Going through a divorce can be a complicated process. When there is a child involved it can be a painful experience but it doesn’t have to be.
1. Don’t Start Another Relationship (or don’t talk about it)
As you transition to this new status, it might be tempting to start another relationship. However, until the divorce is final, it’s a good idea to wait. Allow the current relationship to run its course and once the dust is settled, you’ll be able to make clear decisions. Also it might intensify your ex’s emotions and cause unnecessary conflict. Take this time to care for yourself and your child.
2. Don’t Badmouth Ex
Even if your ex is misbehaving, badmouthing the ex will keep you focused on the negative rather than completing the process in a healthy manner. You ex is still your child’s parent and your words will reflect on you. Your child will figure out the type of person your ex is without you harping on it. Focus on developing the relationship you want with your child. The same goes for if your ex has a new relationship.
3. Meet in Neutral Places When Negotiating
A neutral place allows you both to leave the emotions at home. You’ll both be more likely to be on your best behavior and get some forward movement in the process.
4. Take a Time Out
If things get too heated when you are negotiating, say you need to leave and want to schedule another date and time to meet and discuss further.
It will lower your stress level by taking the break. Carve out some time to do something fun or relaxing. Take a walk, have a bubble bath, breath deep or count to ten are some quick and easy ways.
Then when you come back to the negotiating table, you’ll be able to relate calmly.
5. List and Prioritize the Issues Being Addressed
There will be some things that you want more than others. The same will be true for your ex. Unless they are asking for everything. While you are in discussions try to determine what your ex really wants. Those things that might not be as important to you, you can use to negotiate.
In my case, my husband was fighting the divorce. He didn’t want to be married but he didn’t want to get the divorce either. So the divorce was important to me. His mother had bought our house but our names were on it. Legally in Texas I could have asked for half the equity in the house. I didn’t because I wanted that as a bargaining tool to get the divorce finalized.
6. Beware of Being Sucked in to Game Playing
If you ex is creating problems by playing mind games, you can develop strategies that counter the chaos. The more you can control your reaction to this type of behavior the better off you’ll be. Otherwise you may spend all your time being upset.
7. Stabilize Your Home Situation As Soon As Possible
One of the best things you can do for you and your child is to stabilize your living situation. Create an environment that is soothing, safe and comfortable. The upheaval this type of change in life creates a certain amount of anxiety in a child. Be reassuring that he is still loved and the divorce is not his fault.
8. Set Rules for When Your Child is at Your House
Talk to you child about the rules you want followed at your house. Are they the same as when you were a couple or are you making changes? Allow your child to help create the new rules. Write them up and post them. The great thing about this is if your child challenges the rules, you can remind him that he helped and there they are. It helps keep you from being the bad guy.
9. Respect That Your Ex May Have Different Rules
Don’t let your child bring rules from your ex’s house as negotiation in the rules at your house. Calmly state that you understand that the rules there may be different but here the rules are posted and the child had agreed to them. (Kids have used this with rules at their friends house for years. “But Johnny gets to do it.”)
10. Encourage You Child to Talk To You
Your child may be taking the blame for the divorce. Your child may secretly be hoping you and your ex will get back together. Or like my son, he may be feeling like he’s going to be kidnapped. Ask your child opened ended questions that he cannot reply just yes or no to.