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I want to maintain reasonable relationship with EXP for sake of DS, but he's an utter nightmare- what to do?(54 Posts)
EXP and I split a year ago. We were together 9 years, and have a wonderful DS (almost 7).
EXP was a really difficult partner- selfish, work shy, no interest in spending time as a family etc. After years of trying to change him and / or myself I finally realised I couldn't continue the relationship and I ended it.
My only regret is ripping apart DS' 'happy' home. I do realise that given time, his father's rubbish behaviour would have had a negative impact on DS, so although I feel terribly guilty for not managing to hold the family together for his sake, I do think that in the long term I have done the right thing by DS, as well as for myself.
I was determined to try to keep things as amicable as possible with EXP. As a child of divorced parents I'm well aware that most of the hell surrounding separation comes from subsequent warring between parents.
But it seems every way I turn EXP is aggressive, unkind , unreasonable and critical. He turns everything into an argument, refuses to pay maintainance (I can't do anything as he is self employed and cooks his books), shouts, swear and calls me names over the phone, does very little for DS, criticises my (very lovely) new partner, gives me grief for everything that I do.
I have continued to take it all on the chin, avoided a fight, facilitated EXP's relationship with DS as much as I can by being endlessly flexible and ignoring the criticism.
I'm exhausted with the abuse that I'm receiving. I've attempted to keep communication just about DS, and tried to stick to emails or texts rather than phone calls. It's been a failure as he always manages to verbally abuse me and says its impossible to communicate properly without phonecalls. I've list count of the times that I've cried and cried after one of his phonecalls- I try not to let him get to me, but I can't help it.
I've had enough. I want him to leave me alone. I've told him this but he continues and manages to twist everything and blame me- he recalls a completely different set of events after he's had a massive go at me. I find myself so confused and muddled.
DS is the light if my life and my absolute priority. I desperately want an amicable co-parenting relationship with EXP, because its the least DS deserves- but it's tearing me apart......
Sorry for the rant!! Any advice would be very much appreciated!
It sounds to me as if your existing arrangements with respect to your DS are relatively informal and assume that you are dealing with a reasonable person. At the moment he gets payoff every time he upsets you or gets a chance to talk abusively to you. You can'r be reasonable with an unreasonable person. To be honest the only solution is as near to zero contact as possible.
In your position I would be seeing a solicitor to put formal child arrangements into place and I would not alter them at all ever. He either collects at the due time and you handover at the doorstep with no communication or he has to wait until the next time. There is no need to talk to him at all and it will break this cycle of bullying.
What is your son getting out of contact?
Does his dad bother now?
If not, just stop everything.
Let him take you to court.
Refuse to be abused by him. If he swears at you, end the call.
Calls you names? Ditto.
You have way more control than you think you do.
Make him dance to your tune and only engage if he 'behaves'
Yeah it's hard, but bollocks to the bully.
Don't fight with pigs. The pig loves it and you get covered in shite.
Get formal, make all communication official, have nothing to do with him except about DC, and ignore, ignore, ignore.
Sorry I can't understand why you want an amicable co parenting relationship with this fucker. He demonstrates what he is time and time again.
Are there set contact times? What are you communicating about? Don't answer the phone, change number, email only. You do not have to put up with this.
You spent years trying to turn him into a partner. Don't spend years trying to turn him into a father.
This isn't untypical, sadly. Abusers are very happy to exploit your reasonableness, exploit child contact, and exploit any guilt you have about 'breaking up the family', in order to abuse and control you further.
How is your son coping with contact arrangements at the moment?
Take an honest look at whether he is really benefiting from the arrangement you have in place.
Do not bend over backwards to make contact happen. If your ds's father had died, or moved abroad, your son would cope without him; so try not to be too worried if contact is not as frequent as you would like.
Finally, you cannot have an amicable co-parenting relationship with your ex if he won't co-operate. So I would really support PP's suggestions of keeping contact with your ex to an absolute minimum - text or email, for essentials only. He knows it's perfectly possible to communicate without phone calls. Don't let him set the agenda, he is not in charge here.
Do not speak on the phone. I know its easier said than done, but if you only have written communications, you have a) a record of the arrangements made, any abuse and b) remove much of the opportunity to be abusive, as they don't want to commit it to record.
Thank you all for the advice, sorry I didn't reply yesterday- I decided to turn off my phone to avoid EXP. I'm taking everything in and am going to try to take back control. I think my default setting is to try to be reasonable and nice- but it's not working.
EXP sees DS once or twice a week, for a day and overnight depending on his work shifts. DS adores his dad, and I do think he gets a lot out of his contact. EXP is very different with DS than with me, he certainly does a pathetically small amount of parenting but I feel strongly that its best for DS to see his dad.
My new partner has been patient so far but he said last night he has had enough of standing by while I'm being bullied. He wants to call or meet with EXP and tell him it needs to stop, because its affecting me which in turn will eventually have a knock on effect on DS. I'm not sure how I feel about DP getting involved, it feels nice that he's fighting my corner, but I think really I should be able to handle this myself.
From reading posts on this board I think EXP is gas slighting by confusing me and twisting things that I do or say. I wish I could record him so I could see 'in black and white' what he's said.
I feel sorry for your new partner.
You managed to end the relationship - you are strong - now end his control of you. Boundaries in place. Stop it with the nice and reasonable!!
I'd also suggest counselling - to look at your parents divorce and examine if it turned you into being too nice and reasonable. This man is a twat, but he is your ex twat. No need to be subjected to this.
Why don't you record him? Just put him on speaker every time he calls.
Maybe someone who knows more about these things will be able to tell you if you are allowed to do that but it would seem logical to me.
Or even tell him you are recording his calls? That would force him to tone down the abuse, maybe?
You can get apps for your mobile if you think that would help.
However I think you should tell him it's email and texts or nothing. If he phones let it go to answerphone then reply by text or email. Only reply to contact arrangements not personal stuff. If he refuses to leave a message but keeps ringing and ringing don't answer. Once a time is set he sticks to it or loses out.
" but I feel strongly that its best for DS to see his dad"
But why when his Dad is an abuser of you (and by turn him) of the first order?. Your DS also needs to see positive role models and that is clearly not his biological father. Informal contact arrangements were therefore never going to work. I doubt very much at all that your son actually gets much out of contact, you would just like to think or wish that he does. The person who split the family up originally was your ex by his actions. You thankfully decided that you'd had enough and broke free of this abusive relationship.
Your innate desire for your son to see his Dad (and that is out of misplaced guilt) is not doing you any favours at all; your reasonableness towards this man has been used against you. Your ex partner loves the fact that he can still make you squirm, upset you and tie you in knots. All his actions towards you are deliberate and planned, he acts like this too because he can. He can still exert power and control against you (and that lies at the very heart of abuse) even though thankfully you are no longer together.
I would also suggest counselling for yourself re your parents divorce too because the effects of that within you seem present to this day.
You can choose not to keep exposing yourself and by turn your son to his abuse.
BACP are good and do not charge the earth.
Grim. He sounds like a bully. Is there a regular arrangment for seeing his son? I would try to set that up. If he won't talk civilly, I would insist on mediation. Or a solicitor. My ex bullied me via phone calls and texts until my solicitor send him a letter describing the behaviour as harrassment. He's never done it since. You want to have a system that runs itself so you can minimise the contact you have with him. Hard I know especially when all you want is for your son to have a good relationship with a good father. Good luck.
Not mediation, no not that at all!.
Mediation is NEVER recommended where there is or has been abuse within the relationship as is the case here. Oh he'd love mediation, he'd use that as yet another stick to beat you up with.
I don't think there's any need for a grand meeting between your dp and your ex to lay out ground rules. Just show him, by altering the way you react to him. You can't change him, as he's an unreasonable bully, but you can change how you respond.
Good point about mediation. I was thinking about costs.
Hmmm john, that's interesting- my new partner has been very patient, but he has very recently admitted he thinks I need to stand up to EXP more effectively. I've been telling him that I have no choice but to take a certain amount of hassle from EXP- because of DS, but maybe I'm wrong.....
It meant a lot to me that my parents were amicable. The fact that handovers, parents evenings, birthdays etc. were pleasant made me feel safe and happy. I wanted that very much for DS. EXP and I agreed we would do everything possible to make things easier for DS. Maybe I have to accept that it's not possible, which makes me feel guilty and really unhappy.
I am a but of a people pleaser, and am probably trying too hard to be reasonable. I almost can't help myself- I don't know any other way, but I think I need to try to change.
There is a spectrum of amicability though. You don't have to take shit for it to be amicable. That isn't amicable. That's one person behaving badly and the other trying to be nice.
He must know his shifts a week in advance. Therefore it's not unreasonable to say 'can you let me know by EMAIL when you would like ds please'
There is no reason for him to be phoning you. Ds is not a tiny baby.
I would say to partner that instead of having a face to face discussion with exp he answer the phone eg ' can I take a message she isn't here'. He will soon get the message.
Thank you all for such brilliant advice. It's good to hear others say I shouldn't have to put up with this- it gives me more confidence to insist it stops.
Contact arrangements tricky to formalise properly as EXPs new job has mixed shifts on a four week rotation, and sometimes he is asked to change shifts. I have recently tried to get a plan sorted a month in advance, but I have to admit I have been endlessly flexible and accommodating in an an effort facilitate contact. I would find it extremely hard not to be helpful when it comes to DS seeing his dad.
I wouldn't be all the time he acts like that. If he requires you to be flexible then he needs to be civil. I know you think your doing the right thing by your son but you aren't. I would just keep it very formal, no phone calls, texts etc just email for your sanitys sake.
Hi, your situation sounds a lot like mine. I too thought we could be amicable after spliting. I now know that won't happen. I speak to ex only when absolutely necessary. When he rings ds speaks to him. Would definitely recommend this. I would also recommend keeping a diary of access and when he's abusive. Definitely helps disengaging.
You need absolutely to stick to texts and emails only. Don't engage with him on the phone, if he calls don't answer.
After I split with my Ex, I really tried to be 'friends' with him. Over the ensuing year/18 months He repaid me by ruining my next relationship and nearly costing my then boyfriend his job, by spending £40k from our joint account, and (once I was again single) hitting a bloke over the head with a bottle for talking to me. And periodically rowing with me, telling me what a shit disgrace of a parent I was, and never bringing the DC back on time. Ever.
Eventually, I decided I had taken more than enough, and said I would not communicate with him other than by text. He knows nothing about my life. I have physically seen him (but not spoken) twice in the last 2 years. It is liberating, the less contact you have very much the better, take it from me. My DC have accepted that's the way it is.
Practise some stock phrases and mantras. If you're communicating by text and email it's a lot easier to formulate a firm response unlike in a phone call, which is EXACTLY why he prefers phone calls.
'That suggestion is not possible. You can see DC at the arranged time or if that is not possible for you then we'll just see you at the arranged time next week'
'you already agreed to Wednesday. It is not possible to change to Thursday'.
Don't waffle about how difficult it will be and what plans you have.
In an amicable split where one works shifts then it is good to be flexible to facilitate contact but he's not amicable or reasonable.
You have a lot more power to call the shots than you think.
I also agree that someone who is abusive to their partner isn't a great influence on their child but also understand that you don't want to see your child disappointed.
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