Do Ex-Spouses have to be Friends for the Children?

Dating After Divorce

When you have been together for a long time, it is understandable that, even through hurt and anger, you still care about your ex.  Unless you have been through a particularly terrible fight during your divorce, being friends seems like a good idea, right?

Maybe.  For many people, being friends and friendly with someone is the same thing and this isn’t true.  Being a friend to someone means you talk to them often and want to spend time with them doing things you both enjoy.  You go out of your way to contact them and think about them as you go about your routine.  For many, being friends with a spouse isn’t exactly what they want.

However, being friendly is entirely possible and desirable, especially if you have children or several mutual friends where it is likely you will see each other often.  Being friendly to someone simply means you can be kind and civil to someone.  This is the relationship most exes really want – to be able to be in the same area with someone without wanting to smack them.

You can be friendly with an ex.  It will take some effort on your part, but if it is something you really want, you need to make that effort, especially for the sake of your children.  The last thing they need is to know you can’t even look at someone you used to love.  Children often get strange ideas during a divorce and blame themselves.  If they realize you can’t stand their other parent, they may begin to wonder if you will ever feel the same about them.

To be friendly, you could try to imagine your ex is someone you have just met.  Smile and be polite.  It may be really hard at first, but the longer you try, the easier it will become.  You don’t need to spend a lot of time talking to your ex, but can simply smile and ask how he/she is.  If you need small talk while you wait for your children to get ready, talk about them.  Mention a school paper or a sports team they play on.  You don’t need to ask any details about their life and it may be better for you if you don’t.

If being friendly is still hard, try thinking of one thing you respect about your spouse.  Maybe he/she is excellent at their job or is helping a parent with household chores.  It doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but something that you can respect.  Focus on that when you know you will be seeing your ex and it may be easier to smile and be polite.  Remember that having parents who are friendly is much better for your children – think about that when you really don’t want to be nice anymore.

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