Negosentro.com | 10 Top Tips for Maintaining a Good Relationship with Your Ex | A good relationship with your ex is all about setting boundaries and rules. So, what exactly can you do to make this work?
When you first break up with someone, it can be difficult to ever imagine a future where you get along. Even when you split on good terms or with the intention of staying friends, it can be awkward and downright uncomfortable when you cross paths later on.
While in an ideal world you would never have to see or speak to your ex ever again, it isn’t always possible. From shared friendship groups to children and financial obligations like interim maintenance, there are many reasons why you may be unable to fully untangle the threads that link your lives together.
In this post, we talk about why it’s important to maintain a good relationship with your ex. We’ll then be revealing our 10 top tips for staying on positive terms, so read on for more…
Why is it Important to Stay on Good Terms with Your Ex?
Around 42 percent of marriages end in divorce, and of these, around half will occur within the first 10 years of marriage. This isn’t even accounting for civil partners and couples who choose not to get married.
All in all this is probably a good thing. Divorce statistics reflect societal changes that make it acceptable for us to leave a relationship nowadays if it no longer makes us happy. This is particularly the case for women who now have greater freedom to control their own finances, education and career prospects, allowing them more freedom to leave a relationship if they want to.
However, while it may be easier to leave relationships nowadays, this doesn’t always mean that we can sever ties completely. Financial issues mean that it is often necessary for a couple to maintain an ongoing relationship. What’s more, children are also a huge deciding factor in how much you have to engage with your ex after divorce or civil partnership dissolution.
In Great Britain in 2018, there were around 2.4 million separated families, including 3.5 million children. Of these, 48 percent of separated families had a child maintenance arrangement in place to ensure the children were financially provided for. To make sure the separation is as stress-free as possible for your children and that any child support arrangement works properly, it will be necessary to maintain a good relationship with your ex.
Unfortunately, for couples who cannot maintain a good relationship and have children or issues with finances to sort out, court is often the result. If you cannot find a way to communicate effectively, a judge will have to do it for you. This can be incredibly stressful (not to mention expensive), so avoiding legal proceedings is usually in your best interests.
So, what makes a good relationship with an ex? Here are our top tips for maintaining a healthy relationship.
10 Top Tips for Maintaining a Good Relationship with Your Ex
It might take a while to find good methods of communication with your ex, particularly if you only recently broke up. Don’t be afraid to take some space if you need it and give them some space if they ask for it. You don’t need to work out every issue straight away; plans about finances and childcare can change as you adapt to your new independent life.
Never resort to name-calling
Having a healthy relationship post-breakup is all about finding ways to communicate in a mature, respectful way. Name-calling, threatening or belittling should never be part of your communication strategy.
If they start calling you names, don’t be tempted to respond in the same way (yes, even if they’re being really annoying). Instead, say something like, ‘I think we need to take a break from this conversation’ and step away until you’ve both calmed down.
Use ‘I’ rather than ‘you’
This is a classic communication technique that can help you navigate any disagreements or grievances with your ex with ease. People can naturally become very defensive when they feel like they’re being accused of something, even if the issue is completely their fault.
Phrasing issues like, ‘you don’t make enough of an effort’ or ‘you spend too much money’ can come across as very critical. It may even start an argument rather than open a conversation up about how you can resolve the issues at hand.
Therefore, try phrasing your ex’s behaviour in terms of ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’ statements to avoid conflict while still addressing important issues. For example:
- ‘You’re always late picking up our child’ could become, ‘I find it hard to get to work in time when you pick up our child late’.
- ‘You make me so angry when you do [annoying thing]’ could become, ‘I feel frustrated when you sometimes do [annoying thing]’.
- ‘You don’t care about me at all, you never respond to my texts’ could become ‘I feel like I’m a low priority when you don’t stay in touch’.
Notice the difference? You’re still communicating the problem but you’re taking ownership of your own feelings and reducing the risk of your ex blowing up or shutting down before you can find a resolution.
Communicate in writing
If you find it hard to have a conversation with your ex without it devolving into an argument, you could consider keeping all important communication in writing. This will also work if you feel like you’re never able (or allowed) to get your true feelings across.
You could use texts, email, or little notes; it doesn’t matter so long as it works for you. The benefits of putting everything in writing include:
- You have more time to think about what you want to say to your ex.
- If your ex says something that upsets you or makes you angry, you don’t have to respond straight away. Instead, you can wait until you’ve calmed down and can form a rational response.
- You have evidence if you ever need to take additional action. For example, if your ex agrees that you can spend certain days with your children but later refuses to let you see them, you can prove that they breached your agreement.
Put the children first
It can be extremely upsetting and confusing for kids when their parents split up anyway. So, one of the worst things a parent can do is use their children to punish their ex.
Often, parents don’t mean to do this; it is just a side-effect and an unhealthy relationship between former partners. However, a healthy relationship is about respecting your ex, and any agreements you have with them. It’s also about putting your kids’ best interests first.
Therefore, when making any decision regarding your children, your first thought should be, ‘is this what’s best for them or am I trying to get back at my ex?’. This should help kill two birds with one stone – keeping your child safe and happy, and keeping your relationship with your ex rosy too.
Deal with finances amicably
Finances are one of the biggest ongoing issues that a divorced couple have to deal with. So, making sure to have legal agreements is important to maintain a healthy relationship with one another.
For example, if one partner earns significantly more money than the other, or one partner gives up their career to be a stay-at-home parent, one party may be worse off than the other after the divorce. So, you may need to agree on interim maintenance and ongoing spousal maintenance ensure both of you can have a decent quality of life afterward. Being sure all of this is dealt with amicably is sure to reduce the stress in the situation.
Don’t talk about your ex behind their back
You can very quickly undermine a good relationship by saying something you would never say to their face behind their back. It will always get back to them. It will just send your ex the message that you don’t respect them and could cause arguments.
It is especially important not to bad-mouth your ex in front of or to your children. Best case scenario, you will make them feel uncomfortable and like they can’t talk to you about their relationship with their other parent. Worst case scenario, you could alienate your children from their other parent. Avoiding this, for the sake of everyone involved, is paramount.
Don’t be afraid to be friends
This is a funny one because, while it is perfectly acceptable to dislike or even hate an ex, it is often less socially acceptable to be friends with them. This is particularly the case for people who have new partners who may feel threatened by their history as a romantic couple.
Regardless, if you and your ex parted on good terms and get on well, it is okay to be friends. It will set a great example for your kids and help them adjust to life with their parents living apart. However, make sure you don’t prioritize your ex’s needs over your children or current partner, as this is where problems usually arise.
Consider family mediation if you have trouble communicating
Family mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution often used during divorce or separation legal proceedings to resolve a wide range of issues. If you’re finding it hard to communicate with your ex, a mediator can act as a neutral third party to help you discuss vital arrangements and avoid conflict.
Mediation has a strong track record for helping to separate couples stay out of court, and avoid all the stress and costs that come with court proceedings. You can either find a mediator online yourself (make sure they are fully qualified). Or, if you have a lawyer, ask them if they can refer you to a mediator.
Make sure you can communicate on equal ground
When it feels like there is a power imbalance in your relationship, divorce, or separation proceedings can become very challenging. From a legal perspective, this power imbalance will not usually impact the outcome of your case, but it can stir up conflict and impact the way you communicate.
For example, if you are trying to sort out finances with your ex but they earn significantly more than you, it is understandable to feel anxious, defensive, and like you have to fight for your future financial security.
Finding ways to address any perceived power imbalances is essential to enable you to communicate well and have a good relationship with your ex. One way you could do this is to agree interim maintenance, payments while your divorce or dissolution is ongoing. This way, the better-off partner will pay temporary finances to the other while they work things out post-divorce.
There are always ways to deal with these imbalances, so speak to a solicitor if you need help doing so.
Setting Clear Boundaries is the Key to a Good Relationship with Your Ex
So, what is a good relationship supposed to look like? In this post, we’ve covered some of our top tips for maintaining a good relationship with your ex.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and them – with the help of your family and legal professionals if needs be – to find ways to communicate that work for you. If you can be friends going forward then great! But it’s also valid if keeping your ex at arm’s length is a better option for you.
Overall, we think that the key to a healthy relationship after a breakup or divorce is respecting each other’s boundaries and ensuring your children’s needs are put first. Make sure you are both clear about what is and is not okay now you are not a couple, and don’t be afraid to reopen the conversation if you feel your ex is overstepping.