A curious thing happened today. I felt gratitude for my ex-husband. I know shocking right? It is almost unheard of that anyone can feel a positive feeling towards one’s ex. This feeling and revelation that it is possible caused an emotional change in me. Here is what happened and ways you too can make peace with your ex-husband for yourself and your kids.
Our youngest son was having some issues at school with a teacher that was bullying him. In our family, our boys advocate and speak up for themselves. As parents, we support from behind the scenes, with strong opinions, but behind the scenes all the same. The only time we step in is if the situation that needs attention is caused by an adult, and the boys are completely unable to solve or fix it on their own. Sometimes a parent needs to get involved to smooth the path.
At the point where I felt so frustrated, helpless, and hopeless that I could not guide my son to solve this problem on his own, I realized I was not the person that could get this done effectively. The parent that could, however, was my ex-husband.
You see I did not realize as I was immersed in my own misery of my son’s situation that my ex was just as miserable. It bonded us! I let him in and we commiserated on how to help my son fix a problem. Together, with our son, we discussed, planned, set forth in motion the plan, acted and got it done. My ex executed the plan. He did it in a way that the teacher heard what he said and behaved in a different way. As a result, I felt happy, relieved, grateful and weirdly a bit fond of my ex. I saw the characteristics of the man I married. The good stuff. When I asked him to help our son a strange thing happened. We both let ourselves relax and find a little bit more peace. We were working together as a team to help our kids. This did not happen overnight. We both had to put aside our anger and resentment towards each other to get to this point.
4 Reasons to Let Go And Make Peace With Your Ex
1. Anger Is Debilitating
Staying angry and bitter is bad for your emotional as well as your physical health.
Holding on to your anger causes you to stay stuck in that place where you are spinning in negative circles while being sucked down a black hole. It keeps you from working through the pain that lies underneath the anger so you can get past it and move forward to an emotionally better place.
“The constant flood of stress chemicals and associated metabolic changes that go with recurrent unmanaged anger can eventually cause harm to many different systems of the body. Some of the short and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:
- digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
- increased anxiety
- high blood pressure
- skin problems, such as eczema
- heart attack
- stroke”Anger – Better Health Channel
2. Negativity Keeps Positive Things Out of Your Life
The negative energy involved in not getting along with people and engaging in constant conflict not only affects you, but everyone around you. People tend to move away from negative people. Staying negative not only affects your relationships but the way you see the world. You have a choice. You can be a positive person or become a negative, bitter and angry person.
3. It Is Good For The Kids
Getting along with your ex is always good for your kids. When you both work together without fighting or animosity, it takes a huge stress off of them. The kids love and worry about both of their parents. When you are not getting along it upsets them. Additionally, the kids do not feel like they have to choose between both of their parents if they are treating each other with respect and not fighting. Your kids will be able to focus on the things they are are supposed to be focusing on in their lives instead of being involved in their parent’s drama. Additionally, modeling healthy ways to communicate and behave in your relationship with your ex will teach your kids powerful lessons they can incorporate into their own relationships and patterns of communicating and interacting.
4. Allows You To Move Forward
Holding on to old feelings of anger, resentment and pain can paralyze you from moving forward with your own life and happiness. It can cause you to get stuck in that abysmal place of misery. Put aside your differences, let go of your baggage from the marriage and divorce, and move forward.
7 Ways To Find Peace With Your EX
1. Let Go Of Your Anger And Forgive
Letting go of your anger is a long painful process. It takes time and commitment. Sometimes people might want to hold onto anger because it is easier to be angry than to feel pain. Other times, people see staying angry as a punishment to another person. However, the people you are really punishing, if you are holding onto the anger and not working through it, is yourself and your kids. Most of the time the person you are angry with has no idea you are punishing him and doesn’t really care. All he sees is you are being a complete angry woman and can’t wait to get away from you. In turn, he stays angry and treats you badly. It is a vicious and ugly cycle. In the end, it turns you into a bitter angry negative version of yourself. Who wants to see themselves that way?
Please read my article “Manage Your Anger” for ways to cope with your anger at beholdingu.com.
“When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge or embrace forgiveness and move forward.”
According to The Mayo Clinic:
“Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.” www.mayoclinic.com
Remember forgiving is for you, not the other person. Forgiveness can help you find peace with the past and emotionally heal. It also allows you to take the power away from the person you are forgiving. If your ex does not accept your forgiveness or change his behavior; that is only hurting him.
2. Work On Seeing Your Relationship And Your Ex In A Positive Light.
When a marriage fails you can become stuck in negative patterns of interactions and thoughts with regard to your ex. As time goes by, it becomes increasingly more difficult to get yourself out of that cycle of negativity and conflict, and you start to allow it to define you. We all know women like this. Don’t let yourself be one of them. In order to make peace with your ex you need to force yourself to change how you think about him and your relationship. Your failed relationship with your ex and the negative relationship you now have with him does not define you. It happened. Don’t let it consume you. Look for ways to see your ex and your relationship in a different way. Stop dwelling on how it was when you were happy and how it all went bad. Redefine the relationship for what it is now, and work towards how you want it to be. If you can do this it will be easier to move on and get along. It will take time, hard work, and discipline, but you can do this. The idea is to get yourself out of the nasty negative, emotionally draining pattern of conflict, unhappiness, bitterness and despair that your relationship with your ex has become. Try these suggestions:
- Smile at him. It will go a long way to diffuse negative interactions.
- If he says something funny laugh. Enjoy his humor.
- Change a negative thought into a positive one. If he is coming over to get the kids instead of saying “I really don’t want to see him.”, think, “I am looking forward to seeing my kids happy when he comes to get them.”.
- Don’t play the victim. You are in control and there is always something you can change in a situation to make it better for yourself.
- Find something you like about him. There is always something you can find about someone to like. Even the most annoying person has a positive attribute. Look for it in your ex. You don’t have to like him. Just that attribute. One thing all moms have in common with their ex is their kids. So like the fact he is the father of your children. Start there.
3. Work Together With Your Ex
Co-parenting is so important when kids are involved. No matter how much you want your ex out of the picture, your kids want him there more. Your kids need their dad. Remember they are half him. They are as much a part of him as they are you. It can be extremely difficult to keep your personal feelings away from the kids, however, it is imperative you do no speak badly about him to them or make them pick sides. The best way to help your kids survive your divorce and come through it as emotionally healthy, secure and confident adults, is if you and your ex put aside your differences and work as a team to raise your kids. Putting your kids first is your ONLY option. They are not pawns in your divorce. They are your babies and they deserve to be treated with respect and parented in a mature unselfish way. Your problems in your relationship have nothing to do with them. Don’t make it about them. Be a grown up, put your big girl panties on, and figure out how to parent together. You might be surprised. Your co-parenting as a divorced couple might be even better than it was when you were married.
Ways To Work Together With Your Ex
- Split up responsibilities
Some examples of this are sharing carpool days, taking turns with doctor appointments, or equally paying for extra activities.
- Be flexible
Your ex will be more willing to be flexible and work together with you if you are willing to be flexible to help him. Being rigid on the visitation schedule or fighting about the child support being an hour late will only fuel animosity and cause you more angst.
- Problem solve issues for the kids together
There are many things that come up daily which parents need to work out for their kids. Your son has a bad cough, and a decision needs to be made whether he should be taken to the doctor and who will do that. Your daughter’s chemistry grade is dropping, and a decision needs to be made if a tutor should be hired. There are so many child rearing issues that come up, and it is better for parents to be able to solve them together. It is also more beneficial for your children to know both of their parents are working together in their best interests.
4. Remember The Good In Your EX
Reframe your thinking from all of the negative things you have thought over the years to finding positive things and characteristics for which you can focus. I know this is extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible depending on how deeply your relationship is broken. However, there was a reason you fell in love with your ex and wanted to spend your life and have children together. If in any way possible, dig deep and remember those things. Look for those positive characteristics that still exist and allow yourself to see them again. This can be a painful process, as being aware of those things might bring back memories and feelings you worked so hard to forget, as well as can remind you of what was lost. However, if you can do this, it allows you to let go of much of the negative energy and feelings that have been weighing you down emotionally. Holding onto such negativity is equal to carrying around a huge potato sack of rocks. Each day it weighs you down even more until you can’t move forward. You are just stuck in the same place.
5. Let Your Ex Do Things For You
When a marriage fails it causes such pain, anger and disappointment you might just want your ex to go away. It is easier to pretend he is not there than to allow him in any way back into your life. However, in cases where you are raising kids together this is not possible. One way to try to let go of your anger and resentment and find a copasetic relationship with him is to allow him to do something he is offering to do for you. Letting him do something nice to help you is hard, as you will need to let him in a little, and may not want any favors because you are so angry and hurt. However, if he offers let him. It will surprise you how much this will help your relationship, and how much the kids will appreciate you are finally getting along. Try to remember your ex probably does not want to argue with you. Unless your primary mode of communication your entire relationship has been through disagreements, he would prefer to have a nonconfrontational relationship with you. If he offers to help there usually isn’t an ulterior motive. Most men just want to be good guys and have their kids see them that way. They possibly want you to see them that way as well.
6. Do Something Nice For Him
I know I know. You are probably saying “What? No way!”. However, remember who you are and that you have a good heart. You are not that angry, bitter, revenge-seeking person you might have become during this divorce process. Offer to do something nice that you are comfortable with for your ex. Something little will work. Sending him your son or daughter’s game schedule or forwarding an email for a school event without being asked is something easy to do, and shows you are willing to wave the white flag and come to a truce. You will be surprised how a simple act of kindness can change a negative pattern of interaction, and make things a little easier on both of you. Sometimes it is hard to be the first one to reach out and call the truce. Be the bigger person.
7. Focus On Looking Forward To New Adventures And Love
It’s time to let go of the old life you had and envisioned would have had with your ex. It’s time to look forward towards the beautiful life you get to design for yourself, which includes your kids and all the people with who you want to travel on this new journey. Your ex needs to be a part of that as the father of your children and your co-parent for now. Design him in somewhere too. This is when you get to decide how your relationship will work. So stop reacting to your situation and the events happening to you and start taking charge of them and your life. You are not a victim. Relationships and marriages don’t work out. Yes, it stinks. No, you don’t have to let that define you. Look forward to new adventures and DO NOT LOOK BACK.
Sidenote- This article is for informational purposes. It is not assuming these techiniques will work for everyone. Every relationship is different, and in the end it takes two people to work on and get along in a relationship.
You are welcome to use this article in your own website or blog as long as you add the following blurb and link back to this website.
Elyse Resnick is the author of her website www.beholdingu.com and a Life Reinvention Coaching Specialist. Visit her website for more inspired information such as this article. BeHoldingU, LLC