Protecting Your Peace With Healthy Boundaries - 3 Steps to Dealing with Your Ex

Kim Sullivan

November 13, 2019

Setting boundaries is key to having a healthy ex-relationship, especially when the relationship has been highly dysfunctional. It’s vital to think about what those boundaries should be before a situation arises, that way you are not caught reacting in emotion rather than responding to a plan you’ve already put in place.

For instance, let’s say your ex shows up unannounced at your door just to chat. Or perhaps they are constantly liking and responding to all of your social media posts. Maybe they constantly text and call. Is this appropriate behavior? Tiffany Berverlin of writes, “Exes can cause havoc, to your new life, your new relationships, and can be very detrimental to the entire process of moving on in a healthy positive fashion. It really is best to set strict non-moving boundaries in communication, and personal space, and interaction.”

Set firm Boundaries

As someone who has had the unfortunate experience of two heart-wrenching divorces, let me share some lessons from my personal experience.

  • Only invite your ex-spouse to functions that are in the best interest of your children. Especially at first, it can be difficult to untangle the emotions of a new break-up. Having the ex around all the time doesn’t send the message to your emotions or to your ex that a true break has occurred. Being friends with your ex, going to dinner and social functions, etc. only create confusion between the two of you and the rest of the world looking on, including your children.
  • Keep finances to what the courts have agreed. Receiving any additional money from your ex can make you feel obligated or beholden. These feelings can be used to manipulate circumstances.
  • Keep communication to the business of your relationship: in other words, children and any other court-ordered agreements. Allowing one or two “friendly” texts can lead to intrusive and obsessive communication, leading to irritation at best and confusing emotions at worst. Especially as a Christian, when you’ve had to make a break with someone who you hoped to spend the rest of your life with, it can be very difficult to navigate separating yourself entirely. In addition, continuing friendly conversation can lead the other person to believe there is hope for some type of reconciliation before it's warranted.

Keep yourself safe

Occasionally, an ex will persist and try to control your life or will not adhere to your rules of engagement. If this is the case, feel free to get local law enforcement involved. As Ms. Beverlin says, “Your living space is no longer communal, no ex has the right to show up, let themselves in, break in, trespass or re-enter an exes home, even if they used to live in it. Part of a healthy new divorce life is make yourself feel safe and at home, in your separate new houses. No one should have to feel that their ex may just show up, or come home to find their house has been entered by the other ex spouse.” Firm boundaries work as a safeguard to rebuild your sense of security after a loss.

Pursue peace

Scripture encourages us in Romans 12:18, “If at all possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.” You cannot control another person’s actions. Sometimes, the best way to live in peace with someone is to not allow them to be a part of your everyday life. After all, God desires for us to live in peace and set apart from strife and stress. Isaiah, 32:18 says, “My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” God’s desire is for us to experience this, and He wants us to protect our peace with healthy boundaries. Boundaries bring peace to everyone involved. If you are having difficulties putting boundaries in place, find a professional Christian counselor who can help you in the boundary building process.

About the author — Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan is a writer with a background in everything from homeschooling to nonprofit management. She has raised three children each of whom are successful in their own unique way. Recently, Kim has done the most radical and risky thing she has ever done…she moved 700 miles from her suburban Chicago home and everything familiar to her and relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is working on a brand-new website and blogs at Journey to Epiphany. She is also writing a book about her adventures in following Jesus.

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