Why wouldn't they respond? Why would they just say that? Why is this so hard? Why can't we just get along? Why do they always have to do this? You get the idea.
Do you find yourself in a constant loop of asking, "Why would they do that?" if so, I totally get it. I was there and still get there, sometimes. I got so stuck in asking 'why' that I lost sight of my own options after the situation that triggered the 'why'. Do you get that way, too?
Here's how I've seen this cycle play out in my life and in others. Something happens with your co-parent that triggers the question, "Why would they do that?" You start running through all the possibilities as to why they would do whatever triggered the question. None of the answers make you feel any better. In fact, they make you feel more frustrated and angry. You then stop seeing the situation for what it is and see it through anger-tinted glasses. You cannot wrap your mind around the 'why' so you react.
If we're honest, we've all been there a time or two, haven't we? You get so caught up in it, you lose sight of the situation. There's no chance of positive co-parenting at that point, and that's the goal, right? Here are my tips when you find yourself getting caught in the circle of "why":
- Know that asking 'why' isn't necessarily bad. I'm a counselor. My job is to ask why. It can be really helpful to understand where the other person is coming from so you can work to understand and respond with empathy.
- Know that all of your answers are based on assumption. None of us REALLY know what's happening in our co-parent's heads, we're only working to try and understand. We all know our co-parents really well, but can we or should we try to assume what's going on in their heads?
- Know that the 'why' may not matter. Are you coming to the same conclusion every time you figure this out? If you're coming to the same answer over and over, then the question no longer matters. It's time to face the reality of the situation and move on instead of getting stuck in the same cycle. Even if you guess their 'why', you don't have to agree with it which means the answer may not matter. (Again, abuse aside, each of the co-parents has a right to their own thinking, right, wrong or indifferent - and that's a hard pill to swallow.)
- Know that you can move on without the 'why'. Yep. It's that simple. You don't have to understand it to move on from it. If this is Plan A, there are Plans B-Z to get through, yet, and trying to get to the 'why' only prolongs starting the next plan. Stop making yourself crazy (and angry and frustrated and upset, etc.) and just move on.
- Know that sometimes asking why has more to do with you than them. If you're trying to figure out why so you can make sure they don't get their way, then I recommend starting with some emotional healing. Figure out why YOU'RE asking why and decide if it's with good motives or not so good motives.
When I finally put this to use and got out of my head, it was so much easier to get things accomplished. You already know that things don't need to happen on your time and in your way, co-parenting is about compromise. Trying to figure out why your co-parent wants what they want can literally make you crazy. Today is the day to try it out. Instead of asking why just go with it. That doesn't mean giving in to everything, but it does mean that rather than guessing at their reasons, you move on based on what you believe is right. The key words there are to move on. Now that sounds like an excellent reason as to 'why' it's worth giving it a shot.