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Whilst co-parenting is highly recommended as the best option for a child/ren post-divorce, attempting to do so with an ex-spouse who has a high conflict personality or a personality disorder is usually unsuccessful. In most cases, an amicable relationship can’t be achieved between parents. Dealing with a high-conflict ex-spouse can also be mentally, physically, emotionally, and sometimes financially draining. 

It is important to find tools and strategies to manage your relationship with your ex-spouse. Some of the following tips are recommended in managing your relationship with your ex-spouse:

Accept that you cannot change your Ex-spouse

It is often impossible to co-parent with a high-conflict personality and as much as you would like your ex-spouse to put the child/ren first that will probably never happen.The reality is that no-one, no matter how hard they may try, can change another person as change has to come from within. Once one is prepared to accept that controlling your own reactions and choices is the only way to co-parent with a high-conflict individual will you be in a position to successfully manage your relationship with your ex-spouse. 

Set Boundaries for co-parenting

High-conflict personalities love to steamroll over other people’s boundaries, so it is important that you set your boundaries firmly and that you do not deviate from those boundaries. High conflict personalities thrive on drama so as to keep you engaged with them. Responding to your ex-spouse emotionally and immediately will only fuel the fire so the most effective way to address this is to just STOP! Unless there is a genuine emergency, most things can wait. Another tip is to limit your ex-spouses access to your home life: your rules your house; their rules their house.

Communicating with a High-Conflict Personality

It is very easy to become defensive, angry, frustrated and often teary when your ex-spouse communicates with you in a high conflict manner. The best way to deal with this type of communication is to manage your reaction and stick to facts, and your parenting plan for example.  There is no point in becoming emotionally invested in trying to reason with someone who isn’t reasonable. 

Don’t take what your ex-spouse says personally

This is the most important tip in disengaging from conflict. It is most often the case that your ex-spouse is probably projecting his or her own issues onto you. That means that their sense of reality is skewed. Again, one cannot change what your ex-spouse thinks about your parenting or your self-worth as a person. As you learn to set boundaries and accept the realisation that you cannot change your ex-spouse then a great deal of the conflict in your co-parenting relationship will cease to exist.

Author – Kate Bailey – Hill

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