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F*cking XH does it again...just need to get it off my chest(58 Posts)
Can?t sleep and need to get this off my chest. I started it under another thread but didn?t want to hijack so here?s the story again.
Split from XH at new year after I discovered his affair. Pattern since then has been we try to be civilised for a while then I say something he misinterprets or that just doesn't suit him and he turns into a bully. He attacks me or just flat out ignores me for days or even weeks. Followed by profuse apologies. Over and over again.
Last straw was over a month ago. DD has a big event coming up in March that I really would have liked to plan together. In fact he sent the first message to me saying 'we really must work together on this.' But once he realised I was on board he changed his tune - rebuffed all my requests to discuss it, agreed to a meeting then cancelled it at the last minute. Said he was going to handle it all and there was nothing to discuss. I finally decided, for my own sanity, and for DD's sake, not to fight with him and just let him do it. I even handed over all the research & ideas I already had. It just wasn't worth the fight.
Today, over a month after we last talked about it, he sent me an email saying please can we discuss it!!!! (He's either realised it's too much hard work or doesn't want to look bad by excluding me). I've been really good at not engaging in any battles with him for a while now but feel this is maybe too big to ignore. So I sent him this:
?No, I really don't think we can. Based on your past behaviour I do not trust you to behave rationally and respectfully towards me for any length of time. But feel free to use the information I gave you if you want it. Or don't. I'm sure you and [xxxx] will figure it out. Good luck.?
And this is his reply:
?It is my hope that you might feel, as I do, that it is tough but possible for us to put aside the way we have both behaved at times and the things we have both said in anger and haste. If we are exactly never going to be friends again, we can at least try to look to the future rather than the past and behave in a civil and respectful way towards each other for the benefit of <DCs>. This is what they want and need from us and I am fully committed to doing exactly that. DD and I don?t want to do it without you?but I can?t force you..?
Arghh!!!! He is so fucking infurating. This is what he does every bloody time. He acts the complete TWAT then when I say I?ve had enough, he goes all?.surely we can work together but if YOU don?t want to?..
Please, please, please can someone tell me how the hell you deal with someone like that? I have thought of several responses ? ?Keep telling yourself that long enough you might even believe it? or ?The boy who cried wolf rings a bell? or just ?Fuck off and go to hell you lying son of a bitch?!
ooh sorry, don't know what all the
Just do not engage. Hard as it is, it's the only way to avoid getting sucked into the mind fuck your ex seems to like. Whatever the event is, if its important to your DD, then act in her interest, not his. If having to get involved means interacting with the ex, keep it business like and don't get dragged into any chat/digs/PA stuff. He's trying to get a reaction and succeeding as you haven't yet sussed out how to just not rise to his bait. When you figure that out, you'll be able to deal with things a lot easier. Deep breathes. Ignore the twat. Get on with doing what you need to for your DCs.
Hi Yoga, I don't have any advice but just wanted to post to say that this sort of hot-cold-yes-no-maybe-push-pull would drive me nuts. Headwrecking mind-games.
Was he always like this to some extent or did a lot of this just start after the split? If he was always like this he is unlikely to change anytime soon, but someone might have some tips about how to deal with him in a way which might limit his opportunities so be a total dickhead though his utter self-delusion might be harder to crack.
Anyway sorry I am not very helpful but I saw your message and remember some of the other ones and it is so late you might not get any decent replies until tomorrow.
x posted with bananna (just in case it looked like I was suggesting their reply was not helpful!)
I would probably say 'ok, but the very second you disrespect, undermine, bully or are nasty to me again, I'm out, and I will remind you of this conversation, and you will fully admit I was right to be wary... capiche?'
If it's a big deal for DD aren't you worried he will fuck it up?
Why not email him back saying 'If you can't organise it yourself, I will. It's one or the other and if you decide to do it, you had better not let her down'.
Or, actually given that I don't fully know the history, it might be better to just not engage at all - you know you are right so don't let his manipulation convince you otherwise.
But my above message would be known as giving him enough rope to hang himself with - stick to your word and soon as he does it again, you can remind him of that excahnge, say look I warned you, you've done it again, and that's it I'm done with this now.
Lurking in my memory is a vague recollection that you had cut everything off already apart from pick up and drop off times for kids, so if that's the case then the not engaging thing would probably be better.
Hi lubey & all you other lovely people who took the time to reply at this time of night.
Chipping - no, actually not worried he will fuck it up, he won't want to look bad. Anyway, he'll get his mummy to help. Of course I would do it better. But he'll arrange something suitable. And if I insist on doing it then I'll end up having to pay for it.
Lubey - simply can not work with him anymore. Have tried too many times and it always comes to this in the end.
Ah, x-posts. I know not engaging is better but he knows exactly how to wind me up. It's the suggestion the I am the one not wanting to do what's best for the kids while he is "fully committed". it makes me so fucking angry!
Yes, sorry, forgot to agree that he is in the wrong, he is a fucking idiot and of course he's being an utter prick and knows it. I kind of felt it all went without saying!
If you are happy with him doing it then I'd just say 'Keep telling yourself that often enough and you might believe it, I did at one time, but time and again you let me & our DD/DC down. It's a shame you weren't committed to it previously'.
Can i send him this link?
And that is exactly why he says those things. You know he's wrong, you know he knows he's wrong, so just ignore those comments. I used to be the same with my ex, and the day I just thought 'fuck it' and didn't give a damn what he said or thought was just a fantastic weight off me. It's hard, but so worth just not getting sucked into the tit for tat stuff. My blood pressure resumed a normal level
banana - but HOW do you do it? Especially when he will find subtle ways to convince the DCs that I am the one not cooperating.
That's the tricky part. I can't really say exactly what changed for me but I'd reached such a level of misery and stress that I just couldn't function properly. He was taking up energy I didn't have and everything else suffered as a result. Something just clicked, when I decided to no longer focus on all the little and big things he did/didn't do, said/didn't say, and just got on with putting me and DD 1st. Now it's just white noise to me when he starts any BS. Genuinely not giving a shiny shit about your ex's opinion, views, actions or inaction is where you'll find peace. You might still be too emotionally tied up in your split to get there, but just try and imagine not answering texts, emails, calls unless its something you have to comment on/agree to, and use the time you'd spend agonising over how to respond, what to say, hoping to hit the spot in nailing his fuckwittery, and do something for you instead.
And you just correct any misinformation ex gives kids so they understand. Ex says you don't want to do x for y reason, you say no, I can't do x because etc. in an age appropriate way. Your kids know and can see for themselves what and how much you do for them. Just have confidence in your ability to parent and ignore the rumblings of the eejit.
he's so clever and twisted though -every time I think I'm getting to that point, to that genuinely not giving one tiny little shit about what he says or does, he finds some new & wonderful way - usually involving the DCs. He won't say anything obviously bad about me to them, but just a subtle little slip. Enough for them to come home a bit pissed off at me, only I won't quit know why. they might not even quite know why.
What if I just send him the link to the boy who cried wolf, wtihout saying anything else? Can I do that? Please?
Breathe. What a twat.
How about: ' Had you shown up to our original meeting or given off a desire for teamwork earlier in the process I might have more respect for what you're saying now. Or even if you'd just outright asked for my help. Instead, you are trying to cover your shortsightedness with false sanctimony.
I hope all the information I shared with you on X occasion has been useful. Please don't send me any more pompous emails when you're out of your depth.'
Yoga you know him best. If you think he'll get the link, send it. The only thing I'd say is, it won't silence him, he'll just come back with something disagreeing/having a dig/winding you up, and it'll just go on and on. All that energy you'll put into what to say, how to respond, waiting for his reaction, then on it goes. It is wasted energy. It's not nearly as satisfying just ignoring the twat, than it is getting just he right note on showing him up for the twat he is, but it's a lot better on you in the long run. If you aren't quite at the stage bring able to let it go over your head then maybe you need to make your point. Just be careful not to spend too much energy and wit on the muppet.
Oh he will get the link. He loves a good story - it's almost a bit of an inside joke reminding him just how well i know him. Will send it in the morning though (cause I'll be damned if he knows i lost sleep over this). No comment, just the link. It will make the point. And then I WILL. NOT. RESPOND.
I like the link, and keep it in reserve, but my approach would be simply to state the facts as you've done in the OP:
"I agreed several months ago to work together with you on this for the sake of DD, you made no effort to work with me on it, cancelled meetings to discuss it, and then said you would do it yourself as there was nothing to discuss.
I don't see how we can collaborate on things when you consistently refuse to do it from your end. I would like to be able to act in a civil manner with you for the sake of DC, as you have said, but you have failed to keep up your side on this and other occasions. You have shown you are not fully committed at all and I am not prepared to keep on trying to work with you and having my attempts rebuffed.
Good luck with the organisation, if you can't handle it I'll do it and you keep your nose out. "
Sending the link will just cause him to accuse you of not taking it seriously, baiting him or being childish - he's obviously a twat, but that's giving him fuel to be more twattish which doesn't help anyone
Hi Yoga. He sounds like a bully. My exH can be very similar. We get on ok for weeks and then he will get on his high horse about something and start lecturing and telling me what a crap parent I am compared to him. In fact we recently had an exchange of emails just like yours. What I try to do is: when writing an email or text to him, I try to imagine it being read by a family court judge and think what impression it would convey of me. Do I sound reasonable? Or do I sound emotional and unhelpful? I try to strip out all of the emotional language (so in your email that would be the "Based on your past behaviour..." bit) and keep it as factual as possible. It doesn't always work but mostly it helps. Let him make a prat of himself while you look calm and rational. He will inevitably want to portray you as the hysterical unreasonable woman, so don't play into his hands.
Just to say that I identify with every word you say. Not much help, I know.
I, too, have failed to set up any kind of constructive contact with FWEX.
My FWEX 'would do anything at all for the DCs'
Except, obviously, not reducing their mother either to speechless, helplessness.
Could you talk to your DD, explain the situation and ask her what she would like you to do?
Perhaps the tasks can be divided, so you both contribute separately without you having to engage with the tosser?
Hey yoga .. What bant said ^^
I have got to the stage that what STBXH doesn't bother me at all so I can deal with him in quite an amicable way for the sake of DD ..
Hey, morning all. (hi kirsty & bant, thanks for finding your way over here)
First of all, love "FWEX"! Might use that myself, or FMEX. ;)
I talked to DD a bit about it in the beginning but she seemed to get quite stressed out thinking her dad & I were fighting about something to do with her. Seemed better for her (and me) to just leave him to it.
Bantam, what you say is perfect. And exactly the kind of thing I would have - and did say - months ago. Not about this particular event but about other things. The problem is we've been round and round like this sooooo many times!
1. Things are ok
2. He acts the twat & winds me up
3. I get upset/ tell him to get lost
4. He says we both have behaved badly or I have misunderstood or some other nonsense & surely we can be civilised for the sake of DCs
5. (This is your bit Bantam) I say, in the most rational way possible "But I tried to work with you and you refused/I sent you an email & you didn't respond/I asked you a simple question and you attacked me/fill in the blanks.
6. He says, "Yes sorry but it will be different this time"
7. Rinse & repeat
Nonnus - same thing really, he is the KING of rational language. I can't beat him at his own game. I can only not play. What banana said really.
Having said that....I sent the link
It took me a long time to avoid rising to the bait too, and I don't always succeed. But do try not to fan the flames. I always think: "is this directly relevant to the issue here?" before saying/sending anything. So I would avoid stuff like the Aesop's fable, which will only provoke a negative reaction. I know it is hard. Perhaps another way would be to think: "What would my DCs think of this email/text if they were shown it when they grow up?" If it looks like point-scoring, however understandable that is, I would try to avoid saying it. Rise above it. Don't let him know how much he riles you. That would be the ultimate way to annoy him: to just not engage with his childish bullying.
This is so difficult to handle because their attitude is so changeable - I've been there with my XH - one minute apparently able to communicate sensibly and then all of a sudden, accusations of me being mad, scheming, manipulative, money-grabbing, you name it. I think he doesn't actually have anyone he shows respect/concern for, so everybody gets random tirades when things aren't going his way.
However, a few years down the line and my kids know exactly how things stand and that they have to be careful with him. They know I've tried time and again to smooth the lines of communication and that he always (but always) tries to make things more difficult than they need to be.
Its as if he expects life to resemble an episode of Eastenders...
Calm and detached is the only way...
and keeping the texts/emails and sending them back much later to demonstrate how ridiculous some of them are
What you ladies need is a five minute trip in a time machine!
My 2 elder kids are grown up, and if you never utter a single squeak against the ex again, you will have the satisfaction of hearing your kids moan to you about ex's behaviour down the line, whilst spending a day at theirs near Xmas and the rest of the week at yours.
I'm there already five, he always demands umpteen days at Xmas, then loses his rag with them on the first day and they announce they're coming home early! Of course, I'm expected to be there at any time of day to welcome them back. Its happened so often, I know the script now. (However things may change this year as I'm in a relationship so may not be instantly available! )
must not respond, must not respond... I know, it's like a mantra but it is soooooo hard.
He replied to ask exactly what he should say to DD who (apparently) is so upset that we won't do this together. I suggested he try the truth. So he said he has told her the truth. His version of the truth where we both behaved badly (sorry but we did not both have an affair), where he tried to apologise for some of the things he's done (apologies, like "I'm sorry but it's all your fault you know") and now doesn't understand why we can't move forward.
So....as much as I have been putting this off for nearly 11 months now, I fear the time has come to tell DD the whole truth. I posted a thread on this a week or so ago. She is 11 and does not know anything about his affair. As far as she knows mummy and daddy just don't get along any more and we have both said & done some not nice things. Which makes my reactions seem all the more unreasonable to her. I have thought about this over and over and over again and have come to the conclusion that the only way to help her understand what is happening is to tell her about her dad's affair. I have asked myself again and again whether this is just point scoring, I have thought about doing it before and put it off, but I think knowing half truths is just leaving her feeling more angry and confused. I can't see any other way. I will NOT launch into a tirade about how horrible her father is. I will tell her that he loves her unconditionally and is a great father but that he has done some really not very nice things to me. And then I will explain, in age appropriate language, what those things were.
I think talking to your DD is the way to go.
And, of course, it must be done in an age appropriate way.
It can be done without saying that the tosser is a bastard. Of course he is, but this is not relevant to your DD.
But she does have the right and the need for some sort of explanation of how and why things are.
Honesty without blame is
an impossible a very difficult knife edge to walk and I defy anyone to do it perfectly - that is not say that cannot or should not be attempted,
Sounds a good idea to me...good luck
Yoga I came to the same conclusion as you - my DD is slightly older but I decided it was time to abandon the 'he's a lovely guy' image and be honest about what her F had done (affair). I didn't do any mud-slinging but explained calmly that that was what he'd done and that was why we'd split up and why I found it difficult to deal with the OW. She seemed to accept it and has acknowledged that his behaviour is often unreasonable. I had similar conversations with my (older) DSs - just to clarify where I stood and what the situation was. I really feel it cleared the air.
Thanks - definitely going to do it tonight, just still undecided about whether to include DS in the conversation. He's only 9..
Again, age appropriate truth and explanation for DS - you do not want a situation of 'don't tell your brother'.
Thoughts for you tonight.
Maybe it depends on how he's affected by XH's behaviour? I think if that were necessary I'd do it in separate conversations, age/maturity appropriate? 9 is young tho, isn't it, to be hearing all that stuff?
I don't know - 9 is young and he seems to be less effected by XH's behaviour just because he's a more easy going child, doesn't get as wound up about stuff in general. On the other hand, I suspect he quietly takes in everything that goes on around him, he is quite clever (in a 'street smart' way as well as academic) and I hate the idea of telling one but not the other.
I wouldn't start talking to an 11 and 9 year old about their father's affair myself. Way, way too much information and they are a long way off having even an inkling of the emotional skills to understand these very adult issues.
I know it is hard in your position, but really I would try to keep the issues between you and exH between you and exH, and deal with the parenting issues separately. Children of that age should not have to deal with emotional issues they are not equipped with life skills to deal with.
i'm 18 months down the line and finding that I've finally learned the broken record technique and am realising that detachment makes me far happier than rising to the bait.
What's helped if working out what makes me feel good and therefore has a positive knock on effect on the Dcs. I have had to defend my boundaries several times until the point gets taken on board and also I make a habit of not responding to communication without doing something else before so I can digest or better still not responding unless absolutely necessary.
No sure re telling the DCs too much but I've made a point of not giving the impression that their father is Mr Wonderful cos I think being able to see him clearly rather than hero worship an abusive liar will make it easier for them to cope as they get older.
my oldest 2 are 11 and 9. they were the recipients of emotional and verbal abuse from their father (though he did not have an affair).
i believe that age-appropriate truth is the only way to go. That does not mean mud slinging. but they will know a lot more than you think they do, they will also be support and validation for one-another so i would tell both or neither.
children in families where things have gone wrong need enough information to make sense of the world that is around them. Believe me what they make up will be more devastating and harmful than any amount of truth.
So long as you keep giving them permission to love their father, to see the good things about him and don't ask them to "side" with you, they will have the freedom to make up their own mind as they grow.
I respect Nonnus' opinion but disagree purely because these children are already living lives embroiled in the emotional issues. Talking about them gently and carefully and allowing them to engage with the troubles they experience will not burden them, it will help them carry the burden that they already have.
Thanks Nonnus but I've thought about what I think my kids can handle and decided on balance they would be a lot less confused and therefore better off knowing (and that I wasn't just doing it to make myself feel better).
So I sat them both down tonight. Started with all the usual stuff about how much their dad and I each love them and will always be there for them. Then I tried, one last time, to explain without telling them the whole truth. I asked how they would feel if they had a friend who was nice to them one day then mean the next then nice, then mean etc. DS piped up and said, "just like XXX in my class!" I asked how he felt about that. DS said he didn't like the boy and didn't want to keep being his friend because even when he was nice he knew he was just going to be mean again soon. (Great, I thought, we're getting somewhere!) So I explained that was kind of how I felt about their dad, that even though he would never treat them that way, that i didn't trust him to be nice to me anymore and the best way I knew how to handle that was to not be around him anymore.
But that's where I lost them - just like every other time, they jumped on me and said "But you're mean to dad too!", "Dad says you upset him too", "I don't understand why you can't just let him come over, that's so mean of you" etc etc
So I kept it simple but I told them. I told them that their dad met OW (they know who she is) and she became his girlfriend while he & I were still together. When I found out about this I was really, really hurt and upset. And even though daddy said sorry he also said he loved OW and so, even though it was really, really hard, I realised we couldn't be married anymore. And it still makes me upset and hard to be around him.
Reaction from DS was amazing actually. First he burst into tears and sobbed in my arms for about 15 minutes (at which point I coudn't decide if I'd done completely the wrong thing or if it was good for him to finally let some of his emotions out). Then he went off for a bit, got washed & into pjs. When he came back he cuddled up to me again, much calmer....*and thanked me*. I asked him what for and he said because it all makes a lot more sense now. I told him he didn't have to be mad at his dad for it, that was my job. We cuddled again and he went to bed.
DD was more upset about the event I posted about in my OP so we talked about that. I told her that of course I would still be part of it and help her in any way I could but that her dad & I just wouldn't be sitting down together to work out the details. She seemed happy with that. So we cuddled for a bit and she went to bed too.
So all in all a positive outcome I think.
sorry x-posts, thanks so much for your thoughts stru & fool, it feels good to know that this knowledge will hopefully be a growing experience for them rather than a burden.
Well done yoga,
don't forget they may want to revisit the conversation from time to time and check in with you about their feelings.
and FWIW I think you did an exemplary job of walking the line of truth without badmouthing and i especially like that it is your job to be mad at the Ex
Yes thanks, I thought that was quite good too!
Well done yoga sounds like that was just what the kids needed to hear x
Well done! You are helping the children to make sense of what is happening.
Thanks so much for all the advice & support.
I also had a chat with them about him not coming to the house anymore. He's now doing ridiculous things like sitting and visiting with them in his car in my driveway! He had managed to convince them that if I wouldn't let him in the house that this was the only possible way he could see them during the week (again, they believe everything he says to be true and get mad at me).
So I pointed out to DCs that he only lives 5 minutes away and that if he wants to have a short visit with them during the week I would be more than happy to drop them at his shop or his flat after work and he can drop them home again an hour later or after dinner or whatever suits him. Hopefully they will soon realise that all his excuses are just that!
Well they seem absolutely great today.
I think you handled that incredibly well. I also agree that in many ways the truth is the fairest thing, because they know there's more.
Thx Hesterton. Can't say I always handle everything this well but I do feel good about this.
Go yoga! Go yoga! [passes pom poms around]
Wow, very brave decision to make, but sounds like you and the dc's handled it really well. It comes across in your posts that you want the best for DC's rather than point score against FWEX.
I too had an ex like yours, he was also abusive, I ignored the digs and gibes but he upped the ante to provoke a response. I don't think he expected the response to be a pc turning up on his door step serving him with a harassment warning.
2 years later, I have a sense of peace from not having him in our lives in any way shape or form. Dc's are so much happier and emotionally healthier.
I just added my tale, to prepare you that he may up the ante too. No doubt the children will at some point mention that you have told them about his affair and he won't like having his halo sullied! But ignore, ignore, ignore...and if it all gets too much, know that such a thing as a harassment warning exists. I didn't know about them for a long time, and it was a huge relief to have someone (the police) on my side.
Best wishes for the future.
Thanks Katniss - no doubt he will be fuming when he figures it out but I don't really give a shit about his reaction. If my motive was just to piss him off I would have done it a long time ago. Lucky you not having the ex in your life anymore - I can only dream of such a day! However, he is a decent dad to them so I wouldn't want to stop him seeing them.
By the way - feels good to have my own personal cheerleader!
He likes the run-ins. Maybe he wants your attention, maybe he remains angry and resentful over your divorce or aspects of it.
Either way don't fuel him. Be amicable and succinct in every communication. He pisses you off, your response " that's lovely thanks" "ok not a problem". Think American customer service.
How long can he go on faced with that?
Wow, just read the whole thread and right up until your post about the talk I was thinking, no, don't do it - but then when I read how sensitively you managed it I actually felt quite tearful!
When I was in your position I didn't tell DD about the 'real' reasons for our split, thinking that was best, not to say anything negative about her Dad etc - only to discover later that she new all about it and thought I didn't know, so had no-one to talk to!
If, however, it helps at all, I find a stock reply to the 'we must work together' blackmail type emails along the lines of 'Many thanks for your opinions, which I have considered when making my decision about the best course of action. I will be doing (whatever you have said already)'
It will drive him mental.
balia It continues to amaze me and simultaneously break my heart just how many of us have had to go through the same thing. I used to think only really really stupid people or people with real problems or people in soaps had affairs and acted like this. What an eye opener this last year has been. The saddest (or maybe the most laughable!) part is that it is just the worst kind of cliche - even down to the very words that come out of their mouths.
I've come such a long way but still trying very, very hard to master the art of NOT. RESPONDING.
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