You find yourself stuck at home contemplating some serious alone time with someone you have been thinking about leaving…
…so what do you do to survive especially if your children are at home too?
- Make sure you create a space somewhere where you can retire to if things get bad – “Your Happy Place”. Be that the laundry, the garden, the home office.
- The anxiety and stress in relation to the Covid-19 is bad enough so I suggest you try not to escalate the conflict with your ex. You know his/her triggers and hot points and vice versa.
Take some time out to do something you love. You will be restricted in your home and garden but here’s a few ideas – read a book, take an online on-demand exercise class like Les Mills who have their classes free for 60 days, go for a walk, bake/cook your favourite dish, connect with friends/family online, listen to a mediation/calming app like Headspace. Nothing like listening to the sounds of the sea to send you to sleep!
Self-care – this is critical in extreme periods of stress – eat well (meal plan as you have time), sleep (melatonin and magnesium work wonders to send you to sleep), and exercise (as above). If you can self-manage and put yourself first it will ensure you are able to function better than if you turn to drugs and copious amounts of alcohol to dull the pain of the virus saga and the fact that every time you look at your partner and want to run away as fast as you can.
Don’t involve the children in your marriage/de facto relationship issues. They are children and don’t need to know the ins and outs of your current issues with each other. If you find yourselves in heated conversation move away from the children and each other and spend some time taking hold of your emotions. Breathing exercises are helpful here – breathe in for 10 seconds and out for 10 seconds or count to 100 slowly. Bring yourself back to a calmed state and then take some time out and away from your ex. Do something you love – see point 3.
It could even be an opportunity for you to sit down with your partner and sort through the issues that you have. Make sure the children are entertained elsewhere so you don’t get disturbed. Use our Should I Leave or Should I Stay? workbook to work identify what is working in your relationship and what isn’t. I suggest you work through it on your own (as does your partner) then you could come together and work through the 4 pillars together. These 4 pillars are: what you want to preserve in your relationship, what you want to create in your relationship, what you want to eliminate in your relationship and what you need to constructively avoid going forward.
I am available via Zoom for divorce/separating coaching and would be happy to send 60 minutes discussing your situation and how I can assist you for $100 plus GST. This is $99 less than my normal rate for a discovery session.
Read this extract from our Toxic Ex Workbook
- Record, as soon as they occur, the details of problems or events between you and your partner.
- Keep a journal, write down names of people present, save hostile emails or text messages in a safe place.
- Communicate carefully and respectfully to your ex and avoid providing him or her with any evidence they can use.
- Protect children from conflicts between you and your ex.
- Avoid asking them questions about the other parent, discussing court proceedings, comparing one parent against the other, or exposing children to negative emotions.
- Obtain a therapist to help you understand your ex’s behaviour.
- Hire a lawyer with good communication skills. DO NOT hire a lawyer who seems like they’re a narcissist themselves. They’re likely to have little empathy for your situation and will be in for a quick win.
- Delete Facebook and other social media accounts and browsing history from your computer.
- Tell your friends and family what to expect, how to respond, and how to avoid either of you being seen as all good or all bad.
Approaches to dealing with high-conflict situations
When dealing with high-conflict people and situations, we might engage in Aggressive, Passive or Assertive approaches.
The latter is the most effective though it’s easy to be Aggressive if you’re being attacked by someone who might not be thinking rationally or Passive if your ex is controlling.
The following describes each approach and gives tips on how you might develop your Assertive approaches.
The Aggressive approach
It’s perfectly understandable and normal to feel like responding aggressively when someone acts aggressively towards you. You might try to eliminate your partner from your life and from your children’s lives, or trash them the way they trashed you, but this common mistake backfires in court. Legal professionals may view you as someone who is ‘splitting’ and an equal party – or the primary party – engaged in misbehaviour. Even if that isn’t true, you don’t want to give your partner any ammunition to use against you in or out of court. An aggressive approach by you can increase your partner’s unwanted behaviour. Resist the urge to act aggressively, and mentally prepare yourself – you will be glad you did in the long run.
The Passive approach
A passive approach is equally problematic. While it may be tempting to give up or give in to avoid conflict, passive approaches aren’t recommended. Just when you think you have given up enough that the partner with BPD or NPD traits should be satisfied, they may demand even more concessions. You don’t want to allow your partner to push you around, make false statements about you, and persuade others that you should be punished and restricted by the court. If you don’t correct false statements, these statements may follow you into other parts of your life and possibly create future legal problems. If you’re a classic avoider of conflict, changing the way you meekly respond to blame and criticism may be difficult but you will need to develop more assertive approaches to minimise high-conflict and show gravitas in the courtroom. Court professionals don’t have much time to make assessments, and first impressions really count. If you don’t bring things up, it will be as if they never existed. Being passive didn’t work during the marriage, and it doubly won’t work now.
The Assertive approach
An assertive approach involves actively learning about personality problems and how you can respond to these – this is where this workbook helps! By understanding these problems, you can proactively plan your response. An assertive approach also involves documenting events and keeping evidence – start keeping records of what happened and what was said. You might consider this onerous though you need to develop an evidence base – it can go a long way in court!
Further Resources from Equal Exes
Get more help with Should I Stay or Should I Go in my marriage
Go to our Cornerstone page Should I stay or Should I Go? and take the quiz to work out your situation.
There’s also a Should I Stay or Should I Go Workbook to help you work out your own needs on the same page.