For 15 years, I was in an emotionally abusive, sometimes physically abusive, relationship. In the final months of our marriage, the cops were called more times than I can count. I never thought it’d be possible to get to a point where I could say I’m friends with my ex. Now that the divorce is final and we’ve gone our separate ways, we treat each other much better than we ever did when we were married. Here are some tips I picked up that can help you become friends with your ex.
1. Go out as Friends
Two months after the divorce was final, my ex and I hired a sitter and went out to dinner together. The purpose: to talk about our children and how best to co-parent together. What could have been a short dinner, ended up with dessert and four hours later me going home to our kids. Spending time together in a neutral setting with a purpose helped us start down the road to being friends. We opened up about dating post-divorce and even what our post-divorce struggles were like. We both came to the dinner calm and prepared to talk. It worked well for us.
2. Avoid Heated Topics
Fighting over the same things contributed to your divorce. You are divorced now, you need to let it go. In order to be friends you need to avoid those topics that you know will lead to a fight, at least for a few months.
3. Take a Communication Break
The best advice I got from one of the first dates I went on post-divorce was, sever communication with your ex for two weeks. My date did this to let go emotionally of all the baggage he was carrying from his relationship. This worked wonders for me when I tried it. While hard, resist that temptation to check up on the kids when they are with him, remind him of their school play, etc. Just let it go for at least two weeks.
4. Spend Time Together with Your Kids
My neighbor told me how when her parents divorced when she was 40 it was still important to her, as a 40-year-old, to see her parents get along. My ex and I also do this for the sake of the kids. The first weekend my kids ever spent at my ex’s place included me coming over for dinner their first night there. Having me there helped my kids with this transition and also helped me to see where they spend 30% of their time. Just last weekend my ex dropped off the kids on Sunday night and he stayed for dinner. While uncomfortable at first, spending time as a “family” is important because this is your kids’ family. It does wonders for your kids and gets easier over time.
5. Seek Out a Third Party if Needed
When we were in the thick of the divorce settlement negotiations, we sought out the help of our marriage counselor. Not to help us get back together, but to help us be able to stand being in the same room together. Sometimes having a neutral party or mediator is what you need to start taking the first step towards becoming friends with your ex.
If you asked me in the midst of my divorce if I would be friends with my ex, I would have said, “No way!” We couldn’t even handle being in the same room together. We followed the 5 tips above and now we are able to be friendly with each other most of the time. While it’s never easy to be friends with your ex, it is worth it to try for the sake of your kids.
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