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?

OP’s posts: |
Tappering Sat 08-Aug-20 12:35:39

You're right. I can't stop them asking. But they can't stop me challenging it.

No, your're right, they can't. But every time you do it gives your Ex a reaction. It also gives your SIL a reaction. And both of them can keep being dicks because they know that you will rise to it.

I know it's annoying, I know it's unfair, but if you keep engaging they will keep doing this. @Sssloou is right and gives some very good advice.

OhioOhioOhio Fri 07-Aug-20 18:50:53

I know that sounds mean, sorry. But honestly think of what kind of experience do you want your children to have of you? If you want to see them snipping and snapping? Or, making room for happy times?

OhioOhioOhio Fri 07-Aug-20 18:18:07

No op but holy crap you just got my back right up. I've been through hell learning all of this and I'm in a really, really good place. I've learned the hard way that he has rights. The law will not recognise his bad behaviour. The law will not protect my children from his bastard family. You need to let them get on with it or choose to keep your relationship alive and filled with spikes and discomfort.

Sssloou Fri 07-Aug-20 17:12:50

Indifference, dignity and silence are much more powerful behaviours with these types.

These you can model to your DCs.

Teach them not to get drawn or triggered by toxic people.

Teach them boundaries. To sense, trust and respond to their instincts with difficult people. Teach them to be strong, emotionally resilient and in control - show the emotionally mature and more effective way of responding but not reacting.

Give them generic phrases to politely and assertively close down conflict. They need this skill for life.

That’s powerful and constructive.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Fri 07-Aug-20 16:34:58

OhioOhioOhio

It's not odd but I think the pp is saying that they are not only your kids so 'my kids' doesn't particularly paint the truth. I find it easier thinking of him as 'their father' and them having a right to see him, instead of him having rights. I find it easier to cope with.

Maybe pp should answer. After all, you don't know what they mean.

OP’s posts: |
OhioOhioOhio Fri 07-Aug-20 16:15:09

It's not odd but I think the pp is saying that they are not only your kids so 'my kids' doesn't particularly paint the truth. I find it easier thinking of him as 'their father' and them having a right to see him, instead of him having rights. I find it easier to cope with.

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withaspongeandarustyspanner Fri 07-Aug-20 16:09:24

Why is it odd? You don't refer to your kids that way?

OP’s posts: |
callmeadoctor Fri 07-Aug-20 15:56:08

The point I was making was that you keep saying "my kids". It seemed odd, that all.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Fri 07-Aug-20 15:10:33

I have met my ex-SIL before. Had the pleasure for over a decade. I know the kind of person she is. I know precisely the comments she has always made about other members of the family and people she doesn't like.

Pretty hard for DD to ignore a direct question about my wedding. She would have been shouted at for not replying as expected.

And yes, I realise they are his kids too. More's the pity. But not really sure what point you're trying to make. I wouldn't mind if he was a competent father.

OP’s posts: |
callmeadoctor Fri 07-Aug-20 14:02:30

You should ignore (and teach the kids to ignore) any comments from SIL or others. In any event, context is always the thing, maybe they misheard, maybe it wasn't said in a derogatory way. You can't possibly know as you weren't there. Also they aren't just "your kids", they are his too. By sending the text, you are letting him know that you are letting it get to you, if it has been deliberate then he knows now that he can "up his game" and really get to you.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Fri 07-Aug-20 12:06:42

bakedoff

What a difficult situation. No advise but wanted to say that my sister was in that position and now the kids don’t see Dad through their own choice because of this kind of thing.

I'm so sorry to hear about your sister. Interested to hear that the kids made that choice in the end.

Well, until recently eldest did not go, but now has friends out that way, so finds going to his convenient. I'm glad that it's helping though he isn't often nice to her.

DD2 (the one with the milk intolerance) has decided that she doesn't want to go for the foreseeable. She says she loves him because he's her dad and she feels obliged to, but she doesn't like him. He shouts at her a lot. The other two are younger - and it's normal for them to go, but interestingly, as DS1 is getting older, he appears to be less golden child than he was. XH has started yelling at him. I know this as the DCs come home and offload.

OP’s posts: |
withaspongeandarustyspanner Fri 07-Aug-20 11:54:37

everythingbackbutyou

**@withaspongeandarustyspanner**, I love your username. Why not try 'What Would Morrissey Do?' just for fun when dealing with your ex, e.g. maybe smack him around with a bunch of daffodils...
Seriously, your post describes the behaviour of my covert narcissist stbxh to a tee, too - the sulking/refusal to help out/doing the opposite of what he is asked/monosyllables. I can almost guarantee your ex's ramped up sulkiness/being difficult etc. is linked to his rekindled relationship with OW. I can almost pinpoint to the day the timing of my ex meeting his new (and of course immediately full-on) girlfriend, because that would be the day he stopped asking for a hug/offering to be fwb (ha ha I'm not that crazy) whenever he came to pick up the children. The minute there is nothing in it for him, he drops the mask of being a human being because he doesn't need any supply from me. It's pathetic and I don't envy a single thing about his hollow existence.I have no idea what he has told other people about why we separated, but I'm sure it isn't anything along the lines of "Well, after I turned a loving and loyal wife into a trembling shell by my emotional and financial abuse and eroding her trust in people's goodness, she felt like she had no choice to protect her children and her sanity other than ask me to leave. I am such a shit and so ashamed of myself. I will learn from this and seek intensive counselling to address the gaping hole where my soul should be". Also, yes to Everest. i am very much enjoying providing him with minimal information and zero reaction of any kind.

Thanks for this. I know OW is in regular contact and I can hear her voice and her words as he speaks (I'm 99% certain that she used to write his texts, too, as suddenly they had big words, spelled correctly, with commas and everything - something that in all the years of our marriage he never managed to do). All the way through our separation, he sounded like he was using someone else's words. and here we are once more as she rings daily.

I've had more grief today. He's sworn at me and threatened me with family court again.

Dick.

OP’s posts: |
withaspongeandarustyspanner Fri 07-Aug-20 11:48:18

StoneColdBitch

I'm sorry but I think you texting your ex-SIL was incredibly childish. You sound like a teenage girl. If you actually want to address this problem, go grey rock and ignore them all, apart from factual discussions about contact arrangements. If, on the other hand, you're enjoying the drama, carry right on.

Thanks for your input. i hope you have a lovely day.

OP’s posts: |
StoneColdBitch Fri 07-Aug-20 10:58:01

I'm sorry but I think you texting your ex-SIL was incredibly childish. You sound like a teenage girl. If you actually want to address this problem, go grey rock and ignore them all, apart from factual discussions about contact arrangements. If, on the other hand, you're enjoying the drama, carry right on.

OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 23:57:07

Excellent post pp.

everythingbackbutyou Thu 06-Aug-20 23:38:46

@withaspongeandarustyspanner, I love your username. Why not try 'What Would Morrissey Do?' just for fun when dealing with your ex, e.g. maybe smack him around with a bunch of daffodils...
Seriously, your post describes the behaviour of my covert narcissist stbxh to a tee, too - the sulking/refusal to help out/doing the opposite of what he is asked/monosyllables. I can almost guarantee your ex's ramped up sulkiness/being difficult etc. is linked to his rekindled relationship with OW. I can almost pinpoint to the day the timing of my ex meeting his new (and of course immediately full-on) girlfriend, because that would be the day he stopped asking for a hug/offering to be fwb (ha ha I'm not that crazy) whenever he came to pick up the children. The minute there is nothing in it for him, he drops the mask of being a human being because he doesn't need any supply from me. It's pathetic and I don't envy a single thing about his hollow existence.I have no idea what he has told other people about why we separated, but I'm sure it isn't anything along the lines of "Well, after I turned a loving and loyal wife into a trembling shell by my emotional and financial abuse and eroding her trust in people's goodness, she felt like she had no choice to protect her children and her sanity other than ask me to leave. I am such a shit and so ashamed of myself. I will learn from this and seek intensive counselling to address the gaping hole where my soul should be". Also, yes to Everest. i am very much enjoying providing him with minimal information and zero reaction of any kind.

bakedoff Thu 06-Aug-20 23:28:43

What a difficult situation. No advise but wanted to say that my sister was in that position and now the kids don’t see Dad through their own choice because of this kind of thing.

IndieTara Thu 06-Aug-20 23:11:39

Op Im afraid you cannot change other people and you cannot control what they say or how they behave. The only control you have is how you respond and react to them.
To some extent these people will always be in your and your children's life. But As your kids get older they will probably start to vote with their feet

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 22:03:12

OhioOhioOhio

Bit they will. They will do it again and again and again and again. And they will enjoy your upset. Your children will experience a better version of you if you ignore it.

They might and they will get the same response until they stop doing it in front of my kids. I know the family. They like to appear to be proper. Appearances matter. They may say what they wish out of earshot of my children.

OP’s posts: |
OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 22:01:22

Bit they will. They will do it again and again and again and again. And they will enjoy your upset. Your children will experience a better version of you if you ignore it.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 21:59:53

He can't hurt me any more, but they won't involve my kids.

OP’s posts: |
OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 21:57:09

Because it is so, so sad and so, so hurtful.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 06-Aug-20 21:52:19

OhioOhioOhio

Sorry again.

Why are you sorry?

OP’s posts: |
OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 21:48:02

Sorry again.

OhioOhioOhio Thu 06-Aug-20 21:47:17

That's the really, really bitter pill you need to swallow. It isn't your business anymore. I've cried so much about it. For years in fact. What happens at his house is not my business. I hate it. HATE IT. But I'm a better mother having accepted it than picking a fight I can never, ever win.

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