When you get divorced, or even when you break up with someone, they become your ex. I know that sounds obvious, but stick with me here. When you think about your "ex", you think about everything they did to hurt you. You think about how angry they make you. Everything they do is wrong, because they're your ex.
This is what we do. It's a coping mechanism. We associate all the bad in relationships that broke up with our ex's. Rationally, we know that we also played a part in the separation and that the relationship didn't work because both people in it didn't work together, but emotionally, we place the majority of the blame on our ex's. And they do the same with us.
Unfortunately, in a divorce with children, you don't get to break up with someone and never see them again. You have to interact with them on a consistent basis, constantly communicating about your children. You have to do this while you're still angry at them, while you're still hurt, and before you've gotten over the separation.
When communicating with your ex, you have to stop looking at them as your ex and look at them as your co-parent.
I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't see them as your ex. That's an important part of getting over the separation. The trick is to separate your feelings towards them as your ex when communicating about your kids.
Here's a little meditative exercise to help you compartmentalize your feelings towards your ex so you can work with your co-parent.
- Picture your ex as 2 different people: your ex and your co-parent. Maybe you're envisioning twins, maybe you're envisioning 2 different people. Go with your imagination in this and identify which is your ex and which is your co-parent in your mind.
- Memorize the details of your co-parent. What are they wearing? What does their facial expression look like? What's the background in the image in your mind?
- Now attach any positive co-parenting feelings you have to this image. This is the image you'll use when you have to co-parent with your ex.
- When the co-parenting situations arise, imagine this co-parent, the one with the positive co-parenting feelings attached, the one that's separate from the ex and communicate with that person.
I know this sounds corny, but the mind is a powerful thing. If you're able to completely separate the 2 people, looking at your ex as your ex when the time is right and looking at your co-parent as your co-parent when that time presents itself - co-parenting becomes easier.
Comment below with how you separate feelings towards your ex with feelings of needing to co-parent for the sake of your children. If co-parenting is still an issue for you and your ex, don't miss the opportunity to learn more about it in this self-paced video course.