Understandably, divorces are hard and stressful. A fact that often leads ex-partners to communicate in a hostile manner, as emotions can easily turn to anger. However, to make the process as easy as possible on both yourselves and your families, it’s essential that you learn to keep your emotions in check and communicate in a civil manner.
Here at the Divorce Manager, we recommend improving your communication skills with the following three tips:
1: Always Make Your Intentions for Your Future Relationship Clear
The level of contact you have with your ex will be totally dependent on your circumstances. For instance, if you have children, you will need to learn to co-parent. While couples with no children may prefer to draw the line and decease all contact with each other.
Whatever your circumstances, it’s important to have a sit down and discuss the kind of relationship you will both have in the future. This could be as simple as over the next year or may extend way into the future when your children decide to get married themselves. After-all, the last thing you want is for your children to be stressing over the fact their parents can’t be in the same room together.
Instead, share your hopes for the future with your ex. Even if you cannot imagine sharing a friendship right now, by setting out a vision for this in the future, you can both start working on that relationship. Even if your former partner disagrees with your ideals, at least you’ll both know each other’s wishes.
Once you both have an idea for the future, you should always keep this in mind when you’re communicating. So, before you send that text or reply to a comment, always think about whether your chosen words will help you both work towards that goal.
2: Keep Each Other’s Perspective in Your Mind
Often, when we think with our emotions, we start to believe that an ex-partner is behaving in a certain way in order to upset you or make you feel guilty. This leads to resentment and can often be the catalyst for an argument or disagreement.
The problem with assuming your partner is acting in a certain way is that you cannot be wholly certain that they are. Instead, you might just be imagining that they are acting in a certain way due to arguments from the past. Keep in mind as well, that they could be making the same assumptions about your words, even if you didn’t mean them that way.
Always remember that your ex-partner is going through a divorce too. So that person is sharing all those feelings you are too. When you consider this, it can often be easier to take a step back and consider whether your ex was actually insinuating anything, allowing you not to snap back. Even better, ask if they intended to mean it in a malicious manner, as you may have imagined the meaning behind their words.
Plus, even if your ex is trying to be malicious, you should be the bigger person and keep your communication civil. As this will help ensure your relationship develops into one where you can both communicate better.
Rather than analysing your ex’s words, you should instead put that effort into checking any communication that you plan to send them. Whether it’s a text or an email, save it as a draft and try to read it from your ex-partner’s perspective.
An effective way to do this is to physically remove yourself from where you wrote the message, moving to a different chair or room in your home. Then imagine yourself as your ex – this is someone you know extremely well – so you should be able to read the message from either their perspective or from the view of a neutral party.
By proofing your communication in this way, you might just be surprised at your tone. In many cases, couples are too busy trying to be ‘right’ that they forget about their relationship goals, such as keeping civil for the sake of your children.
3: Remember You Can Only Control Your Own Actions
When you talk with an ex-partner it’s imperative that you remember that you cannot control what they say or do. Indeed, the only thing you can control is the way in which you speak, react and behave towards that ex. Once you realise that fact, it becomes far easier to alter the way in which you act. As, by altering your own communication, you are far more likely to get a resolution to a particular situation.
Often, when we want an ex to do or agree to something, we say it in a manner that triggers old resentments. This, in turn, makes it more likely that your ex will do the complete opposite of what you would like. Instead, by focussing on our own words and actions, wording any requests or communication in a neutral way, you are more likely to get the kind of response that you’d like. Keep this in mind every time your communication goes the wrong way but, rather than focusing on their words, look at how you could have changed your own words or actions to better the situation.
If you feel a conversation delving into dangerous territory, you have the power to control yourself. So, concentrate on your breathing, taking slow, deep breaths that will help stop your emotions from bubbling over. Taking the time to breathe also allows you to think clearer, so you can respond more appropriately.
Always remember that it takes two to continue an argument. If you keep cool and refuse to bite, it is possible to alter the tone for your future communications, where you encourage you both to keep friendly or – at least – civil.
If you’re considering a divorce or you’re struggling to communicate effectively during your separation call The Divorce Manager on 0800 294 0452 to book your FREE consultation.