest experiences in life and both parties may feel overwhelmed and emotional. However, there are ways to co-parent where you can help your children grow and develop into happy and healthy adults.
Lay the groundwork: Letting go of the past and consciously choosing to approach the relationship as co-parents rather than exes can help make co-parenting easier. If you can let go of the past, it will help you put your emotions aside when you’re interacting with your ex. Work on being respectful and kind to your child’s other parent - it will go a long way toward having a productive co-parenting relationship.
Refraining from judgment and standing your ground: Realize that it’s ok for each parent to have a different style of parenting, and you should be respectful of each other’s views. Instead of cutting down each other’s parenting, “She’s too strict,” or “He’s coddling them,” realize that it’s normal for children to have to adapt to different styles even when switching between homes. There’s no one right way to deal with parenting issues. Try to give up your firm view of how to parent and compromise with your co-parent whenever possible. Remember you’re doing this for your children, not your ex.
Collaborating to support your child. Collaborate with your child’s other parent by communicating with them about important things that come up. For example, if your child got hurt during school or didn’t feel well when they were with you, letting the other parent know will help develop trust between you.
See the good in both parents - yourself and your ex. Recognize that each of you have good qualities that are good for your children. One parent may be crafty and do arts and crafts with the children while the other is better at teaching them math. Point out these differences and appreciate them about each other. Talk to your children about being grateful about having parents who have different strengths. Focus on the positives and let go of the negatives.
When you can work as a team with your co-parent for the benefit of your children, it will pay off. Communicate, compromise and focus on the positive and you’ll be able to become an effective co-parent and help your children grow into happy and healthy adults.
Are you dealing with an ex who has a difficult personality? Whether or not your ex has a clinical diagnosis doesn’t really matter - you just know that everything is harder than it needs to be when it comes to interacting with him or her as you go through your divorce. If your ex can be controlling and confident in how they talk to you, you may be concerned that they’re going to get exactly what they want. This can be intimidating!
Here’s the secret. They can say anything they want but that’s not reality. Just because he or she says something intimidating - like “I’m not paying alimony.” or “You have to move out of the house now!” - it doesn’t mean you have to listen. I’m going to share some important strategies when trying to come to an agreement with an ex who doesn’t know how to compromise.
Take back your power by implementing boundaries.
When your ex pressures you and tries to exert power over you, take back your power. This doesn’t happen through matching aggression. You can reclaim your power over the situation by setting a boundary.
Say “I can’t talk about this right now. I need a break” and walk away.
Or text: “I’m not going to be available for the next hour.”
Or, you don’t have to respond at all! Giving yourself the time and space to calm yourself down is powerful. This helps you maintain your integrity in the divorce process, no matter what’s thrown at you.
Don’t take it personally and keep it about your end goal.
It is crucial to remove the emotion from negotiating your agreement. It truly doesn’t matter what your ex says or thinks about you. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done in the past. That has no bearing on your future apart from them. What will affect your future is the agreement. No matter how your ex behaves, keep in mind that you don’t need your ex to be nice, but you do need a legal agreement. The legal agreement is your end goal.
Wait it out while conserving money and energy.
Your difficult ex may talk confidently and sound like they’re never going to budge. Once their attorney explains what’s realistic and after they see how much money can be wasted on legal fees, they usually become more reasonable. Even though it’s tempting, don’t feel the pressure to get your agreement done as fast as possible. Be patient. While you’re waiting, you can trust this - people usually get what’s fair according to the courts. After spending money on their attorney and getting frustrated with the process, most people eventually realize that they have to compromise to get through the process. While you’re waiting for this to happen - it can take anywhere from a month to several months - you want to spend the least amount of money and energy. If you don’t rush it, even the most difficult ex will usually come around. Or, the judge will require them to!
Use a mediator
Consider using a mediator to walk you through the process when dealing with a difficult ex. Mediators are trained in interacting with all kinds of people and can be the one to break through to your ex so that they realize that compromise is necessary.
Find strategies to keep yourself calm
Divorce is overwhelming and can be exhausting. You need strategies to be able to remain calm. Anytime your ex or their lawyer comes at you in an aggressive manner, it’s difficult. Recognize when you’re overwhelmed and take a step back. You can take back your power when you learn to avoid reacting and think through how you want to respond.
If you can be patient, keep yourself calm, and think about your long term goals, you’ll reach an agreement with your challenging ex. It may be a difficult journey but it’s worth it in the end!
Are you in control of your anger, or is your anger controlling you? During divorce, a certain amount of anger is normal and appropriate. But many people get stuck in their anger and have anger be your baseline emotion on a daily basis. When this happens, you may lose touch with your priorities and make poor judgments. Holding onto anger can feel like being in control but it can actually leave you bitter and result in you acting irrationally. Here are some clues that anger has hijacked your decisions during divorce.
What should you do if your anger has been calling the shots? Letting go of anger in divorce takes work. But identifying that it’s there is a positive first step! Anger usually covers up other emotions like sadness or disappointment. I recommend spending some time trying to get to the root of your anger and letting yourself experience the sadness and other emotions that might be behind the anger. Journaling or therapy are great ways to explore all of your emotions to find out what’s going on behind anger. Also, you can check out my blog - Letting Go of Anger in Divorce - to help you with this process.
As you go through the complicated and overwhelming divorce process, you start to realize how much time and money you’re spending. This can be extremely frustrating. Many people think hiring an attorney is the best way to protect yourself and your financial well-being. However, understanding how to communicate with your attorney as well as other divorce professionals can actually save you both time and money and decrease your stress.
Here are the roles of some of the key players that can be part of your divorce support team:
An Attorney takes care of the legal aspect of divorce. But they aren’t trained to handle the emotional piece. And divorce is extremely emotional. So if you vent to your attorney about your ex or talk to them about your children, they’re going to charge you a lot for the conversation (more than a Divorce Coach or Therapist) and they probably won’t help you very much. You should talk to your attorney about: questions about the law, how to get through the legal process and what you should expect to receive financially and regarding custody given your individual situation.
A Divorce Coach can help you decide who you need on your team and how to use each person effectively. They can also help you navigate the emotional piece of divorce so that you can start to think clearly and develop a plan for your future life. You should talk to your Divorce Coach about: questions you have about the overall process, strategies for communicating with your ex, or advice for helping the kids. A divorce coach is the one to turn to for expert advice about how the whole process works and helps you know what to consider for the future.
A Therapist can help you process the emotional aspect of divorce - the grief, anger, sadness, loneliness and stress. what emotions the divorce You should talk to your Therapist about: what emotions the divorce brings up, how your past impacts what you're feeling now and how to build your confidence and self-esteem.
A Financial Advisor or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst helps you think through decisions today that will affect your financial future and also helps you make a plan to achieve your financial goals. You should talk to your Financial Advisor about: your assets, your debts, your income, retirement plans and how to create financial stability.
A Divorce Mediator works with you and your ex and helps you come to an agreement. This can save massive amounts of money as you eliminate the need to communicate through attorneys and helps the process to be less adversarial than using lawyers. Much, if not all, of what you need to accomplish legally can be handled by a skilled mediator. You should talk to your Divorce Mediator about: who gets what, parenting plans, what really matters to you, what seems fair to you and where you are willing to compromise.
With support from a team of divorce professionals, you can be confident that you are going to lay a solid groundwork for your future without wasting unnecessary time and money. Divorce is stressful, but it can be manageable when you effectively utilize the expertise of each person on your team.
Living with your STBX (soon-to-be-ex) is really hard! If you have children together, that makes it even more difficult because you're going to have to learn to communicate and work together. The good news is you won't be living together forever and I’m here to give you some solid help on how to live together during divorce more effectively.
The biggest key to navigating living together during divorce is to make some ground rules! Rules can protect each of you and provide boundaries during a time when things could get heated really quickly. Here are some ground rules that work well for other couples living together during the divorce process:
I hope these ideas help you navigate this tough time period that you’re in the same house with your STBX. These suggestions will help make this time less painful for you, your kids and your soon-to-be-ex.
Every parent wants their kids to turn out happy and emotionally well. In fact, many people delay divorce because they’re worried about how it will affect their children. But believe it or not, studies have shown that divorce is not what hurts kids. What hurts kids is high conflict between their parents, which they tend to internalize.
For years, research has shown that the quality of interaction between separated and divorced parents is a strong predictor of the mental health and psychological well-being of children. Although it may be difficult to get along with your ex, the more that you can minimize conflict, the better your children will be. Kids can actually thrive through divorce. Here are 2 BIG ways to help them.
Co-parent respectfully in front of your children. Never fight or argue in front of your children. Fighting in front of children can be extremely damaging. I know this may feel impossible, but you can do this. Take deep abdominal breaths every time you’re triggered by your ex. Think through how you’ll respond. Call your friend or family member to talk about how to respond in a respectful way. Ask yourself if you have to respond at all. Keep your children front of mind. No matter how angry or emotional you are, you can protect your children by changing how you interact with your ex.
Think of your ex as if he or she were a colleague or coworker. What does this mean exactly? Don’t think about the relationship when you were married because you have a different relationship now. You’re co-parents, not husband and wife. Try to relate to each other in a businesslike fashion without emotion. Put on your professional hat and know that how you feel about your ex is less important than how you act toward him or her. If one of the parties is not being respectful, the other can say, “Let’s take a break and speak about this later.” Keep in mind three rules:
If your ex doesn’t abide by these guidelines, keep at it and eventually your ex should begin to follow your lead. It may take a little longer for your ex to get on board. Keep reminding him or her, “For the good of our children, we need to be respectful and work together.”
You can do this! Your kids are worth the effort.
Want more tips to help you not only survive but thrive during separation and divorce? Take a look at my free webinar, 3 Critical Strategies to Save Time, Money and Heartache in Divorce.
Divorce and separation are challenging no matter what, but when you have a difficult ex, the challenge increases exponentially. However, it can be managed, with the right perspective and some proactive strategies.
Your ex may have made you feel bad about yourself during your marriage/relationship so your self-esteem is low. You may be exhausted from years of dealing with your ex’s difficult behavior and you can get triggered by this. How do you co-parent when it’s so hard to control your emotions? Follow these 5 guidelines to make co-parenting with a difficult ex more effective:
1. Build your self-esteem and be patient with yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend. Be patient with yourself – if you mess up, recognize that you’re learning how to deal with a very difficult situation. Change your self-talk from “I can’t believe I let her get to me.” to “I’m doing the best I can and it’s ok.”
2. Don’t get triggered by your ex’s provocative remarks. This is easier said than done. If you can take a pause before you respond, you’ll give yourself the time to think through how you’d like to handle the situation. A pause enables you to respond rather than react. Take a few deep breaths, meditate, call a friend – anything that helps you calm down.
3. Seek a parenting coordinator through the courts. Courts can appoint a parenting coordinator to coordinate scheduling and communication issues between the parents. It’s helpful to have a professional who is trained to deal with high conflict divorce handle these issues.
4. Develop your divorce strategy. What are your priorities? What kind of life do you want in 6 months or 1 year? Without a strategy, you can get derailed by your ex’s behavior. Remind yourself why you’re leaving the marriage and what kind of life you want going forward. This will give you perspective beyond the current struggle.
5. Don’t make your child the middleman. Don’t use your child to send messages to the other parent, don’t vent to your child about the other parent and don’t ask your child for information about the other parent. Let your children know that it’s not ok to do those things and if either parent tries to do any of those behaviors, they will know that it’s not ok. They can learn to set boundaries with their other parent.
The life you want is waiting for you. Ignore the noise that’s coming from your ex and celebrate that it can’t control you anymore. Focus on the present moment, breathe deeply, notice nature, appreciate freedom. Once you recognize that finding your peace has nothing to do with anyone else, you’ll have the life that you’ve been dreaming of.
We can get provoked or “triggered” by many things – a fight with a spouse, a child who won’t listen, a boss who treats you badly, an aggressive driver, etc. Being triggered simply means that some event has impacted us emotionally and we have a difficult time reacting rationally. When we’re triggered, we do things that we shouldn’t do. We yell back at our spouse or child, we say something inappropriate to our boss, or we leave in a huff. How wonderful would it be if we could somehow, in the moment that we are triggered, find a way to detach?
One skill that you may have tried in the past when you’ve been triggered is deep abdominal breathing. Deep abdominal breathing is where you push your stomach out as you breath in and pull your stomach in as you breath out. This enables your lungs to expand much farther than if you take the typical “chest breath”. When you do it correctly and for long enough, your brain will release a hormone that will calm you. This calm will enable you to detach. Once you’re detached, you can respond logically rather than emotionally.
Sometimes deep abdominal breathing doesn’t work. You try it and you’re still triggered and unable to detach. Grounding is another technique that can be helpful in these circumstances. Grounding is a type of coping strategy that is designed to “ground” you in or connect you to the present moment. You can only use grounding if you have given yourself some space from the person that you were interacting with. You can say that you have to go to the bathroom, ask them if you can talk about this a little later or find some other way to get to a separate space. Once you’ve gotten to a separate space, you can try these steps for grounding:
The key to being successful with these techniques is to practice them when you’re not being triggered. You can also make up your own method of grounding that enables you to distract and detach yourself from your emotions. Learning to detach is a powerful tool that can help you to be more successful in your communication skills and improve your relationships with your spouse, children, boss and anyone else important in your life. Let me know what techniques work for you!
On average, 40% of all first marriages end in divorce, and over half of those families have children under the age of 18. When you add to that the 57% of millennials choosing to have children outside of a marital union, there are lot of parents who are not living under the same roof. Under the best of circumstances, raising a child is difficult, but when you’re divorced or not living together, it brings a lot of additional challenges.
Ideally, both parents share childcare responsibilities – and the quality of their co-parenting relationship can be characterized by the extent to which they support or fail to support each other. When parents fail to cooperate, it can have consequences for all involved. For years, research has shown that the quality of interaction between separated parents is a strong predictor of the mental health and psychological well-being of children living in this type of family structure and young children especially are at higher risk for anxiety, aggressive behavior, and poor social skills. If you can’t manage to get along, it can cause lasting mental and emotional problems for your kids.
In such situations, having a support network is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. All parents going through divorce or separation need supportive people that they can talk to, so they don’t speak to their children about any ill feelings about the other parent. A therapist, a friend, a family member, a clergy member, or any supportive individual can make the difference between frustration and anger and learning how to manage your emotions.
The following rules an help to build a healthy co-parenting environment:
Following these rules – even if you’re not on the same page as your ex - is a gift to your children. They will benefit tremendously from having a secure, reliable relationship with both parents. And if you find that you fall off the wagon sometimes, don’t beat yourself up - the rules aren’t always easy to follow. Admit to your child that you made a mistake, apologize and move on. The gift your child will receive is less anxiety and more stability, as you and your ex work together for their well-being.
Jill Barnett Kaufman is a Divorce Coach, Therapist, Parent Educator and Divorce Mediator. She is an experienced professional who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges when considering divorce, starting the process of divorce or are already divorced.