What to do When You, Me and the Ex Makes Three?

After nearly fifteen years of marriage, my ex-husband and I called it quits. Our situation may not be the norm, but there were no harsh words nor nasty litigation involved as we essentially split everything down the middle, including shared custody of the kids. Now, more than three years later our relationship is as amicable as ever. We try to speak at least once a day and meet up for dinners weekly and for family affairs and social events.

As far as boundaries are concerned, we are as loose as the border that divides the United States and Canada. Friends yes, one homeland, I don't think so. So you see although our divorce can be a case study in amicable differences, it did not do my love life any good.

At 52 years old, I've started dating again. But I don't expect to be able to find a suitor that will be entirely comfortable with a happily every after times three. Stumped at making peace in this situation, I turned to a dating coach for some guidance. It may sound hokey but I did come to the realization that fear, comfort and complacency had turned our relationship into a friendship of convenience.

Sharing everything from secrets to friends after a marriage ends can be like hanging on to an ex-boyfriend. I've discovered that the key to moving beyond this type of co-dependent connection is to be honest with yourself and your significant other so that together you can establish new rules of engagement. Easier said than done but here are a few guidelines that can be implemented for that healthy divide:

The New Rules of Engagement

- Cut Back on Contact: If you want to open your heart to someone new, your ex can no longer be your most trusted confidant or primary supporter. So make sure that mechanisms are in place to control the frequency and levels of communication that transpire between the two of you. Agree to cut back on the numbers of calls/visits/emails that happen in a given week and make certain not to discuss emotions, other relationships or ask personal favors during those moments.

- Stop Sharing: Kids may bond you together for a lifetime but free access to each other's belongings breeds a certain sense of entitlement that keeps you glued to one another daily. While your primary assets may have been divided with the divorce, various joint privileges should also be discontinued including the open door policy to your car, fridge and computer.

- Don't Commit as a Couple: You cannot expect to meet anyone new if your ex is always tied to you. So when it comes to family affairs, special events and group dinners insist on separate invitations. You'll be surprise how many potential partners you meet if you commit to going solo.

By Sherri Langburt of SingleEdition.com for OurTime.com


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