Your marriage didn’t work out.
It hurts, but it happens.
The key is moving on in a healthy way, as far as possible.
But we get it.
Sometimes, it’s challenging to let go.
After all, you were in a serious, deeply committed relationship.
You had shared goals, bank accounts — you may have even started a family together.
And though the ending may not have been ideal, you and your ex-wife shared a strong bond for some time.
As a result, you may still feel attached to her.
Or maybe you’ve moved on, and she’s having difficulty letting go.
Perhaps you’ve landed here because your boyfriend has no boundaries with his ex-wife, and you’re searching for solutions.
Today, we’re talking about creating healthy relationship parameters with a former spouse.
We’ve curated a list of 11 ex-wife boundary breakers and how to fix them.
- How Do You Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Ex-Wife?
- What Are Some New Wife and Ex-Wife Boundaries?
- 11 Examples of Unhealthy Boundaries With Your Ex-Wife
- 1. Using Children To Fight
- 2. Allowing Her To Stalk You
- 3. Leaning on Your Ex Professionally
- 4. Dropping by Unannounced
- 5. Maintaining Unnecessary Financial Bonds
- 6. Clinging to Anger
- 7. Remaining Sexually Active
- 8. Letting Ex-Wife Dictate Your Schedule
- 9. Treating Each Other Poorly
- 10. Talking About Intimate Relationships
- 11. Remaining “Best Friends”
How Do You Set Healthy Boundaries With Your Ex-Wife?
A great thing about boundary setting is that you control it. It’s a personal choice that you’re responsible for maintaining.
If you set boundaries and don’t follow through, that’s on you.
So the question becomes: How do you set healthy boundaries with your ex-wife that stick?
- Step One: The first step to setting boundaries with your ex-wife is deciding to do so. Set the intention.
- Step Two: Bluntly speaking: don’t half-ass it. Engage in due diligence. Before drawing lines, consider the terms of your settlement and think reasonably about the realities of your day-to-day life. If children are involved, their needs must always be the top priority.
- Step Three: Once you’ve laid out the nuts and bolts, the next step is setting some boundaries. Be equitable in your decisions, and try not to make life more difficult for your ex. Punishment isn’t the goal — developing healthy parameters is.
- Step Four: Sit down with your ex-wife to discuss the plan. Try not to behave like a dictator — and do your best to leave any condescension on the sideline. Acting haughty or despotic will only heighten tensions. Moreover, don’t spring the conversation on her. Let her know your intentions for the meeting beforehand so she has time to prepare.
- Step Five: After you’ve had the talk and agree to the changes, enforce the boundaries. If you cave immediately, there’s no point. However, life is unpredictable and complicated, so allow for accommodation under reasonable circumstances. For example, if there’s a work or medical emergency that requires a bit of flexibility, don’t be unfairly difficult.
What Are Some New Wife and Ex-Wife Boundaries?
What about boundaries with an ex when in a new relationship?
Remarrying can create issues between new wives and ex-wives. Sometimes, new wives want space to settle into a recent marriage. A new wife may not appreciate your ex calling or texting any time of day or showing up unannounced.
When children are involved, ex-wives may wish to make it crystal clear that they’re not to be usurped regarding decisions about the kids’ lives. Both are reasonable expectations.
Other areas where you may need to establish boundaries between new and former spouses include:
- School Events
- Family Events
11 Examples of Unhealthy Boundaries With Your Ex-Wife
Divorce is rough going. Emotions are high, you’re both groping around in search of a new normal, and despite the best of intentions, it can be challenging to separate what you once had from the current reality. Things can become especially tenuous if one party starts a new relationship and the other person remains single.
But establishing boundaries early on can help ease the transition. So let’s look at 11 harmful activities that could use some ex-spouse boundaries.
1. Using Children To Fight
The most critical divorce boundary is not putting the kids in the middle. Poisoning children against the other parent is also a big no-no.
Yes, protecting your kids is always the top priority, and you should shield them from dangerous behavior like substance and physical abuse.
But under no circumstances should they be brought into arguments about infidelity, finances, or other adult gripes.
Actions You Can Take: Make sure your custody agreement is iron-clad and includes codicils about emotional manipulation. If you have everything in writing, you can seek legal redress if the other party breaks the deal.
2. Allowing Her To Stalk You
We cannot control other peoples’ actions — but we can voice concern or displeasure about things done to us.
Point in case: if your ex-wife is stalking you on social media, speak up and let her know that it’s not OK. Some people refrain from saying anything because they secretly like attention and drama.
But if children or another partner is in the picture, do your best to nip social media stalking in the bud.
Actions You Can Take: First, talk to your ex about the situation. If they don’t stop, block them.
3. Leaning on Your Ex Professionally
Some people lure them into their professional lives post-breakup to maintain contact with an ex. It’s a surprisingly common tact — yet it’s rarely a wise move. Things almost always get messy.
Actions You Can Take: Commit to severing all business ties to your ex-wife. If you’re the one holding on, recuse yourself from work responsibilities that require you to pick vendors.
4. Dropping by Unannounced
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule since many custody agreements allow both parents unannounced access to the kids. However, if that is not your situation, and your ex-wife shows up at your doorstep whenever she wants — or vice versa — you’ll probably want to break the habit.
Allowing it to continue can lead to more significant problems down the road, especially if you start another serious relationship.
Actions You Can Take: First, chat with your ex about “dropping by.” If it doesn’t work, talk to your attorney to explore legal options.
5. Maintaining Unnecessary Financial Bonds
If you have kids together, then sure, your finances, as it relates to them, will always be somewhat linked. And yes, many dissolution-of-marriage settlements give both parties access to retirement and investment accounts.
Otherwise, respect your decision to get divorced and cleave your everyday finances.
Actions You Can Take: Untangle your checking and savings accounts. Moreover, don’t be an ATM for your ex! Make it clear that you’re not available for financial support beyond the settlement agreement.
6. Clinging to Anger
At some point, letting go of the hurt and contempt after a failed marriage is a must. By no means is divorce the end of the world. Both of you may feel disrespected — and maybe you are! But holding onto the pain and resentment is a mental health killer.
Actions You Can Take: If your ex-wife refuses to release her anger, try to convince her to see a therapist.
Offer to pay if she cannot afford it, and you can. In the long run, it benefits you and the family. It’s not wise to entangle finances with an ex after divorce, but this qualifies as an exception to the rule.
7. Remaining Sexually Active
So many divorced couples try it, and it usually leads to disaster! It’s tempting. It’s easy. In some ways, it’s safe. But the negatives outweigh the positives!
Remaining sexually active involves feelings — no matter how much you lie to yourself. And when you keep that thread dangling, a slight pull on it can lead to a complete unraveling.
Actions You Can Take: Exercise will power! Also, avoid putting yourself in a situation where intercourse is likely to happen with your ex.
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8. Letting Ex-Wife Dictate Your Schedule
Autonomy is one of the most important lines that you must draw when starting another serious relationship or remarrying. You’re an independent person with free will, so your ex-wife shouldn’t be dictating your schedule.
Honoring child custody agreements is a must, but your ex shouldn’t wield power over your personal life.
Actions You Can Take: Just because someone tells you to do something doesn’t mean you must. It’s really that simple.
9. Treating Each Other Poorly
Nobody likes to be treated like trash. Unfortunately, many divorces end contentiously, and animosity takes the wheel. But it’s unhealthy to live in a permanent state of conflict.
Both parties should make concerted efforts to get over the hurt, move on, and, at the very least, treat each other with civility and respect. This effort is particularly important if kids are involved.
Actions You Can Take: Being treated poorly isn’t pleasant, and it can lead to mental health hurdles. If needed, seek counseling. If your ex doesn’t stop being unpleasant, at least you can learn some tools to deal with it.
10. Talking About Intimate Relationships
Don't discuss your ex-sex life with your new partner if you're in a new relationship. Your ex-wife should also stay away from the topic. Raising the issue will only spark comparisons and jealousy.
Divorce is difficult enough; there's zero need to stoke the intimacy fires.
Actions You Can Take: Just don’t do it! Choose not to start or engage in messy conversations. If need be, get up and leave.
11. Remaining “Best Friends”
Sure, you may have “consciously uncoupled” and swear you still love each other — but is it the truth? Or are you spewing empty platitudes to comply with some arbitrary standard of civility or perceived social success?
Some people take it to the next level and constantly hang around their ex in a misguided attempt to prove that they're somehow “above” divorce.
Don't do this — especially if you're in a new relationship. It complicates the situation and frequently leads to crushed feelings.
Actions You Can Take: First, be honest with yourself about your true feelings. Are you pretending to “remain best friends” for appearance's sake? If so, it's silly to continue the charade. Second, stop making plans with your ex-wife all the time — especially if you have a new partner.
Setting healthy boundaries after divorce will make the transition much easier. Finding the right balance may be tricky at first, but you'll eventually find a rhythm that works for everyone.