How to Coparent When You Absolutely Hate Your Ex
Cutting the rope and letting go of a difficult Ex can be freeing—empowering and necessary, even. But what about when you can’t cut him* out of your life entirely? And you just hate him so much? Many women have to coparent with an Ex-husband they don’t particularly like or get along with. It sounds like hell, but it doesn’t have to be quite as miserable as that if you get clear in your head about what’s important.
And what’s important is your children.
Yes, you know that “it’s about the children,” but that does little to mitigate or heal your seething hatred for your Ex, does it? (We’ll get to that below.) For now, remember that other women—divorced moms like you—have navigated similarly difficult challenges. Think boundaries, think organization, think neutral ground. These concepts will make it easier for everybody
For instance, figure out how you are going to communicate with your Ex going forward. Establish boundaries so you feel more secure and less threatened or reactive to his behavior and what he says.
Use a custody calendar
Use a tool to make a schedule so there’s no question who has the children or when. Keeping a consistent schedule lets you talk to your Ex less while staying organized. Keep track of different schedules for holidays, summer breaks, and more, and make changes through the tool you choose. Also, a shared file can be a good way to let the other parent know about important things such as doctor’s appointments and school grades without talking to them directly.
Keep track of everything
Keeping a log of everyday things can help prevent many kinds of disagreements. Are you sharing expenses? Use a digital tracker to make things easy and keep each other accountable without having to communicate in person. Does your Ex often violate the terms set out in your parenting plan? If your Ex doesn’t follow your court order, keep track of every violation. Keep a file or use a digital tool with a journaling feature.
Separate your relationship with your Ex from your child’s
Allow your child to have a good relationship with your Ex. Just because you don’t want to see him doesn’t mean your child isn’t entitled to. Just because you don’t like him, doesn’t mean your child can’t get along with him. Your child has rights concerning access to you and his father. All the suggested steps in this post help you engage in self-care while doing what’s best for your child and letting them enjoy their father.
Use a third party for transfers—if you must
Don’t want to deal with your Ex every time either of you drops the kids off? Agree on a trustworthy third party to pick the kids up and drop them off at the other parent’s home or an agreed-upon meeting place—maybe a grandparent’s or friend’s house? Instead of feeling anxious or tense whenever it’s visiting time, you can send your child off with a smile and avoid any potential snide remarks or fights with your Ex.
Use a parenting coordinator
This is a last resort, but parenting coordinators who specialize in solving arguments in high-conflict situations and understand the needs of children can help you and your coparent resolve any ongoing disputes. A parenting coordinator will be familiar with the parenting plan you and your Ex have agreed upon and make sure both of you follow it. If your Ex is difficult to work with, having someone to keep them (and you) in line may relieve some of your stress and allow all parties involved to focus on your child and their best interests.
Don’t badmouth your Ex
At least, not in front of him or your kids. While it can be healthy to get your feelings out to a friend, therapist, or coach, avoid exposing your children to negative comments or fights. Studies show that fighting between parents, even small disagreements or comments, have negative effects on children.
Children can tell when you and your coparent are in conflict, so avoid the big fights and the small comments in equal measure.
Seek support for you
Just because you are taking the high road wherever you can, doesn’t mean you’re not human, and at times, you need to wallow in the mud. Find the place where you are safe to express what you are really feeling. Find the place where you can start to heal and work on all the feelings you have as a result of the divorce. As you begin to truly understand what divorce recovery looks like you will come to terms with your feelings and deepen your healing process.
The right, nurturing place for you might be an online guided divorce support group for women that will help you commit to your intention and follow through—with the work that will move you beyond the hatred and who you truly want to be.
Focus on your child
Ultimately, your child is the focus of your relationship with your Ex now. When you start to waver, shift and keep the focus there, through all the resources available to you, while taking care of yourself. This is what you want to model to your child. This is what you want for yourself, too.
This article was authored by Daniela Chamorro, writer and researcher at Custody X Change, a custody app solution. Custody X Change provides software for developing and managing custody agreements, parenting plans, and schedules.
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~ S.L., New York City
*This piece was written for SAS for Women, an all-women website. At SAS we respect same-sex marriages, however, for the sake of simplicity in this article we refer to your spouse as a male.