Setting Boundaries with an Ex-spouse

A divorce can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your children is to maintain healthy boundaries with your ex-spouse.

It can be challenging to establish boundaries with an ex-spouse without feeling like you’re opening up old wounds or crossing a line. But when children are involved, your relationship has to continue. 

Related: 7 Stigmas Alive and Well About Single Moms

Setting healthy boundaries and maintaining open communication can create a positive co-parenting relationship that benefits you and your child. 

One divorce does not have to mean two broken homes.

“A broken family is one that includes unhealthy or severed relationships within the family unit. They are often associated with divorce but certainly can occur in an intact family where various members are in conflict with or estranged from each other.” Souce

The goal is to keep your relationship with your ex healthy to benefit your children. Concentrating on boundaries is an excellent way to do that. 

tips to navigate boundaries with your Ex

Be respectful and courteous when speaking to or about the other parent – even if they are not respectful to you.

This is so hard to do! But it’s essential to be respectful and courteous when speaking to or about your ex-spouse – even if they are not respectful to you. It can be difficult, especially if there is a lot of tension between you. 

However, it’s important to remember that your children are watching and listening. They need to see that you can handle yourself in a mature and respectful way, even when dealing with a difficult situation. 

Related: How to Get Unstuck After Your Divorce

By being an example of respect and courtesy, you’ll help your children develop those same qualities. And that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Be straightforward about what you will and will not tolerate. 

Have regular conversations with your ex about expectations and needs. It is also important to respect each other’s time and space. 

If you’re the custodial parent, this includes respecting your Ex’s time with your kids. You can do this by not bugging your ex or your children throughout their time together. 

Related: How to Stop Bad-Mouthing Your Ex for Your Child’s Sake and Yours

As much as possible, put your children first. Sometimes this will mean you’ll need to be flexible and willing to compromise.

It’s also important to be clear about what you will and will not tolerate from your ex-spouse. For example, it might be time to draw a line in the sand if they’re constantly trying to start arguments or being disrespectful.

This may mean you consult a mediator to come between the two of you for pick-ups or communication. 

Keep communication open and positive, especially when discussing your child.

Divorce is never easy, but it can be especially tough when children are involved. However, with a bit of effort, you can ensure that your child always has a place to feel loved and supported, which is the most important thing. 

It’s important to keep communication open and positive, especially when discussing your child. Try to avoid arguing or speaking negatively about each other in front of your child. Instead, focus on being respectful and cooperative. 

Related: God-Centered Co-parenting Strategies

Handle disagreements in a healthy way

By the very nature that they are your ex, you won’t see eye to eye on everything. Naturally, therefore, disagreements are bound to occur. 

Consider setting up regular check-ins, either in person or over the phone. This will allow you to discuss any disagreements you may have calmly and respectfully. 

Be mindful of how your words and actions might affect your children. Even though they are not directly involved in the divorce, they can still sense the tension between their parents. 

If the situation allows, don’t confront your Ex when your emotions are high. Instead, ask if the two of you can discuss the situation later or bring it up when you have calmed down. 

Talk to a trusted friend or journal before discussing a hot-topic item with your ex. List out what you want to accomplish when you talk to allow you to keep your emotions under check.

How to deal with negative emotions like anger, sadness, and resentment

First, try to remember that your children are innocent bystanders in this situation. They didn’t decide for their parents to divorce, and they need both of you in their lives. 

Secondly, if you feel angry or resentful towards your ex-spouse, try to take a step back and force yourself to think of 10 things you’re grateful for. 

I heard a great phrase in the Backporch Theology podcast, “Drop and give me 10.” Not ten sit-ups or ten push-ups but ten things you’re grateful for in this moment. 

Gratitude can help shift your focus from the negative emotions to the positive aspects of your life. 

Divorce is a complex and challenging experience, but it is possible to deal with negative emotions healthily. If this isn’t possible for you, consider speaking with a therapist who will walk through these emotions.


Ex-spouses can have a difficult time establishing boundaries. It may be challenging, but try to be respectful and courteous when speaking to or about the other parent. Make it clear what you will and will not tolerate. Keep communication open and positive. Handle disagreements healthily. Dealing with negative emotions is never easy, but you can make things easier for yourself and your children by following these tips. 

Setting Boundaries with an Ex-spouse