One of the best morsels of advice I received when I was going through my divorce was to learn how to think of my ex-husband and my children’s partner as a co-parent or business partner in the task of raising our children. It freed me up to reorganize my thinking and focus on the fact that we would remain connected in the process of raising the children (even if on some levels, I would rather that weren’t the case). Thinking of the Ex as a “coworker” is a great way to create a functional working relationship while sharing in the raising of the child.
I have had plenty of coworkers who rubbed me the wrong way, or who I didn’t particularly like and wouldn’t choose to socialize with. However, I’ve developed solid skills to how to interact and behave with colleagues and coworkers. Transferring those skills over to redefining my relationship with my children’s father in the months after the divorce helped to establish a solid “business relationship” that has helped us both remain involved in our children’s lives. Sending e-mails, leaving voice-mail messages and other ways of communicating without having to stand face-to-face helped in the beginning and now we tend to only speak to each other on “transfer day” and that’s always focused on sharing information about the kids.
Focusing on the business details of making transfers, sharing school and behavior information and swapping records–gives the relationship some new parameters. We don’t talk about our personal lives and we don’t really have any conversations that aren’t “work-related” (having to do with the children.) I know that some people are able to stay great friends and buddies with their Ex-spouses, but that hasn’t been my situation. However, at the time of our divorce, we did have a good decade left of child-raising in which we would have to interact. Treating him like a business partner has created the boundaries and “structure” for our new co-parenting relationship.