Category Archives: Health & Wellbeing

How to Co-Parent with a Difficult Ex-Spouse

Written by Wendi Schuller

Co-parenting is a challenge with a difficult ex from an acrimonious divorce, however there are ways to make this task easier. The main point is to fly under his/her radar. These people are looking for ammunition to get back at you for leaving, so do not give any opportunity for an attack. This includes not mentioning them or divorce details on social media. The less direct contact one has with this type of ex, makes co-parenting smoother.

A way to make co-parenting with a high conflict individual easier is to make sure you are nurtured. Get a massage. Go out and vent to buddies. Join a support group who can give you understanding and strategies on getting through this ordeal. Do activities that bring you joy and may have been buried during marriage. Get yourself in the best place possible, mentally, physically, and spiritually to be able to deal calmly with a co-parent who does not want to cooperate.

Whatever you can do to empower yourself and become stronger – weakens the hold of these contentious co-parents. Take a class which could lead to a new career path. Do a charity bike ride in a far flung place. Trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro for a life changing experience, as one divorce pal did. These physical challenges have awakened a new sense of power and increased self-esteem in many people. Sometimes one’s self-esteem and self-worth took a battering in a toxic marriage and requires this boost.

Connect with others through volunteering. When you have other interests, a social network, and new areas of expertise – you are less able to be manipulated or controlled. Approach interactions with your ex, without emotion as if it were business ones. Redirect communication to stay focused, so the high conflict parent does not go off on tangents. The goal of co-parenting is well-adjusted children who feel safe with both parents. If the co-parenting experience is not going well then discuss this with your attorney. Perhaps meeting with a mediator or your child’s therapist (if there is one) may help everyone to be on the same page

Family Mediation Week 2019, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help. 

You are not your anger

“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow”

You are not your anger

Elizabeth Kenny said “He who angers you, conquers you” When anger rules our reasoning, we lose the ability to make effective decisions.

The following ‘Hard Loving’ strategy may help you in the future to deflect and control anger:

Halt – Stop yourself from the knee-jerk reaction. Listen, don’t express negative emotions and breath slowly.

By acting out your anger you will only invite more hostility.

Anger Control – Focus on your physical sensations: dryness of the throat, tightness in the neck, knife in the solar plexus, etc. By recognizing your body’s reaction to anger, you can override it’s power over you.

Reverse reaction – Consciously reverse the negative auto-reaction through your awareness. Take calm slow breaths as you release the anger until you are calm and centered.

Disengage – Now that you have disengaged physically, disengage mentally. Separate the person from the problem. Remember, offensive perceptions from your spouse are just his/her thoughts that you are not your perspectives. When you disengage, the fight has ended. In the end you win control over yourself so you can engage the other person in finding solutions.

Listen Effectively – Listen without resistance. By thinking of your response you demonstrate a willingness to understand.

This promotes reciprocal receptivity.

Openly mirror – Restate in a neutral tone what the other person said in order to demonstrate your understanding of what you have heard. Rephrase any negative words (i.e. This is a ‘problem’ changes to this is a ‘challenge’)

Open ended questions – Ask an open-ended question that clarifies the situation. This opens the door to mutual understanding and problem solving

Imagine Solutions – Brainstorming various options for settlement. Share what you think would be fair for you both, what you really need and what would resolve the issues for everyone.

Non-aggression – If the other person becomes aggressive, stay calm and keep breathing slowly. Listen without engaging in anger. Repeat steps one to four throughout the discussion.

Go away – If the other person seems too highly charged, gently leave the situation and allow the other party to think things through. Take time out, when needed, in order to manage your hostility.

Although anger is a tough felling to deal with at times, remind yourself that you are responsible for 50% of the problem in your marriage – no more- no less. Recognise and own your 50%. Remember you may be feeling angry but you are not your anger. You can feel differently when you are in control of your thoughts. Seek emotional counseling in order to release the hurt and find a way to forgive one another and move on with your lives.

When you forgive – you do it to ‘give up’ the resentment that is hurting you. It relieves you from carrying the heavy burden of being unforgiving. When you forgive, it frees you to be happy again.

Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.

Raise The Volume: It’s All In My Head

Mental health starts in the head but that’s not the whole story. It affects our whole body, from the tips of our fingers to our little toes.

Anxiety was the dark horse that no one saw coming: I was an acting enthusiast, a sport star, and an A-grade student. I was not shy or quiet, I was loud and confident, I was not the ‘likely victim’. However, mental health does not discriminate and Anxiety quickly became a debilitating disorder that controlled every last aspect of who I was.

As I continued to tackle both the ordinary obstacles of everyday life and the more extra-ordinary hurdles, my mood soon started to be affected and I would rely more and more on sport as an escape, and controlling food for a sense of security. This quickly evolved into an addiction, and soon I found myself trapped in a downwards spiral, suffering from anorexia nervosa.

Rewind 10 years and I had never heard of mental health, I did not know what it was. Adults may have whispered the words around me, but it wasn’t something they generally discussed, let alone with children.

As I look back at my past and what I may have hoped had played out differently, I wish I had known about mental health, I wish my friends had known, I wish our families had known, and I wish our teachers had known. Maybe then we would have noticed sooner, and perhaps a different story would have unfolded.

It is easy to look back in hindsight and hope for a different ending to your own story, it is harder to look back and use what you have learnt to help create a different ending for someone else.

So, from my own a experiences, here are the things that I want you to know:

  1. 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health problem each year, and for 1 in 10 of us will struggle with our mental health before we turn 18.
  2. In an average sized classroom, that equates to 3 students to each class of 30.
  3. Mental health isn’t about being mentally unwell, it’s about having any feelings/emotions/thoughts at all. So we all have it. The state of being mentally unwell is when these go a little bit off track.
  4. Mental illness can take so many shapes and forms depending on the person and the way they experience it.
  5. If we could choose to have good mental health, we would in a heartbeat.
  6. Poor mental health can affect us for a day, a week, a month, or years. It can also affect us on and off throughout our lives.
  7. We can get better and your love and support is always appreciated and helpful.
  8. Please teach your children about mental health, they deserve the knowledge to tackle whatever the world throws at them.

Emily Palmer and the author and illustrator of ‘Scrambled Heads, A Children’s Guide to Mental Health’. Buy it now from Amazon or email scrambledheadsbook@hotmail.com . A great resource for starting conversations about mental health with children and young people.

Family Mediation Week 21-25th January 2019, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.