Changing Tactics?

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Whiteheron

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Changing Tactics?
« on: January 20, 2019, 04:27:02 PM »
If there's anything consistent about stbx, it's his inconsistency. He is predictable in a sense, but I think what I'm referring to revolves around when he doesn't get his way. Or maybe I'm just seeing his behaviors evolve over time? I'm still trying to sort through this in my mind, so apologies if I end up contradicting myself or if I don't make any sense.

What is boils down to: stbx wants 50% custody. The psych evaluator does not feel this is in the kids' best interest and recommended less. The judge followed her recommendation. Ever since then he's been trying on his best disneyland dad act while at the same time trying to portray me as unstable and abusive. This has been going on for almost two years and the judge is at the end of his rope with us.

At first I noticed an increase in text messages to me containing a lot of unnecessary details, language like 'trying to work this out', 'best for the kids', etc. I can only assume he was doing this to show the court how he tries in vain to co-parent with me, but it just doesn't work. I don't respond the way he wants (like I would usually do, with explanations, JADEing, concessions to him, etc).

Then the frequency dropped off, which made me feel greatly relieved. The texts I did get seemed to be relevant, I would respond if a response was necessary. He would be responsive if I have a question or if there was a change in the kids' schedule. During this time, at each court appearance he would (through his L) demand 50% custody, having his L word it as though the kids were possessions. Each time we met in court, he would drop the % of the marital assets he will 'allow' me to have.

This has suddenly stopped and what I get now are accusatory texts - claiming I'm putting the kids in the middle of our divorce and how all I need to do is ask him if I need something (these texts make me boil). If there is a change in the kids' schedule or if one child is sick on an exchange day and I ask about pick up/drop off, I get...crickets. I have to text multiple times, finally asking him to 'please confirm' whatever change was made. It's ridiculous. He's playing games. I know this.

Now, I'm hearing about the upcoming school breaks through my L. As in stbx is contacting his L who is contacting my L who is contacting me.  :roll:  So instead of texting me and asking me directly, we both have to pay our L's to go back and forth between us. I assumed the schedule would have been the opposite of last year, with the weeks flipped, but stbx is demanding the same vacation week, claiming he's already made travel plans (likely trying to match weeks up with his gf and made travel plans with her, not the kids - my best guess). But why not text me directly? Why go through the L's?

I suppose I'm getting angry because I feel like he's using the PD 'survival' tactics against me, most notably, MC. Acting as if I'm so unstable and abusive that he can't even text a simple 'ok' to confirm a change in the kids' plans. Maybe he's doing this because he knows hes' going to force us to trial and wants minimal contact with me so he can go on living his narrative that I'm the problem? Maybe his gf is feeding him advice on how to handle an unstable exwife? Or my worst fear - maybe he's got something in the works and plans to blindside me with it when we get to court, or trial? Idk. It's making me crazy (and poorer) and I'll never know.

Has this kind of thing happened to anyone else? Is he just changing tactics because what he's doing isn't working to persuade me or the court that he should have 50% custody?


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Associate of Daniel

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2019, 05:18:09 PM »
Argh. So frustrating for you.

I don't have any answers but one thing does come to mind.

With things like holiday arrangements, instead of your lawyer responding to his lawyer, could you respond directly to your stbx?

So: Your lawyer receives a communication from his lawyer. Your lawyer passes it on to you. You respond to stbx and/or his lawyer, instead of paying your lawyer to respond for you.

It would save you a ton of money.

Also, I wonder if you could request that his lawyer write directly to you rather than to your lawyer.

That way, you can pick and choose what you use your lawyer for. You might only need your lawyer for advice and you do all the leg work.

It really depends where you are in your healing and ootf journey though. It might be that you need your lawyer as a protection from your stbx, in which case, leaving things as they are might be money well spent.

I had a situation with my uNPD exH a couple of years ago.  Long story short:  He had his lawyer communicate directly with me and I responded directly to his lawyer.  The whole thing took about 7 or 8 months I think.

UNPD exH spent about $5000 in legal fees and I spent a few $100. It was frustratingly time consuming and stressful but worth it for my bank account. And, as is usual with my uNPD exH, nothing was resolved and nothing changed.

I hope things improve for you soon.

AOD

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Rose1

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2019, 07:59:17 PM »
My bpdex changed tactics every time he got a new "interest". Like he coulent make a good decision without someone else's input. And he needed to look good to her. There's a reason he wants 50% and it's probably not the kids. Most likely wants to look good or about money. This wears off and the real person makes an appearance until the mask goes on again. I found they can keep it up for a long time. Especially if vested in making you look bad. Kids are awesome tools to use against the non parent. It eventually does stop. But I'd trust your gut. Sadly you have to  be prepared for some new tactic.

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HotCocoa

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2019, 11:03:28 PM »
Whiteheron, ugh.  I'm so sorry he's putting you through this.
What you wrote sounded like the last 4 years of my divorce from hell.
I would strongly recommend you follow the custody agreement only.  Period.
No extra's.  None.
I had to become a horrible witch about it.  I feel like it changed who I was.  In a normal relationship, there's give and take. 
Even in a reasonable divorce, if ex would have asked for more time I may have acquiesced.  However, it was SOOOOO contentious, that I always fell back on the order.   If the order doesn't say he can have the children, then he doesn't have the children.  (My ex also had extreme alcohol issues so that really fed into my fear as well.)
In fact, after saying no for the umpteenth time, my ex stated at least I was always consistent.  He knew I wouldn't give.
He used to have the power to talk me into things, my brain was always foggy.  No more and he knew it.
Use the order.  If it says he has the children, nothing you can do, if it says YOU do, use YOUR time.  Take YOUR time.  You aren't breaking the order in the least, rather following it.  Let him cry all he wants.
As far as the excessive communication to your lawyer, you need to have a talk with your lawyer.  My lawyer let his lawyer know the amount of emails was excessive and wouldn't be tolerated.  Something needs to be sent to his attorney that ex needs to go through you first to work it out and going through lawyers isn't co parenting.  Put it right back on him and if it comes from your lawyer, even better. 
Your children NEED you to follow the orders.  They need peace in their lives and the evaluator even said it wasn't in THEIR best interest to be with him more than what was provided in the order.  If he can't follow that, then the next time you guys go to court, make it known you ARE following the order, however, he does nothing but constantly try to get around it, and that is not okay.
Good luck, because I know how super hard this is and I literally had to just take it one day at a time.
Healing from a heap of abuse and then being harassed and abused by him through your attorneys is really lousy and horrible, make it known to your attorney that it needs to stop and stop now.


The smarter you become about narcissistic abuse, the crazier the narcissist will say you are.

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Penny Lane

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2019, 12:02:55 PM »
Hi WhiteHeron, wow that sounds frustrating! I really understand how the uncertainty can be stressful for you, especially with the court case still up in the air.

I will tell you, I've seen my DH's ex change communication style like this and it 1. usually has more to do with other stuff that's going on in her life (like she's frustrated about something else and taking it out on DH) and 2. NEVER coalesces into a coherent strategy. (YMMV, of course, other people here have had the PD bring together a great strategy. You know your ex better than I do.)

We've been working very hard on trying to stay consistent and calm on our end no matter how she's communicating with DH. (Believe me, I KNOW how hard it is!) Because ultimately usually she makes the same decisions whether she's being nice or nasty. I almost think of it like, the reasonableness or meanness, it doesn't matter because either way it's all a manipulation.

As to your question, my best guess is that he's changing his approach because he's frustrated that what he was doing wasn't getting him what he wants. And he's trying to punish you by making you pay a bunch of money to your lawyer. I always think that BM in our case - and I imagine it's the same for your ex - only has a handful of communication strategies. Tantrums, charm and then ignoring the problem are pretty much the only ways she tackles anything. So he started with charm, moved on to tantrum and is also starting on the silent treatment.

I love the practical advice from the others. I would add that by texting him a bunch of times about exchanges, you are giving him what he wants (your attention). What if you just texted him once and said "I think we should exchange at XX, please let me know by 5 p.m. if you want to do something different. Otherwise, see you then."? And then maybe at 5 p.m. follow up with an email "not sure if you got my text, here is a screenshot, see you at XX." This has worked wonders with BM - she hates it and at the beginning would throw tantrums. But now it works great and she pretty much abides by the deadline. Like the worst she does is when she's really mad she'll wait till an hour after the deadline (I just imagine her sitting there thinking THAT'LL SHOW HIM FOR TRYING TO BE PRODUCTIVE IN A REASONABLE AMOUNT OF TIME). You can't make him be productive but you can take away his ability to grab your attention for the whole day.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2019, 03:21:25 PM »
Hi WH,

You really just never know what they are thinking!  It could be as simple as he is trying to throw you off balance and make you wonder what he is up to.  And like PL said, it could very well have nothing to do with you, but something is going on in his own world that he feels out of control.  As always, it's best just to remain consistent, calm in your responses, and don't let it fluster you.

From what I've read, you seem like you maintain a good perspective on things, just hang on to that and know that you have the strength to ignore his games and just be a great parent.

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athene1399

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2019, 10:09:26 AM »
WH,

I'm sorry you are going through this. We often try to debate what BM's motive is or what she's planning. Ultimately no one can know that, but maybe her. Try not to burn yourself out over it. As you said, he could be using PD tactics against you to try to show that you're the "bad" one. BM always did insinuate that SO was the abusive one who was trying to alienate her from SD even though she was the one refusing to let us pick her up. Try not to let it get to you. You know the truth, those close to you know it as well, and that's all that matters.

I love was AoD suggests. Tell your L that you want his L to communicate to you about x, y, z, to save yourself from the being billed. Then you can just communicate with his L and let your x pay the fees if that's what he wants. I also like PL's idea about setting limits to the correspondences: I need to know by x time or we keeps things as they are in the agreement. And don't constantly text him. Shoot him a reminder text, (I need to know by x time), and if nothing then he doesn't get what he wants and the schedule remains the same. I would do the same about this break. Tell him when you need to know if you're switching weeks by and if he doesn't tell you by x date/time then the schedule remains as is in the custody agreement. Although, I feel it's crap he made plans on your time, but sometimes you have to pick your battles (I hate doing that as well). It may be easier and could look like you're doing your best to "work with him" since you're changing the schedule because he already "booked the trip".

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Findingmyvoice

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2019, 06:34:13 PM »
I have noticed that every time exBPDw acts nice, cooperative and stops blaming, accusing, gaslighting, triangulating it means she has done something to screw me over.
Makes me worry because after a weekend of drama, blame, accusations, intimidation and generally disagreeable behavior she is now being kind and cooperative.
So, I'm just waiting for a call from my lawyer.

I also needed to hear the part about arranging extra custody time.
Any time I give in to exBPDw for extra parenting time its a huge battle and nothing in it for me or the kids.
She has asked for extra days next month and although it's in my nature to be agreeable, I am going to have to say no.
Trying to give her more parenting time over Christmas was a complete disaster, she is not able to communicate effectively and constantly puts the kids in the middle of parenting time discussions.  Everyone ends up upset and confused.

She asked for extra time in the fall as well and for the life of me, I could not get her to tell me when she was going to bring the kids back after the visit.
I asked a half dozen times and each time she responded with accusations of me trying to keep the kids from her, trying to sabotage her relationship with them, trying to control her, etc. etc. and all i was asking was what time she was going to bring them back.

I have also heard from others (not on this forum) that the best thing to do is stick to the order when dealing with someone that has narc tendencies. 
Trying to make changes just results in drama, tension, blame, accusations, etc.

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MeFirst

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2019, 07:47:05 PM »
Hi Whiteheron

Just wanted to say I'm right where you are now and know how you feel.

It does my head in wondering on the tactics and what mine is up to.

I figure something's off in his world plus he's trying every tactic to score points to get him the 50% in court.

Please keep us posted as your experience may help me and others too.

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anxiousmom

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2019, 07:50:32 PM »
I'm sadly also in a similar position and I agree with the others who suggested you stick to the order and not give any more than that. I bent over backwards accommodating him so that he could be a father when it was convenient for him. Now he has sued me for joint custody and expanded possession, and it is very obvious he has an overly inflated sense of what he is legally "entitled" to because I've been giving him so much extra.

I can promise you when I'm done spending the tens of thousands of dollars in this court battle, the #1 lesson I will walk away with is to NEVER give him anything extra. PDs are always looking for more and come to expect it if you give them a crumb.

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Meltracey

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2019, 07:15:28 PM »
Overtexting sounds like harassment.  Learn not to respond.  Less is best.

It would be good to tell your solicitor to stop the harassment via his lawyer too.

These are still forms of abuse. 

I have a different phone just for him. I turn it off if i am harassed or abused in any way. 

I am only in control of me and my actions.   No use trying to reason with someone who ultimately has their own agenda that doesn't even make sense.

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Liftedfog

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2019, 09:48:57 AM »
I'm sorry you are going through this.  What gets me is that he actually is delusional and believes YOU are the unstable one.   It's all about control.  His ridiculous demands and beating a dead horse over the same issues is his disordered thinking. But it's costing you money in legal fees!   This is what is making me want to snap right now.   We are blowing money in legal fees also heading to trial.    We are stuck on child support amount and spousal support that I supposed to owe HIM.    A got a quote for trial cost.   60,000 !!!   That is just my half.  To hash out these two issues.      I'm so done.    I know you've been at it for a while as well.   Have you tried mediation with a third part mediator or are you going straight to trial?     Sending you a big hug.  I can hear your exhaustion in your posts.   You are a great mom dealing with crap you did not sign up for. 

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Whiteheron

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2019, 10:29:00 PM »
Quick update - the vacations aren't in the custody order, because the order is only temporary and was designed to just get me (and the kids) out of the house. The only thing that's stated in the order is the every other weekend/one night a week and summer vacation. I don't think anyone thought we would still be going back and forth a year later. But here we are.

I do need to vent a little - not sure whether or not to start a new post, but since it's related I'll just put it here:
A few years back we were talking about vacations. stbx asked me where I would want to go - make a list and we'll start crossing the places off. Of course, I made a list, and of course, we never went to any of those places. But now...now... he's systematically taking the kids to the places on my list. Over the summer, he took them to a national park I've always wanted to see. I just got a text from him that over the break he 'made plans' for he's taking them to a beach I've always wanted to take them. I'm beyond angry but I'm trying not to be, since I'm sure that's what he wants. But man oh man... >:(
These places were never good enough because they were all in the States...and he preferred tropical islands. My friend tells me that I should still take the kids to these places because a vacation with stbx won't compare to a vacation with me...but still  >:( >:( >:(
It's still very fresh and I'm beside myself.
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Penny Lane

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 10:38:52 AM »
Oh my gosh, WhiteHeron, I would lose my mind too! His actions are the perfect storm of extremely petty, designed to hit you where it hurts most, not even to his own benefit at all (he could go to literally any other beach), and just under the radar of anything you could reasonably address without seeming like you're the petty one. I know this play very well!

You already know this but make sure to not let on to him that you're mad, that'll just prolong it! I bet he gets tired of taking the kids on vacations before he gets through your whole list. BM used to take the kids on vacations (basically copying DH's vacations with them) for awhile after the divorce. But now if they go on "vacation" it's to visit her friends (who don't even have kids). They haven't been on a kid-centric family vacation in years.

I think your friend is probably right - I'm sure the kids will want to go back to that national park and all the other places. I've never been to a national park that I wouldn't return to. But I understand it doesn't take the sting out of it right now.

Could you pick one place off that list that he hasn't taken the kids, and plan a vacation there? Or maybe make a new list, maybe even with the kids, and start knocking off some places off that one?

Hang in there. I totally understand your frustration and the added frustration of not being able to really do anything about it.

 :bighug:

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Stepping lightly

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2019, 05:18:15 PM »
UGhhhhhhh- how irritating and sad!

These are the types of situations that I like to try to "flip it" on them.  They are doing something very intentional to try and make you angry- react the opposite.  I like to think of this as our "a swing and a miss" reaction.  There is NOTHING you can do to stop him, nothing you can say to the kids because you want them to be able to enjoy the trips.  What if you said, "I am so excited the kids have the opportunity to go to these places, I really appreciate you doing this for them".  Don't even mention that you remember giving him the list of places you wanted to see.  May work, may not work.  If it doesn't work, no skin off your nose.

We've done this a few times, and if nothing else, it throws them off balance a bit.  BM texted DH once that she was coming to pick up DSD at a specific time.  The time she dictated was exactly the worst time for us, and she knew it.  It was a time when one of us had to be all the way on the other side of town dropping DSS off at school, and one of us would have to manage the interaction alone.  It also impacted work hours.   Any request to change the timing would have been a massive argument, and we would have still had to figure it out.  I told DH he should just reply, "That works perfectly for us, see you then".  He replied with that message....and of course she showed up way late to make it a little "less perfect".  I did get some amusement from it though. 


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Penny Lane

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2019, 05:29:41 PM »
Or better yet: "Thanks for taking the kids to all these places I think they need to go! It frees me up to focus on our upcoming tropical island trip."

I'm joking, of course, that would petty and unproductive. But at least I think it would be hilarious. Maybe I'm feeling a little petty at the moment!

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Whiteheron

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2019, 08:00:00 PM »
:rofl: thanks for the laugh pennylane! I was tempted to write something similar, but my better head prevailed and decided the best response was no response, since he needs to hear something, anything, from me.

stepping - I thought about responding that way, but I decided to go radio silent. It would throw him for a loop for sure, but this way there is no chance he could mis-interpret anything coming from me. I have decided to only respond directly about the kids/their activities. This in itself will drive him crazy.

The other morning I woke up and realized that this is his MO - copying and imitating my behaviors/ideas in the vain effort to get the kids to be as close to him as they are to me. I know I have commented on past threads about this very issue. He doesn't know how to act, how to 'be', so he needs to copy me. His last connection to the 'old me' is this list. I am giving him nothing otherwise, no roadmap, no blueprints, no behavioral template for him to mimic. He needs this template to survive. In joint therapy he tried to get me to make him a list of behaviors, things he needed to improve...I refused. He was looking for a checklist where he could cross things off and once that was done, everything would be just fine.  :no: I guess that's easier than taking a good look inside himself and confronting his demons.

I guess whatever he's currently doing isn't working, so he's trying in vain to get me to give him something. Since I won't, he's falling back on what he remembers about me? What happens when this is gone? When the list is used up and the kids are no closer to him than they were before? Then what? In the past, this is when his 'breakdowns' would occur. It makes me afraid for the kids.
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athene1399

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2019, 09:47:49 AM »
IME when it doubt, go radio silent.  ;) As you were saying, WH, how sad is it that your ex doesn't have ideas his own and has to copy your ideas? As frustrating as it is for you, it just reflects on how unoriginal he is. Or as you said, just trying to copy you so the kids like him better. Try not to worry about the imminent breakdown until it happens. Cross that bridge if/when you get there. Have you heard of radical acceptance? It's kind of like you know he'll probably have a breakdown at some point, but wasting energy on worrying about it won't help you out any. That's helped me out a bit, but it's hard to do at times. Especially knowing how it could affect the kids, but you can only control so much. Try not to worry about what you can't control.

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Whiteheron

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2019, 09:02:40 AM »
Thank you, everyone, for all of your responses. It really helps me to know that there are people out there who can relate and who understand the insanity and manipulation that goes on with these types of things. I feel like others just don't 'get it'.

Quick update: In the spirit of being a full-blown PD who really, really needs a response from me, he texted yet again the details for his trip. This time I didn't get angry or frustrated (well, maybe a little annoyed), but I just shook my head. It's his "look at me! look at me!" routine he pulls out anytime his parents would come to visit. His inner toddler. Which I will ignore. Again.

But it gets me thinking and I've settled on two options: either he's really trying to rub it in my face (he does have a history of doing this to others) or he's looking for some kind of approval from me (as in what a great dad, he's really improved!  :roll:). Idk. Sometimes I wish I could just turn my brain off.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

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sonto92

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Re: Changing Tactics?
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2019, 03:57:56 AM »
Whiteheron - I love that last line: "Sometimes I wish I could just turn my brain off".  I'm thinking about that line at 12:30 at night while I can't sleep for exactly that same reason - the brain won't just "shut off".  I'm a pretty firm believer in projection being a great indicator of where a PD is at.  Getting lots of "you're a bad parent", "you can't do this right", etc. - it's their way of finding comfort in their own shortcomings and actions by projecting them onto you.
I have said many times that it would be interesting if there was a running meter in my head that was tracking the amount of time that worry, concern, frustration - the list goes on -  has consumed my days since leaving my BPDx (I have been divorced for almost 10 years).  And lawyers fees - it never ends!  My situation where I live has been somewhat of a blessing.  We are assigned to a family court judge for any new court action and several of the last decisions have alluded to the fact, by the judge, that my BPDx is a pain in the ass and difficult to deal with.