Is Your New Spouse’s Ex Making Trouble?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to Avoid Ex-Spouse’s Issues Becoming Remarriage Issue

You’re happily remarried—except you feel you’ve entered a bizarre love triangle: your spouse’s ex seems intent on destroying your happy union.

Remarriage is well-known for having its own special challenges. When you develop a relationship with someone who has formerly been married, that marriage represents a deeper bond than just someone your spouse dated. Extrication from the ex is difficult because first, finances and legal issues must be handled. And when there are children involved, extrication can’t be 100 percent.

Some ex-spouses have a hard time letting go, especially when they see their ex moving on and seemingly happy, and they themselves have not yet arrived at a happier phase in their life.

An ex-spouse’s frustration can come out in a variety of ways. If there was property held in common, this can be a source of contention and used as a battlefield. An ex-spouse may drag their feet on selling the property, which has implications on the finances of the newly remarried couple.

One of the most difficult areas, though, would be when children are pulled into the fray. There can be a tug-of-war between the ex-spouse and the new spouse, with the children the rope in the middle.

The result of an ex-spouse’s troublemaking, no matter what form it comes in, is that the newly remarried couple is focusing their attention on the wrong place: the ex-spouse. As a couple, you need time and attention given to your marriage—not constantly hashing it out over what the ex-spouse just did.

Let’s face it: this can put a serious damper on the joy and love that is rightfully your experience in your new marriage.

How should a remarried couple handle dealing with an ex-spouse bent on troublemaking? Here are 3 tips to help you get through:

Tip 1: Take a Different Viewpoint

It’s only natural to view any threat to your remarriage as the enemy, and that includes a troublesome ex-spouse.

The ex-spouse isn’t an enemy: they are a person who is struggling and hopefully, temporarily misguided. Their behavior, while troublesome, is evidence of their being emotionally troubled.

By looking at them in this light, it can lessen the amount of strain you are feeling. Also, if you have stepchildren, they no doubt sense the tension that’s there in their biological parents’ relationship, so your moderated feelings can provide a safe haven.

Tip 2: Appoint the Problem Manager

It’s natural for the remarried couple to want to join forces and treat this situation as “defeating a common enemy.” This is one time where the best way to work as a team is to work separate. If it’s your ex-spouse, then it is up to you to manage the issue. If it is your spouse’s ex, then they must manage the issue.

This helps get the confrontation out in the open and hopefully closer to resolution if the two most-involved parties are the ones going back and forth. Adding a person who wasn’t party to that marriage seems to only fuel the fire of contention, heightening already-heightened emotions of the ex. They may feel ganged up on, or get a little thrill at the thought of causing upset in their ex-spouse’s home.

Tip 3: Tend to Your Remarriage                                       

When you are not knee-deep in the issues between your spouse and their ex, you are able to concentrate on doing those things that build your remarriage, such as planning for fun times together.

Having fun together as a remarried couple is more challenging when you are both in knots over the latest “antics” of a troubled ex-spouse. By keeping some distance from the fray, you can provide a sympathetic ear to your spouse while also focusing your attention on providing a positive home environment that promotes enforcing the bonds of your relationship.

And when it comes to hoping for some light at the end of this particular tunnel, remember the saying, “This too, shall pass.” 

De-Stress the House-Hunting Process

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tips for Positively Involving Your Blended Family

By Vicki Harvey, Realtor

You’ve taken the proverbial plunge—and it’s not your first time: you have two families that will now become one.

And this may be the time to seriously consider buying a new home.

Moving two families into a new home can be expensive, but it can be worth the expense if it creates a more harmonious living situation for all.  A new home can mean no one will feel like an outsider because no territories have been pre-established, and everyone gets a fresh start. 

While this may sound like a happy ending, moving can still be stressful for everyone.  By making the process inclusive and fun, you will be more likely to gain emotional buy-in to the whole idea of moving. Here are three tips for lessening the stress:

Tip 1: Wave the Magic Wand

Wave the magic wand and find out from each family member what the most important thing is—if they could have what they want—in a new home.  Each person can only pick one “must have” thing, but this one thing will be quite telling of what’s most important to each family member. 

Regardless of what it is, parents will get a feel for something each kid can control, such as having a pink room, a new video game system, or their own computer work space.  If these wishes can be incorporated into your new space in any possible way, the kids will be excited about the move rather than dreading it.         

Tip 2: Pick a Song     

Have everyone vote on a theme song for your family and play it just before going house hunting.  Make sure the song is catchy and play it loud just before heading out.  Do your best to sing along and really rock out. 

On moving day, use that same song again as you pull up to the new home.  This will create a great memory of the experience.  Every time that song is played, a stronger bond will form as family members anticipate the coming events of the day. 

Also, every time that song is played after the move, the song will be tied to the memory of moving.  It will be a natural link that will create positive emotions around the move. 

Tip 3: Clip It In

Purchase a clipboard for every child that will be involved in the home search.  Clip in a mix of blank paper and lined paper and bring along an assortment of colorful pens, pencils and flair markers. 

Have kids make pro and con lists as they tour each home or draw a picture of a unique feature of the home or the same feature in every home.  This will occupy kids and provide interesting review items at the end of the day’s tour.  It will help you differentiate what you’ve seen, and the kids will be proud to offer this input.

The key is to prepare children for what lies ahead, and these tips can help make that journey easier and less stressful for any kids that are on the move into blended family life.

About the Guest Author: Vicki Harvey of Columbia, Maryland is with Long & Foster Real Estate and loves to help blended families find their perfect new home. Vicki understands that a new home is the perfect opportunity to bring everyone together in a special space for the new family that is being born. She also loves to educate homeowners about maintenance and updates to ensure that the family continues to love their new space over the years! Questions, comments: .

Handling Parent-Teacher Conferences

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Should Stepparents Attend Parent-Teacher Conferences?

Parent-teacher conferences are upon us…

When the school year begins, there are all sorts of negotiations that occur: appropriate bedtimes, when to do homework, and how much gaming or time with friends is permitted.

How about the negotiations that adults, including ex-spouses and new spouses, must do in the service of raising children?

Negotiating the boundaries of blended families can be almost as challenging as the most intense negotiations done on the level of international diplomacy.  One misstep and the carefully sought-after peace can vanish.

One potential hot-spot is who should attend a parent-teacher conference.

In a perfect world, you could request separate meetings with the teacher.  But with bulging classrooms and teachers handling large numbers of students, there isn’t always enough time in their schedule to accommodate multiple meetings for the same student.

Here are some ideas for negotiating how to handle parent-teacher conferences:

Idea 1: It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

If two parents are presently not getting along but both want to attend a conference, it doesn’t hurt to ask the teacher for two separate conferences.  It’s not the best choice only because the teacher’s time needs to be respected. 

But if you really can’t get along with your ex, or your new spouse and your ex can’t get along, it may be in the teacher’s best interest to accommodate this request if they would otherwise be in the uncomfortable position of mediator. 

Idea 2: Do a Conference Trade Off

There are generally multiple parent-teacher conference opportunities during the school year.  You can take one conference and your ex can take the other—with one caveat: good notes must be taken and copies made of anything you’re given related to the child’s progress.

This way, by trading off, stepparents can also be involved in the child’s progress.  While it may be uncomfortable to sit with a child’s stepparent and discuss your biological child’s school progress, it can’t be ignored that stepparents play a role in your child’s progress.  Anything that can benefit children is a good thing, and attending conferences can help everyone feel involved as fully as possible in the child’s life.

Idea 3: Pick Your Battles

If you are the stepparent and want to attend your stepchild’s conference, but your spouse’s ex isn’t open to the idea, it may be in your best interests to let it go.  Instead, ask your spouse for details after the meeting.  Also, ask your stepchild for feedback about their progress.  This gives you an opportunity to deepen your connection with them, by showing interest in their school work and offering what assistance you can—without it becoming a battle with a biological parent.

And if you are in the situation of having a stepparent wanting to attend the parent-teacher conference along with you and your ex, reframe the request if you find yourself viewing it negatively. 

For example, instead of thinking, “Why do they always have to stick their nose in everything?” you could reframe how you view their request as, “This would be helpful for all of us to understand what’s going on with Mary so that we can all give her the best support possible.”

Also, think of it as a blessing if a stepparent takes an active interest in their stepchild.  It beats the alternative. 

Attending Children’s Sport Activities… When the Ex is There

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Keep it Classy with these 3 Tips

If you have children and/or stepchildren, chances are they are enrolled in some sort of sports activity.  Football games, soccer matches, swimming lessons… chances are also good that someone’s ex will also be in attendance.

The atmosphere can turn from one of light-hearted fun and the joy of seeing the kids learning new skills, to one that is awkward, uncomfortable—and sometimes even downright hostile. 

If you’re not careful, there can be more offense and defense going on along the sidelines than what’s happening on the field, and this is something to avoid for your sake and most especially for the kids.

How do you handle this and keep your dignity intact, without avoiding going to activities altogether?  Here are 3 tips for attending sports activities, with dignity and class:

Tip 1: Plan for Selective Avoidance

If you and your ex don’t get along, or you don’t get along with your ex’s new partner, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid attending the kids’ sports activities altogether.

Instead, practice selective avoidance.  If you get to the location early, claim a spot and more than likely, the ex will avoid you.  If you arrive after the ex, then select a spot that is comfortably out of their view.  Either choose the same side and go to the opposite end from where they are, or one of the two sides that end-cap the activity space, where you’d have to crane your necks to see each other. 

For example, any square or rectangular field has four sides from which to choose.  Or, if there is only one set of bleachers, there are two ends to them.  There are plenty of opportunities for blending in comfortably.

Avoid going directly across the way from the ex, as it’s human nature to look to see if someone else is looking at us, and when we catch them looking, to continue to look back to see if they’re still looking. Yes, it sounds childish, but that’s the result of not having a game plan for how to handle such a situation.

Tip 2: Keep Communication Neutral

A child’s practice or game is not the place to discuss financial issues or anything else that is a potentially hot topic.  Kids are always on high alert when they sense there may be trouble, especially with their parents and stepparents, and it will distract them from what they should be focusing on: their sports activity.

If there’s something you need to discuss with your ex or your partner’s ex, ask to set up a time to talk by phone at a later time.

Tip 3: Remember Who You Came to See

It can be tempting to take advantage of being in a crowd: you know things probably won’t become overheated because there are witnesses and the ex probably won’t do anything to embarrass themselves.

But there is a time and a place, and a kid’s activity is neither of those.  Remember that you came to relax and watch your child or stepchild engage in an activity, and you are there to support them.  By focusing on the child and not the ex, you can make sure you stay on point, which is supporting the kids.  Keep in mind that kids depend on adults to act like they’re on the same team.

Enforcing House Rules

Monday, October 15, 2012

3 Tips for Maintaining Harmony in your Blended Family

Parents struggle to enforce house rules with their own children. Add stepchildren to the mix, and suddenly it feels as if you’re herding cats.

Stepchildren and biological children may try to play both households where they reside against the other. It’s similar to the theme of “But Johnny’s parents let him stay up until 3 in the morning playing Halo 3.”

Only in a blended family household, adults will hear, “But Mom lets me do that at her house” and “Dad never makes me do that.”

A child’s goal? To get their way or get out of doing something unpleasant such as cleaning, of course.

And the result for the adults?

Often, parents and stepparents will feel guilt and question themselves: Am I too harsh? Am I being too rigid?

Or, you may feel defensive about being painted in a negative light against the “other parent” and respond with anger with “My house, my rules!”

House rules are created for multiple reasons: for the good of all family members and residents visiting or living under your roof, for harmony, and for everyone to know what the adults’ expectations are for how they want their home to run.

What is done or not done at the child’s other home is similar to what’s done or not done at Little Johnny’s home: it has no bearing on how you elect to do things in your home.

So how do you enforce your house rules without feeling tyrannical, guilty, or otherwise just plain mean?

Here are 3 house-rule enforcement tips you can start using today:

1)    Clearly Communicate the Rules

One of the best ways to communicate house rules is to write them down and post them prominently, maybe on the door of the refrigerator. This way, no one in the household can take any one rule “personally;” they’re the same for everyone.

Often, kids may bristle at being called out for their behavior, such as watching too much TV. They can feel singled out and become defensive, and that’s when they look for a way to deflect what they’re taking as a personal criticism by saying, “But Dad always lets me…”

Clearly communicated rules that are posted gives everyone the option to follow the rules on their own, just like everyone else. If they disobey the rules, they have made a choice, and then your fallback can be, “The rules are clear and are the same for everyone.” While they may still find the rules unfair, mean, etc., they also will have to take responsibility for their choice.

2)    Call a Family Meeting to Explain the Reasoning Behind the Rules

Often, kids really don’t know why a rule is a rule in the first place. After all, what’s the harm in staying up until 3 a.m. playing Halo 3?

Because you have an adult’s perspective and life experience, you know that adequate sleep is needed, too much gaming isn’t healthy, etc. When posting your rules, you can go over each one and explain the reason this has become a rule. Kids are sharp and they catch on—especially when they have reasonable explanations to work with.

3)    Maintain Consistency in Rule Enforcement

When you establish a house rule, make sure it’s something that holds true for everyone. Or else, be clear for whom the rule does not apply and why.

For example, if you stay up until 3 a.m. playing Halo 3, don’t think one of the kids won’t bring it up as “But you get to do it!” So if this is a rule for the 16 and under crowd, state it clearly, and why it is just for them.

One caveat for having rules not applying to some household members: if your biological children are in the house along with your stepchildren, be careful not to have two sets of rules that are divided by parentage. Maybe at your ex’s home, your kids are allowed to do something. If that influences what you do, then it has to be either a rule for all or not a rule at all. Otherwise, it creates resentment and bad feelings which does not lend itself to a harmonious home.

Let us know…

How do you enforce house rules?

Do you struggle with enforcement? If so, how and why?

What is the most common complaint about house rules that you hear from your kids and stepkids?

Relieve Blended Family Parental Stress

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Remarried Couples Need to Make Frequent Use of THIS

You’re the proud co-parent of a blended family. Do you find yourself asking where the rewards are?

Not every day is a headache. Like any child-rearing experience, whether it’s for biological, adopted or blended, it’s all the same: some days are good, others you wonder why you ever got out of bed.

Raising kids is stressful, and anyone with a child or stepchild can relate to that.

When you blend a family, the challenges can be even greater. Different rules, different ways of doing things, and emotional ups and downs can all lead to the perfect environment for clashes.

And the remarried couple in all of this? They often find themselves running just to keep up, let alone find balance and time for themselves.

But it’s imperative that remarried couples make time for each other in all of this—something that all parents struggle with. But considering that divorce rates are higher for second marriages, it would seem all the more reason for taking time to nurture your relationship.

After all, a blended family does present unique challenges in that, often, there are also ex-spouses that may or may not be supportive of your new union, and this can add another layer of stress onto a situation that already has the makings for a fine drama.

So what’s the remarried couple to do to alleviate some of their stress?

Make use of this stress-reducing strategy: have frequent date nights.

Just because you get remarried doesn’t mean you both needed to put away your party clothes and dancing shoes. Think of couples when they’re dating: they spend time together, usually alone, doing activities and getting to know each other.

In addition, they are forging a bond through the sharing of experiences, which serves to pull them closer together.

Remarrieds need to remember to continue that tradition. One of the things that often drives married couples apart, whether first-time or remarried, is they simply grow apart. Growing apart happens when you don’t invest the time in each other and get caught up with just trying to keep the family going.

You don’t have to do extravagant dates. It could be as simple as picking one activity to do each week as a couple, whether that’s taking a long walk together or meeting up midday for a coffee date. 

Before you step away from this article, call your significant other right now and ask them out on a date—for this week. Tell them it’s your new stress-relieving strategy.

Let us know…

On a scale of 1 to 10, how stressful would you rate having a blended family to be, with 1 being no stress and 10 more stress than the President has on his hands?


As a remarried person, do you feel that dating is important for your relationship to thrive?

Splitting Bills with Your Ex

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Approach Your Ex-Spouse for Extra Expenses

Uniforms, costumes for performances, dental bills, out-of-pocket medical expenses… how should divorced couples handle these extra expenses for their children?

Money is a tough issue for marrieds, and it often remains a battleground after the divorce—especially when kids are involved.

Divorce debt is one thing: those debts accrued during the marriage can be worked out in the divorce paperwork.

What we’re talking about are the extras that kids always require, whether it’s new shoes because their feet have outgrown their sneakers yet again, money for a school trip, or weekly spending money.

For the ex-spouse paying child support, they may feel that they are already doing everything they should that’s required of them legally. Child support goes to helping with the expenses related to raising a child—the same as if the biological parents were still together. 

Child support payments are determined through different means, but generally the incomes of both parents are taken into account as well as child care expenses.

But any parent with a school-age child knows, every time you turn around, there is money needed for something.

Parents who receive child support may be hesitant to approach their ex-spouse and ask for any additional money for things they feel are above and beyond child support payments.

On the internet, you can find calculators to help figure out how much it costs to raise a child to the age of 18. The USDA issued their newest figure this year for this measure: a child born in 2011 will cost $235,000 for middle-income parents to raise to age 18. Factors that affect the number include where you live in the country, food, clothing, health care and those ubiquitous “miscellaneous expenses.”

So if you are hesitant in approaching your ex-spouse to help out with some of those “above and beyond” expenses, keep that number in mind as you prepare to ask to split costs.

Here are 3 tips for approaching the subject with your ex-spouse:

1-    Keep track of monthly expenses.

There is a lot of resentment that can come about related to money when ex-spouses talk. Both parents may be struggling separately to stay on top of bills, or the parent paying the child support may feel their hardship is greater because they see that “chunk of money” coming out of their income each month.

It’s important that the parent who receives the child support payments keep track of child-related expenses. Keeping a record isn’t so you can play a game of tit for tat; rather, it is to show that there is a lot that goes into raising your beautiful children, beyond just food on the table and the roof over their head. You are doing your share, too, and the main goal is to provide the best you can—within both parents’ means—for your children.

2-    Ask your ex-spouse for a meeting.

Asking for money from an ex-spouse can be uncomfortable. Keep in mind that your goal is to provide the best you can with the means you have for your children. You can broach the subject with your ex-spouse with something like this: “I wanted to take a little time to discuss some things about the kids with you. Can you give me a half hour of your time this week?”

Then, when you talk, explain that you have been over your expenses, and you have a lot of additional expenses they may not be aware of. Share the record of what types of things you spend on. It’s recommended you don’t start the conversation with, “We need an extra $200 a month…” as this has no explanation attached to it yet and no doubt you will be met with defensiveness.

Take a diplomatic approach, where you are seeking a solution to a problem rather than allowing things to devolve into accusations and acrimony. Ask your ex-spouse if they are able to contribute some to these extras, or if there are extras they feel should be cut. Maybe this isn’t the year that Little Johnny can go out for football. Maybe braces will have to wait for Cindy.  

3-    Consider a mediator.

Some divorced people can’t even be in the same room together let alone have a civil conversation. But if you have children together, the kids come first—ahead of the hurt feelings and history.

Consider going to a mediator to work out any issues that you can’t work out together where the kids are concerned. A skilled mediator can help you reach a solution that benefits your kids—moving you past those emotional roadblocks that might otherwise stifle good solutions.

Let us know…

Have you been in the situation of asking your ex-spouse for help with the extras?

If so, what was their response?

Do you feel that there’s ever enough money each month to cover child-rearing expenses?

Roll out the Barrel

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Plan Some Family Fun at Your Local Oktoberfest

When you hear the term “Oktoberfest,” do you think of seasonal, pumpkin-flavored beer or do you start humming “The Chicken Dance” in German Polka style?

Oktoberfest is all about celebrating the fall bounties, sort of a German flavored pre-Thanksgiving. The tradition of Oktoberfest began in Munich, Germany. The year was 1810 and the occasion was to honor Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

The Oktoberfest is a two-week holiday held each year in Munich, Germany during late September and early October. It is attended by six million people each year and has inspired numerous similar events using the name Oktoberfest in Germany and around the world.

German immigrants carried the tradition to the United States. According to American Community Survey in 2010 data, Americans reporting German ancestry made up an estimated 17.1% of the total U.S. population, and form the largest ancestry group ahead of Irish Americans, African Americans and English Americans.

Here are a few of the festivities across the nation this October where you can raise your stein and celebrate German heritage with music, food and beer. If you’ve never been to one of these festivals, it is great fun for the children and parents alike. Everyone is encouraged to dance, and festivals often have “shoe platter” dancers, who know and perform the traditional dances. And almost everyone can manage the chicken dance, from the smallest child to the oldest member of the family.

Catch the Oktoberfest spirit, and you’ll be sporting your own lederhosen in no time.

Visit a local Oktoberfest and learn when the time is appropriate to say “Ziggy Zaggy, Ziggy Zaggy, Hoi Hoi Hoi!”

Lake Worth, FL — Join the city of Lake Worth in hosting its 39th annual Oktoberfest complete with traditional folk dancing and German cooking on the second and third weekend of October 10/12-10/14 and 10/19-10/21.

Helen, GA — Though Helen is really in Georgia’s Appalachians, the tiny village fancies itself as being in the Bavarian Alps and presents a two-month Oktoberfest every day from 9/20-10/28.

Fredericksburg, TX Fredericksburg, a small Texas town at the gateway to the Hill Country Wine Trail, reveals a strong German heritage with its Oktoberfest from 10/5-10/7.

Big Bear Lake, CA Big Bear Lake, a year-round alpine playground in the San Bernardino Mountains, hosts the Big Bear Oktoberfest every weekend from 9/15-10/27.

Kitchener-Waterloo  -Kitchener, Ontario, North America's largest Oktoberfest, with 15 beer tents. It also is later than most, coinciding with Canadian Thanksgiving. Last year, 150,000 visitors came for the opening parade. There's a broad slate of activities. 10/ 5-10/13

Tulsa, OK –, (918)744-9700, in its 32nd year and has an ultra-competitive beer-barrel race. A carnival atmosphere pervades with rides and arts and crafts. 10/18-10/21.

Windsor, VT. - Harpoon Oktoberfest,, one of New England's top microbreweries, hosts Oktoberfest at its facility in Vermont. It's held right at the brewery, so while you're there take a tour. 10/6-10/7

A lot of venues celebrate their Oktoberfest in late September, so you may need to search your local online events resource or newspaper for one in your area.

Let us know…

What is your favorite fall festival?

Have you ever attended an Oktoberfest?

Do you feel your blended family enjoys these events spent together?

Is Your Ex Stressing You Out?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

4 Tips for Pulling the Plug on Negative Energy

You’re broken up, and now your ex is stressing you out.

After a couple breaks up, there is inevitably going to be some level of tension between them—especially if you share kids and custody. Add to that any property you hold together, unresolved hurts and disappointments and watching each other move on, and there is bound to some stress.

Maybe you were the one who decided to end things, or you mutually agreed, knowing it was for the best.

But now, your ex seems to be seething with anger at you for actually moving forward with your life. Or, things were rosy between you and your ex until you met someone new, got involved and closer, and either moved in together or you married them. Your ex may feel some sadness and jealousy—something that is difficult for anyone to admit to.

For a lot of people, this is a sign that things are truly “over,” and they can react in strange ways.

For example, you and your ex used to have no problem making arrangements about what time to pick up children or who would handle taking them to a dental appointment. But suddenly, your ex is lashing out and causing you a great deal of stress by being uncooperative, or not showing up when they are supposed to, or doing one of countless things to show just how ticked they are at you.

How dare you move on, right?

When you are feeling stressed out by your ex and it’s causing you a great deal of upset and aggravation, it’s time to step back and analyze the negative energy—and then put a constructive stop to it. Here are 4 tips for how to do that:

  • Isolate each incident: Let’s not discount your own emotional aspects when it comes to dealing with an ex. You may feel extra-sensitive to their negative moods, as it carries you back to a place you probably want to forget. If you aren’t careful, the negative attitude that you are getting from your ex can get blown into something bigger in your world, simply because there are a lot of feelings and history attached to this person.  And if you’re not careful, it can be carried into your new relationship, discoloring your mood and tiring you out. If you are feeling upset by something your ex has done or said, try to look at the incident as an isolated thing. Think of a news report: who, what, when, where, why. In your mind, keep it to just the facts and be wary of coloring the incident with the wand of ghosts past.
  • Consider the source: When your ex is pushing your buttons, it can be an enormous challenge to remember that this person is only human—especially when they are behaving in such a monstrous way. But consider what may be prompting the negative reaction. Usually it stems from hurt, jealousy, abandonment issues, the emotional works. When you look at it from the deeply human aspect, it may help you to take a deep enough breath to tackle the next tip.
  • Have a calm discussion: If your ex is behaving in such a way that it is negatively affecting you and/or your children, call a time-out. Ask to meet in a neutral place, such as a coffee shop, or if you can’t abide a face-to-face, arrange a phone meeting. Express your concerns to your ex by using very specific details. For example: “When you yelled at me in front of Little Annie, she thought she had done something wrong. I don’t want any of us to feel bad, so in the future when you are upset with me or I’m upset with you, can we agree to use a neutral tone of voice?”
  • Pre-plan your discussion: What’s difficult when having a discussion with an ex is the temptation to go back and rehash past sins, transgressions, and hurt feelings. One thing that can help you stay on track is to have notes, an outline or a script. By planning ahead, you know what you want to discuss and you can plan the outcome you hope to achieve, and it will help you stick to the issue at hand. Also, remind yourself—even if you have to write it in your notes—to listen to your ex’s point of view with an objective mindset.

Let us know…

Does your ex stress you out?

If so, what does your ex do, or not do, that causes you stress?

How is it impacting your life and new relationship, or your kids?

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