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Being more assertive with controlling Ex husband(12 Posts)
Firstly I apologise because I've made so many posts about my ex h over the last 1.5 years but I really value the advice that I've been given in head and it's really empowered me when I've been struggling! I know you can read back over posts but a v quick over view, separated from ex h 18months ago, was all a nightmare, he stalked me, watched/listened to me through bedroom window, eventually after a year I found out he had a camera he'd put in my bedroom before he moved out watching me (other things happened too).
For sake of the children I have been way too tolerant of a lot of behaviour and now we have a fairly placid relationship when dealing with the children. The problem is how he manipulated and controlled me for our whole relationship (16 years of knowing him, was 16 when we met) is still having a huge effect on how I deal with the crap he gives me now and I'm struggling to "put my foot down". It's also a huge fear of upsetting him and him doing something awful, his behaviour this last 18 months has shown me a side to him that I didn't know he had and I'm scared of I am more assertive he will do something to mess up my life/hurt me. I don't know. He's never been physically violent.
The issue I have now is coming to a head with my new partner (who is wonderful and patient and understanding and has put up with an awful lot of crap that ex has done to me and to him). He says I need to start being more assertive with ex and I know he's right, for example:
Ex will say he is picking dc up at 12 that morning, and at 11.30 he'll message and almost pretend that was never the case and tell me he has a meeting at 1 and will try get there as soon as poss after, then later will message again and say meeting got pushed until 2.30 but will be there after, when I question that it's odd he didn't have a meeting this morning the meeting will have mysteriously got cancelled and he'll turn up. He's a compulsive liar and I know he probably just ended up doing something else and was late (he's self employed) but rather than me putting my foot down about the original time he says I let it happen and it messes up my plans.
On the nights he has boys he will drop them back early in the morning saying he's playing golf or whatever and he'll normally pick them up at 4/5 pm that night before.
So basically there's an unfair balance of him just doing what he wants and everything is timed to what he's doing and if I say anything against it or say to him that I'm not free until later in the day if he wants to drop boys back early on a day he's meant to have them I get the silent treatment and he's really off with me.
He used to turn up unannounced at my house to see boys after work and this stopped and he'd ask after I found out about camera, for a couple months he was much better but then it slowly just got back into old habits. I'll message and ask him to message me first to see if it's ok and for a couple weeks again he'll always message and ask first (although if I did say no it wasn't convenient he would not be happy about it) but then he'll just go back to turning up unannounced at any point.
I know this is such a ramble I'm sorry! I just feel like I don't even know how to put my foot down with him, he never listens for an extended period anyway, it always reverts back to the same behaviour. I feel like I'm living my life waiting on his timings and changing plans and it's so frustrating and it's understandably frustrating for my new partner, because I can rarely give him a set time that I am free/will no longer be free. I feel like I'm being so weak and a push over constantly.
Why are you being so passive with him? Why does it matter if he's 'off' with you when you put down boundaries?
You need to have a good think about why it's still important to you that you are in his good books - because that's what you are still doing. He's trained you, and every time you react to his bad mood and his unannounced visit, it reinforces to him that all he has to do is carry on behaving badly because you will roll over.
Stop preemptively messaging him - you don't need his permission. And if he wants to strop and sulk then that's up to him, because he's not your problem any more.
Do not deal with him verbally or by phone; everything needs to be n a text or email, because then he cannot deny it. This is easy because you don't need to talk to him on the doorstep - as he pulls up, bundle the kids out the door, wave goodbye to them and have the door shut again before he's even got out of the car. If you think he might get out and knock anyway, then as he pulls up, wave the kids off and get in your car and drive off round the block until he's gone. Divert his calls to voicemail permanently and if he leaves messages asking you to ring him, respond by text or email.
Give him a 30 minute window, and if he doesn't turn up then go out and get on with your weekend. If he messages wanting to know where the kids are, then provide a neutral response saying that he didn't show up and didn't tell you that he wasn't coming, that you and the kids now have plans, and that the kids will be available at the next designated contact time.
Basically you need to train him. That you will not give him the reaction that he wants, that you won't dance to his tune of turning up when he feels like it, and that he has to put things in writing so that he cannot gaslight you anymore.
Firstly is the contact court ordered? If not, it might be worth considering. That way there's no confusion of when and where pick up and drop off is.
Going forward, if he rings at 11.30 and changes the time, simply tell him (not ask) 'that's fine ex, we're off out now, the dc will have to come with us, the boys will be available at 5pm' or whenever you want.
Stop waiting in for him. Do what you were planning to do, but take the dc with you and tell him when it's convenient. Even if it means he misses that weekend. The first few times I may simply tell him that you'd planned to go away that weekend after he'd collected the dc, but as he can't get there until 1.30 you'll take them with you and he can see them the following weekend.
As for drop offs, make sure you're out of the house. Take yourself off for the day. When he rings asking where you are or that he'll be there in morning, simply tell him you're not there. You're 200 miles away etc.
Your dp is right. You need to stop pandering to him. Stop accommodating him. It'll be painful to start with I'm sure. But so what, what's he going to do.
Oh and so what if he ignores you - I say bonus
I changed contact so ex was picking up dc from school or childminder and mostly returning there too ( I collected from bus stop sometimes) took all contact away from my home, this worked well. I still had alternative childcare in place as he was unreliable. This worked fairly well for several years and reduced his ability to control me. It shouldn't have to be this way but it did work
Get it in writing what time he is coming then when he calls have plans ie original plan to collect at 12 he wants to change it sorry im going out at twelve fifteen give him very little leeway dropping off early sorry im out bring them to me if you must (ive met my ex in car parks at shopping centres before now because of this judt the once though because its a pita to get to)
Thank you for everyone's replied. DC's are only 2 and just 5 so I feel like I need to have him come to door and for me to drop them directly at his house surely? I also can't always get on with certain plans as new partner hasn't met children yet (we've been together a year, I've just been hesitant because of how ex has been and I've been wanting to wait for him to meet then until the financial side of divorce is sorted, and there have been delays because of the virus. Ex h came and told me the other day that he will never accept new partner in dc's lives, and that scared me.
I think I get so worried about his moods and reactions purely because of his behaviour the last year and I'm scared he's going to do something to me, which new partner says he never believes would happen, but I'm really not convinced.
There's no court order no, there's such a delay with everything re the divorce unfortunately
You have the children ready and as soon as you see the car pull up, hugs and kisses and bundle them out of the door with a cheery bye-bye.
Likewise you don't need to make small talk on his doorstep. If the kids aren't ready then wait outside and don't engage. You don't have to talk to him - you don't have to get drawn into conversation. Google the grey rock technique. The only subject you engage with is contact arrangements for the children, and even then it's just bare bones.
It doesn't matter if he thinks you are being rude. It doesn't matter what he thinks full stop. And if he does try something then you call the police straightaway.
Try and get a formal contact schedule nailed down.
I'm scared he's going to do something to me
And you're right to trust that instinct. I think your ex sounds very dangerous. Did you get any advice from the police, a DV organisation or a Stalking organisation?
@namechange12a no I didn't, I have a lawyer and she strongly advised it but honestly I was too scared to do anything that involved the police because of the fallout from that, I know it sounds so stupid
No it doesn't sound stupid at all, it sounds as though you're listening to that part of you that is telling you that he's dangerous - and he is.
The majority of women killed by a former partner have been stalked first. It's a high risk warning sign and it doesn't matter if he's never been violent before. Abusive men don't like to lose control which is why he's trying to maintain control regarding child contact. You having a new partner will be driving him mad.
I would contact the National Stalking Helpline in the first instance and get some advice on safety and your legal options. I'm assuming your solicitor has the evidence or has seen the evidence of the stalking which can be taken to the police.
I would get the child contact organised via the court and the evidence of stalking presented during that time. Start taking evidence of him messing you around. You can download the Brightsky app where you can journal incidents and record video and audio. Be careful he doesn't know you're taking any steps as it could inflame the situation.
Other steps you can take is finding out about the Sanctuary Scheme where someone will come to your house and check it for safety. It's LA dependent so just type in 'Sanctuary Scheme Birmingham' or wherever you are to see if it's available. If not, I would get someone out to do it for you and get one of those door bells with a camera.
It also sounds as though your solicitor is trained in DV or has experience of it and she was right to advise you to go to the police because at the very least, it builds evidence and adds to your case.
Other useful organisations are Gingerbread for child contact advice and Rights of Women for further legal advice.
OP part of your reticence to act, is because you feel powerless. You need to take back that power and you do that by getting advice and support.
@namechange12a thank you so much for taking the toke to send such a comprehensive reply I really appreciate it
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