Dealing with the Ex: Are You Bitter or Better?

When it comes to ex-spouse conflicts, our life could stay in the glass-half-empty mode. Anger and forgiveness could be the culprit. Are you tired of fighting in court? Do you blame your ex for the loss of hopes and dreams? You’re not alone. So, how do we deal with our ex for all time, especially when we share children?

Know that we cannot control their actions – only our own. I like to recall the wise words, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.” Think about that. If your ex cancels their weekend visitation, whereupon your camping trip with your buddies gets canceled, what are you going to do? Throw a tantrum? Tell off the ex, therein creating more friction for future communications? Or do you plan a spontaneous mini-camping trip with the kids in your backyard for the weekend? The latter keeps peace with the ex and shows your kids that you’re flexible and mature. Believe me, they are watching you.

If flexibility isn’t in our vocabulary, perhaps we need to start with a dose of forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t for our ex. Though there is obedience to God in forgiving others, it actually frees us from the bondage of anger and bitterness. Un-forgiveness is equal to taking a bottle of poison, hoping it will hurt the other guy. The bitter root of un-forgiveness will eat at us from the inside out. Forgiving others is a choice – not a feeling. Pray about it, give it to God, and go on! NOW we’re ready to deal with our ex!

There are three levels of relational interactions with the ex: civility, friendship, and full-on reconciling. Civility is the easiest. When you see your ex at your child’s soccer game, you smile and greet them and sit at the other end of the field. With friendship, you smile and greet them and sit down next to them, discussing your great little athlete. And with full-on reconciling, you call them up and ask what time you can pick them up and take them to the game. It all depends on where you stand with them. Where do you fit in?

Here are five basic pointers to help you communicate with your ex:

1) If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, especially in front of the children.

2) No matter what the other party says, do not play into it. Remember we can only control our own actions.

3) Always honor parenting time.

4) Be courteous or at least civil.

5) If your ex has another relationship, it’s probably over. It’s time to move on.

Concentrate on your children. Be good to yourself. Be a human being to your ex and see if it doesn’t feel better not being bitter.

Written by:  Karen Yorio, Author/Divorce and Blended Marriage Coach


About the Author:

Having been through divorce in my life, I feel compassion for anyone going through this struggle. My book, “The Shelf – Life of a Single Mom” is a transparent look at one woman’s struggle with her ex-spouse, finances, feelings of guilt and inadequacy, and teenage angst. Four years ago I remarried. My husband Fran and I feel passionate about helping people get through divorce. We have facilitated DivorceCare in our church for over five years. We also coach couples who are considering blending their families in marriage. Mentoring others keeps God at the center of our relationship, and that’s important to both of us. My next book is a transparent look at our courtship and the challenges we faced blending our families. We hope to publish it before the end of 2015. We are a blended family of seven children and four grandchildren. We call Indiana our home, but we love the shores of North Carolina, and hope to make our life there in the near future.

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Rachel Frawley

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