NEW YORK (UPI) — Marriage may be brief, but divorce lasts a lifetime. A U.S. clinical psychologist says it’s worth the effort to make a friend of an ex-spouse.
Judith Ruskay Rabinor, a clinical psychologist, said she was motivated to write her book Befriending Your Ex After Divorce: Making Life Better for You, Your Kids, and Yes, Your Ex after accepting the losses and realities of her own divorce and becoming good friends with her former husband.
“It requires seeing the big picture — embracing the needs of everyone involved — and taking the high road,” Rabinor said in a statement. “Don’t assume you have to continue feeling and expressing anger to justify your divorce.”
Rabinor’s strategies include:
- Recognize the need and the benefits to you of befriending your ex.
- Learn to forgive, including yourself.
- Let go of the past. Don’t dwell on what went wrong.
- Create a vision of the kind of positive relationship you want with your ex.
- Tell your ex it’s never too late to create a better divorce, and you want to start a cordial relationship.
- Start with small acts of kindness.
- Continue trying, even if your ex is slow to acknowledge your efforts or reciprocate.
- Keep the goal in mind; keeping the peace is easier than continuing the war.
Rabinor acknowledges not all of her strategies apply to everyone and an authentic new friendship might not develop if dangerous behaviors don’t change, such as addictions or verbal and physical abuse.
“The only person you can really change is yourself. Do your part and treat your ex kindly, and if he or she refuses to reciprocate, continue to take the high road,” Rabinor said. “You’ll eventually succeed, or at least have the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing the right thing.”