You’re crossin’ the line buddy!
You got divorced because you had “issues.” And here you are divorced and you’re still dealing with issues!
There’s only one way to deal with these so-called issues. It’s called boundaries! Creating and having boundaries was about the best thing I ever learned when it came to divorce and having a blended family.
In fact, it’s what I credit my healthy co-parenting relationship to with my ex-husband and his wife.
There are a lot of places to insert boundaries. There’s boundaries with the exes, with the in laws, with the kids and even with friends. But, today, I’m talking boundaries with the ex-spouses.
As much we’d like to have this great co-parenting, let’s co-host birthday parties, have a beer and high five each other type of relationship with his ex, her ex, or your own… the reality for most blended families is that as soon as one person feels offended, gets snarky or has a different opinion, it all goes downhill.
I’ve been there. Hey, in the early days of divorce I went through all kinds of emotions. From feeling sad like my whole world ended, to feeling the kind of anger that gave me false empowerment to feeling like all was as it should be and we can be great friends. Who needed boundaries when we got this whole co-parenting thing figured out.
We can be friends just like we were when we were married, right? It’s just a new kind of family! We can ask each other to go above and beyond, right? Wrong! If you’re trying to keep peace then it’s time to lay down the firm boundaries and then the most important part – stick to it!
Here are some of the big issues that ensue when there are no boundaries, ESPECIALLY in a blended family situation.
Connection: Getting divorced does not mean you still get all the benefits of being married minus the sex. If your partner’s ex partner is still calling him up when she’s had a bad day or because he’ll understand her issue with her mother or because her sink isn’t working… it’s not a good sign. It’s an ask to stay connected and it will hinder the relationship with the new spouse.
Create the boundary that all communication remain in the interest of your children. Does it involve scheduling, squaring up on money or a health matter? Great! Take care of business and work it out!
Does it involve your feelings being hurt because your ex didn’t respond to your text message about it not being fair that you got to go on a fun vacation? Boundary. Not relevant.
Money: Are you coming out of pocket every month beyond your financial responsibilities? Or are you asking for more beyond what you are legally supposed to get?
Boundary! Money will always make things complicated. I know parents in court twelve years after they’ve already divorced, over you guessed it… money. One parent gave more than they were legally obligated to. A pattern developed of always coming to the rescue when the other parent couldn’t pay a bill. Soon enough there were expectations. When it finally stopped, the claws came out.
Stick to what you are legally supposed to give. Want to give extra to the kids. Great! Give it directly to them, but beware of crossing the money line.
Domain: Door open policy? Um, no. Drop bys, regardless of it being your children’s home or not, does not equal a walk in anytime invitation from the ex. Make that a rule asap! And don’t just waltz in to your ex’s house either! Respect!
Communication: Ah smartphones. Isn’t it wonderful to be pinged All. Day. Long.
It is when you’re getting sweet love notes from your husband or wife. It’s not when it’s harassment or a barrage of negative opinions being thrown at you. Protect yourself from the negativity and certainly don’t be the one to spread it. Communication between the co-parents be best left to kid coordination and what is legally obligated of you.
If your car breaks down or you run out of gas, call your partner, emergency contact or even Uber, not your ex. If he’s depressed about a broken relationship, he can call his best friend, not you.
And please note: None of these boundaries are intended to be cold hearted or cruel. But, if you’re experiencing a regular dose of high conflict, chances are you need boundaries in place. Strictly keeping things at a respectful level between you and your ex will keep your current spouse feeling a priority and above all, avoid confusion and unnecessary drama for your children.