I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want tips on “How to get along better with your ex-husband.” Life is so much easier when you’re getting along with him, isn’t it? No blow- out arguments, no dirty looks, and no cruel emails or texts between the two of you means less stress in your life, one less thing to worry about. Even more importantly, getting along better with your ex means less stress and anxiety for your children.
Make no mistake, I realize there are always going to be issues between you and your ex. I get the fact that your ex sometimes does things that bug you beyond belief. And, I understand that there is still some resentment that might never fully go away.
But I can tell you from personal experience that getting along with your ex really lends itself to a better way of life. So, how can you get along better? Simply by the way you talk.
This is couples therapy 101. Any couples therapist will emphasize over and over again the importance of communication. Am I right? Do you feel like you are back in your old couple’s therapist’s office, trying to save your marriage? Therapists underscore again and again two things: one is the value of listening, and two, they will drill into your head the importance of HOW you say things.
So, here are some things NOT to say if you want to get along with your ex:
1. “You’re just being lazy.” Here’s the scenario: Your kids never brush their teeth or floss at dad’s house, and you know it’s because he’s too tired and lazy to get them to do it. But, calling him lazy (which is what he is, let’s be honest) won’ t go over well. Instead, say something like, “Would you mind trying to make more of an effort when it comes to brushing teeth and flossing? It only takes a few minutes and our kids will have much better teeth. Plus they’ll have less cavities. Think about how much money we’ll save by not having to pay such high dental bills.”
2. “It’s your fault.” No one wants to hear that even if it’s true. Nothing good can come from saying that, and it won’t solve the problem.
3. “You’ll never change.” Duh. Why do you think you are divorced? Because you thought he would change and he didn’t. He will never change. Think it but don’t say it. Thinking it will reiterate why the divorce was necessary, so it’s actually a good thing.
4. Don’t use the words “psycho” or “psychotic” Here are two definitions of psycho: 1. An offensive term for somebody who has a psychiatric or personality disorder. 2. An offensive term for behaving in an uncontrolled and unpredictable way. During divorce, I have seen otherwise completely normal people act like a psycho. But, you tell someone they are a psycho and it will intensify the behavior even more.
5. “Really?” I think everyone should stop using this word. Not just divorced people talking to their ex’s. It’s obnoxious and saying it’s completely overused is a huge understatement.
6. Anything with the words “Your mother” in it. Your ex-mother-in law might drive her son nuts, but God forbid you say anything remotely derogatory, and suddenly you are the worst person on earth. How dare you say anything against the beloved woman who bore him. His response will undoubtedly be, “You were always so mean to her anyway.” Trust me, you can’t win with this one. Leave your ex-mother-in-law completely out of any conversation. Always.
7. “I don’t get you.” Right. That’s why you’re not together anymore. No need to drive that home any longer.
8. Do not use the word “deadbeat.” This might be the lowest blow you could deliver to your ex. Ex husbands HATE deadbeat dads. If you call him a deadbeat, he will really hate your guts.
9. “How’s the slut?” (referring to his girlfriend) Remember that movie, “The Betty Broderick Story?” That is who you sound like when you refer to his girlfriend in any derogatory way. I don’t care if she was the reason you are divorced. You can only sound like a jealous, bitter, “psycho” –sorry, I know I told you not to use that word—who has no life of her own.
10. “Look who’s father of the year now.” Let’s say that when you were married, your ex never helped with the kids, wasn’t a very involved dad, and never really made an effort to do fun things with them. Now you are divorced, and suddenly he’s doing stuff with them. The situation forced him to become hands-on, and he’s now really stepped up. This is a very common scenario, by the way. So, instead of saying sarcastically, “Look who’s father of the year now,” you should be THRILLED for your kids and instead say, “Regardless of our differences, I think you’re doing a great job.” Not only will you be saying something that will cause good karma, but he will feel so good and it will keep him going (which is good for the kids!)
11. “It is what it is.” Another thing I think everyone should stop saying, not just divorced people.
12. “Thank God I don’t have to take this anymore.” Saying this just sounds stupid. Of course you don’t have to take this anymore. You are divorced! Take a deep breath and say nothing. Actually, “Thank God I don’t have to take this anymore” is a good thing to vent to your girlfriends.
In closing, here is one thing you SHOULD say if you want to get along better with your ex: THANK YOU. Give him a polite thank you for the child support check. Send him a text thanking him when he does you a favor, like picking up the kids one day when you have to work. Thank you goes a long way. It’s almost like you have to treat each other like a customer. Keep your customer happy. That might sound bad to some people, but “it is what it is.” LOL!
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