Gun Powder and Lead?: Establishing a Positive Relationship with your Ex and Their New Significant Other

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Social media and celebrity gossip columns were ablaze after the announcement at this year’s Country Music Awards that former country music power couple Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton were never ever ever getting back together and Shelton was officially dating pop music bad girl, Gwen Stefani. Stefani herself had only recently ended her marriage to Gavin Rossdale. Though gossip rags alluded to conflict between the couples and everyone watched with bated breath to see how Lambert would handle the first public event after announcing her spilt from Shelton this summer, Lambert handled the situation with grace and poise and ultimately won the day and took home an award for Female Vocalist of the Year. Though everyone waited for either of the parties to officially comment on the new change in status, both remained largely mum. This follows the common trend with this couple who has only ever indicated that they “remain good friends” and kept any of their marital difficulties quiet.

This situation calls to mind an always common question when it comes to divorces and breakups that affects the everyman as much as it does the celebrity. Hundreds of articles are written in women’s and men’s magazines about how to get over the break up, but very little attention is paid to how to build a relationship (or in some cases modify a relationship) with your ex’s new significant other. Though this may not be an issue couples who can make a clean split, issues often linger when children are involved. Too often, the new partner becomes the scapegoat for feelings of fear, anger and resentment that they do not deserve and did not ask for. When you never have to interact with your ex again, this is a personal problem that can be addressed in time, but when children, custody, holidays and complex relationships get involved, it is a trickier situation.

Do you allow your kids to build a relationship with mom’s new boyfriend? What if they like dad’s new wife better than me? These questions and others like them often cause more conflict at an already stressful time and make life harder for everyone especially the kids. The hardest part is that there is no real right answer in these circumstances. Sometimes a positive relationship with your ex, his new significant other or his new family isn’t possible; but often, it’s necessary and extremely important to help both you and your kids move on from a break up or divorce. What this relationship looks like usually depends a lot on the circumstances, but here are a few pointers to keep the situation:

1. Work with you ex (and if necessary your lawyers or co-parenting counselor) to set some ground rules. When and how do you introduce the new significant other to the kids? How much interaction and time is appropriate?

2. Keep lines of communication open. Make sure your ex and your kids feel comfortable talking to you and talking to each other about how the changing situation makes them feel.

3. Don’t try to win. If you focus too much on being the better parent or proving to your kids (or your ex) that you’re the one they should like more, you’re starting down a road from which there is no return. Do what you think is best and don’t get caught up in what stepmom is doing down the block.

4. Keep it to yourself. There’s obviously conflict here. If there wasn’t you would have stayed together, but take a page out of Miranda and Blake’s book and keep it classy. Don’t bad mouth your ex to anyone, especially the kids. If you need to rant or let it out, go out and meet some friends who you know will keep your secrets. Don’t put your kids in the middle of a mudslinging contest, because no one will come out clean.

If you’re looking for help with a divorce case involving a new significant other, conact us today!