Couples divorce for many reasons. Sometimes they realize quickly that the marriage was a mistake, sometimes a spouse commits an unforgiveable act, and sometimes people just grow apart. Today, it is not uncommon to find couples divorcing after just a couple weeks of marriage or later in life after many years or decades together. Whatever the length of time you were married or the reason for your divorce, it is important to set healthy boundaries between you and your ex-spouse. This is especially true if you share children. In a recent article for The Huffington Post, the CEO/Founder of DreamsRecycled, a website dedicated to helping people cope with divorce, recommends that recent divorcees create and adhere to strict boundaries as soon as they can. Other relationship experts agree that such boundaries are not only important, but essential after a divorce.
One of the biggest problems in relationships with ex-spouses is that only one person needs to take actions that can damage the remaining relationship. In other words, you may not actually have any control over how the other person thinks and/or acts. In such cases, their decisions about their own behavior can create problems for everyone involved, including kids. Establishing clearly-defined boundaries can be an effective tool in dealing with an ex and can ultimately improve your relationship.
On her website, Andra Brosh, a psychologist, writes that there are two types of boundaries: external and internal. She explains that external boundaries are those you set in place to ensure that you are not taken advantage of or imposed upon by your ex. Internal boundaries are those you set in place to help you avoid doing too much for an ex at your own expense. She reminds people that boundaries do not have to mean shutting your ex out completely, nor should they be used as punishment. Instead, they are a way for you to show your ex what you will accept in your relationship.
Tips for Setting Effective Boundaries
Much like each divorce is unique to the individuals involved in it, there are no uniform actions that every single person can take to establish boundaries with an ex. However, the author of the article discusses some general tips that can be helpful in creating workable boundaries between you and your ex.
Effective communication is key to almost every relationship, including a relationship with your ex-spouse. Perhaps effective communication was difficult during the marriage and especially difficult during the divorce, but that does not mean it must continue being a problem. By clearly communicating your feelings, needs, and other important information to your ex in a respectful manner, you are working toward eliminating confusion over what you want. Eventually, even strained communication can benefit from respectful, concise efforts at communication. The article’s author also reminds us that some situations do not need to involve communicating with your ex. If you find yourself in a bind, perhaps financially or perhaps because your roof is leaking, do not call your ex to fix the problem. Doing so can blur boundaries and extend unhealthy dependence on one another after a divorce is final.
Seek Financial Independence
The sooner you can become financially independent from your ex, the better. While a court may determine that spousal support is appropriate, the author suggests individuals try to become financially independent from their exes as soon as possible. In Florida, spousal support is rarely permanent, anyhow, so the sooner you can find a way to be financially self-sustaining, the easier it will be to make sure your boundaries are clear. By accepting financial support from your ex, whether it is court-ordered or not, you are giving them a stake in your personal business and well-being that they do not need to have. Of course, child support is different and there are several ways to maintain effective boundaries even with a child support arrangement.
Do Not Get Too Physical
Hugs and handshakes are fine, just like they are with close friends and new acquaintances. However, avoid sleeping with your ex. Not only can it disrupt potential new relationships in your life and/or theirs, but it inevitably involves emotions related to your relationship with your ex and sets you several steps back on the path to your new beginning. Sex can also be a tool for manipulation, and giving in can give your ex a huge advantage moving forward.
Comply with Court Orders
One of the things that is decided during a divorce is how assets will be divided. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that assets are divided in a way that the court sees as fair. This does not always mean assets will be divided equally. Regardless of how strong your attachment to certain items might be, if a court has decided that such an item now belongs to your ex then let it go. Hanging on to these things inevitably means you are hanging on to the past, and it creates a continuing source of conflict between you and your ex. If one of your goals is to distance yourself from your ex, keeping these objects makes it difficult to put space between you and your ex.
You Both Need Space
Even when a marriage ends on good terms, both spouses need time and space to move on. Avoid showing up at your ex’s home, even if it is the home you used to live in. Learning how to function independently is an important part of emerging from the divorce process in a healthy, positive manner. Giving each other much needed time and space to adjust to the new dynamics of your life and relationship with each other is an important part of doing just that.
Legal Assistance with Divorce
While protecting yourself and your future by establishing workable boundaries is an important part of the divorce process, it is also important to keep in mind that part of the divorce process should include protecting your rights during and after the divorce. If you have made the difficult decision to pursue a Florida divorce, working with an experienced family law attorney that focuses their practice on clients going through a Florida divorce can an important part of a difficult journey. Contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information about what a Florida divorce might mean for you.