Dealing After Divorce

Menstuff® has compiled information, books and resources on the issue of relationships after a divorce.

12 Tried and True Rules for Dealing with Your Ex after Divorce

Throughout the divorce process, there are bound to be doubts and stumbling blocks to deal with along the way. From emotions to attraction, the women who post on the Surviving Divorce message board have been there (and done that). Read on to find out their 12 most helpful rules for dealing with your divorce.

1. Expect the rush of emotions: "The first time I saw my ex after he walked out was a learning experience. I listened to what he had to say, but felt as though it wasn't me sitting there. Then I went home, cried my eyes out, and thought of everything I should have said. My advice when you see your ex is to stay as calm as you can until you get the "business parts" taken care of. If you want to ask him whatever comes to your mind, do it, but don't expect certain answers. Above all, take care of yourself afterwards -- go buy something nice or treat yourself to a good dinner, maybe use that spa certificate. No matter what you think you're going to say, it hardly comes out. You will have so many emotions going through you that it will probably be a blur, but knowing they will be there is half the battle."

2. Judge with your mind, not your heart: "I am trying to complete my divorce, and I know that my STBX [soon to be ex] is a controlling alcoholic. So why, after a few hours of civilized conversation and a one genuine laugh, do I wonder if we're doing the right thing? My boys are almost three and six, and need a Dad. My finances are scary. In truth, I've not been alone for 17 years. So it comes down to two questions. What could have changed so dramatically in this man to make time spent with him enjoyable? And, are those changes sustainable? Any time you feel as though you've made a mistake, ask yourself these questions. Logic will help."

3. Be grateful for your good relationship: "My experience so far has been that I am mourning the loss of what was once a good marriage. No matter what, those times won't come back, but when I see little glimpses of what my ex used to be like, I have to be grateful for them. Not everyone converses civilly with their ex, much less shares a laugh."

4. Remember the bad times (but don't forget the good): "If there are moments when you want to run back to him because you feel as though you can't survive on your own financially (or emotionally), you have to stay strong. How? It sounds negative, but what I always did when those moments crept up -- and believe me, they don't anymore -- was think of the worst things he did or said to me. Sure, this got me angry, but I was able to wipe those other doubtful feelings away!"

5. Look at your bright future: "I was hoping that my STBX and I could work things out. I thought our daughters needed him. I wanted him to be my buffer from the outside world. But as I went through the divorce process I started to understand my feelings better, and I accepted what was happening so much more. It was no longer scary to see our lives change, but exciting. My husband and I had children and dreams together, but now it's time to let go of that love, and know that we will find future loves, have future pains and dream wonderful future dreams."

6. Revel in independence: "For the first month after I left my husband, I was worried about whether I could still be a stay-at-home mom, and be able to take care of my family financially. Once I figured out how I could, even though it's really hard, I haven't thought about going back once. The thing is, my ex is still sad and a little angry, but he always was. The real difference now is I am not a part of those feelings."

7. Keep your gripes to yourself: "I used to try to talk to my STBX when I had issues with him (all the time). But I didn't get results. I just got really mad. How could he be so …? Finally, I realized the best way to keep my own sanity was to stop calling him. He doesn't agree with me? I say, "Fine," and the more I say it, the more I believe it."

8. Say no to seduction: "Sex with the ex? Whatever he says and however he looks, stand firm and don't even let him wish!"

9. Kill him with kindness: "If you think your ex is being cold and callous do not lower yourself to his standards. Keep your head held high, and act as if you don't feel hurt. Sure, that will irk him. But the real reason you should do it: Staying positive will ultimately cheer you up!"

10. Get a little mushy: "You know how Jerry Maguire said, "You complete me," and the love songs always say, "There was an empty space in my life before you came along"? I've used the line and love those songs, but I've outgrown the notion. If I learned one thing from this failed marriage, it's that I have to be a whole person myself before I can build a solid, healthy relationship with anyone else. So I'm off to do whatever it takes to achieve everything I've always wanted!"

11. Treat yourself: "I am trying to learn to sit back a bit and do more of just enjoying life for me, instead of stressing myself to make everything perfect for other people. Especially to "get through" the holidays, I need extra pampering, and now, I am the only person who can make sure that happens. So for Christmas, I'm buying myself a present I really want. For Thanksgiving, I'll make sure that the one dish I want is on the table, and I'll do one fun thing to cherish it being a day off from work. I mean, why should I get a day off and spend 18 hours standing in the kitchen next to a hot oven? LOL."

12. Learn, grow, change: "In the beginning, I never thought that I would make it. Now I am only six months down the road alone with my five-year-old and seven-week-old, but I am already feeling better. We have tough times, but overall are great! Which means we will make it without him! Maybe it's hard to go through those negative emotions, but it's worth it to realize how strong I really am. One day you will look back and see how strong you have become too. Hang in there -- it will all be okay!"

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