My Ex will not rest until he destroys my relationship

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Arkhangelsk

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My Ex will not rest until he destroys my relationship
« on: March 02, 2018, 11:12:50 AM »
Short background - I have been divorced for two years.  I have been in custody litigation for a year to the tune of 35k, thus far - with my only goal being to get a parenting plan that creates a set of rules to follow so there can be stability.   I have 2 boys, 6 and 8.  The 8 year old have fairly severe behavioral/emotional issues.  My ex accused me and my current partner of abusing the 8 year old, which was ultimately dismissed as unfounded.  But the police were involved and my partner was prepped by his criminal lawyer for what it would be like to be charged and arrested (which he ultimately was not).  I probably spend over 20 hours every week working on issues caused by my ex - who does not work, despite 2 professional degrees and to whom I pay child support.  But I go to therapy and I am very active in training a martial arts (my ex says this is any example of my obsession with a culture of violence making me unstable for the kids) and I have a fantastic support system and a flexible job.  So I am growing and feel like I am making it through.

My partner, on the other hand, seems defeated.  Before he met me he had built a successful life with a great career (no kids).  We deeply compatible intellectually and in what we value and, absent my family drama, would have a pretty epic relationship.  He is loving with the kids and expends amazing energy trying to learn to parent a special needs child.  But the constant threats coming from my ex - I think it is reaching a breaking point for him.

Here is an example of what the constant barrage:
1- My partner gives up his work room in the finished basement and we make it into a sensory-kid friendly bedroom for the 8 year old with a gorgeous mural on the wall and mats on the floor.  The kid LOVES it.  It helps with so many parts of his routine and we finally have a place where he can move and bounce and step away to calm down.  Then the child comes and tells us that his father told him that it is a not a safe place for him to stay - because if he sleeps in the basement, he will die in a fire.  We calmly respond by outlining a fire-safety plan and point out that there is actually one additional point of egress from his room compared to any other bedroom in the house. 
2-  My 8 year old asks to do the school science fair.  We inform his father and ask to have the child for the 2 hour window on a dad-day for the final presentation.  We never get an answer.  The child keeps asking because he is nervous and keeps saying, Dad says he will do the experiment with me.  We work on the project without knowing what will happen.
3- We get a recommendation for family therapy - for all 5 of us.  I talk to the 2 recommended high-conflict divorce counselors and try to communicate and set a time with the 8 year old's doctor and mobile therapist (who both separately support us going to this therapy) - but my ex refuses to meet - even though he is under court order to do so.  He says, "I do not want to have a meeting until we see the judge, because when we do, there is going to be a radical change in custody, so this meeting will not matter."

We have a conciliation with the judge in 2 weeks.  Personally, I know the only way out is through.  I am putting my head down and working to prepare and hoping for some help from the judge.

However, we are many months and many thousands of dollars from a trial and a resolution that will not really be an end, as my ex does not follow court orders.  I can see my partner's nerves fraying.  He is trying so hard, but I can understand why he is loosing hope.  He was excited about the recommendation for family therapy, but being blocked seems to have really crushed him.  I suggested he go to his own therapist, so he tried and the first one he met with was really not equipped to handle the complexity so he stopped after 5 sessions. 

Sorry for the long post.  I am just sitting here this morning, when I should be working thinking:
- Am I doing enough for my kids, for my partner?
- Am I doing too much?  Should I remember to focus on me?
- Is it even fair to ask anyone else to get in this foxhole with me.  I have a good man who is trying to be true to what he signed up to do - but maybe I should not ask anyone to sign on. 
- Why can't I have good things.  I have been diligent and honorable and worked so goddamn hard.  I am a good mother and an amazing partner, but I am chained to a festering sore and anyone would comes in range has endure the stink.

I am tired and sad today.

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Latchkey

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Re: My Ex will not rest until he destroys my relationship
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2018, 12:03:50 PM »
I am so sorry to hear this. Sometimes the reality of everything comes crashing down and you just have to step back & disengage.

I am twice divorced from PDs with kids with both. My older two from first marriage are in college, youngest is 7.

In my second marriage it was a blended family and we both had PD ex's so we dealt with some of same dynamic you experience from both sides. And continue to have the stigma of my exes issues and secrets and behaviors that haunt my future relationships.

As I've gone on, now about 4 years out of second marriage and have dated some -- I can say that nearly every single Dad I've met is dealing with some stress and drama of co-parenting and end of divorce. Nearly every single mom has some of this too, in fact single mothers have more usually. So I can honestly say you are not alone and neither is your experience all that different from many many others. I'm not trying to downplay your experience just that you are a good mother and doing the best you can with a tough situation.

That being said, I think the best thing you can do is give your partner a lot of breathing space and allow him to not be involved as much as you are able with the care of kids and drama of this divorce. Try to have time just with him and perhaps distancing him from the kids for a while would fool your ex into thinking he's winning and take the laser focus off your partner and preserve your r/s.

I think he sounds like a great guy and he's involved and present. Perhaps another try at therapy would be good with a counselor aware of the trauma caused by PDs. Anything he can do for himself would be good I think.

Anyway, I feel like I'm rambling but wanted to say you are not alone!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 12:11:00 PM by Latchkey »
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
-Mother Jones
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There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
-Maya Angelou
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When we have the courage to do what we need to do, we unleash mighty forces that come to our aid.

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Penny Lane

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Re: My Ex will not rest until he destroys my relationship
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2018, 04:43:05 PM »
Hey Arkhangelsk,
These are really hard struggles for the whole family. I think we've talked about this in a previous thread, but I'm coming from the opposite end in that I'm the significant other in the situation. I don't know about your partner, but I went into the situation with more or less open eyes. I get really down sometimes, but I never regret or reconsider my decision to be with him. And I try to be really clear in my own mind that the stuff I do for the kids is not for my partner - it's for the kids. That helps me figure out what I'm willing to do and what limits to set.

It seems like you've been worrying a lot about fixing this for your partner. What would happen if you let go of the idea that you need to fix it for him? He's made the decision to be with you. He knows what that entails. And he can leave if he wants to. He hasn't! So it seems like he wants to be with you and wants to help you work through it. When you ask yourself if it's fair to bring someone with you, your ex wins. Focus on being a good partner, enjoying the nice things you share together and the family time the four of you have.

That being said, one way you can support him is to let and encourage him to set limits about dealing with this. It's nice that you encouraged him to go to a therapist. What other ways can he practice self-care? Does he need you to not pass along terrible things your ex says about him? Does he need to devote one day a week to not talking or thinking about your ex? Does he need to spend more time with his friends and family? More alone time? And you should think about limits you can set too!

A book that's helped me a LOT is Stepparenting with Love and Logic. It's not specifically about dealing with a (very very very) difficult other parent, but it does have a lot of strategies and philosophies that have been game-changers for me. There's a lot of focus on putting your relationship first and making sure you take care of yourself. There's also a section that I really liked about not putting yourself or others in the position of hero, villain or victim. It's written for both parents and stepparents.

I hope you and your family get through this court stuff with as little pain as possible. It's so hard.

<3,
PL

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Arkhangelsk

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Re: My Ex will not rest until he destroys my relationship
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2018, 04:43:21 PM »
Thank you both for your replies.

The take-away seems to be accept that he is here with gratitude while setting boundaries around what sort of mess he gets sucked into related to the day-to-day battles.

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Latchkey

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Re: My Ex will not rest until he destroys my relationship
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2018, 03:39:58 PM »
I think it's a process and your relationship with your partner will change as things go on. I think the less you and he are in reactive mode the better.

With a child that is high need is also living with you and having a PD parent that is actively sabotaging, ((and I was step parent to 3 boys that have a range of psychological dx's and a BPD bio mom,  so I speak from experience,)) when that gets factored in that has a toll as well.

I found two books to be very helpful to me and may be of help to you and your partner both in dealing with ex as well as the kids.

"I don't have to make everything all better "

And

"Parenting a child who has intense emotions: DBT skills"

Both are in our book review section with full author and information. I'm on my cell so can't get into the links.
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
-Mother Jones
-
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
-Maya Angelou
-
When we have the courage to do what we need to do, we unleash mighty forces that come to our aid.

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Arkhangelsk

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Re: My Ex will not rest until he destroys my relationship
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2018, 11:11:08 AM »
Thank you, Latchkey.  I will look into both of those books.

We also just got a reference for a therapist with experience in high-conflict divorce who will see my partner and I.  I think it will be helpful.

Can I just say that all of you who are in these situations in a step-parental role are truly amazing humans.  I have such respect for people who sign on to parent this way.