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Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to Stay Calm When Your Ex Pushes Your Buttons

There is a reason that you and the father of your children are "Exes" and not still a couple.  Because you were once close enough to make a baby together, he is close enough to know the things that get under your skin.  The patterns have probably long been in place for you to react to certain topics or to become emotional under certain circumstances.  But you have the power to stay calm when your ex pushes those buttons.  You do not have to go down the path of reacting.

During the process of our separation and divorce, it was my mantra to Keep it Classy.  You get to keep your dignity and maintain composure, even when it's emotionally stressful.  Employ calming practices and prep in advance for any necessary comebacks.  Keep these principles in mind:

- Don't talk "business" at family gatherings, school events or sporting events.  Save it for a quick call, email or whatever form of communication works best for your parenting dynamic.

- A little distance is healthy.  He doesn't need to know all your plans and thoughts, so remember it is okay to not include him in the decisions that do not affect his time with the children.

- Keep the past behind you and beware of becoming immediately defensive.  Ask yourself if this situation is worth the emotional expense that conflict will bring.

- Before you respond, smile.  This will force you to pause for a beat and communicate good will.  It may even signal a cheeky understanding that he is trying to manipulate the interaction, but you are still in control.

- Be Consistent.

- Keep trying.

- Determine to be a grown up and never make your child or teen choose between you and your ex.

- Commit to emotional integrity and determine to live by your values, even in a challenging relationship.

You are only responsible for yourself.  If a conversation begins to deteriorate, simply walk away.  Detach.  Disengage.  Depart.  You've got this!  Then call a supportive friend and hash out the crazy.

I hope this Thanksgiving season finds you counting blessings.  Look for them - they are out there!  I'm grateful for any who come here to read.  I'd love to hear from you through this season.