Easing Tension During Divorce: 5 Key Tips

  • 06 Nov 2017

In the midst of a divorce, even the easiest of conversations with your ex can be fraught with tension. The person who was once your closest ally has become a potential enemy, sometimes opposing your ideas just because. Every conversation doesn’t have to involve a huge emotional expenditure. Here are 5 key tips for helping to decrease stress during a divorce:

Keep Communications To Email or Text

Though communicating in person or over the phone is considered best, when in the midst of a contentious divorce it may be best to take a step back and use less personal forms of communication. Reserve use of the phone for emergency situations only. Writing an email or sending a text allows you to pause and rework your words so they convey what you need to communicate without inserting emotion. [1]

Having a written record of a conversation also is helpful if you and your former spouse are prone to misunderstanding one another. If there is a disagreement over what was said, showing copies of texts and emails can help clear up confusion.

Additionally, emails, texts, and instant messages are admissable as evidence in many states. Should there ever be a need to prove someone’s words in court, it is much easier with written text than notes taken during phone or in-person conversations.

Wait a Few Hours Before Responding

Even though most of us have phones close at hand at all times, we don’t have to be immediately reachable. If you receive an email or text from your ex and feel the anger, hurt or frustration bubbling up, put down the phone and walk away for a few hours. Unless it is an issue that demands your immediate attention, such as a last-minute scheduling change, it can wait. [2]

When you instantaneously respond to a barb, you are far more likely to respond emotionally instead of intellectually, which can escalate an already tense situation. If you step back and let yourself cool down for a while, something that may have seemed to be a big deal at first has faded away. Taking some time to avoid an emotional outburst allows you to maintain your calm and composure, an immensely helpful state of mind when your life feels chaotic.

Don’t Worry About What Others Think

In the midst of divorce, your emotions are heightened and it can be very easy to take things your ex says personally. Think about it this way – As much as you are confused and hurting, your ex is probably confused and hurting, too. When our lives are stressful, we tend to lash out more easily. [3]

If your ex, or anyone else in your life, criticizes you for doing or saying something you know is right, don’t take the criticism personally. Keep your children’s and your health, safety, and happiness in mind at all times, and ignore what others say.

Don’t Be Afraid To Disengage

If you feel a discussion is yielding nothing productive, or you are feeling emotionally drained or attacked, it is perfectly all right to politely halt the conversation and step away. An unproductive conversation can leave the parties feeling frustrated or annoyed, which can increase the likelihood of emotional outbursts. [1]

Simply say, “This conversation is unproductive, so I am going to take a step back and revisit this at a later time.” Then, put down your phone and go do something else. Ignore any texts or emails that may come through attempting to draw you back into the argument. Take a walk, clean your bathroom, or play with your children – Whatever you need to do to stay away from the notifications on your phone. If you feel up to it, come back to the conversation at a later time with a calmer head and some different perspective.

Take Care of Yourself

You cannot effectively communicate if you feel run-down and overly stressed. Taking some time for yourself isn’t a luxury – It’s a necessity. [3]

Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Take a little time at least once a week to do something purely for yourself. Get a manicure or massage, sit down with a cup of coffee and a good book, or just go for a quiet drive. Taking the time to pause will give you a little lift and allow you to tackle everything else that needs doing with a little more calm.

Maintaining your composure and cool when communicating with your ex may seem impossible. Setting some clear personal boundaries and taking time and space for yourself can help you from getting overwhelmed. Though it will be difficult, you can come through your divorce happier, calmer, and a more whole person than you were before.

[1] “4 Tips for Effective Communication During Divorce,”

[2] “Tips on Communicating With Your Spouse During a Divorce,”

[3] “Reduce the Stress of a Divorce,” Psych Central.

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