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The divorce was ugly, he was a jerk, but you still need to have contact with him because of your kids or finances. You hate to have to deal with him, but you have to. What can you do to make it better for yourself and your kids? Tina B. Tessina, PhD, "Dr. Romance" licensed psychotherapist and author, gives you ways to ignore his loutishness and make the relationship work for you.
Dr. Romance’s 3 tips to dealing with a difficult ex
1. Choose your battles. One of my clients said “I don’t want to die on that hill.” She meant: that battle isn’t worth what it will cost me – I’ll ignore that problem and save it for a bigger one. Don’t get into adversarial positions with your ex when it’s not necessary. Even if he or she drives you crazy, don’t become oppositional. Save your energy for the big issues.
2. Don’t react, respond. Think carefully about everything you say before you say it. Calculate your words to get the response you want from your ex, rather than to create a problem you’ll have to clean up later. It often works better to deal with difficult exes by phone message or e-mail, rather than in person. Everyone stays calmer.
3. Leave it in the divorce court. You’ve fought your battle, it came out however it did, now let it go. Remember, you once chose this partner, and you have things to learn about your choices. Focus on learning your lessons, and don’t re-fight the old battles that are already settled. Do your part in the custody agreement, and if he doesn’t do his, just keep a diary of all the times he didn’t. If she creates scenes, just quietly listen and tape record them. If you get a nasty phone message, tape it and save it. If you need to, you can bring all this evidence to your lawyer to take to court, and win your big battles there.
You can get more help by reading Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage