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Managing Oneself to Manage One’s Relationship With the Ex

July 11, 2018

He called complaining about his ex, seeking to manage their situation better. I offered to meet with him in the role of Separation Coach.

It seems they had a fiery relationship that carried over into their separation and the care of their kids.

When asked about how he handled himself when upset by her, he acknowledged calling her the “c” word. I don’t know any more crude or inflammatory or abusive word a man can call a woman.

As much as there were some reasonable issues attributed to her, it was also clear how his behavior fueled any fire she may have begun. Because of this, ascribing blame was useless and not of value over describing how our own behavior can cause an escalation and even expectation of bad outcomes.

We met for less than three hours. During that meeting we discussed his temper and behavior. We also discussed how his child showed no joy in any of the extra-curricular activities attended. We also talked about the long game – a life-long relationship with his kids where his kids were great adults.

To that end I offered a number of strategies to enable his control of himself, particularly when triggered. Those strategies were tailor made and based on his life and interests.

We met again a month later, giving time for him to consider and practice the strategies.

The fellow was able to acknowledge the temper he had and how he used the strategies to manage himself.

He talked about the joy his child now seemed to have when partaking of the extra-curricular activities. He talked about not only controlling himself with his ex, but with his girlfriend too. He gave an example of leaving his cell-phone in a store only to remember leaving it there once back at the car. His girlfriend was apparently visibly concerned and immediately sought to south him. However, he advised he was fine; went back to the store; found his phone and returned to the car in good spirits.

Before this second meeting ended, we talked about the long game again – having a life-long relationship with his kids as great adults. We also talked about the impact of his behavioral change as a role model to his kids, particularly for their handling their big emotions. He advised of an incident of where his child threw an object against the wall more recently in anger. He further advised of how he maintained his calm to only discuss the incident reasonably with his child whereas in the past he might have shouted and admonished instead.

He was a changed man. He saw the changes in himself and the impact of those changes on his relationships. No more “c” word or any other foul language ever since.

Our first meeting was 2 ¾ hours. Our second meeting was 45 minutes.  I remain available should the need arise.

Similarly, I have worked with women to better understand their response to the behavior of others and thus manage themselves differently. Regardless of gender, as one changes, the situation may change.

Separation Coach

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by Skype.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

One Comment
  1. Carmen Velez permalink

    Excellent article! I know s young man similar to the man in the article. I could see through your writer-up on his case that you truly helped him. I would’ve loved to learn about the strategies you offered him for him to learn how to control his behavior.

    Thank you.

    Ms. Carmen Velez
    Civil Servant in Human Services
    and a Mental Health Counseling Student

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