When it comes to dealing with your ex, communication can be tricky. However, with some practice, and patience, it gets better. Start by eliminating the following habits that contribute to poor ex communication.
Stonewalling is basically refusing to speak to the other person. This is never an effective way to get your point across. However, keep in mind that deferring a conversation is not the same thing as stonewalling. There will definitely be times when it is appropriate to hold off on having a difficult conversation until you can speaking privately without having to worry that your children will overhear you.
Triangulation is the fancy term for communicating through others. Many times when we engage in this tactic, it's because we don't trust our own instincts, so we try to communicate an offense to a third party in order to gain their support. Another way that you may be participating in triangulation is saying something to your children or to a family friend that you hope gets back to your ex. In fact, you may even do this with good intentions. However, it is never effective to communicate with your ex through others. The two of you need to learn how to communicate directly with one another in order to collaborate effectively on the work of raising your children together.
3. Giving In Just to Keep the Peace
We all need to compromise now and then, but if you are constantly giving in because you feel threatened or bullied, then your desire to please others and keep the peace has gone too far. The next time you're in this situation, consider saying no or suggest a compromise that works for both of you. In addition, if you fear for your safety, seek the help of a local domestic violence shelter or Women's Crisis Services organization.
4. Burrying Your Feelings
Keeping it all locked up inside is never healthy. It's important for you to manage your emotions in front of your children, so that they do not "own" whether mommy and daddy are having a good day or a bad day. However, you must train yourself not to keep your emotions bottled up inside indefinitely. As much as you need to put on a brave face for your kids, in front of your ex, and to others, you also have to carve out space in your life where you can be "real" and let the truth rear it's ugly head. If you don't, you'll never be able to deal effectively with all that you've experienced. So find a good friend to confide in or join us in the Single Parents' Forum, where you can vent, ask questions, and share your story with others who've been there.
5. Being a Doormat
This is never a comfortable habit for the person who's being taken advantage of, and yet it's an easy trap to fall in to. In order to end the pattern, speak up and voice your opinion to your ex. Communication can only be effective when both parties exercise their right to be heard. In addition, if this is especially hard for you, consider working with a trained mediator who can help the two of you reach an agreement on the issues that cause you the most conflict.