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Old 08-18-2013, 09:09 PM
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Default How do you cope with the acrimony?

My partner and his ex are involved in a nasty battle over support and custody/access. When I started dating him 2 years ago, he was simply at her mercy and letting her walk all over him. She won an uncontested motion for full custody of D2 (now D6) because my partner disdains the legal system and did not want to fight about it. She also promised him unlimited access if he did not contest custody. All he cares about is access. Since then it has been a nightmare. She used access to D as a way to control him. And then, despite the fact that he was primary caregiver, she applied for support and had his income imputed at 85% more than he earns. Again, he did not fight back.

Last year, I encouraged him to start fighting back. So he did. And I have been getting more and more involved ever since. Now the case has taken a really nasty turn and it is beginning to really eat away at me. She plays so many games and I have tried to take the high road but I am beginning to slip. I am beginning to plot ways to outdo her games. I literally spend hours upon hours drafting email responses to her for him. And any hours remaining are spent in trying to figure out what her next nasty move is going to be.

My partner is mostly disconnected. All he really cares about is seeing his daughter and making sure she is happy. We recently won a temp order for regular access and an 85% reduction in monthly support payments, so he is feeling content until the next court date. But I am obsessed with her games (for example, she will not allow him to talk to D6 on phone during her parenting time but she calls and speaks/skypes to D6 everyday during our parenting time.) That infuriates me, that we are facilitating phone access when she doesn't. But we have to do it because it makes D6 happy and it also tells the court that we facilitate access.

Any advice on how to manage the acrimony? I am an educated person with a background in conflict resolution and generally strive for peaceful relationships wherever I can. While I do not mind conflict, I have never been in a situation like this, with someone so conniving and untruthful and hypocritical. I feel like it is eating me up alive. Any advice out there? FP
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:18 PM
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I have no real advice to offer just now, except that you be forewarned that most people who answer are simply going to tell you to get your nose out of your partner's business, and probably be rude about it.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:20 PM
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There is nothing you can do. They both need to find harmony for the situation within themselves. From what you describe - the other side may be on the far side of that result.

Time, however, does help. Wait it out?
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:20 PM
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I highly, highly recommend that you disengage from communication as completely as possible. Spending hours drafting emails is not healthy for you, it is not a solution to your conflict, and it is not a solution to any legal or logistical issues.

Engaging in back and forth emails over any matter the way you are describing is a process of maintaining conflict, not resolving it. You cannot resolve the conflict unless both parties are interested in resolving it.

Not to put down your partner, but by taking the Obliging role, he is doing as much to maintain the conflict as his ex is. Giving in does not end conflict; the situation remains imbalanced. There is no resolution as the other party has learned that aggression pays off. This feeds the desire for conflict.

It creats an action=reward loop in the brain. As long as the other party keeps acting in a certain way, they get a reward, both a physical sense, but more importantly in an emotional sense.

Your email situation is an example of that kind of loop. The responses you send are given the other party recognition that their tactics are working. The conflict is not over what time Johnny gets dropped off for his cousin's birthday; it is about creating stress and tension out of need to be hostile.

You break the loop by stopping the stimulus you provide. Stop answering.

The only email you need to send is: "We'll drop him off at 4 pm."

The response you give to any form of agression is: Nothing.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrustratedPartner View Post
All he cares about is access.
No problem then. It is his situation and he is content as long as he gets to see his child.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrustratedPartner View Post
Last year, I encouraged him to start fighting back. So he did. And I have been getting more and more involved ever since. Now the case has taken a really nasty turn and it is beginning to really eat away at me. She plays so many games and I have tried to take the high road but I am beginning to slip. I am beginning to plot ways to outdo her games. I literally spend hours upon hours drafting email responses to her for him. And any hours remaining are spent in trying to figure out what her next nasty move is going to be.
Please know that I mean this gently but this sounds like jealousy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrustratedPartner View Post
My partner is mostly disconnected. All he really cares about is seeing his daughter and making sure she is happy.
It sounds like he has a healthy perspective on the situation and has genuinely moved on. His focus seems to be in the right spot - taking care of his daughter and not caring about the ex.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrustratedPartner View Post
Any advice on how to manage the acrimony? I am an educated person with a background in conflict resolution and generally strive for peaceful relationships wherever I can. While I do not mind conflict, I have never been in a situation like this, with someone so conniving and untruthful and hypocritical. I feel like it is eating me up alive. Any advice out there? FP
Again, perhaps your conflict resolution background isn't helping because YOU are not involved in a conflict. This isn't your fight. It is his and he has laid down the gauntlet.

You have certain feelings about his ex that are about how you experience the situation. You will have to look at what those feelings are and how to best get past them.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:27 PM
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Thank you Mess. I wholeheartedly agree with you. It is just so damn hard! It feels like she is winning when she sends out the disgusting emails and we don't respond.

I was thinking about reading a couple books on all this by Bill Eddy. I really do need some coaching and guidance.

And thanks for the heads up Rioe.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:35 PM
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hey Sad and Tired, jealousy is a big word. I think competitive is more like it. Though I am definitely jealous that she gets away with so much bad behaviour and has a lawyer who puts a spin on it all. But I guess that is what lawyers are for.

I am trying to connect with my feelings and identify them. I was the subject of a nasty custody battle in the 80's and was forced to testify against my mother in court. I felt such a terrible lack of control over the situation and I believe that this case is triggering all those old buried feelings. I am in therapy but can't seem to get to a better place.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:51 PM
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I am a 'new' partner as well, the biggest thing I have learned through the whole process is that I can't project my feelings and views onto my partner. The way he chooses to react or not react to a situation is his choice and I have to respect and support that. I still do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions because I am better at researching and typing and such than he is but once I provide that information what he chooses to do with it is his call. I may not agree with his choses and decisions but I always remember that deep down I don't know what he is thinking or feeling.
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Old 08-18-2013, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrustratedPartner View Post
hey Sad and Tired, jealousy is a big word. I think competitive is more like it. Though I am definitely jealous that she gets away with so much bad behaviour and has a lawyer who puts a spin on it all. But I guess that is what lawyers are for.

I am trying to connect with my feelings and identify them. I was the subject of a nasty custody battle in the 80's and was forced to testify against my mother in court. I felt such a terrible lack of control over the situation and I believe that this case is triggering all those old buried feelings. I am in therapy but can't seem to get to a better place.
Aw, how awful for you.

I wonder if jealousy and competitive aren't the right words either. I wonder if you are trying to get back some of the control over your life that you never had as a child?

What I do think you have going for you is that you seem very self aware. Kudos to you for at least being able to talk about it constructively.

I certainly don't know what the answer is but hope you do find it.

Hugs to you.

Last edited by SadAndTired; 08-18-2013 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 08-18-2013, 10:06 PM
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Thanks Sad and Tired. Hugs to you too. I hope that one day soon you are Happy and Energetic.
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