Advertisement

loader

Talk

Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Boundaries with ex (sorry, long)

(21 Posts)
PatTheDog Wed 12-Feb-14 13:47:52

Hello, I lurk a lot (have done for years) and occasionally post, but haven't posted for a while.

Would appreciate some opinions on boundary-setting with ex-husband.

He left me about 18 months ago - we had had a 14 year, long-troubled marriage - there was very little love/intimacy in the marriage - I loved him but we didn't get on very well. I don't think he loved me but either didn't realize it or couldn't/wouldn't admit it. I tried to talk to him about it but never got anywhere. He would be snide, critical and condescending with me... he basically didn't respect or show consideration for me. He didn't call me a bitch or hit me or anything, and was a good hands-on dad with the kids, good with me in some ways - but no emotional/friendship connection.

Three children, 14, 13, 10.

He announced unexpectedly one day that he was seeing someone else and left - we had to sell our house and the children (who were devastated) now live with me and see him every other weekend and once midweek.

For a year I was angry that he had treated me badly and not even tried (as far as I could see) to work at the marriage. He delivered the blow that he was leaving almost as if I deserved it. He sat back on the settee, crossed his legs and announced proudly that ""He'd found out what he'd been missing" and that his heart hadn't been in the marriage when we'd been for counseling ten year previously. I never thought he was the kind of person to have an affair but realized he didn't care for me at all when it became apparent that he'd starting seeing this woman when I had a lump in my breast and was having tests to see if it was cancerous. Fortunately it wasn't.

In recent months I have got over the anger and have felt lots of grief for what I've lost. Even though it wasn't a happy marriage I had come to accept it for what it was and would have settled for being a family - I just wish he could have been nicer to me.

This seems to be the issue now - I know I need to get on with him as well as I can for the children's sake. Sometimes he comes to the door and is charming, so helpful and kind with things... but I know the other side of him and I know as soon as I say or do something he doesn't like he'll become unpleasant and start treating me in a disdainful way.

I have said to him that we can go to concerts together at the kids' school. Parents evenings separately, or together if absolutely essential. However, I don't wish to socialize together (he doesn't understand why we can't be friends). I have to spend some time with him at Christmas because other family members are involved but I don't wish to spend the children's birthdays or any other time with him. I think he thinks I will do what he wants though and I don't want to. Do I just have to toughen up and not allow him to bully me into doing what he wants?

Do you think the amount of contact I want is reasonable? I don't like him, am a bit scared of his nastiness to be honest, and just want as little involvement with him as possible. To the outside world he is charming, but he's not like that with me in private.

Would appreciate any opinions. Has anyone else been through this?

Thank you.

dollius Wed 12-Feb-14 13:52:59

Whatever amount of contact you want is reasonable. No contact is reasonable.
You are an adult, YOU get to choose who you have contact with, not your XH.
Yes, this is a boundary issue. He left you for someone else, so he no longer has any say whatsoever in how much time you spend with him.

innisglas Wed 12-Feb-14 14:05:02

Yes, no need at all to spend any time with him you don't want to, there has to be an upside to divorce, doesn't there?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 12-Feb-14 14:53:32

It's your life. The only obligation you still have is to facilitate contact with the children and that's more for their benefit than his. Other than that, strict no contact is perfectly fine if that would bring you peace of mind. He's not your friend, in fact he sounds very unpleasant indeed.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 12-Feb-14 14:56:25

"I have to spend some time with him at Christmas because other family members are involved "

Actually you don't. If other family members want to spend Christmas with him, that's their business. You can do anything you like.

Neeliethere Wed 12-Feb-14 15:35:20

You don't have to have any contact with him at all. Just facilitate the kids seeing him. Your kids (well two of them) are old enough to make up their own minds. You don't have to socialise.

I split with my ex just under a year ago. I barely speak to him because he manipulates and contorts just about every conversation he has with either me or our daughter. Nothing he says stays constant and nothing he says he is going to do stays constant. My daughter is 16. She has a mobile phone and they can conduct their relationship with no input from me. That is the way I prefer it.

He's with someone else but he still has this bizarre need to make comment and try to control aspects of my life.

You've moved out of the marital home? You're divorced? Why the hell should he have any input into your life and why on earth does he think you should socialise with him? And what does the other woman think of him still trying to exert that level of control?

No contact is perfectly reasonable if it stops further confrontation. I chatted to my daughter about it the other night and she says that's how she prefers it. She says that she dreads the explosions whenever we try to be civil and speak to each other and dreads us being together.

For that reason she never tells him about school meetings or anything like that because she doesn't want both of us there. She is also testing him a bit. Previously if there were issues at school he would discuss them with me and, if necessary, express his concern or displeasure. It would then be up to me to tackle the problem either with our daughter or the school and report back to him. I have finally come to realise that I was just being his whipping boy and doing his bidding when he didn't have the balls to tackle the school himself over some misunderstanding or perceived slight (or indeed tackle our daughter making me the bad guy all the time).

I have now told him if he has concerns he must deal with it himself as I have had to for 10 years. He's been nowhere near the school. My daughter is starting to see him for what he is and makes very little effort to be with him.

It seems to me that many dads that moan about the loss of contact only have themselves to blame if his behaviour is anything to go by. He is crying over not seeing her one minute and the next minute no effort at all. This week being a prime example spent a couple of hours with her on Saturday and no contact whatsoever since then. I couldn't imagine going more than 24 hours without speaking to her. If I were to tackle it he will say that I am causing the rift because I no longer dance to his tune.

Don't dance to his tune, dance to yours!!!

Parsley1234 Wed 12-Feb-14 15:48:51

I tried really hard to facilitate contact for seven years letting him into our home sharing parties with his family Christmas with him taking his views into consideration for out son then after this time of abusive conversation nasty behaviour etc I stopped enough is enough. Ex has the term dates for school all ds match fixtures and up to him if he chooses to go to them I also was always last to get money for ds no longer told him unless he steps up no half way driving to meet amazingly money was in account anyway do what you want find your own peace of mind and be happy life's too short

flippinada Wed 12-Feb-14 16:20:53

My XP is like this so I understand where you're coming from.

You are not being unreasonable and you don't have to see him any more than you want to. Don't feel pressured into a "friendship"(for which read, an opportunity to control and manipulate you further) you don't want it need.

flippinada Wed 12-Feb-14 16:21:46

don't want OR need, that should say.

wyrdyBird Wed 12-Feb-14 16:25:46

Yes, set your boundaries to suit you. Don't give an inch for his sake, or he will take a mile.

It sounds as if he is rather used to bullying you. Not hitting you or calling you names does not mean you haven't been poorly treated. Disdain, snide remarks, and abandonment at a moment of great need, are all cruel and bullying behaviours.

Now his new partner has to deal with it, not you. You need absolutely minimal contact, preferably none, for the sake of your own wellbeing.

Dahlen Wed 12-Feb-14 16:57:00

The first thing you have to accept is that it is not possible to have a friendly, reasonable relationship with someone who is neither your friend nor reasonable. Although we all wish it wasn't the case you cannot achieve a situation with your X in which you can sit together in companionable ease at a family function/watching your DC at a concert, etc. It just won't happen until he is forced to respect you. All you can achieve is a polite business-like relationship.

Respect is the key issue. To achieve that, you need to decide on what you want and stick to it, with clear consequences for your boundaries being trampled on. Do not move an inch. The more businesslike and calm you can remain while enforcing your boundaries, the better, if you want to achieve respect for your boundaries.

You may also have to be prepared to put up with some 'persuasion' from family members. If you have long played the role of peacemaker and facilitator, people will expect you to compromise your boundaries long before they are prepared to put themselves out or expect your X to compromise. If they protest remember that it's not because you are being unreasonable or that they are unpleasant people, it's because they've got used to trampling over your boundaries.

I'm speaking anecdotally, but IME (personal and friends) bullies become a whole lot easier to deal with the firmer you are. Placating them is a mistake, and while forcing a confrontation can lead to some short-term unpleasantness (sometimes extreme, sadly), the long-term pay-off is huge.

Good luck.

akawisey Wed 12-Feb-14 16:59:05

he doesn't understand why we can't be friends.

That's because he feels entitled to your friendship even though you're not entitled to his. I'd go no contact and bugger what he says or thinks. You know. You know what he's like and that's all that matters. Facilitate contact with the children and nothing more if that's what you want.

Handywoman Wed 12-Feb-14 20:03:07

^ yy to this

My ex tries to ask me how I am and repeats his questioning until I eventually give an answer. He fails to notice that I am ignoring his friendly banter (which shows how little he knows me tbh). I do not consider myself to be his friend.

I am NC with him except for communication re dc by text/email.

PatTheDog Wed 12-Feb-14 20:17:53

Thank you all for your helpful responses. I think keeping the peace had become a way of life for me.

It is difficult now because I am on quite good terms with his mum and his sister (I have very few relatives myself). I don't want to lose them and don't want his mum especially to see less of her grandchildren because the divorce really wasn't her fault. I will just have to stand firm when they (unintentionally I think) push the boundaries and say things like "Now you're getting on better, why don't you let him babysit for you? Then you can have a night out". Thanks - but I think I'll skip. I don't mind doing things with them, I just don't want to do them with him - or with them if he is there.

I think not giving an inch is the key - because he'll only take advantage.

"Nice" to know other people have been through similar - well, not nice, obviously - but heartening that people can sympathise.

Pimpf Wed 12-Feb-14 20:26:24

You do not have to spend Christmas with him, stop hurting yourself by trying to please everyone else.

And yanbu

PatTheDog Wed 12-Feb-14 20:32:00

Thank you all for your helpful responses. I think keeping the peace had become a way of life for me.

It is difficult now because I am on quite good terms with his mum and his sister (I have very few relatives myself). I don't want to lose them and don't want his mum especially to see less of her grandchildren because the divorce really wasn't her fault. I will just have to stand firm when they (unintentionally I think) push the boundaries and say things like "Now you're getting on better, why don't you let him babysit for you? Then you can have a night out". Thanks - but I think I'll skip. I don't mind doing things with them, I just don't want to do them with him - or with them if he is there.

I think not giving an inch is the key - because he'll only take advantage.

"Nice" to know other people have been through similar - well, not nice, obviously - but heartening that people can sympathise.

PatTheDog Wed 12-Feb-14 20:32:49

Oops, sorry, posted same thing twice!

akawisey Wed 12-Feb-14 21:22:10

FWIW I'd also do my best to make new friends and build another life which is separate from the marriage and in-law thing. That way when invites come up you can politely decline because you've better other arrangements.

He sounds an utter shit by the way and you're well rid.

PatTheDog Wed 12-Feb-14 21:32:38

I have been really lucky with "our" friends because most of them, as it turns out, are my friends! They have been loyal to me and do not bother with him, and this is an arrangement that suits me nicely!

I am much happier when I don't see him!

akawisey Wed 12-Feb-14 21:50:31

So you're more than half way there which is a GOOD THING.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 13-Feb-14 09:24:51

"I don't want to lose them and don't want his mum especially to see less of her grandchildren because the divorce really wasn't her fault"

It's a noble objective but, unfortunately, as they are his family and not yours they are always going to be more on his side however well you get on with them. Only you really understand how emotionally abusive he has been with you. They will never get that (or they won't want to believe it) hence why they suggest he babysits etc. Whatever you say to them, be cautious, because it will get back to him. Any information is meat and drink to a bully.

Trying to keep the relationship the same as it was when you were related therefore is going to keep throwing up these awkward situations... unintentional though they may be. FWIW I agree with akawisey that you have to start separating your life from your ex-in-laws. Not so that you exclude them entirely but so that they are not as big a part of it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now