How to Get Along Better With Your Ex-Husband: DON’T say these 12 Things!



By Jackie Pilossoph, Divorced Girl Smiling Editor-in-Chief

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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7 Responses to “How to Get Along Better With Your Ex-Husband: DON’T say these 12 Things!”

  1. Liberated Mama

    I’m always suprised at how many couples in the midst of splitting up and divorcing live by tenants you so eloquently described above in your post. While the situation immediately after our separation wasn’t all rose petals and rainbows, it certainly wasn’t war of the roses filled with venom and daggers.

    It’s SO much easier to let it go, move on and be civil if not friendly. We have all been hurt whether in our marriages, friendships, work relationships and beyond. Sometimes, WE are the ones actually doing the hurting, not THEM. So be a grown-up and accept your new reality and work on being a human being with a little civility, it’s pretty simple but a choice worth making for the rest of your life.

    • Caroline

      “be a grown up and accept your new reality”…I like that, my ex husband needs to be told that. “It is what it is”…can’t even say how much I want to hit something when he says that to me. I try to be nice, agreeable and all I get from him is passive aggressive behavior, silence and somehow with every response to ANY question I ask making it sound like it was stupidest question ever. *head desk* I think I would almost prefer him being straight up, blunt about his anger.

  2. Tamara

    I know this is an older blog post but I just read it and my ex-husband uses the phrase “It is what it is” with me frequently. It drives me nuts.

    Soon after our divorce my ex textploded on me b/c I didn’t reply to his text for 6 hours regarding something in our (my) shed he wanted. To keep peace I apologized for not returing his text earlier b/c I didn’t have my phone on me. Regardless of the fact that I don’t owe him an apology or explanation anymore. I play nice and I get “It is what it is” aarrggg

    Any time it involves money I get it. I just sent an email to confirm that he recieved my earlier email regarding increase in medical premiums he’ll be responsible for. I realize this is not a fun topic so I tell him months in advance. My original email gets no response. All I expect is an “Ok, got it.” Literally my email says, “I just want to confirm that you got my email about medical premiums. I hadn’t heard back so I wanted to ensure you had plenty of notice.” I get back. “Yes I got it but didn’t think it needed any response. It is what it is.”

    Aaarrggg…. grow up. I realize it sucks to pay out child support and the $34 increase in medical premiums is just more money out of pocket but come on. I don’t ever ask for any additional financial help with anything. I don’t even complain that I get my child support 27 days late every month. I don’t like it, but I don’t say anything about it. Don’t act like this is somehow my fault that med premiums are going up.

    There are numerous examples.

    What is it about the phrase “It is what it is.” That completely sets my teeth on edge and sends my level of aggravation through the roof?

  3. Lea h

    I’m recently divorced and my ex and I cannot even communicate! He cheated and is still with her. He chose to be with her instead of marital counseling so you’d think he’d be happy it’s over. He’s Sooo angry all the time! Whenever we are in contact with each other (which isn’t often) I’m called a piece of trash and another time a “deadbeat mom” right in front of the kids! I try to walk away and be the bigger person, but I sometimes get sucked in! It’s so hard to be civil!

  4. Izzy

    I think my husband and I are headed this way. He honestly hates me, yells at me in front of the kids for the most insignificant of transgressions and i do think he would be happier as a parent if I weren’t in the picture.

    Today’s insult was: “I don’t know how you’re going to keep a job when you need it, because you have forgotten how to treat people. Maybe it’s because he yells at me so often, I just don’t want to hear it.


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