Relationship Problems: 5 Must-Have’s For Successful Co-Parenting With Your Ex

Co-parenting with your former partner needs to be all about the children, and not about your relationship.

Your children should NOT be pawns, messengers, or, casualties of divorce wars! In a perfect world, your children would only know that life is more peaceful with two homes, and that they miss the parent they are not with. That’s it.

Children need to know–and feel–that they are more important than the conflict that is–or, hopefully, was–between their parents. Maintaining that is what effective, conscious co-parenting is all about.

When you co-parent well, you eliminate exposing the children to adult relationship issues. They know mom and dad are not together and choose to live apart. They don’t need further details beyond that. Really!

They may have questions. Answer them in the most age-appropriate–that’s their ages, not yours–way for them to understand the most general issues. No specifics. And, particularly, no blaming, shaming, or defaming your partner in the hearing of your children!

Children have enough to contend with when parents separate. It’s enough to be moving, losing time with their friends, missing the non-custodial parent, feeling uncertain about what’s going on, and not having the right things at the right house. These are kid concerns.

Children NEED NOT and SHOULD NOT be hearing about adult issues. They should NEVER hear one parent say anything negative about the other, directly or within their hearing. In California where I am, every divorce settlement states that clearly.

Whether or not you both chose to live apart, or only one of you made the decision, it’s what you’re doing now. Not engaging your child or children in the ongoing details of the conflict, the disappointments, or the anger is important. It’s not easy, but you’re an adult and that’s what a wise adult would do.

I want to give you some clear guidelines to help you through this. These will help you stay focused on what is important:

  1. I am the model I want my children to follow. Therefore, everything I do and say demonstrates who I want my children to become. Think of the last week. Were you who you want your children to become?
  2. I communicate with my ex in the way I want to be communicated with. I choose collaboration and conversation over conflict and acrimony. Were you open-minded and collaborative?
  3. I focus on my children and what keeps them healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally. That includes doing what is in their best interests first. Were you child-focused?
  4. I turn my attention from what I don’t like about my ex to what s/he does well for the children. It’s about the kids, not what my personal issues are with my ex. What were you dwelling on?
  5. My children have the right to be children, concerned only with age-appropriate thoughts, feelings, and actions. I protect them from beings pawns, messengers, or,  casualties of my divorce. Did you?

It can be difficult to rise up and be your best self when everything in you wants to blame, shame, and complain. I know. I’ve been divorced, too. You may have deep resentments after years of a rocky marriage, or, fresh scars that the divorce brought on. And, it feels like that ex should pay dearly for it, and for a long time. Leave that to the court. You have to get your head on straight and do what is best for your kids.

It has to be–or quickly become–the case that your love for your children is stronger than your hatred or loathing of your partner and the divorce. Then, you will be able to master successful co-parenting, and give your children the best emotional environment in which to thrive. They deserve that. They didn’t ask for a divorce!

Need help to shift your co-parenting from war to peace? You can schedule an appointment online with Dr. Rhoberta Shaler at http://OptimizeCenter.com/join   Choose your time. Meet on Skype from anywhere.

Relationship Problems: Letting The Past Poison Your Present Relationship

Relationship problems often arise over what’s happened in the past. If you are bringing what’s happened in a past relationship into your current one, you’re likely asking for trouble.

It’s really hard to have a relationship in the present moment when you are focused on the trash of the past! When you focus on the past, you are missing the relationship that is in front of you right now. That’s a mistake.

Recently, I was working with a couple through Skype. They both said they were sure that they wanted to recover the love, trust and respect they believed their relationship began with. I wasn’t so sure if that was the case by the way they were behaving together, but we went with it.

The problem became clear quickly: every time I asked a question about their present relationship together, they brought up events in the past. Some of those events were in the deep, dark, distant past, too. These two seemed to have memories like elephants!

When I asked each of them to describe their partner as they are today, there was silence. They both had a trash accumulation problem. They were trash collectors. Each of them had accumulated and saved–almost nurtured and cherished, it seemed–each hurt, misstep, pain, and fault that they perceived in each other over their life together.

Wow! Not much question why they were miserable enough to come for relationship help. If you can only see who your partner isn’t, and add that to the unending list of “s/he done me wrongs” and “ain’t it awfuls,” then, you are perpetuating your misery. And, because you’ve told the story more times than good for you, you feel justified in your complaints, too.

BIG QUESTION: Would you rather feel justified in your anger, pain, and disappointment, or, would you rather be open to love, change, and possibilities? 

Some people love to hear your drama, and they would be very disappointed if you gave it up. Your partner–and, even moreso, you–would be relieved, though. Could you imagine not telling the same old story and dredging up the same old nasty feelings? Life would be very different!

You chose your partner for a reason. Do you remember what that reason was? You probably had many good reasons. Remember them.

Life offers pain, difficulties, and complications along with laughter, love, and occasionally, lemons. People react or respond. People make mistakes. People change. They learn and they hopefully grow. Sometimes, they hide and wallow.

You are not who you were when you met your partner, are you? You’ve changed. Hopefully, you’ve grown in positive ways. Would you really want to have stopped and stagnated along the way? Not likely. But, did you let your relationship get stuck?

Dragging the garbage of the past behind you into the present moment is exhausting. It’s heavy. It’s painful. And, it’s unnecessary. Dragging it behind you into every circumstance, taking the lid off, and letting that putrid smell out once again does you no good at all personally, and can poison your relationship. No one needs a whiff of that!

It may take getting some relationship help to be able to see each other with kinder eyes in the present moment, but you’re worth it. The relationship is worth it. And, oh,  by the way, if you don’t learn new patterns, you’ll just keep whittling away at each other, and gather worse stories to tell. You don’t want that, I hope.

Tripping on the trash of the past keeps you stuck and down. You even get tired of your story. Give yourself and your partner a opportunity to see yourselves and each other differently.

Just think: you could be skipping into the future, hand in hand, light-hearted and enjoying yourselves. Or, you can continue to pile on more garbage. Not a lovely picture, right?

HERE’S TODAY’S PODCAST:


When you are ready to handle relationship issues and solve relationship problems in ways that give you back the love you share, you demonstrate that you care. Get relationship help. If you could have fixed the problems, you would have done it already.

Finding solutions for relationship problems takes willingness, courage and time: the willingness to take a good, honest look at yourselves and your relationship, the courage to re-create your relationship with new insights, new skills, and new tools, and the time to make the difference. Start now.

You can work directly with Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, The Relationship Help Doctor, to move beyond your current relationship problems. Learn more HERE.  Get a free copy of the first chapter of her book, Kaizen For Couples, when you subscribe to her newsletter and podcasts HERE.

Relationship Issues: Fighting In A Relationship

In a relationship, some people expect a fight. Others look for one. Others run from one. Which are you?

And, there is one other approach: you can sidestep a fight.

Frequently, relationship problems turn into fights. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can stop that.

If you are looking for a fight in a troubled, or even in a relatively calm relationship, you’ll likely find it. It is possible, though, to change your focus.

Are you looking for a fight, or trying to make things right? 

Your instant answer to that question makes all the difference to the success of your relationship.

Not long ago, I was working with a couple in a Co-Parenting for Divorced Couples class. The fellow was regaling me with how they have rapid fire conversations, sending text messages back and forth that get progressively more unpleasant. He had a smile on his face.

The couple recalled one interchange–almost pleased with themselves–in which she called him a “Deadbeat Dad” to which he had replied, “You’re a fat cow!”  When I asked about this way of communicating and what they found so satisfying and amusing in it, the man replied that, although it was childish, it was fun. He said he enjoyed their exchange of insults, and here’s the kicker: He proudly said that, if she started it, he’d be sure to finish it, with a flourish!

Clearly, he loved the fight! And, just to add fuel to the first, the woman was unwilling to see her passive-aggressive tendencies, egging him on, and then, making him wrong for being upset. A match made in hell!

Does any of that sound familiar to you?

  • Do you take some kind of perverse pleasure in one-upmanship?
  • Do you feel superior, strong, or clever when you are putting others down?
  • Do you enjoy the battle, and have no problem bringing bigger and bigger weapons into it?
  • Do you like to see if you can push someone into losing their cool?
  • Do you feel powerful when you can get a rise out of someone, and then, make them wrong for getting upset?

If any of those are familiar to you, you are looking for a fight. Those could not be farther from trying to make things right.

Constant or frequent fighting in a relationship should be a red flag that you need relationship help now.

If you are the perpetrator of these things, you need to get some relationship help to explore what’s driving this. You are pushing people away for some reason, and you’d do well to figure that out sooner rather than later!

If you are on the receiving end of these behaviors, you can stop the fight by refusing to participate. You can be the one who can sidestep the angry, negative energy. You have to simply refuse to play this nasty game of lose-lose.

If you want things to change, both of you can use these four essential statements as soon as you realize that you are beginning to feel angry:

  1. I recognize that I am getting angry.
  2. I care about the relationship.
  3. I am going to withdraw and calm down. (Say what you are going to do: go for a walk, put on my headphones, exercise, watch a movie, run errands)
  4. I’ll be back at __________o’clock and we can talk about this then, or agree on a good time to talk about it.

Taking control of your anger in this way lets you know how powerful you really are. Fighting, whether it is bickering or blowouts, is damaging, hurtful, and unproductive. You know that all you do when you fight is make one more thing to throw at each other the next time you fight. That’s crazy!

What’s your answer? Are you looking for a fight in your relationship? Or, are you trying to make things right? That answer will make all the difference to the relationship problems you will be able to solve together.

HERE’S TODAY’S COUPLEOLOGY PODCAST: 


Relationship problems need solutions, not stalemates! You are wise to work with a relationship expert as soon as possible if fighting is a frequent thing in your relationship. You’re just causing and perpetuating pain. That is definitely not love!

 

Relationship Issues: Give Up Blaming If You Want To Get Closer

In a relationship, oh, it is so easy to blame your partner! You think that blaming will take the heat off you and put it onto your partner. At least, you hope so.

It doesn’t work that way and it creates relationship issues that never seem to go away.

If you’re always looking for someone to blame–or blaming someone else–for where you find yourself in life, you will never have close or satisfying relationships. Ouch, I know, but it’s simply true!

It may not break the relationship apart. You may stay together, but, you’ll never have the emotional intimacy that makes you feel known, heard, respected, and supported. You’ll both be settling for far less than you could have.

Abraham Maslow created Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the graphic above. You’ll see the base is about survival, the next is about staying alive once you’ve survived, and then, Bingo! The need for love and belonging. That’s why you need your family, your friends, and especially, your partner: they fill up your need for love and belonging.

When your style is blaming, you push your partner away. You are actually are working against your most important needs. Yet, you do it. Wouldn’t you rather invite your partner to come closer? I’ll bet you would, and giving up blaming is a very good start!

A Blamer needs a Target of Blame. In most cases, almost anyone or anything will do. However, some save their special blaming behavior for those folks with whom they think they are the safest: the ones they believe they love and who love them. It creates a destructive dance for two. If you are WITH a blamer, you need to decide to sit this dance out. That often takes real courage.

I’m not saying you have to leave the relationship. No! That would be like walking out of the dance hall never to enjoy dancing together again. I’m saying, step off the dance floor, sit this one out, and tell your partner how much you’d like to dance to the music of “I’m in love with you, Baby” rather than “You always hurt the one you love.” You can learn better communication skills and you can get better answers for your relationship questions.  Getting some relationship help can really speed up the process, because it’s hard to figure it out alone.

Blaming is a habit, a learned pattern of behavior you pick up earlier in life. It comes from being blamed, always being suspected, or being afraid of being wrong or punished. It’s a deflection tactic to avoid possible negative consequences. You may have needed that tactic in another relationship, but you sure don’t have to bring it into this one.

You can change the blaming pattern to one that is more equitable, accepting, fair, responsible, and loving.

If you’re ready to give up blaming, or being blamed, a little relationship help can show you both how to step out of the dance that has you stomping each other’s toes, and glide into sync and enjoy your time together.

Enjoy the podcast that goes with this topic right here:

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