When communicating with your Ex feels like a game of JENGA...
Updated: Sep 21
Good communication is required to problem solve, build trust, and create common ground; while poor communication discourages respect, hinders problem solving and can create misunderstandings and conflict. If you have children, even adult children, then having effective communication with your former partner is necessary. How can you build healthy communication with someone you feel betrayed by, angry with or disappointed in? How can you effectively express yourself when you feel worried and overwhelmed? Here are some strategies to help build better communication with your former partner.
Don’t think of communication as a burden. Recognize that communication builds a foundation needed to protect your children’s wellbeing now and in the future.
Good communication means expressing yourself clearly but it also requires you to set aside your own thoughts while you listen to your former partner.
Communication is more than our words. Pay attention to your tone of voice. How many messages do you send? Is your spouse getting multiple messages a day? Are you slow to respond or ignoring your former partner’s messages? All of these are part of communicating.
Recognize that what you hear is filtered through your past experiences. Ask yourself if the message could be understood differently.
Ask questions of your former partner to make sure you accurately understood what you heard/read.
Set aside the time needed to communicate clearly. You don’t have to answer messages or emails immediately unless they are emergencies.
If writing an email or text, create the message and then save it for a few hours (or overnight) before sending. Give yourself time to calm down before responding.
Show respect for the other parent’s point of view. You may not agree with it, but you don’t have to be rude.
Set aside a regular time to communicate with your former partner. This can reduce anxiety and allow you both to prepare for the conversation. Follow up with an email or text confirming any plans you made.
If you continue to struggle seek a consultation with a conflict specialist. Mediators and Family Professionals can help you identify your own blind spots and can reinforce good habits.