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I'm not one to mince words. If you think I'm talking to you, then decide to be offended or decide that there may be merit to the advice — either way, your child's welfare and happiness is my only real goal in writing this.

This isn't a fun time and both of you feel hurt and victimized right now. Whether you are or you aren't is not up to me to decide. Whether you give yourselves the opportunity to move forward in the best way possible is ENTIRELY up to you. Your goal is not to 'get yours' or 'see justice done'. Your goal is to move on, gracefully and with as little damage emotionally and financially as possible.

It's ok if you are laughing. I'm still repeating this mantra over and over to myself. This advice is not to pick sides or choose or any of that unnecessary [and let's be honest, usually unwelcome] tripe. The purpose of this advice is to give you some potential ground rules that may, with careful observance and self judgment, help you both work together through this stressful and usually antagonist period.

Most of what I'm about to say is not from me per say. Rather, it is advice that I or my partner received from other people when we found ourselves where you two currently are. That is to say, in the middle of a situation that in my case was extremely acrimonious but involving a well loved child. These rules were followed by myself as best as I was able, but my ex [let's call him 'the ****' for short :P] did not follow similar rules.

I am STILL in the middle of my divorce, and it is in some ways still very acrimonious. I follow these rules still, but our lives would have gone much smoother and my kiddo would have come out much better off if he had even tried to follow some of these things. My partner and his ex were able to have an amicable dissolution and are now completely divorced for over 2 months.

This advice will only work if you BOTH dedicate yourself to following it. It might make things better for the one who chooses to follow them, even if the other person does not; but the benefit and ease that can be found if both parties follow the rules will be lost. I've tossed in some plain speaking about your finances/debt at the bottom. Now, I realize that I'm not 100% in the know; but if you are willing to open and honestly listen to what I'm saying and try what works for you, you may find yourselves better off for it.

So here are 14 suggestions to help maintain a healthy communicative relationship with your STBXH as you work your way through your divorce:

  1. Your relationship is over. Remember that your choices now should be to get the other person on a quick path out of your life. Digging in your heels over little things will NOT accomplish that goal. Cooperating and giving in on stuff that's not going to screw your credit record or make your child suffer WILL get that other person out of your life faster.
  2. Remember that getting that person out of your life will not get them out of your child's. Keep that in mind. There is a difference.
  3. Do not bring your anger and hurt to the table. It's unproductive and in the end makes it harder to move on.
  4. Limit your contact with each other. Your current anger and frustration with each other will get a chance to dissipate if you can give each other space. Remember, the goal is to allow you both to get each other out of your respective lives.
  5. Set a contact schedule. 1 or 2 advices a week. 1 or 2 calls a week. Don't text unless it's an emergency or a sudden change that requires an advice or phone call. Limit your text to "I need to call. When is convenient for you?"
  6. If you cannot honor your pre-arranged time to speak to the other party, be courteous and NOTIFY them.
  7. If the other person asks for a time to speak to you about business, attempt to keep to the scheduled 1 or 2 times a week. Make a list of things that need to be handled and deal with it all on that pre-arranged schedule. The point is to give each other space, not play phone tag.
  8. These contacts should be business only, not calls to check on each other.
  9. If you have issues to discuss, keep them to business only. [I.E. We have a bill for X amount. Your 50% is such and such. When can I expect a payment towards this?]
  10. If you feel the other party is going off of business with no hope of being brought back to topic [I.E. Well if you had just listened to me...etc.] politely say you need to go.
  11. RESPECT the other person's right to tell YOU that they need to go and maybe you'll avoid the crappy excuses I used to give. [My partner, Brand, used to tell me to tell my ex: "I have to go. My parachute is on fire."]
  12. If you are having a fight, you are breaking these rules. Period. Fighting is off limits now. If you find yourselves unable to compromise, then you need to have the mediator decide it.
  13. Never EVER have these business discussions around your child.
  14. Your in laws will hate you. Or will probably hate you. Think about that when you are talking to your own parents. They're probably only telling you what they think you want to hear. Unlike mine who kept telling me "I told you so." Your parents will probably bash the ex-spouse. Remember that while this feels good on some inner level, it's not productive and it will only make you want to entrench more. This will NOT help you move on. So choose carefully what you allow yourself to feel.

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4 comments

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 31 January 2012 12:40 posted by Guest

    It seems your husband is: It seems your husband is pretty controlling. If mine tried to lay those groundrules with the blaming examples, I would tell him to put them where the sun don't shine. LOL

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 07 January 2012 12:22 posted by Guest

    Interesting that you are the: Interesting that you are the new wife and you can only site examples from your husband's exwife. Seems you might have some moving on to do yourself for the sake of your stepchild/children. Just a thought

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 22 January 2011 10:42 posted by Guest

    PS: Sorry for the block post: I can't figure out how to create paragraphs in this comment box.

  • Comment Link Guest Saturday, 22 January 2011 10:41 posted by Guest

    These are great rules. I: These are great rules. I wish my husband and his former wife had followed them. Instead, they spoke on the phone several times a week, during which calls she yelled, blamed, shamed, bullied, you name it – interrupting his business day or his custodial time with the kids at will.

    Finally, he stopped answering the phone and drafted the following proposed ground rules.

    Proposed “Ground Rules” for Communication Between Dad and Mom

    1. We will communicate only about issues that directly relate to Son and/or Daughter.
    2. If we want something, we will clearly state what we want.
    a. Example: “As an exception to the regular schedule, I would like Daughter to be with you/me from X time on [month/day] until Y time on [month/day].
    3. If there is an issue that we think needs to be resolved, we will clearly state the issue, offer suggestion(s) for resolving it and ask the other person what s/he thinks. We will not make demands.
    4. We will not call each other names.
    a. Example: "You are not the father that I gave you credit for."
    Mom's email to Dad of April 5, 2009.
    5. We will not blame each other.
    a. Example: "Son is really suffering because of your behavior, even before birth." Mom's email to Dad of December 29, 2008.
    6. We will not shame each other.
    a. Example: "Your behavior is disgusting. . . . What kind of a father are you?" Mom's email to Dad of April 20, 2009.
    7. We will not send more than 3 emails to each other in one 24 hour period.
    a. Examples: April 20, 2009 and June 30, 209 (7 emails each day from Mom to Dad).
    8. We will respond to emails within __ days, unless the issue is urgent and an earlier response is requested.
    9. We will not make negative comments to each other in the physical presence of either Son or Daughter.
    a. Example: Mom’s comment to Dad that “I can’t believe you live in such a ritzy neighborhood, yet you claim you never have any money” when dropping off Daughter on July 3, 2008.
    b. Example: Mom’s comment to Dad, while they were both sitting next to Daughter during the late evening welcome session at school "Stepmom has no business being here. Why do you always have to ruin everything by bringing her" (after learning that Stepmom had attended the early evening welcome session) on April 22, 2009.
    10. We will greet each other politely in public, especially when either Son or Daughter is present.
    a. Example: At Daughter’s art show on May 26, 2009, Mom turned her back on Dad (and Stepmom) and refused to respond to Dad’s offer to take a photo of Daughter and Mom together in front of Daughter’s artwork.
    11. We will not misstate facts.
    a. Example: “You said you would see him several times a week, so far that isn't the case is it?” Mom’s July 10, 2009 email to Dad, when Dad had had dinner with Son twice that week and had texted or spoken with him daily that week.
    b. Example: “I want to make sure that I have the kids for all of the holidays next year, since you were sure to take them all this year.” Mom’s November 30, 2008 email to Dad, when Mom had the kids for 12 holidays and Dad had them for 11 holidays in 2008.
    12. We will not demand from each other information that already has been provided to us. If we have misplaced or forgotten the information, we will ask that it be provided again.
    a. Example: "Over a week ago I asked you what is the process for picking up Daughter at the airport" Mom's email to Dad on August 23, 2009, when Dad had placed the flight information on the Google calendar, to which Mom has access, 20 days earlier.