by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist
www.LDSdimension.com FREE Online Dating
If you are dating someone 25 years or older or especially someone over 30, there is a decent chance your new boyfriend or girlfriend will have already been married before. And there is also a good chance that he or she will have had at least 1 child with their ex-spouse, often more. When dating someone divorced with a child or children with their ex, they have to co-parent those children until they are 18 years old, no matter how much they may dislike each other now.
This means that your new dating partner will still be in regular contact with their ex as they coordinate pick-ups, drop offs, holiday plans, medical and academic issues, etc. And when they have to still deal with their former spouse, you will be affected by this dynamic, perhaps even needing to coordinate with the ex-spouse yourself as needed. Such moments can be tense and even conflicted. Are you up for all of that? If not, decide that upfront and do not date a person with kids and an ex-spouse to deal with. However, know that this choice may severely limit your dating prospects. On the other hand, if you do choose to take on this challenge of their ex (and step-children), there are a few ideas for navigating this tricky landscape.
When You Will Deal with the Ex:
The most common way you will be dealing with your dating partner’s ex is when your partner is upset or frustrated about their ex and chooses to vent to you about it as they cope with it. When this happens, the better quality listening you offer, the sooner they will be done venting and you can move on to other topics. Good listening generally involves things like not interrupting, not giving unsolicited advice (ask first), looking and acting patient and interested, giving empathy, understanding and validation, removing distractions, and overall, listening to understand rather than to argue or oppose. Also, with excessive venting, it is ok to ask your partner to moderate and lessen their complaining. Remember, you and he/she are on the same team. The better you support each other and work together, the better you will navigate this challenge. And if you offer advice, just ask first. When they say yes, they are now much more open to your advice and opinions/suggestions.
Another very common interaction with the ex involves picks ups and drop offs. If this can be achieved without physical contact and interaction from you (hopefully your significant others as well), great. Less contact and interaction is generally better than more. If you do happen to cross paths, a minimal, civil hello and a smile is about the most contact I would recommend. If the ex tries to talk to you civilly, carefully engage and reciprocate. If the ex tries to start a fight or an argument with you, have an escape plan ready and available. Just quickly excuse yourself and leave. It is not worth the damage that will follow. Especially around his/her kids, which could make you look like the bad guy simply because you are not the biological parent.
Finally, the third most common issue to arise relating to dealing with his or her ex involves the occasional special occasions/events where all of you may be in attendance. These events may include such things as sporting events, plays/other performances and productions, graduations, weddings, funerals, and of course, the family court system. In these events, avoid without looking like you are avoiding if possible. Remember, it is your job to be civil and respectful, but you do not need to be friends with his/her ex. Very dangerous, and usually ends badly. Natural issues of jealousy, resentment, competition, insecurity, etc., are bound to lead to an ugly moment. So, if you are around the ex, again, smile and say hi, go on your way, and hopefully that is all that will happen. And if the other wants to converse, again, do so briefly as long as it is civil before going on your way.
When it comes to dealing with his or her ex, please remember and apply these scriptures as well as you can to avoid or minimize conflict:
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. –3 Nephi 11:29-30
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
--Matthew 5:5, 9-12
It is usually worth dealing with these periodic hassles, tensions, and inconveniences from their ex when you are in a good quality relationship. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).
P.S. If you need to equip yourself with some conflict resolution and influencing skills, I recommend these books to read or listen to:
Tongue Fu by Sam Horn
Your Perfect Right by Robert Alberti and Michael Emmons
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
INFO FOR READERS--
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|2018-12-31||Randy Gilchrist||Dating, Healthy relationships, Conflict resolution|
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).