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SuperMouse's avatar

How can I keep my current relationship healthy while forced to deal with a toxic ex?

Asked by SuperMouse (30785points) August 9th, 2010

My ex-husband is a very unhappy man. We have been divorced over a year and a half and rather than making any attempt to move on with his life, he seems to have focused all of his attention on blaming me for the break-up and thinking of ways to hurt me. Because we have children together I am necessarily tied to him until my youngest reaches the age of majority – eleven more years. Of course his weapons of choice, because they are easy and available, are the children. I have a pretty good handle on how to protect them and keep focused on what is best for the children. While my man and I are totally committed to one another and to riding this out, I am interested in hearing from those who may have been through something similar – or anyone who might have some helpful thoughts on the subject. I am wondering what steps I can take to protect my current relationship while living with the inevitable stress an angry, vengeful ex might cause.

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10 Answers

le_inferno's avatar

What exactly is he doing to cause you such stress?

SuperMouse's avatar

His shenanigans are running the gambit and it would be pretty challenging to sum them up in a paragraph or two.

stardust's avatar

This is a draining situation. Have you tried sitting down with him and teasing things out a bit? Mediation?
As you’re tied to him and you can’t control his behaviour in any way, the best thing you can do is stay focused on yourself and the kids.
Not overly helpful, but the best of luck with it. I’ve seen my mam go through something similar with my father and it’s not easy.

le_inferno's avatar

I see, I just thought it’d be easier to give helpful advice if we knew what he was up to. But I think you are handling it well; your current partner is supportive and understanding, and you’re keeping a good perspective of the situation. Don’t let someone unhappy get to you and try to bring you down with him. You know you are better than that. I don’t think your current relationship needs protection; it seems to be strong enough. Just write your ex off as another miserable person who tries to get others to join in his own personal hell.

Dewey420's avatar

what do you mean by “protect your children”. i’m kinda biased here because i’m sort of in a similar situation where the mother of my daughter left me for some deathmetal rocker. I just hope you let him see the children and don’t make them call your new guy “daddy” cuz they only have one daddy. :(

truecomedian's avatar

I think you can handle a person in at least three ways: get along with them well, help them, or cut them off completly. There are ways and rules to all these ways. You need to concern yourself with the last one and do everything in your power to put a wall between him and you. It’s not easy.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Dewey420 I understand your concerns. My children see their father at least three days every single week. My new man and I are not married, nor are we even living together, so the “daddy” thing isn’t an issue, but we have already discussed it and I told them there is no way I would ever ask them to call another man dad because they already have a father. My two biggest concerns when it comes to the kids are keeping my negative feelings about their father from impacting their relationship with him by not discussing them at all with them, and making sure they are well taken care of and always come first.

I hope the situation with your ex and your daughter improves.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

If any of your kids are old enough then tell them they can ask you anytime they’re not sure about or get a weird gut feeling about what their dad does or says. Tell them you don’t want to discuss negative things about their dad with them and the best for everyone is if they try to deflect if he tries to talk negatively about you.

I have nothing but bad experience with my ex bf of 7yrs and his ex wife. He never could get past being angry and bitter with her, their talks were more like snarling and barking sessions. As much as I tried to calm the waters between, I ended up being disrespected and taken for granted as almost a weakling because I didn’t want to encourage either of them. His daughter I got along great but often felt exhausted by her parents “shenanigans”. Good luck, I really feel for you.

momnipotence's avatar

I always lean towards the side of least conflict. If certain things seem to set him off on tangents avoid it….if you can. Also, a lot of times making ground rules work well. I understand what it can be like to deal with a difficult ex. The most important thing is keep things as neutral as possible and keep the kids from becoming pawns in his games.

augustlan's avatar

My ex and I went through a pretty rough patch right after we separated. It lasted quite a while, and it was awful and ugly… worse even that what led us to divorce in the first place! I think it was all about control. When I got into another relationship, I would at first talk to my boyfriend (now my husband) about every incident. Essentially venting to him and crying on his shoulder. Being the ‘manly-man’ type of guy he is, he naturally wanted to solve all of my problems. Of course, he couldn’t, and that only created more problems for me (and us).

I finally realized that I needed to keep the baggage of my old relationship far away from my new one. My SO and I decided that he’d only be privy to information he needed to know… not every argument that came down the pike. I asked the ex to only call me when I was likely to be alone. I was very firm about it, and if he didn’t listen (and it wasn’t an emergency) I hung up on him. Repeatedly. We spent a lot of driving time talking on the phone. If we weren’t done by the time I got home, I’d keep driving until we were. (And until I was good and done crying.) If my SO asked what was wrong, I’d just say “the usual… fight with the ex”, and carry on. This helped a lot, pretty immediately.

Over time, I got to the point where an argument with my ex didn’t send me into a tailspin in the first place. I basically refused to engage. If things got heated, I’d exit the discussion altogether. Repeatedly. We have long since gotten back to being on good terms with one another, with only sporadic issues. I still handle 90% of those issues without ever involving my husband.

I wish you all the strength you’ll need, and all the best outcomes as you try to resolve this stuff. You can do it, girlie!

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