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  • Writer's pictureKim Boyd

Surviving Divorce: How to Keep Your Cool When Your Ex Pushes Your Buttons

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Have you ever found yourself caught in a barrage of antagonistic messages from your soon-to-be ex while you were busy at work, or trying to enjoy time with your children?

It's a situation that many of us can relate to…trying to stay even-keeled and “sane”, only to face constant barbs throughout the day. The accusations and blame-shifting become their favorite weapons, leaving you drained and frustrated.

In moments like these, it's only natural to want to respond in the same manner, or even worse. But let me ask you this: does fueling the fire ever truly help? Or does it merely ignite a never-ending cycle of arguments that keep you both stuck?

The Impact of Emotional Stress

As a Certified Divorce Coach who has personally survived my own divorce and that of my parents, I know first-hand the toll that emotional stress can take. When our emotions run high, our logical mind often loses control. However, it's important to recognize that your words and actions during this vulnerable time can actually work against you in the long run, causing more stress for you and your children, and increasing the expense and length of the divorce process.

Finding Clarity in Chaos

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a combative message from your soon-to-be ex, I urge you to take a "timeout." This simple pause can break the potentially inflammatory cycle and allow you to refocus your attention on legitimate issues, such as deadlines, appointment times, or necessary decisions. But what if there was a way that you could respond strategically, turning the discussion in a more positive direction?

Enter the BIFF method, advocated for by Bill Eddy, an author and the Training Director of the High Conflict Institute in San Diego. This method has been successful in helping clients I've worked with have those difficult conversations with clarity, courage and resolve. By embracing the BIFF method, you can assert yourself firmly and graciously, allowing you to “respond,” instead of “react”.

Let's break down the key components of the BIFF method:

  • 1. Brief: Keep your responses short, even if you're bombarded with paragraphs or pages of text. By keeping it brief, you give the other person less to latch onto, minimizing the opportunity for further hostility. Challenge yourself—how short can you keep your reply and still convey your point effectively?

  • 2. Informative: Focus solely on providing straight information. Stick to the facts, and avoid emotions, opinions or justifications. Remember, you don’t need to defend yourself, and doing so will just keep the exchange going.

  • 3. Friendly: Begin your response with a friendly greeting, such as "Thanks for responding to my request" or "I appreciate your input." Close your message with a friendly comment, like "Have a good weekend." While it may be difficult to muster friendliness in the heat of the moment, this approach can deflate the other person's hostility. It also demonstrates your self-restraint and desire to de-escalate the situation.

  • 4. Firm: Calmly conclude the conversation in your response. Avoid anything that could open the door to more hostility. If you require a response from the other person, ask a direct question that elicits a "Yes" or "No" answer by a specific date and/or time. Finally, end on a friendly note, ensuring you leave the interaction on a positive and respectful tone.

Navigating hostile situations with a former spouse can be incredibly challenging. By implementing the BIFF method, you can reclaim your power, maintain your composure, and foster a more peaceful and amicable separation.

Embrace a Path of Empowerment, Courage and Support

If you've found this information helpful, and would like to learn more about how divorce coaching can help you navigate the stress and anxiety of the divorce process, I invite you to connect with me. You don't have to face this journey alone.

It is possible to do divorce differently. Take that first step toward a more empowered and graceful approach to divorce. Together, we can navigate the challenges, strengthen your resilience, and pave the way for a brighter future.

Book your free consultation today at and let's embark on this journey together.

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