The emotional haze of life immediately after a divorce can be a difficult place to navigate. You may not be sure how to proceed with your existing routine and may not have yet developed a new one that is more fitting for life without your ex-spouse.
In your daily life, you may face struggles. You may not know how to address the issues that you face with others, and with the time you may be forced to communicate with your ex-spouse/co-parent, you may not be sure what lines in the sand have been drawn or need to be drawn.
Boundaries established by changed roles
In many cases, boundaries already are established through the defined new roles and changed communications styles during a divorce or separation, according to PsychCentral. You still may have emotional ties in your feelings for your ex-spouse or the fact that you may share children, but you now are in a position where you can no longer lean on this person for the support that you may require during this difficult time.
The end of your relationship is what hurt you, so the person you were in the relationship with cannot be the one to tell you that it is all going to be okay.
This means you have to accept who you are and who your ex-spouse is during and after this process. You can no longer see them as your wife or husband, but instead, you have to turn your focus inward and see yourself as your new role.
Who your ex-spouse was does not define who you are now, and you cannot treat them with the same level of love and affection that you once did. Polite civility and respect may be necessary, but there is a definitive line drawn in how you express it.
With all of the new roles being ascribed to the divorced individuals, it requires new rules to be established. Depending on whether or not children were involved, the rules being established between ex-spouses may be different.
Boundaries with children
For those with children, it is important for both sides not to badmouth one another, especially in front of children. Even if you do not believe the children can hear you, they still may be able to, and forcing children of divorce to choose which of their parents they love and are loyal to does not benefit them in the slightest, according to Psychology Today.
Striving for a business-like tone may be the best thing for a co-parenting relationship. You also have to be willing and able to communicate what your shared children are doing. Staying consistent on issues of discipline and issues related to the betterment of a child’s development is not done for your own benefit or the benefit of your ex-spouse. It is in your child’s best interest.
Both co-parents need to realize that just because there are boundaries put in place as divorced individuals, you still are on the same team as co-parents and that you both love and support your shared children no matter what. So many divorced co-parents want to be competitive or use their children to punish their co-parent, when the reality is that that type of behavior is only crossing lines and hurting your children in the end.
General rules and effort
Whether you have children or not, there are a few rules that are universal in dealing with an ex-spouse. As a divorced individual, you should stay out of your ex-spouse’s personal life, just as they should stay out of yours. It is important for the both of you not to ask about their plans for the weekend, dating relationships, or anything that may be considered too personal.
You should never go to them for advice in relationships or in difficult situations. As previously stated, establishing a support group outside of the complexity of a divorced relationship is necessary for moving on from the unhappiness and dysfunctionality of that dynamic.
You also should never rely on your ex-spouse for favors. Outside of alimony and child support, you should avoid asking your ex-spouse for a loan or any type of additional favors that may cause discomfort in your own life. You do not want to rely on someone who caused you so much pain and grief for any reason.
It also is important to establish familial boundaries with your ex-spouse. As much as you previously may have liked their family members, maintaining a relationship with them may be impossible and outside of their comfort zone, according to Kory Floyd and Mark T. Morman’s book “Widening the Family Circle.”
In establishing the boundaries necessary to have a civil discourse with an ex-spouse, you are choosing to take a higher road than that of bitterness and anger. You are choosing to draw a line in the sand, in order to ensure yourself and your children, if you have them, the best future possible. Maintaining these boundaries may be hard and may require discipline, but it is worth trying.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.