Post-Divorce Tips that
Can Make Your Life Easier
By Susie and Otto Collins
Jon always tries to be a nice guy-- even with his ex-wife
Carol. He generally says "yes" to whatever request that she
makes of him.
Whether it's a change in the child care arrangements they've
made or a leaky faucet that needs fixing, Jon is always
willing to help out.
After all, he doesn't want there to be any more tension than
is already there. He wants his kids to see that a couple can
break up and still be friends.
The trouble is, Jon isn't always able to actually do some of
the things that he promises Carol he'll do. His job and his
own home care keep him very busy.
Now that his parents are both older, they need his help more
than ever before.
Jon means to get to the things on Carol's "to do" list, but
this doesn't always happen. When Jon doesn't come through on
what he's agreed to do, Carol gets angry.
So despite what Jon feels are his best efforts, the kids
aren't protected from arguments and tension between their
parents after all.
If you've gone through a divorce and you still have regular
contact with your ex, you might be going through similarly
You may pride yourself in being an easy-going and nice
person. You want whatever relationship you now have with
your ex to be smooth and peaceful.
In order for this to happen, it might seem that you have to
work extra hard and be especially amenable to whatever your
Like Jon, you may be doing this mainly for the sake of your
children. Or, you might harbor a little bit of hope
that you and your ex will one day get back together again.
As backwards as it might sound, we advise you to STOP
being the "good guy" or the "good woman" with your ex so
much of the time.
We certainly don't encourage you to be intentionally mean,
insensitive or obstinate with your ex.
At the same time, we want you to be aware that your efforts
to be nice all of the time and even to please your ex are
undoubtedly going to backfire.
You could wake up one day with a whole load of resentment
because you feel as if you've been bending over backwards
for your ex. Maybe you
even feel taken advantage of.
You could stir up even more anger and irritation in your ex
when you can't follow through on some-- or most-- of the
promises that you've made.
You could realize that your ex is more dependent on you for
particular things than you'd like him or her to be.
You could recognize that you are saying "yes" to just about
anything your ex asks of you because you want to win him or
Your reasons for being nice to your ex may be completely
sincere. There is nothing necessarily wrong with being
helpful and kind to someone with whom you used to share your
We urge you to explore what is motivating you to say "yes"
to your ex's requests.
Give yourself permission to say "no" when you truly don't
want to-- or can't-- do something for him or her.
Is it ever okay to do something nice for my ex?
We do NOT want to indicate that we think it's never a good
idea for exes to help one another out.
Especially when you both are adjusting to being single
parents, there are times when you can really use assistance
in some form or another.
What we we do recommend is that you think it over before you
respond to a call for help from your ex.
Depending on the kind of relationship that you now have with
one another, you two might create some
agreements about what you're willing to do for one another
and what you're not.
For example, Jon is more than willing to be there for Carol
if it's something that directly involves their kids. This is
a priority for Jon.
He would like Carol to find some other person to take care
of her home repair crises, however.
Some weeks, Jon feels like a professional-- though unpaid--
handyman between the clogged toilets, leaky faucets, full
gutters, and squeaky doors that need to be fixed at his
house, his parents' house and also Carol's house.
It is exhausting!
Go within yourself and get clear about what you are
comfortable being called upon to do and what you are no
longer willing to do.
You can choose to communicate that list to your ex or to
just know this for yourself and answer accordingly as
specific requests are made.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to
interacting with your ex after a divorce.
What is most important is for you to know
what makes sense and feels right for you at any given time
and be willing to stand by that.
For more help making your decision,
click here to sign up for Susie and Otto's FREE mini-course:
"5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Deciding Whether to
Stay in or Leave a Relationship."