Navigating Divorce When You're Forced to Rely on Your Ex as Your Caregiver
Divorce is never easy, but it can be especially challenging when you're forced to rely on your soon-to-be ex-spouse as your caregiver. It creates an awkward dynamic and pushes the "pause" button on moving forward through the process. If Covid has taught us anything, it's how to be adaptable to difficult situations.
Whether you're recovering from an injury, dealing with an illness, or simply dealing with a bout of food poisoning, navigating this situation can be awkward, uncomfortable, and emotionally challenging. As a divorce coach and coparenting specialist, I've helped many clients in this situation, and I've learned a few things about how to make the process a little smoother. Here are some tips and insights to help you navigate this difficult time.
Accepting Help from Your soon to be Ex:
The first step in this process is to accept the reality of the situation. While it may be uncomfortable to rely on your soon to be divorced ex-spouse for help, it's important to accept their assistance with grace and gratitude. Remember that they are still your co-parent, and that you both have a shared responsibility to care for your children. Acknowledge their efforts, express gratitude, and focus on the positive aspects of the situation, such as having some downtime to heal while your co-parent handles the day to day with the kids. Continue to include them in parenting decisions if you schedule help with the children, check to see if your co-parent is available before delegating parenting tasks to others. As long as the kids are safe, happy and having their needs met, Let your co-parent do things “their way”.
Clear and open communication is key in any co-parenting situation, but it's especially important when you're relying on your soon to be ex-spouse as your caregiver. Set clear expectations and boundaries, and communicate your needs and preferences in a respectful and assertive manner. If you want your ex to make sure to knock before entering your room, or check with you before scheduling help, make that clear. Be open to feedback and willing to compromise, but also stand firm on your non-negotiables. Avoid bringing up past issues or conflicts, and focus on the present situation. When you need privacy or time to rest, have your co-parent keep the kids busy so you have time to rest.
Balancing Your Roles:
When you're relying on your soon to be ex-spouse for caregiving, it can be difficult to balance your roles as a parent and a divorcing couple. Make sure to prioritize your own self-care needs, and enlist support from friends, family, or professionals as needed. Create a clear schedule and plan for your caregiving needs, and be willing to adjust as needed. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, have your phone set an alarm for when it’s time to take your meds and stay connected to friends and family by scheduling video calls.
Divorce is an emotional rollercoaster, and relying on your soon to be ex-spouse as your caregiver can intensify those feelings. Take care of your emotional wellbeing by engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as meditation, reading, light exercise, or hobbies. Consider seeking support from a therapist or coach who can help you navigate your emotions and develop coping strategies.
Remember that this situation is temporary, and that you will eventually regain your independence and move on from this chapter in your life. Stay focused on your goals for the future, and use this time to plan for your next steps. Whether it's finding a new job, pursuing a new hobby, or dating again, take a minute to visualize these steps to eventually move forward and create a positive image for your post-divorce life.
Navigating divorce when you're forced to rely on your soon to be ex-spouse as your caregiver can be challenging, but it's not impossible. By accepting help, communicating effectively, balancing your roles, managing your emotions, and staying focused on the future, you can navigate this situation with grace and dignity. Remember that you're not alone, and that there are resources and professionals available to support you on this journey. With time, patience, and a positive mindset, you can emerge from this experience stronger and more resilient than ever.