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Breaking the Cycle of Conflict: How to Keep Cool When Your Partner Is a High Conflict Individual

Are you struggling right now with a high conflict partner? Are you considering divorce or transitioning through divorce with a high conflict partner? I want to share with you a couple scenarios that may help you to handle yourself as your best self. Have you ever gotten a long, nasty email, a disturbing, long, rude text or a voicemail that was inappropriate?

My strong suggestion is don't engage. Now that's easier said than done, but it is the right choice. For our example, your other parent emails you something like this, “You’re the worst mother I have ever seen.” Or, “I can’t believe I have to tell you this again….”, or “Why do you always make rules for my house.” “Billie has a dentist appointment tomorrow at two. Can you take him? And by the way, you look terrible in those pants.” Maybe your partner isn’t quite that mean. Maybe your partner has said far worse things.

Your response? Hi, Bob. Hi, Mary. Thanks for the email. Sure. I can take Billy tomorrow. Have a good day. That's it. Don't engage. There's no point. It's going to increase the conflict. It's going to increase the hurt feelings. It's not going to benefit you or your children in any way. I strongly discourage engaging in nasty or hurtful behavior towards an ex-spouse, as it can exacerbate conflicts and harm both parties involved, as well as your children who are caught in the middle.

And I know that it's not you acting as your best self, so don't engage. What do you do about threats? “I wish you were dead.”,” I’m going to keep the house.”, or “I wish I never met you.” All the mean things that someone may have said to you, well, they often come back during this time all over again. Don't engage. Remind yourself with this question, “How am I going to be my best self in this situation?”

You may want to engage in these demands and these threats. Just don't respond. Maybe talk to a close confidant. Hire a divorce coach. Talk to one other person, but don't engage. My suggestion is to focus on who you want to be as your best self. Who do you want to be 10 minutes from now? Ten years from now? 30 years from now?

Engaging with high conflict partner can be detrimental to your own emotional well-being as well as the overall divorce process. It's crucial to recognize that engaging in these negative approaches can lead to destructive behaviors, such as manipulation, blame-shifting, or prolonged legal battles. By choosing not to engage, you can protect their own mental health, maintain your focus on the divorce process, and prevent unnecessary conflict. Setting boundaries, seeking professional support, and prioritizing clear and respectful communication are important steps to foster a more peaceful resolution.

How do you want your life to look? How do you want your children to look back on how you handled this difficult time? Not all relationships work out the way we expect them to. You can teach your kids how to handle a relationship that doesn't work out as expected. You can show them by example. Day after day, year after year, how you were able to handle this transition with grace, with constant insights, with knowledge.

Imagine the reward when you can look back with pride and say, you know what? I did the best that I could do. Yeah, I maybe messed up a couple of times, but overall, I did not engage. I did try to act and speak and be my best self all the time. Imagine how healthier and happier your children will be because of the environment you surrounded them with.

If you know that divorce is the best option for you and for your family, then one of the things that you can do, especially if you're dealing with a high conflict partner, is to not engage in any negative behavior or negative actions. What you can do is you can learn. You can grow. You can get the best information from the right people. You can hire the right people. You can make choices and decisions when you know and have all the options out on the table.

And then keep in mind, ten, 20 years from now, your children are going to get married. Their other parent will hopefully be there at the wedding. How do you want that to feel? How do you want that to look? How much tension do you want in the room? Do you want your kids to have to worry about the tension in the room because of your relationship with your other parent?

You can help with this slowly. One day at a time. You can take what seems to be a terrible relationship and you can turn it into a bearable relationship. You can maybe turn it into a great relationship. You can do your part and then see what happens.

I hope to inspire you. You are worthy. You are loved.

And until next time here's to youfirst!




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