How to Survive Divorce and Still Love Jesus (The Ex Part II)

When I was in the middle of writing last week, I realized that I had way too many thoughts about dealing with the ex in divorce to fit it all into one nice, neat post. So, I split it into two posts.

Practice the Pause

These are the rest of my thoughts:

The other thing that has helped me in dealing with my ex throughout the years is practicing the pause. 

Let me just pause right here (see what I did there) and say this one has taken me years, literal years, to get under control, and sometimes I still fail miserably.

I think quickly on my feet. My brain is always about 10 thoughts ahead of my mouth. It doesn’t stop. It won’t turn off. I process information quickly, and I honestly can’t tell you how or why.

What that means in these types of situations is that as I’m reading text messages that are hacking me off, I’m already seeing the lack of logic and what’s wrong with my ex’s ideas before I ever even finish his rant.  So, my immediate response is to shoot back a text telling him why he’s wrong and what needs to happen.

That doesn’t help.

It makes me feel better for about .03 seconds before I realize the consequences of my actions.

It always ends poorly for me. Always. More importantly, though, it always ends poorly for Kate.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen where I’ve mentioned this before, but my ex and I live across the street from each other. While there are some definite cons, the one positive is that it makes it easy for Kate to go back and forth. 

Before Kate drove, she would hang out at my house as much as possible, which meant that when her dad wasn’t home when she got home from school, she would walk across the street to my house. That was never an issue. The issue was communication. She would come to my house after school, get her homework done, do her laundry, and do anything else she needed to get done for the evening. 

Then, though, it would edge closer to dinner time, and she hadn’t heard from her dad. She never wanted to get in trouble for eating at my house when she was supposed to eat with him, so she would text him. Most of the time, she just ended up eating dinner at my house.  Not a big deal.

The communication was a big deal though. Some nights I had plans. I had a small group. I had places I was supposed to be. I never knew when she was being picked up, if he was making her dinner, etc.

Finally, I asked for communication. “Please communicate with Kate and me when you will be getting her and if there will be dinner for her when you pick her up.”

I might as well have started WWIII.

 A bomb exploding, just like the war that happened when I tried to set boundaries.

The fallout was awful for Kate. She wasn’t allowed to come over after school anymore, even though there was no one at her dad’s house for hours. She had to eat at his house, even though there was rarely dinner she wasn’t making for herself or throwing in the microwave from the freezer.

It was like that for months.

Now, I have to practice the pause. I have to think through how my words and actions will be received and how they will negatively affect Kate.

It’s exhausting.

So, now I have a hard and fast rule that I am not allowed to respond to one of these messages from him for at least 30 minutes. I can be polite and tell him I need to think about it or I’ll get back to him later.  What I cannot do is respond immediately, or it will go terribly south.

When I pause for at least half an hour, the logical Jesus-loving part of my brain talks the emotional Satan-influenced side of my brain down off the cliff. I can think through the actual problem or the information I had and come up with a logical, NOT emotional, response to address the facts.

That is helpful.

Here’s the thing, though–even with your logical, non-emotional responses, there is still no guarantee that your ex will respond in kind. 

So, then, what do you do? 

Refer to your Parenting Agreement

That’s a tough one, but I’ve found–You have a legal and binding parenting agreement. If all else fails, reference the parenting agreement. I’ve found that it solves 90% of these issues. 

If it doesn’t work and your ex is still mistreating you, yelling at you, attacking you, or just going crazy, you have to put down the phone and walk away or physically walk away from them.

Nothing is going to get solved during those arguments.

Walk away, consult your divorce decree, consult your attorney, and then respond kindly, gently, and with facts and logic on your side. 

A judge with a gavel writing a decree. Always refer to your parenting agreement and divorce decree when you are at a stalemate with your ex.

Those are your biggest allies as you navigate this broken relationship.

Almost.

Seek God First

The best thing you can do when dealing with your ex is to seek God and his kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). When I’m practicing the pause, I’m typically praying that God will give me direction and the words to say. I find it’s much more difficult to be nasty to my ex after I’ve spent some time being still and listening to God in these situations. 

I’m not perfect, though! Not by any means! I still have faux-pauxs. My humanity still wins, and I’m definitely still learning. Please don’t think this will be easy or that you’re going to get it down perfectly. It’s a process. 

I know this isn’t the end-all-be-all list of ways to deal with your ex, but I hope it helps. I also know for some of you, even if you do all of these things, your ex will still be impossible. While I’ll pray for all of you dealing with these things, I want to offer extra prayer and encouragement to those of you with narcissistic exes or exes with mental health issues who make it impossible for anything to work between the two of you. I have multiple people exceptionally close to me who have these situations. 

Sometimes, it’s honestly a matter of making it until your kids turn 18 and you can block your ex from having any access to you and any communication with you. I have seen that have to happen. It is drastic, but sometimes it is necessary because-Boundaries.

Good luck to all of you trying to survive divorce and still love Jesus! 

Until next time,

Kristen

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