We wanted to share a fantastic recently released podcast, Divorce Story, which offers some great insights on how to best to navigate a civil relationship with your former partner.
Here are our takeaways, and we highly recommend that you listen when you have a chance.
- Create a new relationship following separation. It will be different relationship to that enjoyed during your relationship, with new boundaries and new ways of communicating.
- Things said in the heat of separation, and arising from the hurts of the past can cause long-term damage. There needs to be a conscious decision to communicate with a view to establishing a co-operative positive new relationship, rather than communicating from past hurts, anger and distress.
- Even the best of separations will have hurtful events and periods.
- You teach people how to treat you – by articulating clearly what you’ll accept by way of treatment, and behaving in a consistent manner you will help to create the new relationship.
- Think about drafting communications and then review and filter to send later, or not at all. Sometimes the therapy was in the drafting.
- Consider using technology to manage the transition to respectful communications, and to protect against unhelpful behaviour whilst your former partner is moving through some of their anger and distress.
- It may take time for the ‘new’ relationship to emerge, have expectations that fit the period of the separation that you’re in. As emotions calm down, the better relationship can emerge if you remain hopeful.
- Avoid catastrophizing as a result of early hostility or difficulties.
- Grief can be triggered and early emotions still emerge despite time passing. This is natural, and doesn’t mean that the situation can’t calm down.
- Consider involving a third party to facilitate communication, or to work on insight which will avoid children being exposed to any toxicity or unhelpful behavior.
- It is very healing for children to hear positive things about the other parent from you, things that you genuinely respect, admire and value in their other parent. Kids are a product of both parents, and often internalize any criticism of the other parent on the basis that it applies to them too. Create space and freedom for your children to love the other parent, and to express that affection and feeling freely.
- Be conscious of your triggers, but balance your wellbeing with the impact of change on the children. For example suddenly removing all family photos or photos of your former partner is likely to impact on your children emotionally.
- Try not to compare yourself to other couples whom are separating, or any societal expectation that separation will take a particular form. Every relationship is unique.
- Sharing feelings is potentially helpful for children. This is potentially healthier than pretending that everything is okay when your kids are struggling with emotion and missing the other parent. Talking about emotion allows for the emotion to be processed and overcome. This might include acknowledging that it’s hard to adjust and natural to feel, sad, angry etc. Our only note on this important point, is that there is a clear expectation in our legal system that you’ll do this in a manner which avoids responsibility or blame being visited upon the other parent, or any comment which could be considered to impact adversely on the relationship enjoyed between the child and his or her other parent.
- Kids benefit from feeling that their experience or emotion is normalized. Perhaps this involves being exposed to other children who are going through the same experience.
Even the best of intentions and attempts do not always bear fruit. If you need support to manage your new relationship and move forward with your new life, contact one of our expert family lawyers to find out how we work with you as part of your support team.