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Establishing Boundaries During a High Conflict Divorce


Establishing healthy boundaries are the foundation of peacefully navigating a challenging divorce. Many individuals may find themselves uncertain of their own preferences or red lines, having been conditioned by societal expectations. Boundaries will help you identify your personal rules of engagement, clarifying what is acceptable and what is not. To define your boundaries, take stock of your desires, limits, preferences, and deal breakers—these are yours and yours alone.

Dealing with a challenging co-parent can be draining—they can be persistent in their demands, entitlement, and sometimes bullying tactics. When you assert a boundary, they may react with distress, intensifying their efforts to elicit a response from you. Consider the alternative: continually giving in to your co-parent's demands at the cost of yourself.

When faced with a request from your ex, pause and assess: Is this request reasonable? Does it prioritize the children's well-being? Does it align with your boundaries? Base your response on these considerations, unapologetically. Focus on addressing factual matters related to the children, putting their needs first, even if it seems to benefit your co-parent.

If you find a request unreasonable, a simple "no" suffices. Should your co-parent persist or attempt to change your stance, you're under no obligation to justify further. Maintain your composure and respond with patience and respect. For instance, "I've already addressed your request and prefer not to discuss it further. Thank you." Consistently reinforcing your boundaries through clear communication, consistent and firm language is crucial. 

In cases where your co-parent proves unyielding in respecting your boundaries, despite your efforts, consider shifting your focus inward. While you can't control their actions, you can control your reactions. Viewing their behavior through the lens of a mental illness, particularly if they exhibit traits of a personality disorder, can offer perspective. Understanding the neurological underpinnings of their actions may help depersonalize their behavior, so you are able to navigate the situation with greater clarity and resilience.

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