How to say NO to your ex

Are you afraid to say NO to your ex?

Think you may be punished if you don’t comply with your ex’s demands?

Learning to say NO to your ex is an important skill that you will acquire if you take the journey to disentangle from a high-conflict ex.

I call it the skill of resigning from the role of doormat.

Doormat status

If you are experiencing a high-conflict divorce I will bet that you have been a doormat in your marriage.

A second or third-class citizen in your home where every other human had a higher value.

The status where your opinions and desires got thrown under the bus.

The conundrum

Your ex makes a request a.k.a. demand.

If you comply the child is unhappy.

If you don’t the ex is unhappy.

My ex asked if he can take our 5-year-old son for an extra night this weekend. My son is having so much trouble with the 1-night sleepover and will be totally stressed with 2 nights in a row. If I don’t let my son go, my ex will harass me, accuse me of not co-parenting and make my life hell. I don’t want to be painted as an alienator in court.”

Sound familiar?

Taking action from fear

The desire to comply with your ex’s request, even if you don’t feel it is in your child’s best interest, comes from a thought like:

  • If I don’t say yes, he is going to be irate
  • If I don’t comply, I may get a nasty lawyer’s letter.
  • If I don’t do what he wants, he will retaliate.

Whatever your thought is…

some flavour of ¬†“If I don’t say yes, something bad will happen”

it will create a feeling of fear and anxiety.

The actions that you take, and the decisions that you make from a place of fear will not serve you or your child.

The stakes are high when you make decisions from fear.

This is when you sign a shitty separation agreement that throws the kids under the bus to appease your ex.

If this describes your life, as a disempowered parent and litigant, we need to talk.

It is time to upgrade your status from doormat to strong mama.


How to say no to your ex (or lawyer) without drama

First, I want to tell you that you don’t have to say No to your ex’s requests if it feels right to say yes. If you think it is child-centred and healthy, by all means, say yes! This is not a battle of wills.

The skill here is to learn how to say no to someone’s request without blowback.

It is all in the delivery.

The delivery will be perfect if your thoughts and actions are in total alignment.

It starts with the thought I will always make the decision that I believe is the best for my child.

From that thought, you feel conviction.

From conviction, knowing you are doing what everyone really wants…

which is to create a great life for your child…

you can deliver the “no” succinctly, without defensiveness, fear and most importantly without a lot of drama.

This is the skill we work on in my Lifeline Sorority.

Because we were all doormats in our marriages and the Sorority teaches you how to resign from that role.


What this teaches your kids

By taking action from a feeling of conviction rather than fear,

you are inviting your children into this new world.

A world where they do things that are aligned with their values and desires even if it disappoints the others.

You teach them that it is actually not tragic if another human is disappointed with their decisions.

You teach them agency and how to have their own back.

You teach them that staying on their mission is paramount.