I’m including a guest post today from Shawn Hartwell, founder and CEO of StepSpeak in Quebec, Canada.
My girlfriend and I often struggled and fought in a toxic relationship. I wanted us to be together but didn’t realize I was making the same mistake over and over again, trying to sustain a relationship that took its toll on me emotionally.
After I became a stepfather I was relieved I didn’t have to contend with the biological father of my stepson. However, in stepfamilies, we often have to deal with emotional confrontations with ex-spouses. Here are a few tips I’ve learned.
1. You can’t control other people.
It would be wonderful to be able to control every aspect of our lives of the people we encounter, but it’s simply not possible. I wish I had learned this years ago when, as a teenager, I was so filled with rage that it blinded me. I was not able to see the truth through the glasses of emotional anger that I was wearing at the time.
The sooner we accept the fact that whatever this person is doing in our life cannot be controlled, the sooner we’ll be able to look at things in a more objective way, instead of allowing our emotions to control us.
2. Know when to go to battle.
We tend to give our minds too much freedom to alter the reality that we see, much like how an abuse victim and his or her abuser don’t see the situation in the same light. Talk it out with yourself and determine if the issues you’re about to bring up really warrant a discussion.
There are often situations that we think are problems, when we’ve actually created a much bigger problem in our head than really exists. Choose the battles you need to fight with your ex carefully.
3. Use your free time wisely.
Time is the most valuable resource we have. I treat time with more value than money and material possessions. As a stepparent, we often feel that when our stepchild goes with his biological parent, we’re missing out and will digress with the bonds we’re seeking.
However, when our stepchild is gone, it’s a great time to develop our own interests and spend quality time with our spouse. It also helps to alleviate the tension we feel toward the biological parent if we focus on our own needs and enjoy time to ourselves, rather than focus on what we’re missing with our stepchild.
4. Know your options and when you need outside help.
You can never underestimate the power of seeking advice from friends, family or a professional. There may even be situations where you need to consult an attorney or a law enforcement officer. I have seen the effects of not alerting the proper professionals or authorities.
If you suspect abuse or negligence of your stepchild, don’t hesitate to get help.
Coping with a troubling ex can be, well…troubling. However, it doesn’t have to encompass your life. Make smart decisions in taking care of yourself, seeking to meet your own needs, in addition to the needs of your stepchild, as you work through difficult issues that arise.
How do you cope with a troubling ex? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Shawn Hartwell is a laid-back, free thinking, young and driven person who wants to help people, secure my family’s future and leave my mark on our world. I enjoy biking, walking, jogging, nature, tea culture, spending time with friends & family and learning new things in areas of interest. He blogs at StepSpeaks here.
pic by David Castillo Dominici