How To Avoid Coming Across As Aggressive

(55 Posts)
NewDadTrying Sat 16-Feb-13 07:15:04

Without going into too many specifics, I am a new Dad (chuffed beyond words on that score!), unfortunately circumstances with my ex are not ideal. I have Parental Rights, and she is breastfeeding which is of course brilliant. However this leaves visiting somewhat tricky. We have managed to sidestep any outright hostility so far, but looks like we might headed for a confrontation.

I am reminded of advice given to me by my Solicitor who explained she will be feeling particularly vulnerable the first year, and I should be wary of doing anything that comes off as confrontational. Whilst we both have good reason to be aggrieved at the other, it is my hope we can move past it for our child's sake.

Perhaps justifiably she has been been sniping at me regularly since the birth, which to be honest was like water off a ducks back as I got to see my child, and was worth weathering. Unfortunately she has cottoned onto the fact that by making it increasingly hard to see our baby gets to me. It tears me up a great deal that I am not involved as much as I would wish to be. As I try to be more and more flexible over arranging visits, the less communication I receive. as well as finding nobody home at prearranged times.

Upon suggesting mediation I was accused of coming on too strong, and it seems I have a Hobson's choice between stressing out the mother, or just not getting to see the baby at all. I am usually pretty good at communication and diplomacy, but I am aware there are subtle and not so subtle differences in the way men and women communicate. So what I would like to ask is what is the best way to propose mediation, without her feeling like she is losing control of the situation? (She is someone who has to be in control, and by example of a child she has by a previous marriage involves the Dad only infrequently when it suits her, and I wish to be involved with our child a lot more than he has gotten to have been)

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 10:15:26

Options should read opinions bloody idiot phone

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 10:18:08

HH, yeah, my own x feels so much self-pity, he treated me like crap for years and I left him and now, all he can SEE is that I left him on a whim. So, an entirely different set of circumstances, but I do recognise some similarity in the mindset between my x and this guy. Sorry Newdad! But honestly, I am trying to help you. If there's a right way and a wrong way to do this, why not do it the right way????

Also, NewDad is very good at expressing himself, and can perfectly identify how he was wronged in the past, and perfectly articulate his own concerns for the future. I recognise that same character attribute in my x. He is aware of his own fears and needs and is very articulate. I can see that his x might feel overwhelmed by the constant 'reasoning' from her x. Because as I said, reason is subjective .

I'm giving NewDad the advice that I wish somebody had given my x, and that I wish he had listened to. But he had a forcefield of delusion that nobody could /can penetrate.

Changing a perspective doesn't happen overnight, so Newdad, I'm not joking when I say repeat this fifty times a day

"the key to a better relationship with my son is through a better relationship with his mother, and I will acknowledge my own failings for the bad feeling and I will respect her wishes". If you can mean this, then you will be on the right path to what you want.

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 15:18:48

Gin, good point you've got me thinking

New dad your very clear on what she has done to wrong you. Have a think and talk to us about where you went wrong.
Not before dc because that universe doesn't exist any more. I mean during pregnancy and these first few months.

What have you said that didn't get taken well ( however well intentioned)

You are still cradling a lot of anger over this and you clearly have quite a low opinion of you ex because of this.
Most likely this is coming across.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you it is ok to lie about contraception, it isn't end of. I can totally understand why you would be really mad at her for that.
You need to try and come to terms with it and understanding why may help you relations with her
Tell me honestly why you think she wanted to have a baby.

NewDadTrying Sun 17-Feb-13 17:54:09

I appreciate given the purpose of this website, my presence here (both by being new, and the fact I am man) means I must be mindful of the ettiquette, and I hope I have not come on too strong. If I have I apologise, and by all means pull me up if I need to moderate my behaviour. I simply ask for your pardon, as I'm trying to navigate this particularly rough time of my life.

Yes I do have emotional baggage in this, and am trying to behave in the best possible way. Yes it was just as much my responsibility as to wether or not to wear a condom or not, and I have never disputed this with her. The bad feelings simply come from being lied to, which is something just a cursorary look around here tells me many have experience of. I am working hard on overcoming and moving on from.

When we split, I did not rage, I did not accuse (and for the record I did not advocate a termination at any stage, her own father was advocating this at one point, and my response to her was that I was willing to support whichever choice she made and that whilst my preference was that she keep him, I did not want her to feel pressured either one way or the other from me, and I told her as much).

I have been supportive of her subsequent relationships (I think she is on her 4th or 5th since we dated), and her current bloke appears to be an absolute star. I won't lie it is obviously a little upsetting that he gets to see my son more than I do, and to do all of things I would dearly love to do, but I keep telling myself over and over that what is good for him is what is paramount. I've not considered at any stage going for custody, because she has already produced a wonderful daughter who is happy (and I bonded with a great deal when her mother and I dated, and I have expressed willingness to babysit her when I have my son if it makes things easier, and everyone is happy with it), no drugs, and she rarely drinks so no concern there.

I don't want to leverage control, and I am saddened that some have felt my actions have been "chilling". I simply want to assert my son's right to have a meaningful relationship with me. I am a very child orientated person, and I recognise that our son's best chance in life involves a good relationship and love from us both.

I will take on board what has been said, I have absolutely no objection to owning my mistakes (of which there are many), and apologising for them. However I do find it hard to accept that in her mind she has not put a foot wrong in any of this, and every iota of fault here lies with me. In fact she believes it is my fault that by not being 100% behind her on wanting to have a child right now it is my fault she had to lie to me about it. I would welcome any and all advice on how to negotiate and meet her halfway on this.

Letsmakecookies Sun 17-Feb-13 18:31:34

There is nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as you accept responsibility and learn from them, and you will be a great dad with a lot to give if you do this as indeed you say you do. And I accept there is nothing more frustrating than other people not accepting fault in themselves (but there is no point trying to get the other person to realise this).

I think if you focus more on I simply want to assert my son's right to have a meaningful relationship with me. I am a very child orientated person, and I recognise that our son's best chance in life involves a good relationship and love from us both, and learn to let go of the past totally (as you can't change things anyway), that will be a good thing for your child. I think be there in its life but bide your time a little, until the child is older, weaned and more independent (possibly even pre/school aged), and accept that until then you will play a smaller role in its life. You have many years of childhood and life ahead of you, and you will become more important as the child grows. I suspect the mother will be more comfortable for you to have the child then too and play a big part.

It is not acceptable for her not to be there at pre-arranged times. Has she explained why this is, have you turned up late, or pressured her into the arrangements? I think you need to calmly and briefly state how you were sad to miss seeing your child, and wait until next time, make sure you turn up on bang on time. And if it does continue suggest that perhaps if there is a communication issue that you might try joint counselling? Or ask her gently why she wasn't in? It is so hard to give advice as so much of the puzzle is missing and obviously her 'side' is not explained. But perhaps she is unable to calmly as an adult do that with you too, and that you need a neutral joint counsellor to help you both learn to let go and communicate. Mediation might seem too "I want custody" as a starting point?

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 18:59:56

Is she really on her fourh or fifth relationship since you 'dated'. Was it a bit more serious than just dating? or, if she heard you say that the two of you dated, would she feel that you were minimising the importance of the relationship at the time, and de-valuing her to somebody you merely dated.

Also, if she has had four or five relationships whilst pregnant and breastfeeding, she is superhuman. Are you certain of this? or are these men friends of her brothers, husbands of her friends? It's a common tactic, painting the x as promiscuous, and your solicitor when you speak to him/her again will caution you against that as it is a very old chesnut.

Once again, your post is words, words, words, words. Dealing with you would exhaust me. You think if you just phrase it differently this time we will suddenly 'get' it properly, see it clearly, sympathise more...

Maybe she would be better off formalising everything through the courts? Access and maintenance. Yes, I think that if I were in her shoes I would hand it over to a judge to avoid getting into long, long, long conversations over it all.

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 19:10:02

ps, re your last paragraph, what is it you want her to meet you half way with? apportioning the blame as you see fit? I understand that there are things you find hard to accept and things that don't seem fair, but you have to digest those on your own and not thrash them out. My advice is to wait and after a certain period of time has passed you will no longer care that I can promise you, it's like the one guarantee I can give you.

But in the meantime you have to allow her to have her opinion of you, just as you clearly have strong views on her. She is not obligated to view you and the relationship in the same way that you view yourself and the relationship so any attempt to get on the same page there is utterly futile, and I'm telling you this as somebody who tried to get her x to acknowledge that he was wrong to verbally/emotionally and financially abuse me. So don't waste your time trying to divvy out the blame. That won't achieve anything.

Once again, like a broken record I'm telling you to look in to the mirror and remind yourself that the route to a better relationship with your son is through a good, peaceful, respectful relationship with his mother. If you prioritise above that, getting your x to 'buy' your interpretation of what went wrong and why, then that will be bully for you but it will be at the expense of your relationship with your son.

Piecesofmyheart Sun 17-Feb-13 19:15:26

'I will take on board what has been said, I have absolutely no objection to owning my mistakes (of which there are many)'

Come on then OP. What exactly ARE these mistakes ?

zookeeper Sun 17-Feb-13 19:34:51

I lost patience with you on the "fourth or fifth" line. I bet you know exactly how many relationships she has had . You sound very controlling to me.

Your child is very young; you need to back off and be much more patient for now

NewDadTrying Sun 17-Feb-13 19:46:13

I would love to go into more detail here, but I do not know if my ex is a member here at all. I am also concerned that baring my soul here flaws and all will get me digitally eviscerated, as I'm not lying about my ex's behaviour, and you can all take it as read that my own shortcomings are many and varied.

However the balance of some opinions seems to be that because she is a mother her actions are almost by default beyond reproach, or must be forgiven, moved beyond etc etc (which again for the record is a place I am really trying reach emotionally within myself so that it doesn't colour anything for our child). Yet any morsel of my own mistakes will be seized upon as validation for earler assumptions. I accept given the purpose of these boards it would be daft in the extreme not to get that reaction from some.

I will admit that during the pregnancy I became atrocious at communication. To the point that even when my ex was experiencing crisis I was not someone she felt she could turn to for support. That's on me, and I know if I had approached things differently a great deal of hardship on her part could have been avoided. I feel terrible about that, I will apologise to her for it, when the opportunity presents itself to do so genuinely I will.

As to mediation I only want to use it at this stage to create a legal agreement between her and I to ensure that I get to see him at least once a week (although ideally I would love to see him as often as she will allow). I'm also not talking about taking him away from anywhere, I am happy to visist him at her place when convieniant.

I have offered to bring round anything she needs, been where I will say I will be, and made it explicitly clear I am happy to be flexible to her schedule, and that even if she ends up not feeling comfortable with a visit to just let me know if it becomes inconveniant. I've weathered her scathing remarks and criticisms without complaint, because I have been able to see my son. When I hold him or change him, or comfort him when he cries, all of that negative stuff just ebbs away and becomes like almost nothing. However I am just finding all this particularly difficult at the moment, as without him I just feel like a tiny boat on a massive ocean, and just wish the waves would just swallow me up and take all this away.

babyhammock Sun 17-Feb-13 19:49:16

Sorry but you sound totally self absorbed.
And seriously on her 4th or 5th relationship with a three month old baby confused
You've been nothing but disparaging about her even to the point of saying in an earlier post that you'd be happy to take the baby if she got fed up with it which you implied was not that unlikely.
That's an awful thing to say and utterly ridiculous especially as she has another very loved child.
Also all this grizzling about her lying about the contraception and how angry you still are about it, well if you are as 'taken' with the baby as you say you are then surely his existence wouldn't have been if not for that?

Sorry if I'm coming across as harsh well not that sorry

NewDadTrying Sun 17-Feb-13 19:52:19

Ok Zookeeper I don't know precisely what her story of the last several months have been, it's none of my buisness, and she went through a phase of phoning me up to tell me who she was sleeping with, or planning to sleep with. When that didn't get a rise out of me she stopped, and to be honest it's quite clear I came to the wrong place.

I'm sorry I tested your "patience". I did my best to put across what I am going through concisely, and got some good food for thought from some people, for which I am very grateful. I won't be bothering you again.

zookeeper Sun 17-Feb-13 19:54:29

I think we might be starting to see the real you Newdad hmm

Piecesofmyheart Sun 17-Feb-13 19:59:43

'I would love to go into more detail here, but I do not know if my ex is a member here at all.'

How predictable. Manipulative. Obvious from your OP but I gave you the benefit of the doubt.
There is nothing that any of us can say that will have an impact on your attitude and behaviour. I suggest F4J.

zookeeper Sun 17-Feb-13 20:00:24

yes. Screamingly manipulative.

Letsmakecookies Sun 17-Feb-13 20:04:06

As I keep saying to my children, saying sorry doesn't mean very much and doesn't change what you did, it is just words without meaning. What you can do is change now. Mediation doesn't create legal agreements (afaik). And I think if you behaved as callously as you allude to, you have to understand she might not want you in her house. Dumping her because you knocked her up and then abandoning her to deal with crises and a great deal of hardship.

No one is saying she is a saint beyond reproach, but she is not an incubator and you need to give her time and space while baby is so young. Without that you will create more damage and hurt to your "relationship". You do come across as saintly and unable to listen to what people are repeatedly saying tbh. Now is not the time for mediation and lawyers, maybe in a year plus if nothing changes. Try being a nice guy first and putting your child's and his mother's (therefore child's food, home, safety etc) needs first.

HorizonFocus Sun 17-Feb-13 20:09:54

NewDad Your way of communicating is quite verbose.

Suggest some serious backing off until you can internalise some of the wise words on this thread.

Just back the fuck off and do what she tells you. You are coming across as incredibly self-righteous and self-obsessed, it's all about you and what you want. If you keep pestering and badgering and laying down the law to her, she would be well advised to get a non-molestation order out against you, which will not bode well for a good future co-parent relationship.

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 20:57:24

You aren't listening newdad. I think you've had an easy ride here. You seem to brush off anything that might be hard to process with a trite disclaimer such as "I'm new here, I don't know the etiquette, this site is for women". so, your starting position here is that we can't possibly.... what? help? get it? understand?

do you need us to understand? confused The thing we can help you with though, if you can slow down your own internal dialogue is how to have a better relationship with your son's mother in order to have a better relationship with your son.

You have to understand that your mistakes, her mistakes, your opinion of her, her opinion of you, all of this needs to be urgently compartmentalised , and dealt with on you own. You on your own have accept what happened.

Your sense of righteousness, entitlement, injustice [insert as applicable/delete as applicable] is no longer her problem. As I said before and I'm going to bold it now in the hope that it penetrates this time your x is not obliged to buy your interpretation of what went wrong in the relationship just as you don't have to concern yourself with her interpretation. Both of you will have lived and learnt and you should leave it there.

We can't make your girlfriend see your side. And I feel that really that is what you want from us. If you care enough about the relationship with your son, you will be mature enough to deal with the breakdown of the relationship on your own and you will respect her, and respect her wishes. Questioning her morality in a sexual sense is neither respectful nor your business after you finished with her.

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 21:17:09

You say

"However the balance of some opinions seems to be that because she is a mother her actions are almost by default beyond reproach, or must be forgiven, moved beyond etc etc (which again for the record is a place I am really trying reach emotionally within myself so that it doesn't colour anything for our child). Yet any morsel of my own mistakes will be seized upon as validation for earler assumptions. I accept given the purpose of these boards it would be daft in the extreme not to get that reaction from some."

*this paragraph shows that you haven't really absorbed a single word that's been said to you. You feel that it's unjust that we consider her beyond reproach. Whether or not she's beyond reproach is not the issue, and she doesn't have to answer to you any more because you (knocked her up, blamed her for that and then) dumped her.

What do you want from us here?! we've already given you a five point idiot guide on how to navigate your way through this, but you want us to berate your x. She's not here. You are. Do you want us to slag her off? Would that give you the comfort you're looking for? "

"I will admit that during the pregnancy I became atrocious at communication. To the point that even when my ex was experiencing crisis I was not someone she felt she could turn to for support. That's on me, and I know if I had approached things differently a great deal of hardship on her part could have been avoided. I feel terrible about that, I will apologise to her for it, when the opportunity presents itself to do so genuinely I will."

So, you acknowledge you treated her cruelly and that is a good step. But you can't force her to see you as a changed man. What evidence has she that you have changed? It would be a huge leap of faith for her to take, and she has a tiny baby to prioritise over your feelings.

"As to mediation I only want to use it at this stage to create a legal agreement between her and I to ensure that I get to see him at least once a week (although ideally I would love to see him as often as she will allow). I'm also not talking about taking him away from anywhere, I am happy to visist him at her place when convieniant."

You can't view mediation as a means to getting specific objectives that you've already decided on your own head. I really think you should, if you go to mediation, focus on listening first. I think it goes something like, listen, listen, mediator led compromise.

Piemother Sun 17-Feb-13 21:33:39

Just read the updated thread backwards. I was muttering the words manipulative and controlling before I read them in posts.
This guy reminds me of EA behaviour when they think if they go through the motions (I had relate in mind) then they can heap more blame on the other party.

Hey op's ex! Over here grin

GinAndT0nic Sun 17-Feb-13 21:40:41

Yes, I tried to help this guy because he reminded me somehow of my x., although, to begin with, i thought that's not fair on him.

Arguments with my x were exhausting because like this OP he was extremely verbose and he would take my words and repeat them back to me but with an entirely different meaning. He would get angry with me about what I thought/felt about him, and he would tell me at length and so convincingly what I thought.

Sorry to say it OP but I think you did your x a favour when you ended the relationship.

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 21:55:27

Letsmake cookies.
Family mediation can help you draw up a contract to which you are then both bound under contractual law. If one takes the other to court for repeated breach of this contract it will go to family court and either upheld or rewritten by judge.
For future reference smile
Story of my life at the mohmm

Op you've been given plenty of sound advice by people who can best explain where your ex is coming from. No body said she could do no wrong, it's just that right now it's tough cookies on you if she does.
Shut up and smile smile

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 22:01:07

Gin, fuck I hate it when they do that, or they repeat half the sentence so it means something completely different like they're the fucking daily mail.
I swear my ex used to hallucinate, we would go hang out with friends we'd get home and he'd want me to recount every ducking sentence that had passed between me and someone else and interject with " we'll it sounded like you were offering to give him a blow job"
Real example shock
In a room full of close friends, in front of my partner of course that's what I said!

HerrenaHarridan Sun 17-Feb-13 22:01:23

Ducking grin

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