By DadsDivorce.com reader Big D
One of the most important pieces of divorce advice I was given early in my divorce was from a best friend of mine. That advice was simple and has proven to save me over and over again. The advice was to “always take the high road.” Now, that statement can mean many things, especially in a complex, nasty, ugly, greedy, mean… (you get my point) divorce.
Even after 4 years of being divorced, I still “take the high road.” If I can help any man going through the divorce process, this advice is what I would suggest above all other advice.
So, let me give you some examples and situations that I went through, which you can extrapolate from.
Responding to E-mails
We all e-mail. Most of us men have e-mail on our phone, so we don’t miss anything from work or our relationships. We certainly would hate to miss out on that free round of golf on Saturday because we did not see the e-mail in time!
So, let’s say your ex-wife sends you an e-mail making some horrible, false claim, which also ends by calling you a few choice expletives. The source of the e-mail is irrelevant. Maybe you were trying to get a dinner with the kids, or are asking for swap time because you are going out of town for work, or you have an extra ticket to the ball game and want to take your son, or maybe you just wake one morning to this e-mail without any provoking on your behalf.
You have a few options to respond to this e-mail. My best advice is don’t take the first one you think of! We all think it, which is fine, just don’t act! I do suggest that you take some action on your first thought. I typically will open up a “new e-mail” window and “go to town”, writing exactly what I am thinking. Usually the end result is about 2 to 3 pages of nasty, horrible responses. (I don’t put ANY e-mail address in the “To” box, as I don’t want a mistake to occur!) Never send this response!
After you cool down for 5 minutes to 24 hours, depending on your mind set, re-read the e-mail she sent and answer it as if there are no negatives in the e-mail at all. Maybe something like:
“Got your e-mail and wanted to get back to you as soon as I could. The tickets are only good for Friday night. I see your point on you already having plans with the kids, so maybe it will work next time. Thanks for getting back to me and enjoy your evening with the kids.”
Here, you take ALL THE POWER out of her e-mail! ALL THE POWER! You were polite, courteous, and in the end, got the power out of what you wrote. To address her e-mail in ANY WAY would give her power, which you don’t want to acknowledge, since it will not benefit anyone here.
Here is a recipe you can work with when responding to e-mails:
1) Be humble to a fault
2) Acknowledge her point of view
3) Give alternatives and options if they make sense
4) Always end the e-mail with a positive note, such as Thank you, Enjoy your time, etc.
5) NEVER respond with negative words, foul language, calling her names, or accusations
Tomorrow, I’ll share my advice on how to handle those phone calls and addressing inappropriate behavior.