Post Divorce – Take Hold and Let Go

Take hold and let go. Think about those words, what do they really mean? What does that have to do with the post divorce climate? And, how can we all put those words into our daily actions?

One of the major sources of angst post divorce is misbehavior, characterized by power struggles with the children as the rope. Many modification and contempt actions are grounded in the unwillingness to compromise on matters which should be of no consequence or one of the parents is not acting as a responsible parent or in other words, being an obstructionist. The why, is because the parties to the divorce continue to do the same “dance” or carry on the same tantrums they did as when they were married. They have yet to take hold of that behavior, examine it and let it go.

It does not take much to realize that at least one of the parties to this dance is not happy.

Refer to your Rulebook. Everyone has a Rulebook: it can be found in the terms of the Separation Agreement or Judgment of the Court. Review your Rulebook to make a list of some of the basic rules, such as parenting time; support; payment of extracurricular activities, health insurance, out of pocket health care expenses, and the like. I would prefer we lived by principles, but basic rules are the first steps to recognizing and working toward global principles.

If you do not like the dance, change the steps or get off the dance floor. If you have children, you cannot change your former spouse; the divorce merely gave you some distance, but, you are no longer compelled to dance cheek to cheek or follow that partner’s lead. It is up to you. Yes, it will be uncomfortable at first, but stick to it and changes will come.

Make a list of the repetitive, irritating, unproductive behavior. Likewise, think about irritants that you may be creating. To be successful at changing the Rules of Engagement, you must abide by the same standard to which you are holding your former spouse.

Compare your two lists of irritants with your Rulebook and decide the extent of the grievousness.

Set up a time, no children allowed, in a coffee shop, to discuss face to face. Even if you have not had success in the past communicating, do it. You have changed the Rules of Engagement. Be prepared for the discussion. Have your notes. As you plan the meeting, be mindful of past abysmal discussions. Put yourself in the shoes of your former spouse as you consider your proposed resolution. Be ready to propose it and justify it, in a non-judgmental and unemotional manner. If the discussion begins to deteriorate, end it, politely, and leave. No further need for discussion. You no longer tolerate disrespect, arrogance, or a discussion which is not productive. If you have thought out your plan carefully, and it meets the standard for a modification or contempt, pursue it. Do not engage with your former spouse any further, unless you believe it will lead to a productive and beneficial result for your child.

So, what’s the one conclusion I can bring this article to: Change the Rules of Engagement, and do what’s right to do.

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