My Ex-Husband Is Manipulative and Mean
My Ex-Husband Is Manipulative and Mean
How to Get Your Ex to Co-Parent Peacefully without Lawyers
By Kathy Murray, Laura Doyle Certified Senior Relationship Coach
When your ex-husband is playing games, using the kids to get to you and refusing to do simple, reasonable things like drop them off when he says he will, it’s maddening.
Especially if the whole reason you got divorced was to get away from his crazy-making behavior, it can make you feel trapped.
Those getting hurt the most are the kids, and that breaks your mama heart. Why can’t he see what he’s putting them through?
Luckily, there is a solution. It doesn’t involve threats, courts or begging.
When I found my second marriage failing, I tried marriage counseling and even going to therapy by myself to try and fix what I deemed my new husband’s faults.
It was incredibly painful to be in a sexless marriage where my husband wanted nothing to do with me and to be in a huge custody and child support battle with my ex-husband, all at the same time.
I was exhausted, frustrated and at my wits’ end. Why couldn’t either of these men see my point of view?
Why couldn’t they see what I needed and how wrong they were about how to please me and how to be a good father or husband?
I mean, I told them, explained it to them, cried to them and pleaded for their admission to being wrong. How could they not know?
I read every self-help book I could get my hands on to remedy the situation. I attended course after course on marital and self-transformation, but nothing seemed to work. My husbands still weren’t changing–until I accidentally picked up The Surrendered Wife.
I read it from cover to cover in one weekend.
What I hadn’t considered was the common denominator between my failed first marriage and my failing second marriage.
For the first time in all my years of trying to fix my broken husbands, I found hope and insights on my side of the street. Things I’d never even considered–like that I might be the problem. With this awareness, I emerged as an empowered wife and dignified woman.
Since childhood, I’d been so used to being the victim of those who hurt me or did me wrong that I was constantly pointing the finger at someone else.
My father, then my first husband, then my second.
The waiter who didn’t provide quick enough service or got my order wrong.
Even my siblings and coworkers–anyone who triggered my hurts.
Reading Laura’s work opened my eyes to how I could be the one to change the culture in my home and my children’s lives forever.
Little did I know then that this powerful change would not only save my second marriage but that I’d become best friends with my ex-husband.
When I learned about how important respect is for a man, I set out to practice being respectful in my marriage. When my husband, Doug, responded positively, I began to think about how disrespectful I’d been with my first husband.
How could I say I was committed to being respectful without looking at who I’d been with my first husband?
Carrying a chip on my shoulder with my ex while practicing being respectful with my new husband didn’t feel right. I felt like a fraud.
As scary as it was, I chose a new path.
The fight we’d been in over custody and child support was a result of my disrespect, and I wanted to do something about it.
So I apologized to my ex-husband for being disrespectful when I’d used the court system to manipulate the results.
Even though the law had been on my side, I was causing suffering for my children. I was controlling their child support order and demanding visitation on a schedule that I determined was appropriate. And I had the courts agreeing with me.
Instead of saying “Whatever you think” to their father.
Instead of trusting he would be generous and want the children to have all the support and visitation they deserved.
I had created the tense world I was living in, and my children were paying the price.
As a sign of my commitment to respecting my children’s father, even though we’d been long since divorced, I went to the courthouse and said I wanted to reduce the amount of child support I was demanding by half.
The clerk of the court was shocked. She called the supervisor over, and together the three women asked if he was threatening me.
It was just the opposite. I was done threatening him.
Laura says what we focus on increases, and I had been focused on what a loser my first husband was. And he continued to show up as a loser until I shifted my view to a respectful one.
When I practiced being respectful in my relationships with both men, my whole world changed. My life became happy and I had more peace in my home.
My children got to witness healing and transformation that have continued to deepen over the last 17 years.
Now I see plenty of reasons to respect my ex husband. Not only am I best friends with him, he is best friends with my current husband! My children have two fathers who love them and a mother who is dignified, happy and at peace.
Doug and I just celebrated our 25th anniversary. We are more physically affectionate and connected than I ever imagined possible.
We also celebrated my mother’s life after her recent passing. My ex-husband joined our family at the ceremony as her son-in-law. He spoke beautifully about my mom having loved him as a son and how I transformed a family and future generations.
I am on a mission to end world divorce and support women being empowered to create the kind of relationships where they feel desired, cherished and adored. But also to have a strong co-parenting relationship with the father of their children should they already be divorced.
Even though I did not save my first marriage because I didn’t have the skills, I saved my second marriage and healed my relationship with my children’s father by practicing respect.
Being respectful means I don’t try to control or correct my husband or my ex. I trust they are capable, and I stay on my side of the street.
I find every opportunity to express my gratitude for all that these men do for me and my children. I show my respect by deeply listening to what they have to say without interrupting or trying to sway them towards my point of view.
Respect is like oxygen for the men in my life.
Through my being respectful, they get to be my heroes, and I get to feel adored.