The answers are convincingly and logically presented in Befriending Your Ex After Divorce: Making Life Better for You, Your Kids, and Yes, Your Ex, authored by Judith Ruskay Rabinor, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who was motivated to write her book after accepting the losses and realities of her own divorce and becoming good friends with her former husband.
While a marriage may be brief, divorce lasts a lifetime. Dr.Rabinor explains how divorced people can turn their lives around and develop new, healthy, and healing relationships with their exes, and create stronger and healthier families in doing so.
“It requires seeing the big picture—embracing the needs of everyone involved—and taking the high road. Don’t assume you have to continue feeling and expressing anger to justify your divorce.”
Rabinor addresses all of the possible barriers to friendship with coping strategies, practical guidance, case studies, research from relationship experts, and exercises. Her sensible and easy-to-read book has separate chapters on developing core befriending skills, overcoming grief and anger, letting go, identifying and focusing on just the major problems, dealing with the pitfalls of combative attitudes, accepting an ex’s new love, celebrating holidays and traditional family events, and adjusting to new rituals.
Among her many suggestions and strategies are eight key steps:
1. Recognize the need and the benefits to you of befriending your ex.
2. Learn to forgive, including yourself.
3. Let go of the past. Don’t dwell on what went wrong.
4. Create a vision of the kind of positive relationship you want with your ex.
5. Tell your ex it’s never too late to create a better divorce, and you want to start a cordial relationship.
6. Start with small acts of kindness.
7. Continue trying, even if your ex is slow to acknowledge your efforts or reciprocate.
8. Keep the goal in mind; keeping the peace is easier than continuing the war.
Rabinor acknowledges that not all of her strategies and exercises apply to everyone, and that an authentic new friendship might not develop if dangerous behaviors don’t change, such as addictions or verbal and physical abuse. Nor does she take sides with the reader, who she asks to assess and take responsibility for his or her own behavior and to identify areas that need improvement.
“The only person you can really change is yourself. Do your part and treat your ex kindly, and if he or she refuses to reciprocate, continue to take the high road. You’ll eventually succeed, or at least have the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing the right thing.”
Judith Ruskay Rabinor, Ph.D., is a psychologist, psychotherapist, author, founder and director of the American Eating Disorders Center with offices in New York City and Lido Beach, Long Island. For more than three decades she has worked with individuals, couples, groups and families. Dr. Rabinor is an engaging speaker and storyteller with decades of teaching at Long Island University. She has also presented her work to diverse audiences, including Harvard University Continuing Education, Esalen Institute, Princeton University, Barnard College and the Oprah Winfrey TV show.
For more information, visit www.judithruskayrabinorphd.com