House of Cards

Unfortunately, my friends, yesterday went from bad to worse, thanks to an email from my exhusband. The email turned into an all-out blowout after we each got our issues poked and reacted badly. Not good.

There have been times in the past six months or so when my ex and I have gotten along really well. Almost *too* well, really. During those times parenting together has been quite easy – we have pulled together to do what needs to be done for the best of our girls. I’ve felt pretty proud of us for those moments…when it would appear that past hurts are starting to heal and that we have our priories – our children – in line with the other elements of our complex relationship.

And then there are those other days. Days when old issues come creeping back. Days when I feel disappointed in myself for even hoping that change was possible.

The new relationship that we have built is very much like a house of cards. One stiff breeze and it’s all going to crumble. After a day like yesterday, I realize that my idea of “friendship” with my ex, and his idea aren’t the same. I’m not at the point where I have any interest in working out and hashing over all our past issues together. I don’t think that’s practical, necessary or even all that helpful. I think that, in the context of our new relationship, we simply need to recognize that there are issues that aren’t going to get resolved. After all, if they could be resolved, then we wouldn’t have split to begin with, now would we?

It needs to be accepted that we each are who we are. And together, we are not great. We have this uncanny ability to poke at each other’s insecurities and sore spots. We are often uber-sensitive when it comes to dealing with the other person.

At this point, I think the best that we can hope for is a “friendly” relationship, but that friendship isn’t really possible. It makes me sad to say that. But when I stop to think about the amount of emotional and spiritual energy I have spent on this relationship in the last six months, I can see that it’s not a good thing. That is emotional and spiritual energy that needs to directed in other relationships. Hell, in the past two days alone, a dozen emails have flown back and forth between the two of us, hashing and re-hashing. I simply don’t have the time or the energy to keep doing this, every time something flares up between the two of us. I have more than enough on my plate right now.

Of course it’s important to have a good relationship with my ex. After all, he and I are going to be connected to each other, through our girls, forever. But at this point, I think that relationship can only go so far.Some things, I believe, just need to be let go.

What does having a good relationship with your ex actually mean?

16 Responses

  1. I’m not sure, I’m still trying to figure that out!

  2. Don’t worry…I don’t think friendship—-true friendship—-with my ex is possible either. We talk–often and even sometimes share intimate details about our lives, but I think I can only trust him so far. Thus no friendship is possible. And if I were being totally honest, I don’t think he actually likes me at all. He appreciates that I’m a good mom and that I’m funny but I think if he had his way he’d never see me again (if I had my way same thing) … that doesn’t sound like friendship to me. But a good, friendly relationship is TERRIBLY important for my kids…they’re the priority right now. So, I’ll suck it up…at least for another 8 years (probably even longer) so that they think their parents are friends.

  3. I agree that there should be boundaries or limitations. Even though my ex and I have a really good friendship and relationship, there are things that I am starting to draw a line at, like anything to do with Doctor Boy. When he asks, I’ll answer, but not anything in detail (meanwhile, he’d proceed to tell me about his sex life, as if I care!!). I think it is absolutely natural that you feel this way, and that you do need to have a cordial friendship with him as much as possible for your girls, but beyond that, it shouldn’t be more hassle than it’s worth, and if it is, pulling back is the right idea, I think.

    • I don’t even mind putting in an effort to ensure that we have a decent relationship, I just think that he and I might have different ideas about what that actually means.

  4. Yes, I’m starting to realize the same with my ex. We get along great with surface things. We even joined an out-of-town couple that we’d not seen in years for dinner the other night with the kids. It wasn’t awkward because we still respect each other. We’re still silly and happy. But any deeper than that and yep, I’d be right where you are.

    Time to draw up some new boundaries, huh?

  5. Having a good relationship with MY ex means no contact whatsoever. I consider myself lucky that SnarkEx and I didn’t have any kids. She’s totally out of my life, which makes things so much easier. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be to have to co-parent with your ex, which I know is the case for most divorced people. I feel for you.

    I think being friendly without being friends is the right approach. Hopefully you can get him to agree to this.

    BTW, the snowflakes on your page are a nice touch. 🙂

    • Being able to cut off contact works really well in having a good relationship with your ex. Having kids makes that virtually impossible, particularly considering the 50/50 custody arrangement. I see him almost every single day. And while it’s nice to be able to be friendly when picking up the kids or attending a Christmas concert together and whatnot, what he seems to want to do is re-hash and revisit and work through all of the issues that caused us problems in our marriage…and that’s just not something that I’m feeling up for.

  6. My ex is exactly the same. Love to hash and re-hash. He’ll take any opportunity to bring up shit that happened YEARS ago. What’s worse, when he does recognize that he’s been an asshole, or apologize for a past issue, he’ll do a 180 and take it back. If he’s not calling me names, then he’s asking if we have another chance.

    We do a 50/50 split, with alternating weeks, but our drop-off/pick-up takes place at the daycare, so I don’t have to see him often. It makes a big difference.

    We did a “family” dinner a few weeks ago, at The Mook’s request, and she ended up in tears at the end of the night, because she wanted her daddy to come home and sleep in her bed that night. I felt terrible that I’d tried to do something for her that ended up back-firing.

  7. Oy.

    I have no idea how things will work out between me and my STBX. She wants us to be friends, and she means that in the deep friendship way you allude to. I’m not so sure. And like you, we’ll be having a 50/50 split that involves constant shuffling.

    Negotiating those boundries… I can only imagine it will be easier once one of us has someone else in our lives (like you and CBG).

  8. I don’t want to be friends or even friendly with my ex for a multitude of reasons. It’s taken me years to get to the place I am now and too much contact with him starts me down that path of weakness and debilitating insecurity. I tend to view my contacts with him as one of limited business partners. I’m running the show and calling the shots on raising our daughters and on occasion he’ll complain about the window display. I don’t want to be his friend and for me it’s a battle won if we can stay civil and respectful. For that to happen the less contact the better. I’ve found that the less contact the happier and more stable my life is because I’m avoiding his toxicity.

  9. I have no words of advice as I haven’t been married or had kids. But I feel for you. I hope somehow it all works out for the best – especially for those girls.

  10. I haven’t read enough of your blog yet, but it sounds like he hasn’t let go of you yet, and you’re now consciously realizing where your personal boundaries needs to be with him to move forward for your own happiness – something I’ve recently discovered for myself as well. My exwife SERIOUSLY hurt me and our relationship exploded and devolved into 2.5 years in court before I got physical custody since she moved 4 hours away immediately after it fell apart and I took the kids and got them in a good public school (she was homeschooling them…and I use that term very loosely). The divorce was finalized a little over 2 years ago and this fall she moved back to our area (about 1 mile away in fact). She moved back and instantly started demanding 50/50 custody and had mediators calling me to arrange something – I calmly explained that until her situation was stable and she’d had at least 6 months in town I wasn’t even open to the idea of splitting 50/50 because the kids need stability and I had no guarantees she could provide that. Shortly after she moved back she called my cell during work hours (she doesn’t work) and I stepped outside…we proceeded to have a 40 minute yelling match over the custody idea and some of our old arguments came out again – the first time in a few years to be honest. It took talking to a few friends to realize that I have control over this relationship – I simply needed to hang up on her. Likewise for email battles – a simple automatic reply that states “I’m not fighting with you.” and turning it on whenever one of these fights starts up might go a long way to proving to him where your boundaries are. My ex and I haven’t had another fight since August, and our relationship is a kind of chilly friendship where we sometimes talk about the kids – I won’t lie, I wish it was better at times but she’s not the kind of parent that I think I can have these talks with. She’s always been our kids friends and not their mom – very evident in her 4.5 year old that has no father and no discipline. I’m in the camp of wishing it was better for the kids sake and occasionally trying to push things along in that direction and then every so often rediscovering why she’s not winning mother of the year. The ending of my relationship was basically a 3.5 year event that is movie worthy – I highly recommend keeping your boundaries intact and not opening any ambiguity about where those boundaries lie when they need to be expressed at all.

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