You’ve been through the divorce process, the paperwork is signed and it’s final. Time to move forward and put all that behind you, right? Not always! If your ex hasn’t been able to navigate the divorce in an emotionally healthy manner you may see a continuation of conflict long after the divorce is final.
An unreasonable ex-spouse, if intent, can cause life for you and your children to be miserable. Child visitation, child support, and following divorce decree orders are just a few tools at your ex’s disposal when it comes to prolonging conflict after divorce.
You may be unable to control their behavior but you can control your response to the behavior. Taking a proactive stance when dealing with an unreasonable ex will lessen the stress brought on by any irrational manipulations.
How to Protect Yourself From an Unreasonable Ex:
- Don’t engage in the conflict.
Engaging in the conflict only feeds the conflict. If demands are made and you defend yourself, you are playing the game and should expect an escalation of the conflict. If you receive nasty emails, threats of “taking the children away,” or anything that causes you concern and stress, don’t respond.
No response from you will stop your ex in their tracks. If they have no one to play with, the game is over.
- Don’t give in out of fear.
No one knows you better than your ex. That gives them ammunition to use against you. They know your weaknesses and fears and will push those buttons in an attempt to get what they want. There is no more powerful tool at their disposal when it comes to controlling you than your own fears.
Here is one way to view the situation when they do something that causes you fear. Their manipulations and attempts to control you by causing anxiety in you are a reflection of just how afraid they are of you.
Don’t allow THEIR fear to get the best of you and derail your ability to rebuild your life after divorce.
- Don’t concern yourself with what is said.
Words can wound and you can expect an unreasonable ex to use their words. They will tell anyone who will listen negative things about your character and behaviors. It is only human to want to defend yourself when lies are being spread but, it won’t put a stop to the lies. And, lashing out certainly won’t make you look like the reasonable of the two of you.
The most effective response you can give to an ex who vilifies and maligns you to others is compassion. Mean people are hurting people. The anger your ex displays toward you is an indication of how much pain they are in. Showing compassion instead of striking back enables you to rise above THEIR pain and regain power in your life.
- Don’t give into guilt.
If the divorce was your idea you may feel quite a bit of guilt and angst over your decision. If, however, your decision to divorce was in your best interest you don’t want to allow those feelings of guilt to hold you back from moving forward.
It isn’t easy to hear how a decision you made hurt another person. Your ex can easily draw you into their pain by expressing the negative impact your decision had on them, how “nothing will ever be OK again.” An ex who brings their pain to you isn’t attempting to gain sympathy, they are attempting to cause you to feel the same pain they feel. You hurt them, they want you to hurt!
Guilt is the result of not doing something instead of doing something wrong. If you put a full-faith attempt in saving your marriage before deciding to divorce, you’ve done nothing wrong. You have nothing to feel guilty about!
Show your ex compassion, once again, but don’t give in to feelings of guilt or shame because you aren’t responsible for their pain.
The main focus of an unreasonable ex is to keep you engaged in a relationship that has legally ended. To disengage and move on with your life you will need to recognize certain behaviors for what they are, attempts to pull you back into a relationship you’ve already decided was not right for you.