Announcer: [0:00] You’re listening to the OverDivorce.com podcast with hosts Tom and Adrian, two guys swapping stories about getting over divorce. If you’re going through a painful divorce and are struggling with anger and anxiety, then you’ve found the right podcast. Hang with us for the next 30 minutes or so, and we promise you’ll gain useful insight and effective tips and techniques for getting over your divorce and rebuilding a better life.
Tom: [0:24] Welcome to the OverDivorce podcast, I’m Tom.
Adrian: [0:26] I’m Adrian.
Tom: [0:27] Adrian, what’s the thing we’re talking about today?
Adrian: [0:32] The thing we’re talking about today is how to engage, how to communicate with your soon-to-be ex.
Tom: [0:41] Or your ex, or what have you. I should explain, I’m kind of losing it because we’ve had little audio difficulties this evening, but fortunately for the listener, through the power of editing, there’s no issue. We can laugh about it now. Communication with the ex. Why do I, do I have to do that? I don’t really want to do that. I don’t want to talk with her anymore.
Adrian: [1:01] If you don’t have any kids, you probably don’t. You’re probably off the hook. [laughs] You just have to communicate enough with them to get through the divorce proceedings, and then you’re done. You still have to communicate with them somewhat through the proceedings, and I think the real issue is if you have kids, then you definitely do need to communicate for the rest of your life, probably.
[1:28] Getting that off on the right foot, I think, is crucial. Coming up with some ways to maintain your composure, and thinking of some tips and techniques to help you along the way is helpful.
Tom: [1:44] I don’t know. My thing is I really don’t want to talk with her anymore. I don’t really care to see her anymore, but we have kids, and kids are permanent, for the rest of our lives, hopefully. The only thing I think worse than divorce is losing a child.
[2:08] It’s really impossible to comprehend, so looking at it and going, I’m going to have to communicate with her for the rest of my life. She’s in my life for the rest of my life, because I dearly, dearly love my child. That’s a really difficult thing to sink in, and to really accept, but there’s really no way around it.
Adrian: [2:29] It’s just a shift. It’s not something that you’re going to be doing. You don’t necessarily verbally have to communicate with them, and it’s probably a good idea to really stop communicating face-to-face or one-on-one or over the phone, even.
[2:47] Things can heat up so quickly and spiral out of control into shouting matches. I think it is a good idea to maintain the communication, but maybe do it on a different medium. Maybe switch over to email or text.
[3:02] That gives a little buffer and a little cooling off from an emotional point of view than doing something face-to-face. Writing something down is going to give you some pause, and your thoughts and anger might not come out on email or text, if you’re smart about it, [laughs] if you wait a while, if you buffer it and don’t fire off those emails at three o’clock in the morning after you’ve had a couple cocktails.
Tom: [3:27] I don’t know, man. I’m freaking brilliant after three or four cocktails at 3:00 in the morning. The words just…
Adrian: [3:32] That’s when you become super lucid.
Tom: [3:34] The words just fly off my fingertips and it’s fucking fantastic.
Adrian: [3:41] You become smart, funny, brilliant.
Tom: [3:43] She gets to hear everything that I’m thinking, man, and I’ll lay it down. You make a really good point. It’s really got to use the opportunity to review what you’re saying, know that everything that you put online is permanent and forever, because the Internet never forgets. Consider that before hitting the send button.
Adrian: [4:08] If you can make it a rule, I think we talked about this before, about waiting at least 20 minutes before you shoot off an email and just let it sit in your outbox. Maybe don’t [laughs] send the text at all.
[4:25] It’s never a good idea to drink and text or [laughs] drink and email anyway. Unfortunately, what happens is you go out, you have a couple cocktails, and the next thing you know, you’re composing these long emails and long letters or shooting off texts.
[4:40] One way to deal with that is to, I don’t know. Can you set up some kind of a block on your email, on your Outlook or whatever, so that your ex’s emails doesn’t get your email somehow?
Tom: [4:52] I think there actually is a thing, or at least there was, back in the golden days. There was a little thing that would forbid you from sending anything. You could set between certain times, to avoid that very mistake.
[5:09] I think it is a classic mistake to be distressed and be up in the middle of the night and to say, I’m going to tell her exactly what I think. Here it is. It’s funny, because alcohol obviously is an issue, but I know a lot of people will take sleeping medication, and different sleeping medication will cause you to do even crazier things.
[5:34] You really do have to remember not to send anything that you write at night. Just wait until the morning and read it again. I’m so thankful that I did that in a couple of situations that got kind of sticky for me, where I needed to communicate something about my child, and I needed to communicate it lucidly and with some serious forethought. I ended up writing the things at night.
[6:01] I purposefully just shut my computer down before I sent it, and went and looked at it in the morning, and I’m really glad I did because it really gave me an opportunity to think about what I was saying. In all seriousness, approach it with sobriety, but a second mental framework to make sure that I was communicating what I wanted to communicate.
[6:23] It’s easy to convince yourself you’re communicating exactly what you want to communicate the moment you’re writing it. I think anybody with any writing experience will tell you that’s just not the case. You really do need a second eye, and there’s nothing like time to act as an editor.
Adrian: [6:38] Let things cool down for a bit before you hit the send button. Try to think of the long-term kind of ramifications. I think it is good to get that out and maybe that’s where a journal comes in handy, where you can lay down your thoughts and your anger and anxiety, and any emotional issues that you’ve got. To get those out on paper is good and helpful. You just don’t need to be sending those at two o’clock in the morning, because it’s going to have ramifications, especially if you have kids. I think getting on to email and away from the one-on-one contact is helpful, but you’ve got to be smart about it.
Tom: [7:15] Get away from the real time thing, get away from the in-the-moment, heat-of-the moment kind of thing. Move into a controlled environment where you can communicate the things that you can communicate, and she’s certainly able to communicate back with you, and respond to the things that you’ve said. It’s not like you’ve eliminated two-way communication, but you do get the opportunity to really consider your words and consider your tone, and consider all the things that you wouldn’t normally get to think about when you’re in the heat-of-the moment, talking on the phone, or even talking face-to-face.
[7:53] I will say that you do certainly get more information from a party that you’re communicating with if you’re able to look at them while they’re speaking to you. You can figure out if they’re really mad, and they send you a lot of non-verbal communication, when you’re able to look at them and speak with them. I would certainly argue that you’re much better off sacrificing that in order to communicate exactly what it is that you’re trying to get across, and not communicating something that you would regret later out of passion or anger.
Adrian: [8:22] That kind of leads to another point in terms of the means of communications is, again, this is more for parents that have children, but it’s using them as a conduit for your communication. That’s the other thing you need to avoid, is having your kid act as a carrier pigeon between you and your ex. [laughs]
Tom: [8:46] Strap this to your claw. [laughs]
Adrian: [8:51] Take this bomb over to your mother and see what happens. You have to avoid really entangling them, and making them a messenger for anything, really. I think that’s just a bad position to put them in, whether your intentions are good or not.
Tom: [9:09] Truth of the matter is, they don’t have any information for you, and they’re going to do a terrible job at passing along the messages. One of the points that you raised in an earlier podcast, the temptation for the kid to manipulate the situation as they remind you of the toys they have at their Mom’s house, or the things that they get to do when they’re at your ex’s place. You just don’t want to play into that. You don’t want to give them any tools to leverage that.
Adrian: [9:43] It’s not their job. It’s really your responsibility. You’re right. They’re terrible conduits of information. They’re not going to get it right, anyway. It’s just a huge mistake to use them in that capacity. It’s not fair to them. You need to set up some kind of guidelines with your ex if you’ve got kids.
[10:03] These days email and texting is pretty pervasive, and I think that’s the gold standard for communicating nowadays. If you can’t have a civil discussion on the phone, that’s especially true early on. Things may mellow out over time, but early on it’s hard to control those emotions. You both know how to push each others’ buttons and get each other going, and can escalate things pretty quickly.
Tom: [10:36] I think the technology point is good, because there’s also the issue of social media and the ability for you to stalk your ex, and for your ex to stalk you.
Adrian: [10:50] That’s a big issue these days. I think it’s a good idea. My perspective on social media is to disentangle yourself for the time being from your ex, so that you’re not stalking them our following them or seeing what they are doing. That can lead to a lot of pain, if they are seeing somebody new. If you got new pictures up, or whatever.
Adrian: [11:17] That can be tough, man. That can be horrible. I think it’s a good idea to do the un-friend and stop following him on Twitter, and anything else that you’re hooked into. It’ll be good for you if you can make that unplug happen.
Tom: [11:33] I hadn’t considered the power of “Naked Pictures” on Facebook. In all seriousness I do have a differing opinion although foundationally I do agree with you. I think it depends on how you use social media to be honest with you. On Facebook, I really don’t put anything on ever, and never have, and never would, because I do a lot of social media for work. I would never put anything on there that would be even the slightest bit controversial.
[12:00] I really try to use social media, particularly Facebook just to share bright and light things with friends. An article that I might find, something that I might think is politically important that people aren’t getting that’s centrist, something that’s super cubed video, or something that just would make people’s day better, mostly goodness for social media. I do, to your point, I think it’s way more common for people to use social media as a tool to try to manipulate their ex’s emotions. I think it’s a really, really bad idea.
[12:39] On the one hand, I think, in my particular case I am fine with my ex seeing everything, because I think when anything you would do in Facebook, you’re doing for the world anyway. Even though I have my settings cranked super high to private, I’m not under any illusion that Facebook is anything but super public.
[12:58] There’s just so many people that we know in common, that to me it just almost seems somewhat futile to believe that if I ever did post something, that she wouldn’t see it for some reason. Because some other friend that I forgot about of hers that we have in common go, “Oh, did you see this? Did you notice that?”
[13:18] Sadly, unless you’re ready to abandon social media altogether, I think you might have to think about it as if your ex is going to see whatever you put on there anyway. Adrian, I think your advice is good. Turn it off. If you can go through your list, not just your ex, but your ex’s family, and people you met through your ex. You’re probably very, very wise turn them all off.
[13:47] I also would say that beyond just this being a show about divorce, in the context of social media, the lesson really is assume that you can’t screen away, that Facebook leads you to believe that you can. Assume that everything that you put is going to be public. Assume that everything you’re going to put out is going to be seen by your ex. Assume that everything that you put out is eventually going to be seen someday by your children. You got to be really careful about what you put out there, on Twitter, on Facebook or what have you.
Adrian: [14:21] What about starting fresh? What about just unplugging from everybody and reconnecting on at a time? Going through the deluge of your 5000 friends that you don’t really know. Starting fresh and going through that as an exercise to reconnect with people who you haven’t talked to in a while with a new Facebook page, and eliminate the ones that you don’t.
[14:45] I have a friend who’s done that a couple of times. Every couple of years he just totally unplugs, and he’ll pop back up under a new guise. What are your thoughts on that? What about a clean slate? What about unplugging, and then reaching out to the ones that you really need and really want to.
Tom: [15:00] That’s a perfectly valid thing to do. That exercise would be a really good cleansing ritual. I know people who swore off Facebook in their early days, communications professionals that swore Facebook off because of the privacy issues, and only to come back and start anew with it. It’s certainly a valid thing to do.
[15:27] My personal view is that, “Hey, it wasn’t right for me.” I’m choking on my words a little bit here because I’ve contemplated it. My feeling is that it’s an enormous task. I don’t really have time to do that, so maybe that’s really the genuine root of it. I also feel like…
Adrian: [15:50] You don’t have time to find your three friends?
Tom: [laughs] [15:52] I’ll stop everything and pull my three friends back into my circle. Also I really struggle with the idea that you can just wipe all that stuff away, and rebuild it. Part of me really believes that you can, but another part of me feels like, “Nope. This is my trail, this is my life, this is my memory set, these are my people, this is what life I’ve lived. I can’t just wipe that away and start over again.”
[16:24] It’s just hard conceptually for me to do that. The way I use social media, I really view it as a light and bright entertainment. I know, I’m certainly as guilty as anyone taking my picture and go, “Hey, here I am relaxing on vacation.” As inappropriate as that is, I’ve certainly done that, just because it’s cool.
[16:49] I remember being up in your neck of the woods, and being in Maine, and just thinking it’s so beautiful. My friends really need to see how beautiful it is, when the ferry comes and get you before it takes you out to one of the islands off of Maine.
[17:03] The light was perfect, and everything was perfect. I really wanted to share it, but I do recognize that a lot of times that’s perceived as bragging, or inappropriate. I’m torn between those things, as I’m torn between this idea of just wiping everything away and starting over, or the saying, “It is what it is.”
[17:23] If she wants to look at some article I’ve posted about the permanent government really ruling the country, and nobody that we elect, or whether she wants to see this video of kittens that I’ve put up, or whatever…
Adrian: [laughs] [17:38] Are you kidding me?
Tom: [17:39] No, I’ve never done kittens. I certainly got…
Adrian: [17:42] This podcast is over!
Tom: [17:45] Are you kidding me? Kittens make this podcast! Tune in, we’ll have some great pictures of kittens.
Adrian: [17:52] And recipes.
Tom: [17:53] Recipes for discussion. You share that junk on Facebook. It’s really a problem just generally when people either A, are putting pictures of themselves up on Facebook to make people jealous, or to try to manipulate people in any way.
[18:14] B, I am of the opinion that any social media is there to serve as a means of communicating with people who are interested in what you have to say. If you are sharing things that are interesting from their point of view, then you’re clear of worry regarding oversharing or getting into a situation with your spouse that’s uncomfortable, getting in trouble.
[18:46] It really depends on your comfort level with the medium itself. When in doubt, leave it out. If you’re uncomfortable with Facebook, if you don’t use it very much, you don’t like it, or you’re suspicious of it, Adrian, your advice is perfect.
[19:01] Nix everyone that had anything to do with your relationship. Wipe it clean and start all over again or just forget about it in general. If, on the other hand, you really enjoy social media, it’s an important part of your professional or personal life, just consider even more carefully the things that you’re putting up.
[19:22] Make sure that you’re thinking about people who are looking at what you’re posting as opposed to trying to manipulate anyone, your wife or anyone else, try to make your friends jealous or whatever. All that stuff is really not in your best interest or going to help you in any way.
Adrian: [19:46] What about other ways to communicate with your ex? We’ve got the online, the offline. I think those are the major channels, really. It’s as much about what you’re saying and thinking, when you’re crafting these messages, almost thinking of looking forward.
[20:06] We had an episode where we talked to an attorney, and he was telling us that the perspective of the judges, when they try divorce cases, is they’re always looking forward into the future. They don’t really care about the past.
[20:19] They don’t care how you got there. I think that’s almost how you have to look at these emails when you’re crafting them or your communication with your soon-to-be ex. You’ve got to think about, what if this shows up in court? [laughs] How’s this going to be perceived by my son or my daughter in 15 years? Those types of things show up later on in life.
Tom: [20:41] The whole message, if people don’t take away anything from this podcast today except this one message, I think it’s that all communication really is about the kids. Any other communication that you would do, I would really question the validity of anything outside of the welfare of the kids.
[21:00] What’s the point? If you’re getting out of a marriage, why would you communicate with your ex about anything other than the kid?
Adrian: [21:08] It’s about the kittens. That would be my answer to you. If you don’t have kids, you need to get some kittens, or get on Tom’s Facebook page and check it out. There’s a plethora of cute and cuddly hang in there.
Tom: [21:23] There’s not one Goddamn kitten on the entire page, brother. [laughs]
Adrian: [21:28] Hang in there.
Tom: [21:30] Your dog, I’ve got dog videos on my Facebook page. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not going to lie. Those dog videos of their owners coming back from faraway lands in the military, I’ve posted one of those before.
Adrian: [21:48] There we go. This podcast has hit an all-time low.
Tom: [21:54] I have to confess. We’re being honest here. This is what this is about, man. I just have to tell the truth.
Adrian: [22:00] It’s about honesty, and cute and cuddly animals.
Tom: [22:02] Isn’t it refreshing? [laughs]
Adrian: [22:03] It is refreshing. Speaking of refreshing, what’s on the slate for next week? [laughs]
Tom: [22:10] You would ask me about that, and it’s good that you did, because I’m between places to live. In the next podcast, we’re going to talk about moving, and we’re going to talk about moving stuff, and we’re going to talk about moving memories, and how things have memories associated with them.
[22:33] Right now, I’m looking around my house, and it’s interesting, because the real estate people have stripped it all of anything that resembles anything that would identify the house and who lived here.
[22:45] Everything is very generic that’s still on the shelves. It’s odd living here because there’s stuff around, and it’s my stuff, but it doesn’t have a lot of memories associated with it. All that stuff has been loaded up and moved away and stuffed into storage.
[23:03] It may turn out that, if the house doesn’t sell as we turn the seasons here, we’ll have to pull the stakes up, move back in, and wait until the next selling season comes. We’re going to talk next time about something that I actually do know something about. [laughs] That’s moving and memories.
Adrian: [23:21] I’ve got a special tip on doing controlled burns, so we’ll delve into that pretty deep next time.
Tom: [laughs] [23:29] I’m thinking about selling it all. Hopefully you’ve got some good Craigslist tips for me.
Adrian: [laughs] [23:34] I’ve got it all, all the good massage parlors on Craigslist. I’ll go over some sweet tips there as well.
Tom: [23:42] Just the tip. [laughs]
Adrian: [23:43] Until that time.
Tom: [23:45] I’m Tom.
Adrian: [23:46] I’m Adrian.
Tom: [23:47] Thanks for listening.
Adrian: [23:48] Bye-bye.
Announcer: [23:51] Thanks for listening to the OverDivorce.com podcast with Adrian and Tom. The opinions expressed are theirs alone. They’re not professionals. Join us next time anyway. It’ll be good for you.
[24:00] Visit OverDivorce.com to get your free Divorce Recovery Guide, and get some fantastic resources on making a better life. Contact us via email at Podcast@OverDivorce.com. Follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page. We want to help you if we can.