If we were having coffee, I’d listen quietly while you got it off your chest. You’ve been trying to rationalize the irrational, processing how the person you once committed all your love and life to has gone from being your closest ally to the antagonist who pushes all your buttons.
And if we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m proud of you for taking the high road and not turning every tense conversation with him into a volcanic event. I know it’s hard when he brings out the profanity-spewing, sarcasm-wielding Medusa in you. I know it’s hard when everything he says comes across like a condescending dig or a critical jab. You’re ultra-sensitive because divorce rips away all of your protective layers, leaving your emotions raw and your nerve endings dangerously exposed.
I’d nod knowingly because dealing with my ex used to set me off all the time; even seeing his name on the call display spiked my blood pressure. Sometimes it still does. But I’ve learned to handle it by using the 10-10-10 rule:
- 10 seconds: Count to 10 to cool down before opening your mouth to speak.
- 10 minutes: Take 10 minutes to cool down before returning a call.
- 10 hours: Give yourself 10 hours (roughly equal to a good night’s sleep, coincidentally) to cool down before responding in writing.
I know it sounds like kindergarten, but trust me, it really works. The next time you sense your inner Medusa rising, try counting to 10 and see if that keeps all your venomous serpents under wraps.
If it makes you feel any better, you don’t have to become friends with your ex – but since you share children, you’re going to have to co-parent with each other for a long, long time. If you want to put the kids first, which we all do of course, you’ve got to find a healthier way to communicate for their benefit.
One thing that seems to help in conflict resolution evolution is to take emotion out of it; keep your dealings strictly professional (just think like your lawyer speaks) as if you were merely business associates. If that means eliminating face-to-face conversation and using only voice mail, text, or email in order to stay cool, calm and collected that’s perfectly fine, as long as the messages are civil, concise and child-focused.
Look, I don’t have all the answers. I’m just saying what’s worked for me might just work for you too. Communicating with your ex-partner during a divorce is like walking over hot coals – it’s excruciating, unpredictable and leaves you blistering. You wish like hell you didn’t have to endure the direct contact, but since you can’t avoid it, you might as well focus on getting through it as unscathed as possible.
If we were having coffee, it would be time for a refill and maybe a cookie or brownie to go with it. You deserve it while you’re trying to work through all this, my friend. You’re doing great.
This post is part of the #WeekendCoffeeShare social experiment, inviting the WordPress.com blogging community to share what they’d say to their readers if they were sitting down together over a cup of coffee.