Is talking with your ex-spouse about the kids an issue? Do your conversations sometimes devolve into rehashes of former arguments? Does your ex-spouse try to keep you closer than you or your blended family partner is comfortable with? Here are a few hints on who, what, when, where, how and why to communicate with your ex-spouse.
Primary communication should always be with your current spouse and mate. Any decisions or discussions you have should be run by your spouse first. If you believe that’s a lot of conversation, then it means you are talking to your ex-spouse too much. You only need to converse with your ex-spouse irregularly, and only when it relates to the children. Emails are best- and far better than texts or phone calls.
The only relevant subject you and your ex-spouse have to discuss these days is the children. You will need to address medical concerns, educational choices or school problems, attendance at school events, and a raft of other subjects. It is not generally appropriate to commiserate about how things are going at work, which of your former sisters-in-law has bought a new car, or any other subject not directly involving the children.
Talk with your ex-spouse immediately when there is an emergency, certainly, but barring illness or trauma, talk with him or her at a mutually agreeable time when you are both likely to be in a cooperative state of mind. If your ex-spouse wants to talk when you are picking up or dropping off the kids, try this response: I have to get going, but will email you later. Hanging around your ex’s house while the kids are there is very likely going to confuse them, or even encourage the hope you may get back together. Of course, hanging around your ex-spouse’s house when the kids are NOT there is just a bad idea.
There are not many situations in which you need to meet with your ex-spouse in person. If you must speak person to person, arrange to do it in a mutually neutral place, a place where both of you feel compelled to behave in a manner suitable for effective discussions. Meeting in private is not a good idea; and having your new spouse close by can help make meetings more comfortable. Never discuss contentious subjects in the presence of your kids.
If your ex-spouse says he or she wants to talk about the kids, go ahead and talk. About the kids. Email first, or phone if that doesn’t work for you. An e-mail is often the best way to be sure you what you want to say in the most useful manner possible. With a written version of your intended message, you can take the time to edit before hitting the send button. Your spouse can be a useful editor and advisor, helping you keep to the point and to your best intentions.
You maintain a working relationship with your ex-spouse because it is in the best interests of your kids. Your current relationship is totally and solely about the kids. Never send messages to your ex-spouse via the kids, and do not use them as pawns to control or punish each other’s behavior, either past or present.
Co-parenting children in a blended family situation comes with its challenges, but if you focus on what is best for your kids and draw on the support of your blended family partner, it is manageable. Given enough good intentions, good behavior, and good communication, you and your ex-spouse, with the understanding and support of your new blended family partner, can give your children the parental love and guidance they need to grow and prosper. Good luck!