How to Deal With Your Toxic Ex! Rebecca Zung, Esq.
Today’s topic is one that is can make an already traumatic process even more awful – dealing with a difficult ex.
The reasons for the ex being difficult can vary greatly. One person might be the person who has been “abandoned” and feels aggrieved in some way – so that person might think “I’m not going to make it easy for you to leave.” Or that perhaps “you should pay for the trauma you are putting me through.”
Another reason might be that the person genuinely has a personality disorder of some kind. I recently had a doctor friend of mine explain to me that “borderline personality disorder” does not mean the person flies on the border of normal and not normal. It means they hover on the super-fun border between neurosis and psychosis. Oomph. Put that in your therapy session and smoke it.
Or maybe there is one of what I call the Three Deadly Sins of Marriage – the Three As. Which are Abuse, Addiction or Adultery – all of which make normal communication difficult to say the least.
But during the divorce, and maybe even after the divorce you might still have to talk to this person. I recently heard a statistic that there are currently 40 million people who are divorced and still share custody of their kids. And the average time for having to share custody after divorce is 10 years! A long, long, LONG time if you don’t like your ex very much. (Or if you murder passes through your mind as a rational way to handle the situation from time to time.)
So all of that being said – what can you do?
1. One is minimize the times that you are communicating without some sort of controls in place. Maybe use an app like Our Family Wizard – where attorneys, judges, therapists or anyone to whom you give access – can log in and check what’s going on. Many times, the difficult spouse is also a narcissist who won’t want to look bad – they’ll have no problem unleashing on you when the two of you are alone – but if they think someone might be watching, they might behave a little better.
2. Take away the prize- what’s the prize – getting you all worked up! Sucking you into the drama. Making him or her think they got to you. Getting you to react. All of the above. You get the point. So the opposite of all of that is to stay calm, keep smiling. Respond in a consistent manner that is deliberate and doesn’t take any bait. If you’re responding to a text or email, maybe even give yourself some time to mull over a response that will be positive. Remember also that everything you put in writing is a potential trial exhibit – so picturing the judge over your shoulder as you write everything, is a good way to keep yourself in check. Think “will I be okay with seeing this again as an exhibit in court?” (yes, I know you don’t want to go to court, but guess what? No-one does! And somehow we have a super backlogged family court system….sooo…… better to be safe than sorry).
3. Minimize unnecessary contact. If you don’t have kids, then meet up at mediation, work things out there and leave it alone until then. If you do have kids, maybe you can do the exchanges through school (you drop off in the morning, the ex picks up at the end of the day…) or maybe you have a neutral location to do the exchanges. Maybe even a public place like the entrance of Target.
4. There are some books on the topic too – Co-Parenting with A Toxic Ex by Amy Baker. And Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger.
5. Also my own bestselling divorce book which I happen to be giving away right now, Breaking Free: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide to Achieving Emotional, Physical and Spiritual Freedom, right now. Just cover a small shipping and handling fee and relief and solutions will be delivered right to your mailbox. Breaking
One of the other ways you can take control of your divorce is through my private virtual divorce masterclasses! The Core 4 Series and the Core 4+ Kids series. Skip the hassle. Save the fees. You can check them out by visiting my website at https://www.breakingfreefromdivorce.com.
Thanks for joining me today. I give tips, tricks and divorce secrets every day. If you enjoyed this, please head on over to my youtube channel and hit subscribe. Also please check out www.breakingfreefromdivorce.com for ways to be supported in your divorce.
I will see you tomorrow for Thursday Divorce Thoughts where I will discuss How to Have a Healthy Divorce Diet
Until then, remember you’re just one step away from your new life. Together, we’ve got this.
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