As co-parenting becomes the norm for a lot of divorced couples,
establishing a civil relationship with the ex-spouse becomes more and
more important. It can be very difficult, especially at first, to be
civil to your ex in regular interactions like picking up and dropping
off children, but it is even more difficult when you are forced to
spend extended amounts of time in each other’s company. At joint
celebrations like birthdays, t-ball games and weddings, the time spent
in each others company, or even just in each others vicinity, can be
excruciating. Some tips to surviving the day are:
Lay the Ground Rules
Speaking in advance to your Ex about how you intend to interact at the
event can be helpful in reducing anxiety and having things go more
smoothly. Being upfront, non-emotional and respectful to your Ex will
put him or her at ease, and everyone will be better off for it.
Bring a Buddy
A great way to feel more in control is to bring someone who can help
you emotionally separate your feelings from your child’s day. A
sibling, a parent or a friend can help you re-focus on the child
rather than on your ex, and your buddy can steer you away from your ex
if you need space.
Do Not Bring a Date
With the buddy system being established, if you happen to be dating
your buddy, do not bring him/her. Unless you have been separated for
years, do not bring a date to your joint celebrations. It is important
to think of your children’s well-being before when thinking about
bringing a date. A date’s presence may upset your ex, which in turn
may upset your children. Allow a little time and slow introduction to
the idea of a new significant other before introducing him/her.
Be Patient and Understanding
Remember, as you both interact at your first joint celebration, you
both will be emotionally charged. There may be feelings of hurt,
anger, sadness and betrayal on both sides. You no longer have
emotional access to your ex, so you do not know what they are feeling.
As you interact with each other, intend to maintain a level of
patience, and to understand that no matter whose “fault” the divorce
was or how hairy the divorce proceedings, you are both experiencing
It’s Difficult, but Possible
At Divorce Detox (see link below), we believe that although your first joint
celebration can be daunting, if you remain civil, think about the
children, and be patient and be understanding, you can help your child
celebrate the day and maybe enjoy yourself as well. Be sure to
remember the day is for your child, and you and your ex-spouse should
celebrate it as such, putting all other emotions aside. This is
difficult, but it is possible.
About the Authors
Andra Brosh, Ph.D. and Allison Pescosolido, M.A. are the leading divorce recovery experts in Los Angeles. Founders of Divorce Detox, a proven program guaranteed to speed recovery through the divorce transition, Andra and Allison are certified grief recovery experts, and both hold advanced degrees in the field of psychology. Friends for over 20 years, these dynamic women treat the trauma of divorce and see divorce as an opportunity for personal growth and a better life; they are changing the face of divorce in our society. Visit www.divorcedetox.com to learn more about their programs and cutting-edge work.