Exes and Boundaries: Maintaining a Healthy Balance Between Your Current Mate and the ‘X-Factor.’

Andrea Gray-Smith
Andrea Gray-Smith: newlywed, super-mom, Spartan

It is always important to do first what is in the best interest of your children at any given time; but from time to time, co-parents cause mix-ups, messes, and tensions–especially when either or both have moved on to new relationships. The ideal situation would be for all parties to live in perfect harmony, right? Honey, only in a perfect world could that possibility exist. Since we all know our world isn’t perfect, here are a few ways to maintain harmony in your current relationship in regards to the ‘X-factor’:

1. “What goes on between me and you stays between me and you.”

First, never discuss things that go on in your current relationship with an ex. Second, if your current partner brings something to you in regards to the X-factor that rubs him/her the wrong way or has made him/her upset (a comment, a habit, an isolated incident), always make your partner feel validated in his/her feelings. Never take an issue to you past lover in a way that makes your current loved one look like a fool. Even if he’s being a little foolish, he should never be made to look so.

2. If it ain’t broke, on fire, bleeding, or in dire need of immediate attention, you have no reason to call, email, text, or reach out to the X-factor.

When children are involved there are always going to be situations, where both parties have to reach a happy medium. But even in these situations, there have to be boundaries set. You should never, ever, ever, ever make yourself readily available for frivolous conversation with your ex. This next point may sound harsh, or even rub some people the wrong way, but your ex does NOT, I repeat NOT need to know what your child is doing every dying minute of the day. Often people make the mistake of allowing their ex-mates to become to dependent on them, which causes problems in current relationships.

3. Make your current feel included.

If your current mate is going to be a part of your child or children’s lives, be it by way of marriage or long-term relationship, the X-Factor is going to have to learn to deal with it, one way or another. I ran into the situation of the ex being uncomfortable with me being around, after my husband and I were married. I was being excluded from school functions, doctor’s appointments (even though I work in healthcare), sports functions and many other events. This can cause a great deal of discomfort to your current mate. You never want your mate to feel as though he or she is being excluded in order to nursemaid the X-Factor’s feelings.

4. Break bad habits and ugly traditions.

Maybe when you were single it was okay to stop by the X-Factor’s house and sit down and kick your feet up. When you decided to branch out and open up a new can of worms — e.g. being a new relationship — all of those things should STOP. You always want to be cordial and get along with you ex, in order to maintain a good healthy balance for your child(ren), but be careful not to confuse your child(ren) by making them think that Mommy and Daddy are still a couple. Always be honest with your child in reference to what is really going on between Mommy and Daddy.

5. Honesty, Honesty, Honesty.

If you’re in a new relationship, say you’re in a new relationship. No, it’s not because what’s going on in your personal life is your former’s business. But when there are children involved, if your getting serious with someone, and your working toward introducing them to your child(ren), you must be honest with the X-Factor in doing so. Hidden information almost always gets out, so just save face and be honest.

I could go on and on for days on this topic, but those are not my intentions. It is important when there are children involved to maintain a good healthy balance in your relationship with the ex and the current. It’s never an easy transition, but many times we create our own defaults and downfalls, which often lead to epic fails. My adventure has just began, stay tuned, and good luck! 🙂

Andrea Gray-Smith is a former single mother of 6 years. She recently married in February 2012. Currently, she and her husband have eight — yes, eight! — children between them. Combining and blending families makes for a daily, unproduced reality television show in their home. They are currently finding and fighting their way, everyday, and learning each and every child day by day.
In 2013, Gray-Smith will be writing an ongoing column for BeyondBabyMamas.com, so stay tuned!
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