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Coping with Your First Husband

Updated on April 27, 2019
Shaunta Grimes profile image

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is the original Ninja Writer.

By Jennifer Pahlka from Oakland, CA, sfo (LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Jennifer Pahlka from Oakland, CA, sfo (LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Ex-husbands Are The Past You Can't Always Let Go Of (Even if You Want to)

First husbands are strange birds, aren't they?

If you have children with them, you can't just walk away and never look back. If you married young the first time, chances are that your first husband is all tangled up in nostalgia. If you loved his family, there are relationships you might not want to severe, even though they tie you to him.

So, maybe you hold on to whatever relationship you can with him for the sake of your children, or the memory of your friendship or your relationship with his family. Or all three, which is my personal situation.

But your nostalgia about how much fun you had when you were kids or your desire to stay friendly for your own kids won't change the fact that something happened to make it so that you're not married to him anymore.

So, how do you cope with this man who you aren't married to anymore but is still in your life? I've been working on that for fifteen years, and I'd like to offer some of my best advice.

Tips for Coping with Your Ex-Husband

  • Remove yourself from his personal affairs. This one can be tough because his personal affairs used to be yours. It's hard to step back and realize that whether he pays his light bill on time or how he's getting along with his mom and a million other things aren't your business anymore. Letting go of all of that will be a huge load off, I promise.
  • Don't put your kids in the middle of an argument. This one is so obvious that I hate to even mention it, but it's really important so I'll go ahead and add it. Your kids didn't divorce you or their dad and it isn't fair to them to make them act as message carriers if you two haven't figured out how to talk yet. Just don't do it.
  • Don't get caught up in arguments. You aren't married to him anymore. You don't need his approval or for him to agree with you, so don't engage in discussions that turn into fights about who's right.
  • Keep your priorities straight. Whenever things get all pear-shaped with my first husband, I always take a few minutes to really think about how happy I am married to my current husband. I'll always have a connection to the high school sweetheart I married and had two babies with, but letting him drive me crazy undermines my priorities, which are to my children and my marriage.
  • Remind yourself that he isn't all bad. It can be easy, especially if your divorce was painful, to forget that there were good reasons that you married him and they haven't all disappeared. He might make you want to pull your hair out, but remember that he was once your friend (and why) may make it easier if you can't just wash him out of your life.

The Golden Rule of Coping With Ex-Husbands

There is one tip that I think is important enough to actually be a rule.

The Golden Rule.

Treat your ex-husband like a neighbor.

I know that sounds weird, but stay with me.

You'd expect a neighbor to respect your privacy. You'd treat a neighbor kindly, but not allow them to hurt you. You expect your neighbors to treat you with respect, and you return the favor.

In other words: It is okay for you to set boundaries.

Human Beings, as a species, are resistant to change. So if, for instance, the man who is your ex-husband used to live in the house you live in now without him, it can be hard to put your foot down about him just coming over without notice.

It's what he's always done, right?

Hopefully, the Golden Rule of Coping with Ex-husbands will help you remember your changing relationship and reduce some of the tension and hurt.


Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce
Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce
This book helped me figure out how to navigate my divorce and taught me some strategies for learning how to cope with my ex-husband. I'd been divorced a while when I read it. What this book and its ideas did for me that helped the most was help me to stop operating from a place of hurt. I hope it helps you, too.

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