Dealing with the Ex: The Dos and Don’ts:
© Dr. Nodrick 2002
the “high road” is always a good choice.
percent of the emotion associated with a conflict-laden exchange with your
Ex stems from the history (yours, theirs, and your shared history) rather
than the event itself.
incidents with your Ex actually trigger thoughts that produce your negative
emotions, which, in turn, lead to your making a negative response.
This sets the stage for more negativity in any subsequent
interactions with them.
You can choose to substitute a negative-emotion-inducing thought with
a more productive thought.
is the most frequently cited feeling associated with conflict-laden
exchanges with the Ex.
However, anger usually masks a more specific and accurate feeling.
you are feeling “controlled” or “suffocated”, chances are that you
are acting in irresponsible ways.
you are feeling “overwhelmed” and “unappreciated”, chances are that
you have been overly responsible in your actions.
find out who owns the problem, sort out:
an issue needs to be addressed with your Ex:
a time with them to address it.
it to one issue at a time.
a neutral location.
clear, ahead of time, regarding your feelings concerning the issue.
why you are feeling the way that you are.
clear on what you want them to do differently.
able to state, in a positive way, what you want them to do differently
(e.g., I want you to leave earlier so you will be on time to pick up the
kids.) rather than in a negative way. (e.g., Stop being late.)
using “never” and “always” as in: “You’re never on time”.
your voice tone in check.
an “out” prepared.
For example, “We’ll have to keep this brief because I have to
pick up the kids in five minutes.”
enforceable consequences (for non-compliance) identified before hand.
Ensure that you can follow through, and will
follow through with any consequences you decide to impose.
an “I message” that is formulated to include the following four parts:
you are addressing a female, put the "feeling" segment at the start of
the “I message”. If you are
addressing a male, state the “desired action” first.]
If the discussion is simply not moving forward, it may be necessary to “be a broken record” and reiterate the desired behaviour several times during the discussion. The goal here is to get the focus clearly on a particular point, not to inflame the situation. So your tone of voice should convey your clarity of focus. Do not use this strategy in a situation that is becoming hostile or in a situation where aggression may erupt.
the exchange provokes hostility:
your Ex indicates they have no intention to comply, or they fail to change
their behaviour in the way you have requested, put your consequences in
place—and stick to them.
If you fail to stick to them, you can be sure that they will be more
difficult to deal with the next time—and there will be a next time.
a general rule, don’t agree to any revisions or changes of plan without
first “touching base” with your partner.
For example, say:
“Before I can give you the ‘OK’ on that, I’ll need to make sure
that it won’t conflict with any existing commitments.
I'll get back to you later today, or tomorrow to let you know for sure.”
Don’t ‘hang the blame’ on your partner.
Your Ex needs to know that you have a backbone.
be stampeded. If your Ex is
demanding an answer ‘right now’, say: “If
you have to have an answer right now, it’ll have to be ‘No’.
However, if you can hold off until I can see how things are shaping up,
my answer might be ‘Yes’.
communication through verbal means is too emotionally charged, try written
or electronic communication.
If you absolutely cannot talk with your Ex, find a neutral third party to exchange information. Children are not a neutral third party.
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