08/02/2013 11:55 am ET Updated Oct 02, 2013

3 Ways to Communicate Better With Your Ex

"We divorced for a reason -- many reasons -- why must we continue to communicate?!?"

This question was posed to me by a struggling newly-divorced and single mom.

Most likely you didn't divorce or split up without anger, frustration and continuous confrontation. Very few people, I've found, divorce on good terms. In fact, if the relationship had been great, you'd still be together, right? Maybe.

But, back at, most likely you aren't with the dad or mom of your kids and you still must continue to talk for the sake of the kids.

Therapists and educators will say, "You must communicate and be positive while you're doing it!" and encourage everyone to get along, even in the face of court appearances, parental differences, and new relationships.

Communicating with our exes is easier said than done, especially after a nasty break-up or contentious divorce. You may hate to see his name on your caller ID, your stomach may drop when you see her car in your driveway, or you may see red when you hear secondhand info from your kids.

Your dilemma is around communication: should you continue to try to co-parent with a smile, or give up and put a no-contact rule in place?

You actually have three options when it comes to communicating better with your ex and keeping your sanity:

  1. You can change the situation. Yes, you. You can what you do {the stimulus} and therefore change what you're getting {the response}. Be pleasant, just like you are to strangers, like the gal at the checkout counter at the supermarket.
  2. You can eliminate the situation. You could cut off all direct and/or verbal contact, and only communicate about important things like visitation, school, and activities via text, or through your attorneys. That is, if you feel like you need to spend6 a minute to have someone else relay information for you. Seriously, sometimes it's better to just not talk until some time has passed and emotions have cooled.
  3. You can accept the situation, and get on with your day. He may never change, you may choose not to change ... therefore you're at a stalemate. But if you're able to accept that, you can ignore snide remarks, sarcastic tones, and bad behavior. It's hard at first, do it anyway. It gets easier, you get peace of mind, the kids feel less stress. Everyone wins.

You'll notice each one of those options starts with you. It's your choice how you handle the situation, now spend a few moments to thoughtfully choose the one that works best for you and your kids.