How To Co-Parent If You Are Separated

The willingness to work together and to do the best for your child(ren) can help co-parenting be a smooth experience, advises Asha Vaghasia, founder, We Positive Parenting.

Have you ever felt like you are in an incompatible marriage?

Like your partner and you and not made for each other?

You are not alone.

In fact, many couples feel that incompatibility can be a valid reason to seek divorce or separation.

Have you ever wondered if incompatibility can be a reason to improve as a couple or an individual?

It is possible that you are feeling the friction of incompatibility because one or both of you are less willing to make necessary changes in your approach to accommodate to each other’s differences and drawbacks.

No two individuals are same. We have different personalities, backgrounds, upbringing, values, overall development, abilities, likes and dislikes and so on.

It is important to accept the differences in our spouse/partner to have a healthy and balanced marriage.

If you are wondering how to achieve or overcome the differences and incompatibility, these tips might be helpful for you.

1. Have a good relationship with yourself, so you can be a better individual and partner

If you have a good relationship with yourself, you would not be dependent on your partner that much, which allows both of you to have your own space to grow and leads to better understanding between you two.

If you know yourself better, you can communicate your needs effectively to your partner without confusion, which can help your partner as they know exactly how to fulfill your needs.

Having transparent and mature communication makes a relationship stronger and ensures faithfulness.

2. Allow yourselves to positively confront each other without name calling or abusive approach

Whenever you see yourselves negatively confronting each other, hold for a moment and try to change the way you are talking to each other.

Always remember that it’s you and your partner against the problem and not you against your partner.

Try to solve the problem by understanding each other and listening to each other patiently rather than using blame, bringing up past mistakes or insulting each other.

Figure out a way to find a solution without hurting each other’s emotions or values.

3. Develop a habit you both have in common, indulge in having shared interests

If until now you and your partner could not participate in each other’s interests, try forming one habit that you can perform together.

Play a sport together, do gardening together, try hiking or photography or any such activity which can be indoor or outdoor.

This will ensure you both spend quality time together as well as help develop understanding between you two as you explore and accept each other better.

4. Remember to appreciate your partner

Whenever your partner does something for you, goes out of their way to make you happy or uplift you, always acknowledge their efforts and appreciate them for doing what they did.

Consciously avoid nagging your partner which might make them look down upon themselves and upset them.

Keep in mind to say positive things to each other. Be grateful for each other and their efforts.

5. Accept influence from your partner — willingness to compromise

Based on the priority that comes up, adjust with your partner and take part in what they need help with.

For example, if your partner asks you to help with arranging the furniture in your new home and you are busy in a task which can be attended to later, help them first and come back to your work later.

It will make them feel that you are there for them in times of need and are willing to help them if needed.

It is also applicable if you come to a point of difference in opinion, where you should try to evaluate each other’s opinions and viewpoints and accept influence of your partner’s opinion, which makes them feel that their opinions and thoughts are also valid.

What to do if you are co-parenting/separated?

Co-parenting involves a lot of changes and adjustments for both parents as well as their child(ren).

Strong feelings and emotions along with certain changes may bring stress for both parents, and might prove to be difficult for your child(ren) too.

The willingness to work together and to do the best for your child(ren) can help co-parenting be a smooth experience.

What you can do to ensure good co-parenting:

1. Acknowledge your own emotions

While being in the process of separation and co-parenting, there are a lot of emotions one might experience as an individual.

Always try to listen to what you feel and express yourself, rather than suppressing your emotions which would limit you to be there for yourself and your child(ren).

2. Allow the child to have a loving relationship with both parents

Do not think that your child will get negatively influenced by the other parent just because you are not together anymore.

If your child wishes to meet the other parent and still is fond of them, allow them to do so, so that there are less misunderstandings and conflicts.

3. Have a schedule for your child that matches with the routine of your partner

It is important for both the parents to have a schedule that does not clash.

This way both of you can be there for your child equally, and have a routine for your child as well where he or she can spend equal amount of time with both you together or one at a time if you live separately.

4. Have clear communication with your ex-spouse

Both parents should have transparent communication to make sure each of them is clear about all expectations they have for each other.

Both of them should remember that the shared and common goal is to raise their child successfully and beautifully.

Until and unless there isn’t clear communication between the parents, they would be in harmony to raise their child.

5. Respect each other’s boundaries as well as your child’s

Always give your partner their own space to function and grow.

You interfering in everything they do, disrupts their personal space and privacy.

You both have your own lives and you should live and grow as an individual too apart from improving as a couple.

Same goes for them respecting your privacy too.

If you feel your partner is too much into your personal space, talk it out with them.

Give your child(ren) also their own space to explore their surroundings, and trust their intuitions rather than you guiding them all the time for all their decisions and situations.

What You Must Avoid

There are certain things that are to be taken care of while you are co-parenting or are trying to better your relationship with your partner:

1. Do not bad mouth your partner or the other parent

Never speak badly about your partner behind their back or with them.

It makes the other person feel like they are not trustworthy and also that they can’t trust you back.

It shakes their faith from you, creating a dishonest environment for both of the parents.

Generally, after separation or divorce, both parents start to develop hate for each other which should not be the case.

Always work as team together to help your child have a secure environment they deserve and put your differences aside to give the best possible co-parenting you can to your child(ren).

2. Consider your partner’s opinions

Never think that only you are right in all situations. Always consider what your partner has to say and understand their point of view and opinion.

If you want to be heard in a relationship, you also have to have a listening ear yourself.

Each partner should have equal say in all matters and situations in a relationship.

3. Always be honest

Keep dishonesty away from your relationship, which might lead to trust issues.

Avoid keeping too many secrets which makes it hard for the other person to trust you.

Instead have transparent and honest conversations, which makes the pillars of your relationship stronger as each partner can have enough faith in the other, and does not have to question them or their credibility.

4. Do not involve children in adult businesses and disputes

Try not to involve your child in your fights with your partner, as making children choose sides can strain your relationship with your child.

Telling them to choose who is right or not between their parents can stress the child and makes them question the emotional environment of the family and themselves.

5. Give up on your unrealistic expectations

Stop fantasising about your marriage as a bed full of roses.

Realise that marriage has flaws, conflicts and misunderstandings too.

Accept the flaws your partner has and work through them if they are bothering you.

Don’t love the idea of your partner you have in your mind; rather love their real self and personality.

Making your relationship work comes with having practicality in yourself and an open mind which is ready to accept the reality of things.

While considering marriage and parenting, it is essential to know how incompatible two people are.

No two people should be from the exact same upbringing or background, but incompatibility helps in knowing what areas require improvement and compromise.

It helps in better understanding each other and their roots as a person.

Asha Vaghasia is a Mrs India Earth 2018 finalist with a BA in psychology. The model turned entrepreneur is a certified parenting coach from St Xavier’s, Ahmedabad, and Yale University, USA.

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