Work to create a more amiable communication pattern for the sake of family and friends.

How to Communicate With an Ex-Spouse

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Transitioning from married to divorced can include significant amounts of conversation with your ex that can continue throughout life if you have children together. Rather than dooming yourself to a life of conflict and negative feelings, put your negative history behind you and commit to treating each other with acceptance and appreciation, according to Bill Ferguson on FamilyEducation.com. Ferguson is an attorney-turned-divorce consultant and author of “Heal the Hurt That Runs Your Life.”

1. Focus

When communicating with your ex, and children are involved, remember that they are watching your behavior and determining how to deal with someone you might have conflict with, according to "Huffington Post" guest columnist Laura Campbell, divorce strategist and life coach. Your kids are your greatest priority and the goal is to make sure their needs are taken care of. Your ex could be a great parent, and willing to lay aside what didn’t work in your marriage for what works now for the sake of your kids. To accomplish this, Campbell suggests you compliment him for what he does well, share stories about the kids, make patience a habit, realize your kids will share the good and bad with their other parent and that flexibility can benefit both of you.

2. New Strategies

Now that you don’t live together, you might find that you can lay aside the patterns of negative communication from your past. If your spouse just wants to win, determine whether it is worth it to rise to the occasion when he tosses out a challenge. You could say, “I never thought of it that way,” and leave it at that, or say, “I’ll have to give that some thought and get back to you.” Not rising to the occasion when the price is low could stop the bouncing tennis ball and end the match because you will not play, according to Ferguson. Take a different tack if your ex is working at something you cannot lose, such as trying to set your kids against you like pawns in a chess match or hurting those you love.

3. Buffering

When communicating with your ex is always emotional, a buffer could help lessen the tension. Communicate through letters, email or texts where you can evaluate your response and edit out unnecessary emotion before you hit send. You could ensure that you meet in public places with witnesses if he has a habit of ambushing you with hurtful words or behavior. An audience could require his best behavior if he cares about how others perceive him, and a paper trail can help demonstrate your side if you have to go back to court at a later date. These strategies, and a good therapist, can help you with an ex who is caught in character traps such as the narcissist, the victim, control freak and avenger as characterized by Mark Banschick, M.D., in Psychology Today

4. Become Assertive

If you don’t’ live with your ex now and you have a clear understanding of how he does things, be assertive when spitting suggests Randi Kreger, co-author of “Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder" in Psychology Today. Insist that your ex not talk down to you or grab the reigns when working together. State your boundaries and stick to your guns until he sees you’re not backing down. Refer matters you can work out to your attorney or take it to family counseling. Explain how his behavior harms you, the kids, family and friends when necessary to demonstrate his negative patterns. He might not see his behavior as damaging or he could back off when he sees you won't allow it.

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