It could happen anywhere: shopping at the mall, a quick visit to the bank, or even a holiday event at your child’s school. One minute, you’re having a great time. The next, your emotions range from shock to bewilderment and you begin to panic.
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Yes, it’s one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of divorce – unexpectedly running into your ex-wife, especially during the holidays. No one tells you about these little nuances of divorce or how to deal with this situation – only the after math. The story might go something like this:
I decided to take the kids to a restaurant for a holiday meal. We walked into the restaurant lobby and ... there she was, my ex-wife. Not to make an uncomfortable situation for the kids, I walked up to her to say “hi”. Immediately she started yelling at me for not buying the kids shoes. (Isn’t that what child support is for?) After five minutes of being confronted, my body shook with fear and my mind went numb.
Being caught off guard is tough enough. Add on the holidays and an emotional attack and you’ve got one shocking moment. So how can you better prepare for this type of situation? Use these four tips to stay on Santa's "Nice" list:
- Define Yourself
- Be Conscious
- Take the High Road
- Set Boundaries
Define Yourself: We get caught off guard because we're mentally unprepared and don’t know how to react. But if you define yourself with a mission statement and values, you’ve created a constant mental framework. Over time, memorizing and living your mission statement and your values will make this mental framework flow through your every thought and action. This reduces and eventually eliminates times of uncertainty.
Be Conscious: Just knowing that the unexpected may happen creates awareness. Subconsciously you begin to think about situations and how to react. Coupled with defining yourself, being conscious is a powerful state of mind that will help you prepare for anything.
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Take the High Road: Don’t fall for the conflict bait. Let her express herself. Stay calm and tell her, “This is not an appropriate discussion right now. Unless you can calm down, I’ll have to go.” Stick to your values, define the situation, and don’t let the situation define you.
Set Boundaries: If her actions persist long term, tell her that the way she is communicating with you is not acceptable and until she can change the way she is communicating you will limit communication to emails. If emails are harassing, don’t respond but don’t delete either; depending upon the severity of her actions you may be able to take legal action to limit communication with her.
This holiday season you don't have to fear going to the mall, the bank or your child's school. Prepare for unexpected run-ins with your ex-wife by defining yourself, be conscious, take the high road and set boundaries and you will stay on Santa's "Nice" list.