Folks who are reading this probably will feel that this post is somewhat like closing the barn door after the horses have fled, but I still counsel my clients to do their best to maintain a civil relationship with their spouse or partner post-separation. Many stayed together for years ‘for the children’ anyway, so the idea of putting another’s needs first is not foreign to them.
Of course, after months or even years of legal wrangling or memories of betrayal, this Pollyana-ish axiom is not often met with the most receptive of ears.
So I start small. Say ‘thank you’ the next time your ex does something they ought to have done anyway.
A simple ‘Thanks,’ when the kids are dropped off on time can be a start. DO NOT ADD a qualifier that can be viewed as a threat. Remember, after years of animosity, the phrase: ‘Thanks for dropping the kids off on time’ may be seen not as a genuine thank you but as a sarcastic dig.
Psychology Today has a list of habits that many happy couples practice at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/just-listen/200911/10-habits-happy-couples
Obviously, not all of the habits are practical for separated couples, but focusing more on what your ex is doing right rather than what he or she is doing wrong will help not only in the beginning but during the lifetime of your post-couple relationship.