As you’re going through a divorce or separation, reaching out to your ex can be tempting and have an impact on the direction your divorce is going. I spend a great deal of time editing emails and text messages for clients, especially at the beginning of their divorce when emotions are running high, and they are unaware of how to text their ex without creating more tension.
This is an important skill to learn and master to navigate through the chaos. If you find yourself thinking “should I text my ex?” it’s important you know why. There should be clear goals and needs, which will allow you to be very clear with your ex on what you are seeking.
Being transparent about your intentions before hitting “send” can help you have a more productive and calm conversation with your ex. Keep in mind that in some situations, they may not want to reply to you- and that’s OK.
Here are a few rules to follow:
- Check your email/phone regularly.
- Limit what you say to words that will help resolve the situation.
- Do not use ALL CAPS, bold, underlining, highlighting, or colors.
- No cursing, put-downs, mean/angry words, or tone.
- Banned Words: Do not use any of the following words or their synonyms:
Avoid the use of emojis or gifs
- Only 1 exclamation point (!) per communication and only for something positive.
- Never use a punctuation mark more than once – no ???? or !!!!
- If you want a response, ask a clear question and use a question mark (?)
- Respond to all questions within 72 hours.
- Do not bring up problems from the past.
- Focus only on the current matter.
- Limit communications to essential matters and information you are required to exchange.
- No more than 1 communication per day unless there is an emergency or something time-sensitive (answer needed in less than 72 hours).
- Do not send texts after 9:00 p.m. or before 7:00 a.m. unless it is an emergency
If You Need to Apologize…
Divorce doesn’t always bring out the best in us, in fact, it usually brings out the worst. But if some time has passed and you’ve changed your perspective, you may want to reach out. If you’re contacting your ex to apologize, try to keep things short and simple. There’s no need to play the blame game or exchange too many pleasantries — especially if your ex doesn’t want to chat.
If you feel like you need to apologize, own up to your part in the breakup and give them the space to talk if they want to. “After you’ve said your piece, invite your ex to share anything they might feel they’d like to get off their shoulders. Express what you did wrong, say you’re sorry and wish them well moving forward. You might even be able to get some shared closure on the divorce.
- “I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened over the weekend at the little league game, and I’m sorry for how I acted. You didn’t deserve that.”
- “Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry about everything that happened between us. I was going through it and didn’t communicate well.”
- “I’ve been reflecting on everything that went wrong with us lately and I just wanted to apologize to you. If you ever want to talk about it or ask any questions about me, I’m open to it. No pressure to respond to this, but I just wanted to say I’m truly sorry for the way it all went down with us.”
These tips were written to de-escalate tensions between parents who live apart. (Though, in all honesty, these could be applied to any relationship that requires communication with someone you don’t particularly like.)
Even if your ex is the biggest a** on the planet, your children will benefit if you do the right thing. And that includes following these, rules. Angry texts (or emails) that break these rules can be used as evidence against you if you ever end up in court. You don’t want the judge or your kids to see you at your worst.
The Divorce Coach for Men