I could see the frustration and apprehension on Chloe’s face as she was telling me about her latest travail with her former spouse. Chloe was a participant in our Recovering from Divorce Program and had just gone through a divorce during the past year. She was really struggling with creating a cooperative, working relationship with her ex. It seemed that no matter what she did, her ex would undermine her efforts. The tension between them was just too high to allow any trust to develop. The result was a very rigid working relationship, with both parties staking out their territory and not giving an inch. This made it very difficult for them to co-parent their three small children.
My advice to her was to put her ex into training. She looked at me with a rather puzzled expression. I went on to explain that rarely does matching fire with fire work. It just makes a bigger fire. Instead, she should throw water on the fire by taking the lead in the relationship by treating her former spouse how she wants to be treated. She grimaced. Yes, I know, much easier said than done. Being kind and considerate toward your ex is often the last thing you want to do, but so worth it. This means taking the lead in being flexible and cooperative. If you know your ex has a conflict and can’t have the kids on their weekend, offer to swap weekends. Offer to meet halfway to pickup/drop off the kids. If your ex owes you money, offer to work out a payment plan. If your kids or friends start trash-talking your ex, stand up for him/her. The more your are able to show your ex the cooperation, flexibility and respect you desire, the more likely you are to get it from them. Pray for the strength and courage you need to live the Golden Rule.
Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. – Matthew 7:12