Can Get Along With Your Ex
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico
Divorced parents sometimes seem to be stuck in a time warp.
Throughout their marriage, they will have shared many experiences, some happy, some not. But for many, the last and only thing each remembers about the other is the angry, hurt and often irrational behavior which occurred at the time of the divorce.
The divorce memories, along with being unpleasant, are often severely distorted because those memories were gathered and stored during an intensely emotional time. No one is able to process information accurately or objectively when emotions run high.
In spite of the fact that both parents' behavior during the divorce process likely was exaggerated and uncharacteristic and in spite of the fact that each parent's perceptions of the other's behavior likely are inaccurately twisted, both parents often continue to interact with one another as though that information is complete, reliable and unchangeable.
If divorced parents are to co-parent their children in a respectful and dignified way, they need to remember that before the divorce started they had some good times and they need to up-date the information each has about the other after the divorce is done.
One way to do this is for the divorced parents to meet regularly and frequently. The meetings should be at a neutral place. At first, the meetings probably should be "run" by a neutral third person--a mediator for example. The meetings should be held even if there are no problems to resolve. In fact, it is especially important for divorced parents to meet when there are no problems so they can experience interacting with one another under relatively pleasant circumstances. If they only meet when there is trouble, they will hate the meetings, and they will have repeated evidence that their former spouse is still the troublesome and disagreeable person they were at the time of the divorce.
If divorced parents choose to interact with one another in a respectful and dignified way, their children will benefit. The children will not need to divert time and energy from school and the other tasks of growing-up to trying to fix or avoid their parents' fights. The children will learn to treat others with courtesy, and the children will learn valuable conflict resolution skills.
Parents who follow this plan are often pleasantly surprised to learn they can actually work with their "ex" without blood pressures going through the roof, and they are able to re-learn that their "ex" does have some good qualities.
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