If you are like me there are times when it is very hard to talk to your ex about anything.
It is extremely hard when you are willing to talk and they aren’t.
It seems like your ex is wielding what little power they hold over you by controlling the tone of your conversations.
Back in the day, I used to get so angry when my kids’ dad would not talk to me. It made me feel controlled, or that I was unimportant. To this day he is very inconsistent in how he deals with me. If his mood is happy, he may answer his phone and interact with me. If he is not interested, he will avoid me and let messages go to voice mail. I took all of this so personally and you know what, it is personal.
BUT, here is what I have figured out and you need to learn- if you are healthy and they are not, you will not get a healthy response from them.
You cannot get apple juice from an orange, people.
This is the key – you have to be the best ex YOU can be. If you are doing the right things consistently and they do not respond in kind, the problem is with them and, over time, your children will see that.
However you behave your children will judge you. When your children are little, things may go over their heads, but as they grow and understand the world, they will know who was acting as an adult and who wasn’t.
I used to get so frustrated when my ex didn’t cooperate and make it as easy as possible for us to co-parent. At some point, I literally gave up and started to parallel parent. This is a form of parenting that makes sure the other parent knows what’s going on with the child, but no longer tries to include the parent in activities. An invitation is extended to participate and no expectations are attached to it. If he engages- wonders never cease. If he doesn’t- there is no disappointment.
The main thing I want to share is that there are moms out there right now who are struggling, pulling their hair out and probably binge eating ice cream trying to figure out where it all went wrong. You may or may not find the exact moment in time, but there are some things that I learned in my journey that can help you.
- Take responsibility for how you behave. If you act like a crazy ex, then you can be assured that you will not get a good response from your ex. Most people who act out with their ex are doing so as a result of unresolved anger and saddness. Assuming you do not have a pathological issue that makes you harrass or otherwise annoy your ex, conducting yourself in a polite manner will serve you better.
- Do not call to chit chat. Unless you have a remarkable relationship with your ex,you should only call them for child-related issues. If you are keeping them on speed dial to shoot the breeze, you may fall into that crazy ex category and you will find that your calls are getting screened.
- KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Some of the best advice on the planet. State your business, be polite and suscinct and then be done.
- Be predictable and consistent. If the way that you interface with your ex is predictable and consistent then you will be better received. If the way that you interface with them is different every time, you will only keep them wondering if they are going to get the good ex or the bad ex, and they may avoid your call.
- use e-mail. If you just can’t seem to communicate with your ex, send them an e-mail with return receipt requested. This is a good way to keep them in the loop.
- Snail Mail. Using the mail to pass along medical bills, copies of grades, or other info is an acceptable way to communicate. Not every situation regarding the kids needs to be a meet and greet. If dropping the info in the mail gets the info to them the fastest, save yourself the gas delivering it and avoid all of the face-to-face issues that could come up.
- Take yourself out of the equation. Don’t assume that the lack of response has anything to do with you. Sometimes they really are too busy, sometimes their cell phone battery did die, sometimes there was no cell service. If you don’t assume that they just don’t care then you can be more accepting of their rudeness.
- Engage them in the solution. If you are unable to communicate with the methods you are trying, ask them what the best way for you to communicate with them would be. Perhaps they don’t check their e-mail. Maybe cell phone calls are too distracting at work. By allowing them to help make the plan, they should be more invested in future communication.
- Talk to your divorce coach or therapist. If you aren’t sure why there is a lack of communication, ask an expert. They can offer advice on your specific dynamics and help craft a communication plan.
- Know when to get legal. If you are operating in good faith, are not generating drama, and know that they are refusing to speak to you for no good reason, then engage your attorney to gently remind them of the need to communicate.
Just like the weather, I have found that my ability to communicate with my ex changes. There are lots of reasons why, none of which are my business and I can control. All I can do is control my thoughts, feelings and actions, so when I can’t have good communication, I try something from the list and make the best of the situation.