My spouse and I have decided to divorce. This is a very hard time for our family, and all the problems of our marriage are spilling into our co-parenting relationship. We’re especially having a hard time with even basic communication. What are some tips for email communication between co-parents?
A healthy co-parenting relationship functions like a good business relationship — it’s impersonal, it’s goal-focused, and it doesn’t negatively impact your life. Your ‘business’ in this analogy is the health, adjustment, and well-being of your children, as well as your own sanity and peace.
Here are five tips for email communication between spouses when the co-parenting relationship is fraught or tenuous:
- Keep the tone neutral and non-judgmental. Email is not the forum to share negative emotions, sarcasm, criticism, or disappointment. This also means that ALL CAPS and !!!!!!!! should be avoided, too.
- Don’t make assumptions. Ask and answer questions for clarity/certainty in a polite and respectful way. Stick to the facts about the situation and focus on the children, rather than on each other’s behavior.
- Focus on the present and immediate future. Email is not the forum to revisit or rehash past events or problems.
- Use the subject line intentionally. Using codes in the subject line is a good way to know at a glance what the email is about. For example, ‘FYI’ indicates information sharing only while ‘TBD’ indicates a decision that needs to be made. Urgent requests are usually not made via email — text messages are more quickly received.
- Two wrongs don’t make a right. Inappropriate and unhelpful emailing is not a good idea, even if your response feels justified based on something inappropriate or unhelpful that your spouse wrote. Take a deep breath, focus on the well-being of your children, reconnect to your values and integrity, and respond calmly instead.
Are you and your ex-spouse struggling to communicate in person, over text message, or over email? Call the experienced family therapists at Emily Cook Therapy today. An experienced family therapist in Bethesda, MD can help you learn and practice strategies that infuse your lives — and importantly, the lives of your children — with calm, respect, and boundaries. We can help!