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Operating Radio Silence

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  • Operating Radio Silence

    I have heard other commentators on this board recommend "radio silence" when dealing with partners who thrive on continued conflict post-divorce. But what does this really mean?

    I was forced to block my ex-partner from my work email address because I was inundated with lengthy emails every morning. Instead I have set up a dedicated Gmail account just for him. I check the account when the children are not around so that they do not see me visibly upset. The emails are often abusive, and accusatory in tone and content, making them difficult to read. However, for the most part I have tried not to engage by responding to the abuse. I try and keep my emails short, business like and to the point. But occasionally find myself dragged into a "back and forth" dialogue that is not going anywhere in respect to resolving anything.

    I was also left with no choice but to change my cell number because he kept calling me and leaving lengthy voice mail messages. It was costing me a fortune on "my pay as you go" plan. This was only after I warned him that if he did not stop calling me several times and leaving lengthy accusatory voice mails, then I would need to get a new cell number and would not be able to give him my cell number. He continued, I changed my cell number.

    I have provided him with my home phone number which he is supposed to use when there is an emergency. There is an answering machine which often gets filled up pretty quickly with his messages. Morever, there are times where he will call several times in a very short period (an hour), as transpired last night. Or very late at night waking me up long after I and the children have gone to bed.

    I am thinking of compiling a short email addressed to him setting down some ground rules in respect to:

    1) How late parties should call (non-emergency) each other at home
    2) How quickly parties should expect a response to an email
    3) How quickly parties should respond to a non-emergency voice mail
    4) What time is best for parents to call the children should they wish to speak to them when they are with the other parent?

    Any ideas or feedback on this and shared experience on how you have dealt with a similar situation would be welcome.

  • #2
    Nadia, this sounds like harassment to me. I would think about putting a call in to the police department (specifically domestic violence if there is on in your area) not to pursue charges but to find out your rights, where the line is in harassement vs. regular contact between co-parents but also specifically what you need to write in an e-mail to him to get him to stop. If you tell him to stop calling you, he needs to respect that to some degree. Police will be helpful in setting an appropriate boundary for your situation.

    Boundaries are extremely important in healthy co-parenting relationships. You need to be CLEAR about your boundaries and stick to them. Do not let him intimidate you with fear that he'll take you to court, he'll make life more difficult etc. You have more power than you think and you need to decide when to use it and when to let things slide. Sounds to me like you need to get tougher with him. Just because you share children doesn't mean he can call repeatedly, late at night etc. Find out your rights so you can get the confidence you need to set those boundaries.


    • #3
      Definitely sounds like harassment to me. Someone else here had a great suggestion about communicating with the EX via email only, let the Ex know you will only be reading emails re: the children only and the topic must be identified in the subject line, if not it won't be read or responded to. File them away for documentation, read or don't read them at your leisure and he will get the point.

      As far as the phone calls go, let all his calls go to voicemail and once it's full leave it that way for a while so he can't leave you anymore. Give anyone else important your new cell number to reach you.

      Or get a restraining order.
      Last edited by blinkandimgone; 08-21-2011, 10:09 AM. Reason: blah blah blah


      • #4
        1) How late parties should call (non-emergency) each other at home
        This should never happen. My ex and I are getting along reasonably well and even chat occasionally now, but never accept phone calls from her other than immediate logistics ("We are on our way, I'll drop the kids off in x minutes") or immediate medical issues ("We need to get daughter into a clinic for a throat swab, can you do it or should I?")

        Anything else is discussed by email only. She is barred from texting due to abusing this. Email records are also important for us because of too many instances of "I'm sure I told you about the birthday party tomorrow!!" or "I don't remember the conversation that way!!"

        2) How quickly parties should expect a response to an email
        We don't all sit at our computers for a living, depending on the person we should expect an answer within 24 hours certainly. I expect my ex to check mail once a day and respond, othewise I assume she's playing avoidance games.

        3) How quickly parties should respond to a non-emergency voice mail
        I don't think voice mail should be used this way. If there are problems you should limit communication to email only so that you have clear records of harrassment and clear records of plans, decisions, schedule changes, kids need new shoes, whatever. Voice mail doesn't leave you with any record that you called with information, unless you are recording your own calls.

        I find with my ex that once we moved to email only, a lot of crap cleared up. Not everything has to lead to contempt of court or harrassment charges, but simply copying a half dozen emails and point out how inappropriate they are (and CC this to her sister for example) can put communication back on track. Save the inappropriate emails and then send them back to show a pattern and ask for it to stop, this can work wonders. You can't do this if you are communicating by voicemail, and only in a limited way by text.

        4) What time is best for parents to call the children should they wish to speak to them when they are with the other parent?
        Depends on age, your children are still quite young I think? After school is often busy playtime, then there is dinner. The best time for a regular call is just before regular bedtime, and then ideally keep it fairly short, just to say goodnight.

        My ex had a bad habit for a while of calling our (then) 12 year old in the evening and nagging her and getting her upset, which would then ruin our own evening. If there are things to "discuss", do it on your own time. A pleasant call to say "Goodnight" and maybe a reminder about something coming up later in the week is fine.

        If you don't see the kids for a few days at a time and wish a longer conversation, then just ask on the previous good-night call, "Hey, when's a good time to call you tomorrow?"


        • #5
          I had to do the same as Mess and block my ex' texts to my cell. Another suggestion is to forward the calls directly from his numbers to voicemail...I have done this and it has been successful in many aspects (he stopped leaving such aggressive voicemails as he was now being recorded, and it allowed me time to gain composure and think about my response instead of getting caught off guard which ultimately ended up as a 2 way argument).

          I have also tried to move most communication to email and keep it in short bullet point form only stating/summarizing the points.


          • #6
            Thank you for all the good advice everyone.


            • #7
              The first thing you have to do is train yourself to only reply to matters that are child related and only respond in email.

              Second is to advise via email that, unless it is an emergency, to please refrain from calling after Xpm. Further that all communications should relate to the children as you are not discussing matters that are not related to the children.

              When you start getting multiple phone calls/emails etc. because you haven't responded, you simply state that you needed time to determine how you wanted to proceed and that you would appreciate it if your ex would cease and desist sending multiple messages/texts/emails on the matter. You assure them you will respond in a reasonable period of time.

              But anything not relating to the kids doesn't get a response. They can spout off all they want, don't engage them it will only justify what they are doing.


              • #8

                Check up "disengagement" or "disengage" with regards to Divorce on Google. There are hundreds of great articles and even clinical studies and supporting evidence on how to do this. It shouldn't be "radio silence" but, you should disengage from the other parent.

                Good Luck!


                • #9
                  Thanks for the excellent advice Hammerdad!


                  • #10
                    This is entering harassment in my view. I like tayken's view and disengage from this fellow. I had to ban all communication other than email. It works!. there is no law that states you need to communicate verbally.

                    Also, if the emails move a fraction of an inch off "child centric" and become personally abusive, give one warning to stop. If he fails this take the next email to the police department and file a complaint.

                    He might have a right to act like this, you have a greater right to prevent this from entering your space.

                    Good luck


                    • #11
                      I had to do this with my ex. Two ways to go about it, a book he can write you in or e-mail. Really there should be little need for him to contact you outside of emergencies. I ended up writting him a letter saying that I felt his constant phone calls were harrassing and that I had been in contact with the police and he was not to call me at home for anything other than emergencies. It went from 3-4 calls a day to 4 calls in 6 months That's not to say the kids can't call him, and they do on occasion. Or if there is anything pressing that we can't communicate but really you shouldn't have to deal with all that!


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