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Sunday, November 11, 2012
Issues with the Ex
So was visiting with a friend the other day, and we were talking some about one of the big issues that arises after a divorce: the issue of boundaries. Sometimes, an ex will assume he/she is welcome to just walk into the house, especially if it was the house that he/she had lived in previous to the divorce. And it is hard sometimes for the individual to figure out how to handle that, especially if the ex is a very forceful type individual.
Even once inside the door, sometimes behavior can be very odd…..the visitor may try to look into other rooms, or sit uncomfortably close, or overstay the welcome you extended. There is on word for this whole thing: awkward. Very awkward. Especially if there are kids around who are witnessing the whole thing….how do you ask the kids’ mom or dad to leave, without appearing to be mean or vengeful?
In some cases, divorced individuals do okay with this area, they are able to talk to each other, discuss appropriate and appropriate behaviors and boundaries to abide by. But in many cases, there is often one person who is not able to willing to discuss these things rationally, and take everything personally and behave inappropriately. So what do you do?
If you aren’t able to discuss these boundary issues, then a good next step is to define for yourself what you are comfortable with, and write it down. Then take that information and include it in a letter or email to your ex (keep a copy for your own records, by the way). The advantage of this is you don’t have to try to outshout them or get diverted from what you are expressing while providing clear guidelines you are willing to use. But some ex’s still don’t respect the request, what do you do, then? Some immediately jump to court and file restraining orders….which often creates a hostile situation and only provides “protection” after the fact……in other words, if they show up, you can call the police, but the police aren’t going to post a guard 24/7 to keep them from showing up.
Instead, I suggested an alternative to my friend, a woman with two children at home. My first thought was for her to always be out on the porch when he arrives, and simply do the discussion out there. That often can settle the difficulty. However, some people don’t let that discourage them….they are insistent about entering the home. Another option could be to walk to the car and stand outside the car door, talking only through the window and thus, blocking their exit from the vehicle. Again, not everybody responds even to that. So, another option would be to have a supporting individual present when the ex comes by (realizing that often it is necessary for them to come to return the kids). If you are a woman, asking a tall and muscular male friend to be there can be a good discouragement to some men (although some would pick fights instead). Finally, if the problem occurs when children are returning from the other parent’s home, an alternative solution would be to arrange the pickup and drop-off at a neutral place…..”just bring them to the mall….I’ll meet you at such and so a place.” (And you can explain a bit to the children in age appropriate information that you just want your home to be your private space….just don’t run down the ex while you explain.) Or, if it isn’t a matter of children and the person refuses to cease, then perhaps one call to the police to report a trespasser would be enough to discourage their behavior.
Bottom line: this is all very stupid. Nobody should even HAVE to try to figure out how to handle these things. But some people just like to keep things stirred up. Others like to “have their cake and eat it, too” thinking that they should be free to come and go as they please. So if this is you, good luck…it can be a very troublesome problem. Over time, though, the problem will probably fade and resolve itself as your ex finds other things to do with his/her time than snoop around your house. By the way, if you have dealt with this yourself, and have some other good ideas to suggest, feel free to add comments to this blog.
TL:dr Ideas for handling a difficult ex.