When you and your ex made the decision to split, you may have overlooked how entwined your lives were throughout your marriage. Beyond financial assets and children, you shared almost everything together including the doctor, dog sitter, handyman, nanny, and extended family connections. Now, that you have chosen to part ways you may be wondering where to start in unraveling your extended relationships as you begin to build separate lives.
The short answer is boundaries.
Boundaries are your lifeline to every type of relationship in order to maintain a healthy connection. Without them, you can be left feeling disrespected, emotionally worthless, and vulnerable to personal matters. However, establishing clear boundaries with your STBX will save you a million headaches and unwelcome awkward moments down the road.
So, where do you establish boundaries?
Here Are 5 Must-Have Boundaries You Need With Your STBX During Your Divorce:
1.Keep Your Personal Life Private
You will want to keep your personal life off-limits during conversation exchanges with your STBX. The minute the dissolution goes into effect, that’s when your intimate relationship expires. Establishing firm, healthy boundaries in regards to your personal affairs will support your new lifestyle and diminish emotional power struggles that you may have experienced in your marriage.
In the beginning, it can seem challenging to not overshare your concerns, fears, or emotional stressors with your STBX. Naturally, it may feel very innate to talk about the details of your day or conversations with mutual connections after spending so much time together. Even if your STBX asks you to disclose private information about your new lifestyle, kindly decline by saying “I’m sorry, unfortunately this is something we no longer share with each other.”
You’ll also want to consider removing your STBX from your social media platforms in order to keep your privacy intact. If you begin dating someone new and tag your location at a restaurant or a beautiful island, this may lead to an invitation for unwanted emotional discord. When this happens, it can make it challenging for you to heal, move forward, and find happiness.
Furthermore, your STBX should no longer have access to your home. Your home needs to be a safe haven for internal peace and joy, despite once being shared asset. And, if you have children, then your STBX shall only be welcomed into your home if you have given an invitation and you are present.
The clearer your boundaries, the healthier it will be for the psychological development of your children’s viewpoints on relationships.
2. Divide Service Providers
When you and your STBX used to live together, the two of you developed a repertoire of resources: a cleaning service, a nanny, an accountant, a dog walker and more. Now, that you have officially parted ways you’ll also want to divide your shared professional resources.
The purpose of splitting service providers will help protect your privacy and keep your personal matters out of their hand. For example, if you begin dating a new partner, and the nanny somehow slips information to your STBX on accident, then it can bring more complications to your divorce case. And if you haven’t established a peace treaty with your STBX, then this can lead to unnecessary questioning and emotional pain.
On another note, it’s unreasonable to place the nanny or the accountant in the middle of your family affairs. This can generate additional distress for your professional service providers and damage the relationship altogether.
Create a fresh start and hire professionals to serve you and only you.
3. Obtain A Parenting Agreement For Your Children
A parenting agreement will give you solid boundaries to operate from when co-parenting with your STBX. The agreement will clarify your parental roles and parenting time, while simultaneously giving your children a structured life to thrive. Not only will a parenting agreement keep things logical and amicable between you and your STBX, but it will also provide consistency for your children. Children crave stability to feel loved and secure throughout their developmental years.
Additionally, a parenting agreement will eliminate the need to share extra details with your STBX, keeping the focus on your children. When your conversations concentrate on the facts about your children, such as pick-up and drop-off times, it’s best practice to exclude your children as the messenger. Children aren’t adapted to handle adult conversations, as this often leads to psychological and physiological distress.
And if your children are feeling like they have to choose sides, it will reflect in their behavior or schoolwork. Your child’s behavior tells you how they are internally feeling, especially if they aren’t talking yet. When something seems different than their normal behavioral baseline, it’s usually a sign your children are needing security, love, and safety.
Internal beliefs and emotions lead to external behaviors.
4. Redefine Family Relationships and Friendships
Most likely, you developed shared friendships with other couples over the years or perhaps you became best friends with your sister-in-law. Now, you will have to decide who will stay in your life when parting ways. While blood is thicker than water, you may feel like continuing your friendship with an ex-family member. However, before you maintain this connection, it will be wise to establish ground rules of what topics of conversation are appropriate and what is off-limits, like your STBX. Also, you will want to ask yourself, “Do I trust this ex-family member to keep our conversations private?”
Uncoupling from your shared friendships and social circles may be even more complex. If you have been friends with the wife of another couple and your STBX is friends with the husband, how you carry forward with these friendships can become a sticky matter. It will be in your best interest to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your friends and decide how you’ll proceed forward in the dynamic.
A friend is one who overlooks the broken fence and admires the flowers in your garden.
5. Identify Personal Use of Joint Memberships
As you begin building your new lifestyle, it may require you to skip out on your joint memberships because running into your STBX at the gym everyday may not be ideal for your emotional health. Creating a whole new lifestyle can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s the quickest way to start the healing process and find inner peace. Your self-care time at the gym will need to be a place of serenity, not a place of chaos.
If you share a country club membership where the children attend extracurricular activities, like swimming or tennis lessons, then you’ll want to establish what days each of you are permitted to use the membership. This will establish healthy boundaries for all parties involved keeping things amicable in the face of your children.
Also, it will be healthy to discuss if new partners will or will not be able to tag along during family activities. Avoiding these conversations tends to lead to bigger blow-ups in the future. Even though it may seem uncomfortable at the moment, it’s better to be honest and forthcoming to diminish future conflict.
Co-parenting isn’t a competition, it’s a collaboration of working together to support your children.