Did you know it’s possible to have an amazing relationship with your ex?
It doesn’t need to be ugly no matter what the circumstances of your divorce, separation, or breakup are.
I’m speaking from experience. My ex-husband and I have a beautiful relationship.
It certainly helps that I choose to think he’s a standup, incredible man. But, it’s also a testament to the self-coaching I’ve done.
We haven’t had one argument since our divorce. Differences of opinion but no fighting.
I’m not kidding.
We co-parent beautifully, we’re friends who still have dinner together, and we text each other to check in.
It’s possible for you to have whatever relationship you want with your ex. It’s whatever you create with your mind.
This is great news.
Keep reading to find out the 3 tools that will improve and transform your relationship with your ex.
1. Drop Your Manual
This is a mind-blowing concept. It changed my relationship with everyone in my life and it will do the same for you.
What is a manual?
It’s a set of beliefs that we have about how others should behave so we can feel better.
I like to think of the manual as an instruction guide that comes with a gadget you buy. It tells you how the product should work.
We have instruction manuals for our exes. We want them to behave a certain way so we can feel good.
Like an instruction guide, manuals are usually thick and intricate.
Some examples of manuals we have of our exes are:
- He should pay me a certain amount of child or spousal support.
- He should respect me.
- He shouldn’t be in a relationship so soon after the breakup.
- He shouldn’t talk to my friends and family anymore.
- He should keep me on his social media.
- He should spend more time with the kids.
These sound logical right? In fact, most people would probably agree with your manual for your ex.
But, having a manual for your ex (or any relationship) causes you a lot of suffering.
People are awful at following our manuals.
Most of the time they don’t even know you have this instruction guide for them. You think they should just know how to behave and act.
Here’s the thing…
Adults get to act however they want (including you).
Expecting people to behave any other way than they do will always cause you suffering.
No matter what your ex does it’s you who determines what you will make their behavior mean. Your thoughts about their behavior cause your feelings.
You are always responsible for how you think and feel. This is true 100% of the time.
Thinking thoughts about your ex’s behavior that is negative makes you feel bad. It’s also giving all your power away to them.
My guess is they are the last person you want to hand over your power to.
Having a manual is giving your power away because for you to feel better they have to change their behavior. This rarely happens.
This doesn’t mean you can’t make requests of your ex. You can ask them to spend more time with the kids, pay you more support, etc.
It becomes a problem when your emotional life is based on how they behave.
I was able to drop my manual for my ex once I realized what was in the instruction guide. I made a list of everything that was in my manual for him and dropped it.
You can do this too. Sit down and do this exercise. Make a list of everything in your manual for them.
You might be surprised at what some of your expectations of them are.
Dropping your manual is empowering and will bring you peace.
2. Choose Love – Always!
Ok, I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now. You’re thinking there is no way you can love your ex because of how they behave.
What I want to offer to you is that love is something you do for yourself.
It always feels better to love. Period.
Your ex doesn’t need to change their behavior for you to choose love. It’s a gift you give yourself.
You might think that they don’t deserve your love or that withholding it is punishing them.
Stewing about their behavior is punishing yourself. Being angry negatively impacts you, not them.
Negative thoughts about them or their behavior make you feel terrible and miserable.
Your ex doesn’t feel your anger, hate, or whatever negative emotion you’re creating. You’re feeling that all by yourself.
Your ex might be over there living their life not thinking about you at all.
A prime example of this is when an ex starts dating someone else. They might have moved on and are feeling happy.
And there you are feeling angry.
Your negative thoughts about that circumstance cause you to feel bad. Not them.
If they’re feeling bad it’s because of the thoughts they’re having about you. Not because of your negative emotions.
It’s impossible for your feelings to jump out of your body into theirs. Only you experience your negative emotion.
It’s life altering once you grasp this.
Unconditional love is a skill you can learn, and I highly recommend that you do. It just feels better.
3. Get Good at Having “Difficult” Conversations.
Want to hear something that will blow your mind?
There are no difficult conversations.
It’s what you make the topic of conversation and the words your ex says mean that makes it “difficult”.
Conversations are totally neutral. Nothing more than words. It’s your thinking about the words that cause your feelings.
There is no denying that there are conversations during and after your divorce that make it more challenging to manage your mind.
When you don’t manage your mind conversations with your ex will likely be unproductive.
You always get to choose how you want to communicate and perceive the conversation.
It’s common for emotions to run high during a divorce because of the thoughts you’re having. This can make it hard to communicate without defensiveness, judgment, blame, and frustration.
Maybe you want to be right. You might feel justified in what you say or how you behave toward them.
What I want to offer is that your need to be right does absolutely nothing for you.
Digging your heels in because of your need to be right will ultimately causes you more suffering.
It adds fuel to the fire because most times you’ll get a defensive response. Then the cycle continues. The conversation goes in circles and becomes increasingly heated.
It might be over simple things like splitting furniture. Or it could be over things that require more thought like child custody arrangements.
Learning to communicate in a way that serves both of you is possible. I promise because my ex and I did it.
What I have found to be most useful is to commit to peace before having a conversation.
It is a skill that can be learned.
Play out the conversation before it happens and commit to hearing what your ex has to say no matter what.
Approach the conversation from a place of curiosity. Genuinely be interested in what their thoughts and feelings are.
Then give up your need to be right.
From there you can come up with solutions. All creativity to come up with solutions is blocked when you need to be right or are feeling negative emotions.
I know I’m still getting some eye rolls from some of you. But I promise you conversations don’t have to be difficult.
This person might have to be in your life forever (if you have kids this is likely the case).
Do you really want to be at war?
It is totally possible to have an amazing relationship with your ex. It’s what you create for yourself in your mind.
This is 100% within your control.
You can’t control what they say or do but you can control how you think, feel, and act. Drop the expectations and need to be right.
Choosing love is always the best option and a gift you give to yourself.
If you found this post helpful check out How To Process Grief After A Breakup
Find out the 3 secrets to reinventing your life with self-confidence. Get your free guide by filling out the form below.