I have just run across a new (for me, at least) blog called the Fresh Start After Divorce Blog, run by the National Association of Divorce for Women and Children, which had some really good, practical advice and inspiration for dealing with the transition from marriage to single person. Ellen Kellner wrote a recent post entitled “How NOT to React to Your Ex!” which I reprinted below. Her advice can work equally well for men or women.
“What is the cinching element to The Pro-Child Way? Mindfulness. It's that moment where you stop reacting to your ex and let the stillness guide your heart. It's the breath in, before you say something spiteful about your ex in front of your child. It's the glance downward towards your child, before your eyes start rolling up in aggravation. Mindfulness is an opportunity – an opportunity that opens your awareness to choice.
“Mindfulness leads to the other way: the Pro-Child Way. Whereas another divorced-parenting path may have been previously obscured, mindfulness opens your eyes to other possibilities. Your challenge is to be aware that this other path exists and then recognize the opportunity before you pass right by it. Why bother? Because you have a child who needs to be considered.
“Thankfully, when it comes to divorce, we get many, many opportunities to practice mindfulness. If you're lucky, your ex may be a jerk several times before noon – all lovely opportunities for mindfulness practice!
“After the first ‘ex' incident, when you react with full divorced passion, do you find a moment when you think, ‘hmmm, maybe I shouldn't have said that.' If you do, grasp that moment: this is the call of mindfulness. Reaffirm that inkling, by saying, ‘yes, I should have stopped before saying that.' And then move on, this isn't about guilt trips!
“How much practice is it going to take to shorten the time between your ex's provocation, and your realization that maybe you shouldn't blurt out what's on your mind? If you can come to that conclusion in an hour after the crime, why not in 10 minutes, or in 5 seconds? When you catch yourself reacting BEFORE you do it, not only will the angels sing, but also your ex's mouth may drop. That's when you can smile. That's when you're recognizing an opportunity for mindfulness. So what's next? Your ex just said something and you're standing there smiling. Clearly, someone's gotta do something next. This is the real beauty… you can choose! The possibilities are fun. In the flash of your smile your wonderful brain can create a zillion responses. As it discards the ones that will land you in jail, the more caring responses rise to the top. Slightly problematic are the times when the nurturing response is elusive. It happens. Here are two good standbys to have in your ‘do' list:
“Do keep smiling, turn, and walk away from your ex.
“When you become better at multi-tasking, add vocal to the smile/turn/walk routine. Do sound ‘hmmmm' then smile/turn/walk away.
“In your mindfulness, it's much better to choose to say nothing than to react with an under-processed thought. It really doesn't matter if your ex thinks you've lost it. It isn't your ex's opinion that matters anymore. Your child will benefit from your practice of mindfulness, and you will too. It's from this point that you can start your journey down The Pro-Child Way.”
A special thanks to my friend Sam Hasler of Sam Hasler's Indiana Divorce & Family Law Blog for the tip to read this blog. I agree with him that it is worth watching. I can recommend it to both women and men, despite the title. It won't help some people, but I can imagine a lot of men and women will feel better and more hopeful after reading some posts.