Being able to look your ex in the eye and feel nothing but neutral is well… WOW!
I knew I had arrived at getting over my divorce when I could look at my ex and feel totally neutral. No longing. No passion. No hatred. No anger. Just neutral.
Yes, it is possible.
It is hard for most of us because we don’t get married to get divorced. But if divorce is your reality, you’ll have much more joy in your life if you heal from the emotions of divorce. We eventually need to let go of the past if we are to have a happy present and future.
Our ex doesn’t always make that easy. So it is up to us.
Divorcing means I am me and you are you, and even if we must interact about our children, we now have separate lives. Making this shift requires changes to the dynamics of your relationship. This is important whether your divorce has already occurred or is pending.
You have the power and right to define your role in those changes. You cannot control your former spouse’s behavior but you can set guidelines for yourself. Doing so will liberate you and help you move to feeling more neutral. What’s more, you will be able to better work together for the good of your children if you can move your emotions and your relationship into neutral.
It’s Not Un-Christian
Figuring out what you will and will not put up with from your ex is healthy. Setting guidelines for how you will allow yourself to be treated when dealing with your former spouse isn’t an act of hostility. It isn’t about being mean and it isn’t un-Christian. It is instead a way to protect yourself as you establish yourself as an independent single person.
What Do I Mean by Guidelines?
Setting guidelines for yourself regarding your new relationship with your former spouse does two things. First, it clarifies your own thinking regarding how you will act in relationship to your former spouse. Second, it gives you a framework for how you will allow yourself to be treated by your former spouse.
Guidelines are personal so you have to decide what guidelines you need to set. Here are three examples:
- If verbal abuse starts I will state that I will not accept verbal abuse and I will postpone our conversation until I am being treated respectfully.
- I’m tired of cutting my ex’s yard. She is taking advantage of me. I will no longer cut her grass because that is her responsibility. I won’t be rude about it but I will calmly let her know that I will no longer be doing that.
- No matter how he acts, I will keep my conversations with my ex civil.
Dealing with your ex or soon-to-be ex can be difficult. You can handle it. Set guidelines regarding your own behavior as well as how you will allow yourself to be treated. Don’t be hostile but do be firm when implementing your own guidelines. Act in a respectful way toward your ex and toward yourself.
BTW- Sometimes another person’s behavior is not respectable. Even so, you can handle it so that your behavior is respectable. You’ll feel good about yourself when you do.
Think about how you act with your ex. Think about what your ex does that disrespects you. What boundaries do you need to set?
Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Galatians 6:4-5 NIV
Renee Smith Ettline is author of Peace after Divorce, an award-winning Christian book on healing from divorce and is founder of After Divorce Ministries, LLC.
Download Renee’s FREE eBook, 5 Keys to Healing from Divorce using the green circle at the top right of this page and you’ll receive her monthly newsletter with helpful articles too.
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