How to respond?

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lilyflower236

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How to respond?
« on: May 18, 2017, 08:05:40 PM »
I have two friends giving me opposing advice.

I only communicate via email with my ex. He and his wife have been blocked on my phone for a year for your typical PD text drama. Best decision I've made post-divorce. I have made it clear to my ex that I do not co-parent with his wife based on her past abusive behavior to me and her continued attempts to alienate my young child from me.

I requested some information from my ex the other day. Today, his wife responded. She has never emailed me before. And let me tell you, that email was something else. Instead of just giving me the info, she waxed on about my parenting and my "means,"
but in a super polite and formal tone because, you know, she just wants to be helpful!

Friend A says if I want to make sure my son can do summer activities (what the info was about), which will span both parents' custody time, I should  ignore her confrontational ways, and just email back the ex a short message and tell him x, y, z camp/sport is ok. My ex is horrible about communicating and planning, always has been,  and if I can get pertinent info from the wife that's better than nothing and will allow my son to do sports and camps. This is what I call the pragmatic approach.

Friend B says I need to reinforce my boundaries. Tell my ex I trashed his wife's email without reading it and reiterate that I am no-contact with his wife. Friend B reminded me of all the times I've tried to work with both of them and it always started out ok but then devolved in a huge drama mess, sometimes just in a matter of weeks. Those events have always shaken me mentally quite a bit. Friend B is advocating what I call the mental health boundary protection approach.

What do you guys think?

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2017, 09:06:33 PM »
Lilyflower, I could have written your post. I'm in exactly the same situation.

I'm at work now but will respond later.

Gah!  These people infuriate me at times. (The pds. Not the friends.)

AOD

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notrightinthehead

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2017, 09:14:54 PM »
That is a difficult one. You are drawn between organizing something for your son and letting her know you are not talking to her. How about you let some time pass while you feel deep down inside you, how much you need to enforce the boundaries? When in doubt, I tend to choose the pragmatic approach.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2017, 01:09:33 AM »
Lilyflower. You may want to visit some of my posts to get an idea of what I'm dealing with. Especially "Need advice".

U/npd ex H left me and our son (now 10) nearly 5 years ago, for the woman who is now his wife.

For all this time I have tried to have him do his parenting stuff. Most of the time he informs me that HE has organised such and such or that HE will do xyz.  It's clear though that she does pretty much all of it.

I believe he is capable and may even want to do the parenting thing. But 2 things stop him, I think. His very low self esteem (disguised by his narcisstic abuse) and his overtly narcissistic wife.

I am finally starting to think that I should just stop hoping that he'll man up and accept that I will have to communicate with her.

I DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT. AND I SHOULD NOT HAVE TO.

I've been told by a psychologist that I need to protect myself from her.

But my son needs to be kept out of the drama.

I try to base all of my decisions upon what is best for our son.  That usually means I have to put up with their demands and communicate with her.  I'm counting the years to when I can finally block them from my life.

I agree with both of your friends.  I guess you need to work out which approach is best for your son.  If it means communicating with his Smum you may need to tap into your support system a little more to protect yourself.

Is there another way you could get the information you need?  A parent of another child attending the camp, or the camp officials?

I've found that in new situations involving 3rd parties (extra curricular activities,  medical appointments, school etc.) if I tell them up front it's a high conflict situation, the 3rd party agrees to communicate seperately with me.  Unfortunately not all of them are accommodating but it's worth a try.

My ex needs a partner to do the boring/difficult parts of parenting.  I need him to have soneone to do it for him, since he won't.

The woman he's married to is an overt narc. She needs to be needed. So they are perfect for each other.

It would be nice if his wife was half normal. But I wouldn't want anyone to end up suffering the abuse that I do.  So really I need his current wife to be his lacky.

I worry about the damage that she is doing to our son.  But at least most of his needs are being met this way.

All the best, Lilyflower. Let us know how things go.

AOD

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bopper

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2017, 01:44:15 PM »
Another  method is to respond in a BIFF manner..."Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm"

BRIEF

Keep your response brief. This will reduce the chances of a prolonged and angry back and forth. The more you write, the more material the other person has to criticize. Keeping it brief signals that you don’t wish to get into a dialogue. Just make your response and end your letter. Don’t take their statements personally and don’t respond with a personal attack. Avoid focusing on comments about the person’s character, such as saying he or she is rude, insensitive or stupid. It just escalates the conflict and keeps it going. You don’t have to defend yourself to someone you disagree with. If your friends still like you, you don’t have to prove anything to those who don’t.

 

INFORMATIVE

The main reason to respond to hostile mail is to correct inaccurate statements which might be seen by others. “Just the facts” is a good idea. Focus on the accurate statements you want to make, not on the inaccurate statements the other person made. For example: “Just to clear things up, I was out of town on February 12th, so I would not have been the person who was making loud noises that day.”

Avoid negative comments. Avoid sarcasm. Avoid threats. Avoid personal remarks about the other’s intelligence, ethics or moral behavior. If the other person has a “high conflict personality,” you will have no success in reducing the conflict with personal attacks. While most people can ignore personal attacks or might think harder about what you are saying, high conflict people feel they have no choice but to respond in anger – and keep the conflict going. Personal attacks rarely lead to insight or positive change.

 

FRIENDLY

While you may be tempted to write in anger, you are more likely to achieve your goals by writing in a friendly manner. Consciously thinking about a friendly response will increase your chances of getting a friendly – or neutral – response in return. If your goal is to end the conflict, then being friendly has the greatest likelihood of success. Don’t give the other person a reason to get defensive and keep responding.

This does not mean that you have to be overly friendly. Just make it sound a little relaxed and non-antagonistic. If appropriate, say you recognize their concerns. Brief comments that show your empathy and respect will generally calm the other person down, even if only for a short time.

 

FIRM

In a non-threatening way, clearly tell the other person your information or position on an issue. (For example: “That’s all I’m going to say on this issue.”) Be careful not to make comments that invite more discussion, unless you are negotiating an issue or want to keep a dialogue going back and forth. Avoid comments that leave an opening, such as: “I hope you will agree with me that …” This invites the other person to tell you “I don’t agree.”

http://www.highconflictinstitute.com/biff-responses/78-hci-articles/published-articles/87-responding-to-hostile-email
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
Anything makes the false self appear real is supply.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2017, 02:49:54 PM »
Ugh- such a lose lose situation- how are they THIS good at setting these up.

Can you email forward the email back to your ex with your reply, instead of replying to her? I wouldn't say you trashed the email without reading it, although that might feel good to say, that is going to trigger an angry response from them.  I'm not sure if the wife gave you the info you needed so you can say, "Ok, based on the information below I am moving forward with signing DS up for the following..". 

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bopper

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2017, 05:00:10 PM »
Write every email as though a judge is reading it (because they might be).


You can decide to only respond to your ex, the parent, but keep in BIFF.."Based on your response, I will be signing junior up for Camp X, Y and Z."

Ignore the nonsense...hopefully she will see if she can't bait you then she might stop it.
Just because they are incapable of loving you, doesn't mean that you are unlovable.
Anything makes the false self appear real is supply.

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A_newlife2014

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2017, 05:47:48 PM »
I think you have a bigger issue than just that of summer activities. You need to make the larger decision of how you can best achieve what is best for your son.

It sounds like you need to choose which approach will benefit your son in the long run, and then further choose the lesser of two evils.

I don't think it's black and white, or easy. You have one person involved with your son who is terrible at communicating with you, another who is willing to communicate, but who is confrontational. And you no doubt have equal conflict, although maybe in different ways, with both.

I agree 100% with the posters who said not to bother being nasty -- this can only and ever inflame things, it's pointless. BIFF might change your interactions for the better. (I have no phone contact with my ex also, it's hands-down the best thing I ever did for co-parenting.) BIFF also ensures that your interactions are unimpeachable in the court, which is always a good thing. You never want to give the ex ammo (I've done it, I'm sure most of us have, not saying we don't have weak spots, just saying we should STRIVE for the high road).

I think this might be your bottom line: I can get pertinent info from the wife that's better than nothing and will allow my son to do sports and camps.

It comes down ultimately to the long game -- what you need to do for your son to ensure what is best for him. Maybe it's a case-by-case thing, where you alternately find it's better at one time or another to deal with the wife or the ex. Or maybe you find it might work out to shift to the wife, I don't know how that's going to play out. But your end goal is to procure what your son needs; you need to figure out the best path to that.

I think you can have a pragmatic approach AND your mental health.



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Stumbleon

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2017, 07:27:49 AM »
One more tidbit! When my kids began sleep away camps, they were only "offered" 2 week options. But they were timid about goin and I called the camp director and got them into a one qeek portion protated for cost.

If ex and narc stepmom are obstructin 2 week plans, maybe try to break it down into something that is only on your time. Many places will work with you and hopefully the kids will be ok with that, and dad can plan something else for his time. Alows you to go low contact. Hugs!!

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lilyflower236

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2017, 12:43:38 AM »
Thank you for the advice! I actually have been using the BIFF method for the past two years but didn't know it had a name. I make sure to never go on the defensive, make short statements, use neutral tone, only deal with one topic at a time in an email, etc. I never say anything nasty or sarcastic, which is self-defeating to do that in writing.  I rarely use more that 2-3 sentences per email. And if the ex sends an email that's not related to our child's basic health and school needs -- like the time he demanded our child go to his house to be watched by his wife after school on my days, because I worked till 5 and the grandparents (his parents!) watched our child, I just ignore it.

He and his wife were the ones that wanted to do certsin summer activities, I had already made plans for summer activities that would take place on my time because it's just easier to not deal with them. But my exhad reached out, I asked for more info, then the wife emailed.

So I did end up replying back to my ex, not her, and saying I was ok with the activities. The wife has emailed me twice since then about inane things which I didn't respond to since they weren't requests for information or involved questions of any sort. It's so weird! I don't plan on ever replying to her, just my ex. I'm not opening that door with her again, believe me, I used to try to communicate with her about things involving my child but it would always start off great and then  devolve into random very early morning texts from her, with no warning, about my son's clothing  or what an awful person I am for not agreeing to a different custody arrangement, how I was a emotional  abuser in my marriage, etc. Crazy stuff! My ex would try to normalize her random outbursts ("it's natural for an ex-wife and the new wife to fight!" Yes he said that!)

Anyway, the second she turns abusive in one of her emails, she's blocked. Honestly I've joked with my bf about setting up a betting pool on how long she can play it cool. I give it two months tops.

And! This week was the first sports camp they wanted to send him to. I was prepared to take him in tomorrow morning for the canp's last day. But when I picked him up today, he told me he'd never been enrolled. They had never said a word to me about it. He's young enough that he really doesn't care and we've got plenty of fun stuff lined up for the week anyway -- Wonder Woman movie! Hosting little brother's bday party! Very first horseback riding lesson! :-)

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newday

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Re: How to respond?
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2017, 04:37:00 PM »
This is more of an observation than an answer to your question, but I think these new wives/girl friends are too paranoid and controlling to let their Mr. Wonderfuls communicate directly with us because of course we might try to win them back!  :stars:  I'm sure our xNPDh's do all they can to triangulate and stoke those jealous feelings but for the love of all that is holy - NEVER EVER EVER GOING BACK TO THAT ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP!