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Managing XH years after separation

(56 Posts)
withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 14:29:05

I posted another thread about dodgy electrics, but it's made me think that the electrics are not the issue.

So, XH and I separated over 4 years ago and have been divorced for over 2.

I live with my lovely DP and we are marrying later this year, COVID permitting. My children think DP's great and seem happy at home - and home life is generally good, barring the usual teen strop.

Things have been good for most of the last year - XH has been pleasant and reasonable enough - the anger that was there at the beginning of our separation and divorce had gone and things were easier. I had been able to ask him to have the kids for extra times when I have been working, he's been happy to see the kids more. This is all a far cry from how it was in the beginning.

We had an acrimonious divorce. He had an affair with a work colleague. He and she were unpleasant, claiming that I was unstable - he tried to make me sell the house, threatened to take the kids from me and employed various bullying tactics, throwing in a bit of emotional abuse and gaslighting for good measure. He really showed me his true colours, and it wasn't pleasant.

Anyway, his relationship with OW didn't last, apparently (though she seems to be ringing him with increasing regularity over lockdown). And since the regular phone calls, we have been not getting on as well as we were. Coincidence?

Anyway, I can't ever disagree with anything he says or does. I cannot raise any issues, I cannot raise concerns (he can, of course, and frequently starts conversations with 'I don't want to cause an argument, but...') yet, if I raise ANYTHING, he will sulk like a petulant child and be monosyllabic, or sit in his car waiting for the kids, scowling. If I ask him to do something or not to do something (and this is limited to the kids) he will actively and purposely do the opposite. Every time. He never accepts responsibility for anything - everything is always someone else's fault.

I had hoped that after all this time, things would be better. Is this really the way it's going to be until my youngest is old enough for me never to have to talk to his dad again?

What tips do you have? What works for you? How would you manage it?

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ncailleach Thu 06-Aug-20 14:59:49

I split with exh nearly 14 years ago and I'm afraid that in my experience my exh did not improve. Fortunately you care less as time goes on, as do the children. I did ban exh from my house as I couldn't take him marching in, checking out my fridge and critiquing everything, whilst being disagreeable and unsupportive anytime he was asked for anything. This really helped free up my headspace to deal with things better. When he was accusing me of mental health issues, my Dr said in her opinion I just needed to get away from him (although she would refer me on if it was what I really wanted). It was just what I needed to hear and gave me the strength to distance myself from his toxic behaviour. Best thing I ever did! He has not set foot in my house for about a decade now smile. Our relationship ended over a relationship he had with a work colleague but in my experience he was an arse because he's an arse. Hope that helps! It is crap when the kids are small flowers

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 15:04:33

Bugger. I'm sorry to hear your experiences, though glad that you have found something that works.

I think very definite boundaries are important. I have never set foot inside his house, though he has come in to mine (it was the house we shared) once when I wasn't here. To shout at the kids and have a bit of a look round.

He is an arse but he thinks he is the dog's bollocks. He's a real narcissist.

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OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 15:05:42

I understand too. I have a small favour I would like my toxic xh to do. It would be easy for him and help me a lot. My brother and I just wrote a list of all the ways he could use this favour as a way to make my life difficult. Then we both said to leave it. You have to completely ignore him and give him no information or space to manoeuvre in your head or life. Grey rock all of the way. If he was a dog that bit you now and again you'd cross the road to avoid the hassle. You wouldn't go near him and wo der if today would be a good day.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 15:09:26

I agree - but it's hard when you have to attempt to communicate for access arrangements for children. I don't ask him for anything other than with the kids.

Grrrrr. It's so frustrating.

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StoneColdBitch Thu 06-Aug-20 15:20:44

What sort of things are you asking him to do or not to do? He has the right to make his own plans for his contact time, so although you can tell him about things like sports clubs or party invites, he's entitled to make his own plans for contact time, and set his own rules and boundaries in relation to the kids' behaviour.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 16:09:47

Yes, of course he is. I am not unreasonable. And I don;t direct how he spends his time or how he manages behaviour (as much as I'd like to).

So for instance, our daughter has been recently diagnosed by the hospital as being dairy intolerant. We have been advised to not give her any dairy for a period of time. When relaying this information to him, he nods and says OK, then the following mealtime gives DD cheese mixed in things. He doesn't provide food that she can eat.

DS has a rash - needs a special shampoo. XH refuses to use it.

He lets DS watch totally inappropriate things on YouTube (serial killers etc) and he's 9. I get that he is entitled to set the boundaries he wishes, but when he starts drawing serial killers and knives, I can't ignore that.

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withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 16:10:16

There are many more...

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withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 16:14:46

Oh, and he tells me about sports things that he wants me to take DCs to.

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OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 16:33:28

You need a communication app or notebook. Only use WhatsApp or whatever. Never reply immediately.

OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 16:49:22

Sounds like mine. Bastards. Honestly you either cut contact or take him to court or teach your kids how to cope.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 17:51:55

I can't cut contact as my kids are not old enough for me to. Court might be a bit extreme - and the kids cope - but it's hard when DD comes home saying that he hasn't provided any food for her to eat. Often she has to use her own money to buy food from the Co-op when she's with him. It's a bit sad.

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endofthelinefinally Thu 06-Aug-20 18:11:56

I would inform your GP about the dietary non-cooperation and the shampoo situation, just to have it on record. Make sure you have advised your ex about the medical things by email.
Inform the school in writing about the inappropriate videos etc. They will be concerned if your DS is drawing this sort of thing.

OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 19:12:15

Yes. And tell the school what you've said here. Very similar situation here. I've told mine they can sneak to the shop and phone the police if they are scared or not safe but I've told all of the agencies everything, including footage of them screaming about not going. None of them can do anything. Really your simply in it to give your daughter enough information so one day she can telm him to fk off herself. I'm sorry.

Tappering Thu 06-Aug-20 19:19:01

What @endofthelinefinally said.

In respect of him telling you what you need to do, grey rock him. Disengage and be very neutral. Then when he's buggered off you can disregard what he's said and do what you were planning anyway. If he kicks off then ignore him.

Narcissists thrive on reaction. If you grey rock them then it's like denying oxygen to a fire - it can't function without it.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 Thu 06-Aug-20 19:30:38

How old is your DD? Can she not tell him herself that she is allergic to dairy products?

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 19:45:45

She's 13 and she does. Once she told him, he said 'but this is buffalo mozzarella' (I know, middle class problems), but he generally still ignores her, or has a go saying she's defiant and rude.

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Flowers009 Thu 06-Aug-20 19:55:27

I think because he's unhappy with her he takes it out on you. Whatever you do don't let him effect your new relationship

GhostOfMe Thu 06-Aug-20 19:59:42

Re the dairy issue would he go off at her if she took her own food or helped herself to things like fruit/raw salad veggies/dry cereal out of the fridge or pantry? Are their edible portions of meals like vegetables/salad? Unfortunately theirs no way to get him to put his kids needs ahead of his desire to hurt you. Everything in writing just in case you need it, minimal contact and strong boundaries. If he keeps ignoring their needs your DC may well decide to reduce contact as they get older and things like medication for a rash DS hopefully soon could quietly treat himself without reference to your Ex.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow1 Thu 06-Aug-20 20:05:13

At 13 she can choose whether or not she wants to go to her dads. If he's being unkind to her, it won't be long before she just flat out refuses to go.

WellIWasInTheNeighbourhoo Thu 06-Aug-20 20:28:54

This is a little controversial, but it worked for me, so I'll throw it out there. Have you tried being impatient, rude, condescending, difficult, sneering. I know it sounds awful but sometimes when you are dealing with narcissistic abusive people the only time there is respect is for the bigger dog. Bullies are cowards who only respond positively when being bullied back, the second they smell weakness they are all over it. Its just something I noticed, that if I lost my temper and started to serve back what I was being dealt, I saw a different person, someone who started trying to please me. Very odd. Basically dont take any crap, call it out. Might be worth trying and see if he backs off and starts trying to get back in your favour. Because honestly even when the kids leave school its not over with the ex, weddings, family crisis etc you never get rid of them completely (sorry), so demanding respect is worth it.

OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 20:46:22

Yes pp. I tried all of that. He used it as leveridge to prove that I was indeed totally irrational and mental. Bastard.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 20:52:58

I could try that, but I'm not sure how it would go.

We're not getting on now because of an incident a few weeks back. He has a SIL who was discussing my partner's and my forthcoming wedding. Was it still happening, directing the questions to my DDs. Now, they haven't seen her for ages because of lockdown, but they're not that keen on her as she's generally not very pleasant to them - usually barely speaks to them, unless she wants some info. They couldn't understand why she'd want to know (she's a relative by marriage, not a blood relative - something that is usually important to XH). Anyway - I felt cross as she commented that 'if she were that desperate to get married...'. So I texted her and asked her not to comment or involve herself in something that doesn't concern her. This is long and waffly, I know, but XH later stood on the doorstep and said 'I don't want to cause an argument, but SIL wasn't commenting on your wedding...' and basically tried to minimise any involvement on her part. At this point, I did flare up and got angry (I had decided that I wouldn't be nice about it if he brought it up as I was really annoyed) He walked off looking a bit surprised, but I can't say that it had the effect of gaining his respect. The opposite in fact. I think it made him feel justified in calling me a nutcase again. I think, because he is such a narcissist, that the grey rock approach might be worth a try.

He's also been snippy because I had he nerve to react to another incident a week later. When I was dropping off the kids, he made me wait at the door - I was waiting to talk about collection times the next day - but he pissed me off as he was grandstanding - showing me what an awesome dad he was, kissing and hugging he children repeatedly while I was waiting on he doorstep. I was there for ages. Eldest DD had a snipe at DC and an argument kicked off. More grandstanding and loud parenting, and I just couldn't be arsed to wait - so I left. He then told DD I had left because of her and she believed him. I found out when she got home. She'd been really upset with me about it. I didn't say anything to him at first, but when the opportunity arose I did. He didn't like it, so more snippiness and sulking.

He's just an arse.

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OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 21:00:44

Omg. These are, no offence smile, amateur mistakes. This is more of a pink rock than a grey rock. You drop them off. You leave. You don't kniw if he Disney Dad a, you can't see or hear. Anyone, including sil, can say what they like. It's not your business. Arrangements are sorted out via a communication notebook or WhatsApp. That's it. There are way, way too many moments where he can get a rise out of being important in your life. Sorry for being blunt.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 21:18:37

Er, no.

SIL can say what she likes to him, but when she includes my kids and involves them directly, I will react.

And as I said, things had been going relatively well until this point, so a grey rock was not necessary. But now it is, and now he will get Everest.

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