No matter how hard you try to keep things civil with your ex, you may have to deal with stubborn, uncooperative, or even outright aggressive behaviour from your spouse at some point during the separation process. Instead of letting your spouse’s behaviour intimidate or break you, try using the following approaches to dealing with a difficult spouse.
1. Choose your medium wisely. If you know that any verbal communication, whether in person or on the phone, will end in a screaming match, choose a different form of communication, such as email. Leaving a paper trail also helps track your communications should you end up in court at a later date.
2. Sleep on it. When emotions are running high, it is always a good idea to think twice before you hit the send button. Try writing an email to your spouse and re-reading it a day or two later. You may have gained some more perspective after having some time to think, and you may choose to re-word your email.
3. Speak up. If your spouse responds to you in an abusive or aggressive manner, firmly state that his/her reaction makes you uncomfortable and that you’d be willing to continue the conversation at a later date when he/she is able to communicate effectively.
4. Stand firm. If your spouse continues to harass you after you have asked him/her not to, don’t be afraid to unilaterally terminate the conversation. Try saying “I’m going to hang up now and I’ll talk to you about this in a few days.”
5. Practice. Try role-playing with a friend or counsellor before having a difficult conversation with your spouse. Think about different possible reactions from your spouse and how you will handle them.
Be sure to read Part 1 of our series on Communicating With Your Ex here.
For more information on separation, divorce, and other family law matters, please visit MyOntarioDivorce.com.