Changing the Dance: Dealing With An Uncooperative “Ex”

by Marla Chalnick

You may not have realized it, but you and your “ex” have been dancing the same dance forever. It’s not a graceful dance. It’s clumsy, people’s toes get stepped on, but you kept on dancing hoping it would improve. It didn’t!  You want a different partner. You divorced but now you’re still dancing when it comes to raising your kids. What can you do?


Change the Dance: If you change the dance  (that translates to changing your words and behavior) your ‘ex’ partner will be thrown off balance.. Changing the dance means breaking out of old patterns so that you can achieve different results.

 Choose your battles wisely: This sage advice not only works with your 2 year old, it works with your ‘ex’ too. Before arming yourself for battle, make sure this is a skirmish worth fighting for. Think about whether this is a battle that can be won, or if it will be a draw and end in a stalemate. Save your energy for the important stuff.

Think of your new relationship with your ‘ex’ as a business relationship, not a personal one. The business relates only to the children. Choose your words carefully and respectfully and keep your emotions out of it. If your lonely or anxious, talk to a friend or to your therapist, not to your ‘ex’.

Limit contact with your ‘ex’; it’s just as simple as that.

Give yourself an ‘out’. Not all conversations are planned. If your ‘ex’ springs something on you that you’re not prepared for and you need time to think about it you might want to respond with ‘This is not a good time for me to talk. I’ll get back to you on that” and schedule a time to talk when you are better prepared.

Never let your children hear you argue with your ‘ex’. They experience a conflict of loyalties when you are yelling and speaking disrespectfully to each other. Your kids will feel the need to take a side and this is a lose-lose for everyone. Please don’t make your children uncomfortable. They don’t come equipped for this situation so protect them as best you can!


2 thoughts on “Changing the Dance: Dealing With An Uncooperative “Ex”

  1. I LOVE this list!! I especially love the point about giving yourself an “out”. Whenever Disney Dad springs something on me, I almost always need to take some time to think about it so that I don’t react in a negative way. Taking a step back helps me think about how I really feel about whatever the issue is rather than just reacting with my gut. Great job!!xoxo


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