I have an angry ex. He’s not angry about anything in particular, it’s just part of his personality. And this is also one of the reasons he is now an ex. We do not have the hunky-dory “co-parenting” relationship that every expert out there suggests that you have (as if you have any control over the person from who you are divorced), but we are usually able to be cordial. For about eight months of the year. The other four? He’s blowing a gasket and calling me selfish.
This point of this post is not to delve into the drama – No one needs more of that in their life. Neither is it to drag the ex over the coals. That won’t do anyone any good (although it might make me feel good, it won’t DO me any good). And there may be the crux of this post…
There are times when I have to deal with this anger that the ex has. There are times when he calls and swears at me, or texts and calls me names. If this sounds familiar, I am here to tell you that you do not need to put up with that. You cannot have a functioning “co-parenting” relationship with someone if they are not going to have the decency to treat you with respect, using respectful language. The only way you will get said respect is if you nip that sucker in the bud.
If you are in the middle of a phone call and your ex swears at you, hang up. If he (and I say he, because my ex is a he, which by no means implies that your ex is a he) texts you something disrespectful or inappropriate, do not reply. In either of these cases, if you continue the conversation, you have validated that it is acceptable to refer to you this way, even if you reply by saying, “don’t swear at me” or “stop calling me names”. Usually the swearing and name calling is an expression of frustration and anger, but it is also a plea for attention, just like the tantrums your little one throws. And just like those tantrums, responding to it is the worst thing you can do. It fuels the fire.
In the most recent case, the ex began to swear, and I hung up. I gave it a few minutes and called him back, only because we were discussing a very time sensitive issue. If that were not the case, I would not have called back, as it is feeding that fire. When I called him back, I calmly asked, “Are you done swearing at me?” His response was to swear some more, to which I replied by relaying the time sensitive information, asking him if he understood, and hanging up again.
After something like this happens, I won’t speak to him on the phone for a good long time. If he calls, I will hand the phone directly to my son, and help him hang up as soon as he is finished.
After hanging up on him this last time, he then texted me, calling me names. I did not reply, but then I attempted to delete it (which I shouldn’t have done in the first place), and ended up deleting the entire history of our texts. And here is my other piece of advice pertaining to an angry ex: Do not do what I did there. Save every email, every text (even if you have to take a screenshot), and every voicemail. Document everything. In the midst of the divorce I even bought myself a digital voice recorder to transfer the voicemails from my phone (I really had some doozies). IF your ex were ever to try to fight you on something in a court of law, you would have evidence of a pattern of behavior there, upon which a judge would not look too kindly. In my personal case, the ex’s anger rarely results in any action, but I have my behind covered, just in case.
I must put in the caveat that if you are the one swearing and name-calling, then you can only expect the other party to respond in kind. You cannot expect your ex to respect you if you are wallowing in the muck with him. It can be difficult to remain calm and level-headed, and refuse to be goaded into that kind of behavior (and it can feel really good to tell him what you really think of him!), but you must refrain from biting back.
Not every “co-parenting” relationship is sunshine and lollipops, but they should at the very least be cordial. Demand respect from your ex, and accept nothing less. You deserve it. Your kids deserve it.
Have you ever dealt with an angry ex?