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How do I ask my narcissistic Ex to use a more respectful tone in written and verbal communications?
I'm divorced with 50/50 care of my kids. Finances have been settled so the ongoing tension feels utterly unnecessary.
My Ex-wife still uses very blunt and directive language, all telling never asking.
I have no desire to be best friends with my Ex but for the sake of our children, I do wish we could communicate without the nastiness or in a way that feels like life is a constant competition.
I want to know if it is worth writing to her and if so, what are some strategies I can use?
Thank you community.
You can resort to texting. Unfortunately she is likely to do the same directive language so that depends on your ability to absorb that.
The mother of my kids 7 and 4yo when we split, I had to communicate with for 14 years post separation. Kids were every second weekend and holidays at my place. She was combative when my security roster changed, argued against me attending parent and teacher nights and so on, all controlling ways, as a male I felt like a sperm donor and a level below her as a parent. All along counting down the years, days that my youngest would turn 18yo and child support ceased and I had no obligation to communicate. In fact on that day some 12 years ago, I sent a letter without anger explaining it is my wish now to never see, speak or be spoken to her ever again.
What is interesting is, my eldest came to live with me when she turned 12yo her own choice- the reason? is because she was being treated in the same narcissistic manner that I had been. It was a simple issue- my daughters school shoes had been stolen while on PT. Her mother forced her to wear her gumboots to school for punishment!. During the first day of this the school rang me about it and I delivered new shoes to her school. The sad part is, that my youngest was taught her own mothers techniques and treated me poorly to the extent that I no longer see her as the cruelty is beyond my coping.
The "ongoing tension" (you describe) is totally unnecessary but I've learned through members here and others that you cannot change these people that find it automatic to be abrasive to those they dont like. You'd think it was the best way to live to be civil and nice to others post divorce but it depends on them.
It is important to always document all communication. If the above event occurred and police turned up outside her house from her complaining, you'd have her unreasonable attitude exposed. Another reason for texts rather than verbal.
The following thread might also provide you with some ideas how to be short but defensive. Short answers are the way to go and not to answer silly questions and play her game.
Please remember, the day will come when no communication is needed.
I hope that helps. repost anytime.
Dear Mr K~
I've read though your previos threads and a few things stand out. Your ex was the one that initiated the separation, her concern for your eldest girl was not enough to let her enjoy her birthday without strong intervention on your part and she may well have been painting you in the worst light possible to friends and acquaintances, and heightening a general feeling she was the injured party.
Add to that she was not speedy in settling affairs despite being told it was necessary for everyone, your girls especially.
This does not, by your account, sound like the sort of person who is amenable ot reason, and probably justifies herself on her actions at least in part though bitterness (even if unwarranted). She may even enjoy sending those messages.
One other thing this may do is help her alienate your children, something which would make her feel more justified.
I'm not sure I explained this well., I hope you get the gist of it.
If you try to reason with her by letter or any other method I'd suspect there is a danger she will see that as a weakness she can take advantage of in some way.
Under normal circumstances one might appeal for the children's welfare, however given the forgoing attitude to your eldest's birthday I'm not sure if that would bear fruit - you would know better than us.
I'm sorry to sound negative, however the circumstances you talk about do not seem encouraging.
The only option that might be worth thinking about is talking with your MIL, whom you have said has acted decently (pardon me if I've misunderstood anything)
In any event Tony's suggestion you keep a complete record of all interactions is an excellent one and well worth the trouble.
On a more peronal level receiving unpleasant messages from you ex will be doing you no good, and if you are unable to stop them is there any way their effect on you can be blunted? A friend ot talk these over with as they happen could be a possibility
What do you think?
Thank you Tony and Croix,
Thank you both for your validation of my problem and your advice. I almost exclusively communicate via text or email. To create a record of what was discussed, to minimise misunderstanding opportunities and to avoid the opportunity for discussion to become verbally abusive. With the benefit of hindsight and time to heal I can see how harmful it had been for me living with a toxic narcissist who delights in gaslighting. I will move forwards from this point using the "grey rock" technique. I will have to accept that her behaviours are unlikely to change and hope that I can reach out to this forum when I'm under attack. Thank you both, sincerely. K
Dear Mr K~
I think it would be fair to say that between your ex and yourself you are the stronger, more compassionate and able to see things as they really are.
It sounds as if you are already taking all prudent steps and your idea of 'grey rock' is probably the best one can do.
I am somewhat worried about you , as you have to deal with an unfriendly and unreliable person long term. Sadly relationships do not end with the separation but last until the children reach adulthood. Given that this is long term do you feel that any form of support would help?
I'd suggest that perhaps counseling might be one avenue. Relationships Australia (1300 364 277) may be able to offer post-separation assistance in your area. They are a pay-for service.
Trying to deal with all this alone may be a harder task than if you have a professional to talk things over with.
We are here of course for you always
Thank you all. Counseling is out of the question, especially for my ex who doesn’t see any fault in her behaviour. Although I miss my kids when they are not with me I grudgingly accept that they should and have a right to spend time with their mother. A decision for them to spend more time with me would need to be theirs or at the wish of their mother. I don’t really worry about their safety or care as such when they are with her; my only concern is that their happiness isn’t being actively involved. She has and always will put herself first. That’s one of the biggest differences between us. I try and fit into my kids lives and she expects that they fit into hers, thanks again, basic necessary communication and as much as possible in writing will my way forward.