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8 Ways to Improve Communication With Your Ex-Spouse

Communication is an integral part of our lives, as we are constantly called to interact with others to complete tasks, gain information, etc. While communicating should be easily performed, unforeseen circumstances may make even the simple act of saying “hello” difficult. Divorce taints the line of communication between couples, as the multitude of emotions circulating between them makes it tough for them to remain civil to each other.
Co-parenting is difficult as it is, without the added pressure of having to interact with someone you would rather not see. At the end of the day, your children need both of you, and they will continue needing you even as they grow into adults. Thus, it is important to cooperate by first communicating effectively.

Here are some tips to help you communicate with your former spouse. These tips will enable you to break through the tainted lines of communication in order to better serve your children and yourselves. In truth, effective communication will help everyone get along and move forward with life.

1. Consider Your children
The first, most important factor to consider in a divorce is how the children are doing. When communicating with a spouse, take a step back and make sure the conversation is moving forward in a way that benefits the kids. It will be easier for you to communicate with your spouse if you place your children above any emotions you may feel after the divorce.

2. Pick your battles
While many couples can find a whole host of topics on which to argue, it’s a good idea to select the fights that are worth fighting over.

3.Personalize Your Statements With “I” Messages
Incorporating the word “I” into conversations with a spouse will present feelings in response to an action, rather than a potentially accusatory statement. Instead of presenting a scenario in which something was frustrating or infuriating, or embarking on a long narrative, you can use an “I” statement (e.g. “I feel frustrated”) in place of a more accusatory statement (e.g. “you frustrate me…”). In general, people are more cooperative when they do not feel like they are being attacked.

Statements that attribute blame to someone often put people on the defensive. Change strategies by defining the purpose of your message. If you would like your spouse to cooperate, it is best to craft statements that call upon their own notions of empathy and reason. By relating your personal feelings to them instead of directing your feelings at them with accusations, you will prevent a defensive reaction from your spouse and encourage collaboration. This open, frank communication will help your partner connect to a tangible, real scenario experienced by you, and in turn, your communication will improve over time.

4. Be hard on the Problem, not the Person
Accusations immediately close the door to peaceful communication. Once one fighting word is wielded, another is sure to follow. If one spouse says, “The kids aren’t doing well in school because you don’t care enough to discipline them when they receive poor grades,” the other spouse is not likely to respond positively.
When harsh words are directed at a person, it is impossible to tackle a problem without fighting or hurting someone’s feelings. While the problem may or may not be someone’s fault, it is important to focus on the problem. Keeping conversations clear of personal attacks will not only help spouses maintain effective communication, it will also nurture mutual respect.

5. Practice Active Listening
Make a conscious effort to not only hear, but understand the entire message being relayed to you. Additionally, it is essential to remain objective and non-judgmental when listening to the other person.

6. Empathize
As people, we have the amazing ability to understand exactly how others feel, and since we are only human, we all make mistakes, go through difficult times or have differences in opinion. Thus, when your spouse is experiencing stress, cut them some slack and look at things from their point of view. It will be easier to parent your children together if you try to understand your spouse’s concerns, problems, etc.

7.Respect Your Ex’s Family
Interacting with your spouse’s family members is an often undesirable and awkward experience, but this interaction is inevitable as your child is connected to both sides of their family. So it is in everyone’s best interest to get along for the happiness and well-being of the children.

8. Exercise Courtesy In Conversations
Your children will depend on you for the rest of their lives, and so exercising courtesy will create a pleasant atmosphere for everyone. Allowing tension to infiltrate interactions with your spouse will likely make important events (e.g. graduations, weddings, family events, etc.) unbearable for everyone in the general vicinity of you and your spouse, so say “hello”, make small talk or generally try to be polite whenever you see them.

If you have any questions or concerns about mediation, or would like to
schedule a no fee mediation consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact me today!
Leyla Balakhane is a Family Law Mediator in the Los Angeles area
and can be reached at 424.235.4173

Sue Gramacy
Sue Gramacy
October 25, 2022.
I recommend Leyla Balakhane for resolving family disputes. She listens carefully, appreciates the emotions and needs that underline each conversation . She is genuinely concerned with the well being of all parties involved. She is very effective. What’s great is she always focuses on the best interest of the children. I have worked with Leyla for over 10 years and have watched her work her magic with families. Sue Gramacy
Stacey Lisk
Stacey Lisk
October 14, 2022.
Leyla Balakhane was one of the supervising mediators that worked with us at Edmund D Edelman Children’s Court. Given that she was one of the top mediators working on unlawful detainer cases, she was referred by a judge who found her to be incredibly gifted in what she does and felt that she would be a great asset in working with families. Leyla has a natural ability to connect with the families and helping them reach agreements that is far above whats required. Given that she was very interested in growing in her practice, she was able to help create a more in-depth and detailed parenting checklist which led to a higher success rate in or mediations at the Children’s Court. Because of Leyla many families have more profound and insightful agreements. I would add supervising mediator
Your RN Attorney Jennifer Johnston Terando
Your RN Attorney Jennifer Johnston Terando
October 12, 2022.
Leyla Balakhane is knowledgable, compassionate, and effective. I highly recommend her as a mediator.
Shsavina TehrNi
Shsavina TehrNi
October 10, 2022.
Thank you Leyla for helping us finalize a very difficult journey. We are able to have a better coparenting relationship because of everything you taught us. We are both very grateful for helping us resolve all issues in an amicable manner.
Rachel Hsiung
Rachel Hsiung
March 17, 2022.
Leyla is professional, patient and wonderful person to work with. She’s a good negotiator and listener to help her clients to get amicable results.
Noah Stern
Noah Stern
October 9, 2021.
Layla is a superb mediator. She helped my family through a tough time with ease. I highly recommend Leyla for any family going through a challenging time.
sepideh doust
sepideh doust
March 28, 2021.
Leyla Balakhane was my supervising mediator at children's courthouse. She taught me great communication tools to implement in my mediation practice. She helps the family, social worker, attorneys, and others involved in the case facilitate meaningful discussion and resolve the issues sent to mediation. Her level of wisdom is uncanny. She is able to bring awareness for parents to make the best decision for their family. I would highly recommend her as a skilled mediator in the field of family mediation.
Zak Shapiro
Zak Shapiro
January 22, 2021.
Leyla is an exemplary mediator for couples going through a divorce. She has the couples best interest in mind at all times through out the mediation process. She truly supports couples in making the best decision for them, whether its to help work towards reconciliation or agree on divorce terms. She helps couple find creative and collaborative solutions for their division of assets and debts. She is patient and understanding of what both parties are going though, and she carefully and thoughtfully helps to find a solution. I Cannot recommend her enough!
Matthew Khorsandi
Matthew Khorsandi
September 28, 2020.
Leyla is an incredible mediator with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Most importantly, she genuinely cares for the people she works with. Highly recommend.