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Three Ways to Emotionally Separate from Your Ex

Monday, 02 March 2015

When you first begin considering divorce, it’s easy to think the whole process is about support, custody and division of assets. As a seasoned Colorado Springs divorce attorney, you can trust me when I say that there is much more to divorce than sorting out the legal details of ending a relationship.

We have often seen our Colorado Springs family law clients caught off guard because they fail to actually think about how they will handle the emotional fallout that comes from a changing family landscape, angry in-laws, and damaged relationships.

Financial and legal issues may be somewhat predictable; and if not a Colorado family lawyer can help make sense of them. However, your feelings at the end of a relationship won’t be so clear-cut as you negotiate the emotional end to a marriage. The overpowering emotions that come up in a divorce usually linger long after the final divorce decree arrives in your mailbox.

How to Break Emotional Ties with Your Ex

So how do you navigate the tricky emotional aspects of separating your lives from one another? It’s not so easy; especially when there are children involved. Most divorced couples will attempt to establish boundaries to protect themselves from the blurred lines that often accompany separation. Boundaries do more than protect your financial and physical property interests; they also help you draw lines that separate your past relationship from the next chapter in your lives.

In the beginning of a divorce it is crucial to set strict limits on your interactions with your ex-spouse. Depending on the situation and the reason for your divorce, it’s not uncommon for spouses to become emotionally manipulative in an effort to control the outcome. For this reason, it is important that standards are in place, which govern your post-separation relationship. As time goes on you may be able to loosen up these rules, but plan on keeping them in place for at least the first year. Not only will this help prevent coercion on legal issues; it will make your separation abundantly clear to curious friends and family. Be sure and follow your attorney’s advice on communications between you and your ex so that you do not allow a temporary lapse in judgment due to emotions get in the way of you achieving a settlement that is in you and your children’s best interests.

Here are a number of ways in which you can set the boundaries for your post-separation relationship:

After Divorce, Establish Your Privacy

Do whatever is necessary to establish your personal space, even if you will continue to live in the same home or neighborhood. Your business is no longer his or her business, and it is important that you convey this instead of sending mixed signals. This means your home should not be available to your ex unless he or she has your permission to enter.

If it is time to take the kids, be sure they knock first and never give them permission to enter when you are not home. If you are staying in the family home chances are your spouse is still carrying around a spare key. Changing the locks on the doors should be one of your first moves, especially in cases of domestic violence.

Not only will taking steps to ensure your privacy give you a greater sense of safety; it will convey your newfound self-sufficiency.

Communication is Key After Divorce

With the myriad ways of communicating available to us, it’s easy to regain a sense of connectedness with an ex. While you might be tempted to call and have a long – and emotionally exhausting – conversation, it is better to choose the easiest and least expressive form method of communicating. In fact, as complicated as it may be, many divorce attorneys recommend email or text so that you can retain a record of all communications.

That said, keep it brief and polite and resist the temptation to “vent,” especially if there are children and custody issues involved. Even if you know that you’re letting off emotional steam, ranting letters to your ex could look to people on the outside as if you’re unstable.

Don’t write anything to your ex that you don’t want his divorce attorney or the judge to read. Keep your communications short and stick to the subjects at hand. If time allows, write the message and then sit on it for a while before hitting the ‘”send” button. Setting boundaries about how you will communicate with your ex will make your relationship a lot less complicated while it sets the ground rules for your post-divorce relationship.

Avoid Contacting Your Ex for Support

As inspiring as this advice may sound, setting boundaries in an emotionally charged situation is much easier said than done. For this reason, it makes sense to enlist close friends and family members to support you during this time.

Think in advance about what you will do when the inevitable “emergency” comes up — the temperature drops below freezing and you can’t get the pilot light lit on the furnace, or one of the kids is running a fever and you’re not the parent who usually handles the nursing duties in your home.

What will you do if you have a flat? If your normal response would be to call your spouse for assistance, you should realize that you’re going to need a new way to handle situations that you may have left to your ex in the past. If you don’t remember how to change a flat, practice. Check and see if your auto insurance covers emergency service or buy a subscription for services from AAA or some other company that offers road assistance.

If it’s your turn to have the kids, be sure you have the number to their pediatrician’s office and a list of their allergies. You may not be able to foresee every situation that could come up, but you can be prepared for the most common. You don’t want to lose the emotional resolve you worked hard to build while preparing to face the divorce the first time you feel venerable. Develop or build up a support network that will be there when you need a hand. 

Find Ways to Combat Loneliness 

When you feel your resolve is weakening or you feel an overwhelming sense of loss, it may be helpful to meet with a professional counselor or join a divorce support group. You may be surprised how much outsiders will give you a fresh perspective on the whole situation and it may help you to realize that you are not the only person who has ever been down this road. Every divorce situation is unique and your pain is uniquely yours, but when you reach out to others you may be surprised at how similar your stories are. Find people you can hug and get a hug back when you need one.

Lastly, look for an experienced and dedicated Colorado Springs divorce attorney for important legal advice. Everyone experiences divorce differently and each couple has unique issues to be addressed in a settlement. Consulting with a Colorado family lawyer will help you better understand the potential legal options that are available to you.

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MPatMarrisonFor over a quarter century, we have helped people during what is often the darkest time in their lives. Divorce is not easy even under the best of circumstances. For most people, family is central. Having something go wrong in the family can have a ripple effect that extends beyond the home and into other areas.

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