Make Peace with the Ex

Blended family

There was a defining moment I realized my relationship with Mr. Right’s ex mattered.
I was on the phone with him, complaining about a recent “disaster” with scheduling visitation. With Little Girl in earshot, I loudly proclaimed: “She is such an idiot.” When that corner of the room went silent in attention, I added: “She’s the most irresponsible person I’ve ever met.”
Yes, I broke the biggie: speak no evil. In my moment of anger and frustration, I decided not to care about damaging my relationship with Little Girl by badmouthing her birth mom. Not to mention being a bad example of how to treat people in general. Because the truth is, no matter if the ex is gruesome or great, she’s still in the front seat of the Mom-mobile. And I had some serious patching up to do after hanging up the phone.
In that moment, I found three choices: 1) continue to involve myself in the petty battles between the grownups, 2) make myself nuts by trying to prove I was better, or 3) find peace.
The reality I faced was this: While I’m working toward happily ever after, the rest of my family has been there longer than me, even the ex. That thought can lead to some very negative, jealous feelings. And my idiot story proves it can even lead to throwing “what’s right” out the window in a moment of rage.
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do with all this negative static? Unless you find a way to tune it out, it will consume you … I would know. So if you’ve been letting negative emotions about exes affect your life, attitude and sanity, now it the time for an ex-orcism. Here are some strategies to help:

  1. Set boundaries. Do it early and often. I’ve detached my life from the ex by letting Mr. Right handle the details between her and the kids. I avoid using my free time and energy to be “involved” in her life. Each family is unique. Set boundaries you are comfortable with and ask your partner to respect them, even if it makes his life less easy. If you can’t stand her phone calls, don’t answer the phone. If it drives you nuts to drop off the kids, find an alternative.
  2. Focus on your relationship … with your husband and the kids. Part of this will be not bashing the ex, like I did. If you don’t agree with something she says, don’t make her the enemy. Instead, tell your point of view: “I would do it this way because…” Let the kids get to know your values and vice versa.
  3. Support. I don’t want to be friends with the ex, but I do want my children to cherish their relationship with her. Let them know its ok to keep her close in their thoughts. When they are missing her, suggest they give her a call. Give them their space to work on this relationship. The dynamic has changed. Let them figure it out with your support if they need it.
  4. Never ask your partner to compare. It’s not fair and doesn’t change the past anyways.
  5. Don’t worry how you compare. Divorce leaves a painful scar – remember the scar isn’t your new marriage. Be yourself, be beautiful, be everything good you can be. Be present with the family you have today and focus on love.

The reality is, you might never make peace with the ex. But let this be music to your ears: you can find it.

Photo courtesy Bindaas Madhavi