An antagonistic relationship with your ex-husband can damage your kids.

Having a Successful Relationship With Your Ex-Husband

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Establishing and maintaining a successful relationship with your ex-husband depends on what kind of a relationship you desire. When you have kids together, consider that a contentious relationship can damage the mental health of your kids, according to psychotherapist Risa Garon, Executive Director and co-founder of the National Family Resiliency Center, Inc. Additionally, a revolving-door relationship with ambiguous boundaries can confuse your kids and produce an unhealthy relationship between you and your former spouse, according to Psychotherapist and contributor Dr. Laura Berman.


As a divorced mom, you need to set aside the differences you have with your former spouse and work together for the sake of the kids, suggest psychologist Melinda Smith and educator Jocelyn Block, in their article "Tips for Divorced Parents." Working together establishes an environment that is conducive to the raising of happy and healthy children. Block and Smith suggest guidelines for a healthy relationship that include listening to one another and asking for what you or your kids need, aiming for a consistent relationship that makes your kids’ best interests a priority, treating each other with respect and keeping the lines of communication open and productive.

Setting Boundaries

Your relationship with your ex-husband can become healthy if you focus on the kids and set some clear boundaries, suggests Andra Brosh, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based clinical therapist, with She suggests that boundaries help you take care of your needs and the needs of your kids without shutting your ex-husband out or allowing him to manipulate and control the relationship. Refuse to allow him to insist that you always be the one to compromise. Be flexible with his needs and requests, placing the kids’ needs as your top priority.

Letting Him Go

You may be tempted to hang on to your ex-husband, Berman says, especially when everyone else seems to have a partner. If the relationship was unhealthy, it can still be unhealthy if nothing has significantly changed with the dynamics of the relationship. Berman suggests that you remember the good and the bad about the relationship and make a list. Also write down the reasons why you feel compelled to engage in a revolving-door relationship with him if that is something that you are struggling with. This way, when emotions move you, you can pull out your list and consider the practical issues that have caused the termination of your marriage.

Getting Him Back

If you have set your sights on reconciliation, consider what has changed and why things will be better this time around. Berman suggests the getting back together is only a good idea if you both have done some work on the issues that pulled you apart, and that can include personal and family counseling. If you both haven’t taken that step, renewing the relationship can be devastating to the kids if it fails again. So, carefully consider whether you, your ex-husband and the kids will benefit or suffer during the process based on the possible outcomes.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

  • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images