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Seeking Help Stopping my Manipulative Ex

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  • Seeking Help Stopping my Manipulative Ex

    I haven’t been around much in a few years, as my situation has been resolved and stable, at least as much as one can hope for. Unlike many here, we didn’t go to court, as we both behaved reasonably and we have been coparenting our joint custody in relative success. He’s manipulative, I’m easy-going. He’s one of those ‘easier to ask for forgiveness than permission’ people.

    This has manifested in him deviating from the set schedule with little notice to suit his plans (mostly giving up his access time or taking an extra day), and expecting me to just go along with it. Usually I do, as my life is pretty flexible and I learned early on to keep it that way. As the kids have grown older, he now tells them to tell me when he’s deviating, instead of telling me himself. I have asked him not to do this, but he hasn't stopped.

    Recently, one of the kids told me he was taking them on a three-week trip overseas over Christmas Break. He’s booked it all already, flights, hotels, etc.

    I’m so flabbergasted by his audacity I can’t even come up with a good response. This goes well beyond my previous flexibility. Those other situations were all fine, but this is not. He’s unilaterally taking my entire Christmas time and taking kids who aren’t the strongest students (grade 9 and 12) out of school for a week, and has created a situation where it’s very hard for me to say no, and if I do, I’m the bad guy.

    Our agreement has the usual boilerplate where we each have a week of the holiday break, and alternate who gets the first one and who gets the second one. We have always deviated from it, sticking to the usual schedule but with him taking them for a couple of extra days, with the exchange around mid-Christmas Day.

    Anybody have any advice on what I can do about this situation, that doesn’t hurt the kids, but would put a stop to this manipulation? That hopefully doesn’t involve a lawyer because my ex has access to superior financial power.

  • #2
    Youre in a no win situation. If you tell him no the kids will be mad. If you dont tell him no, he will keep doing it. So your big decision is be mad yourself or make your kids mad.

    It was really unfair for him to do this but from the sounds of it he seems like an ass. Is there an option to take time away from him next year?

    I know this isnt helpful advice but unless your are planning to put your foot down and tell him too bad but the kids arent going, there isnt anything you can do. Plus your kids are old enough now to make imposing a decision like this difficult.

    I wouldnt normally advocate for involving the kids but perhaps you may need to use them much like he is doing to you. Including telling them to be assertive with dad that he needs to talk to you not them. In the sense of no dad, talk to mom Im not involved in this and possibly this is shitty to leave mom no say on the holidays.

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    • #3
      As they get older, it's just easier to communicate through kids but this is more about your Christmas holidays. If this is out of the blue, I wouldn't mind saying no and to reschedule in summer. Should you accept, I would take 3 weeks next Christmas - then back to week each.

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      • #4
        Take a deep breath, crack open a bottle of wine and make a toast to yourself for how well you’ve handled your manipulate ex thus far. You have taken the high road and that is something to be proud of. As Rockscan said, the kids are old enough that enforcing a” no, they can’t go “ will be next to impossible. Now pour yourself another glass and make a toast to the fact the kids are teens now and your nightmare is nearing it’s expiry date. The kids will be out of the house in a few years and you will have done your job.

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        • #5
          Hi Rioe,

          Sorry you are back. I will provide some creative ideas on how to handle this situation.

          Originally posted by Rioe View Post
          Recently, one of the kids told me he was taking them on a three-week trip overseas over Christmas Break. He’s booked it all already, flights, hotels, etc.
          Not an uncommon thing to do but, how you handle the situation is what really matters.

          Originally posted by Rioe View Post
          I’m so flabbergasted by his audacity I can’t even come up with a good response. This goes well beyond my previous flexibility. Those other situations were all fine, but this is not. He’s unilaterally taking my entire Christmas time and taking kids who aren’t the strongest students (grade 9 and 12) out of school for a week, and has created a situation where it’s very hard for me to say no, and if I do, I’m the bad guy.
          Where are they going? Get the details, flight numbers and hotel location and book the same vacation if you can or be there for 1/2 the time. I know that you probably don't want to go wherever they are going but, you want to beat the other parent at this game and not loose face... Then you go and take back the half of the vacation that is rightfully yours.

          Kids won't be mad. They still get to go. You also get to be there and make sure they keep involved in school vs opposing them going and being the "bad parent".

          Be sure to buy travel insurance on any bookings because the other parent will surely cancel their trip once they learn you have done this and agree because 1/2 that time the kids are with you. I have recommended this course of action a few times now and it usually ends the conflict without conflict and the trips get cancelled. One time out of 8 that I have counted in my records the families went on the trip and it actually worked out.

          Good Luck!
          Tayken

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Bogdan View Post
            If you need it .. insist on some reciprocity in regards to vacation time (per @StillPaying), preferably BEFORE your Ex vacation as if he’s high-conflict he’s just going to frustrate it or change his mind if it’s after.

            I’ve learned the hard way that I can only do swaps with my Ex if my time is before hers.
            Nice idea in theory, and maybe it will work for me in the future, but not right now for this situation. Having a make-up vacation time ahead of his vacation would mean taking the kids out of school even more than he intends, and I don't even have to invade his time with them to do that since I have majority access to begin with. Also, I can't afford any sort of trip overseas as I do not have the kind of finances he has access to. What I really want to do is see my family members AT CHRISTMASTIME.

            I want the kids to spend time with their dad.
            I want them to enjoy travel.
            What I don't want is for him to arrange all this without coordinating it with me first.

            He's already manipulated me to be the one to stand in line for hours at the passport office and pay those fees. I'm just really fed up.

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            • #7
              Tell him he can do it himself!!!

              Comment

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