Courtesy of Penny Haye – Family Law Attorney
There is nothing like the upcoming holidays to bring out the “crazy” in your former significant other, especially when children are involved. Stop the insanity and stay off the crazy train by trying these tips:
- Stay Calm and Try to Keep the Conflict Small – Ask yourself “Is this really a big deal?” “Why is this important now?” “What are my choices here? I always have choices.” “Can I trade something I want for something he/she wants?” Plan and rehearse your communications ahead of time, including how to react to hostile responses.
- Don’t Ask Them Why – It challenges their point of view or past behavior and puts them on the defensive. Instead of getting bogged down when you receive a negative response, ask “What’s your proposal?” “What do you suggest?” This pushes them to participate in problem solving and move away from blaming.
- Keep it BIFF (Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm) – When you are communicating with your Ex, keep emotional words out of it. If you use an emotional word, your Ex will focus on the emotional word and ignore everything else you’ve written. Short emails (around 4 sentences) or texts are best. More than 4 sentences means you are sneaking in an opinion (and you will be attacked) or an emotion (you will also be attacked). Remember “BIFF” to hostile communications: Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. All of your communications should be focused on the children (if any), emotion and opinion free, and 4 sentences or less.
- Document Your Issues – This is easier than you might think. You can export text messages and call logs on most phones. You can record phone calls as long as you are one of the parties to the conversation. But do not forget that you can jot down facts (during or soon after they happen)–a scrap of paper or napkin works just as well as a notebook, journal, or calendar notation. Be sure to write down details: who, when, where, what happened, and try to leave out emotions. You would be surprised at how helpful and persuasive these can be if the situation escalates.
Dealing with a crazy Ex can be difficult and may take some practice. Don’t feel like you have to deal with it alone. For help with this or any other family law matter, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the author on 512-677-4293.