Marriages come and go; divorce is forever.
Co-parenting is a business.
A common misconception when couples separate is that they can “end” their relationship with the other person. While this may be possible for couples without children, it is entirely unrealistic for two people who are continuing to parent. Your intimate relationship may be ending, but your co-parenting relationship must continue. For many parents, they actually need to develop and nurture a healthy co-parenting relationship. At the end of a marriage, most people are engaging in dysfunctional communication. In order to co-parent effectively, individuals often need to correct these patterns. They need to move from toxic intimacy into the business of co-parenting.
There are several ways to develop better co-parenting communication. But here are the two biggies: 1) Communicate less often; 2) Have more structured communication.
Why communicate less? Don’t we have kids to raise? Well, yes you do, but you also have an intimate relationship that needs to end. Therefore, you can’t be texting back and forth all day like married people. There should be more boundaries. Have a business-like phone call 2 or 3 times a week (including an agenda and a time limit). There are lots of ways to do it, but most separating couples struggle if they are communicating too frequently. For many people, too much contact = too much conflict.
It is important to structure communication, as well. Pick a time to have a co-parenting phone call when the kids are not around. Call from your car, call from the office, call from a tree – just don’t call when your kids are in the next room. They are listening. They are listening. They are listening. The phone call (or email or text session) should be at a regular time, so each parent knows when they can expect to hear from the other. Be respectful, be brief, talk only about the kids. When the agenda has been cleared, move on. This is the business of co-parenting.