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Need help setting boundries without being rude

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dlmos posted 5/7/2013 14:59 PM

I'm having an issue with how to set a boundry with my xWW in a tactful way.

Backstory: I took a vacation this weekend and now she is depressed because she "will never have the money to take a vacation", "needs a break" etc... Also placing me in lose/lose situations with her needing my help and yet knowing I can't.

Now I'm living with my parents while I dig myself out of the marital debt I swollowed so she and the kids could remain in the marital home. I'm also paying the gap between what I owe in CS and what she needs to provide for the kids, I'll continue to cover the differance through the summer so she can find employment this fall without having a large impact on the kids (DD starts kindergarten this fall). I also spend quite a lot of time with my kids.

She also has other options through her church which has a large special needs ministry that provides mothers nights out on a bi-weekly basis as well as other programs...if she would ever sign up for them. I filled out all the paperwork for her during the D process but she just doesn't ever get around to turning them in.

I do know it is hard to be a single mom, and she does not have any "play money" for herself. But she is starting to look to me for emotional support, as well mildly acting like I'm a "disney dad" when she gets jealous of the time I have for myself. I don't want to see her suffer and would love to see her thrive, but I can't be the one to hold her hand and guide her along (after all she fired me from that job).

How do I tell her she has to do these things on her own without damaging the coparenting relationship we have built?

ajsmom posted 5/7/2013 15:20 PM

Sounds like you need to implement a little Divorce 180: You MUST keep your conversations to those issues dealing ONLY with kids and finances.

She doesn't need to know about your vacations (unless they impact your parenting time).

Stop enabling her: It is up to her to seek out additional help (over and above your GENEROUS help) a social life (whatever that may be) or any of her other Post-D needs.

Please...stop being her soft place to land. Your responsibility is to your children's emotional health, not hers. It sounds like she knows how to manipulate you and if you're feeling guilty, it's working.

She done made her bed.


Edited for clarity.

[This message edited by ajsmom at 3:24 PM, May 7th (Tuesday)]

Helen of Troy posted 5/7/2013 15:42 PM

Gentle 2x4: stop.
Don't take her calls. Let her messages go to voicemail if she won't communicate by email. If she emails, filter to a folder and read when you are ready. Only reply about kids issues and be brief and to the point, no sharing of feelings, no emotion, stop sharing about your life events, plans, dreams, etc.. (bonding behaviors)
Stop the extra money.
Stop enabling her.

roughroadahead posted 5/7/2013 15:57 PM

I get how your situation complicates kids/finances only. Believe me. It would be nice to be able to say that "Billy has soccer practice Saturday afternoons at 2" and leave it at that, but kids like yours and mine need a little (ok, a lot--not only school stuff, but ABA goals, speech, OT, current reward systems, problem behaviors, endless calls from the school--that one might just be my kid--and on and on) more communication than that. It is in everyone's best interest to keep a cordial co-parenting relationship.

So, I wouldn't do the aggressive "THIS IS MY BOUNDARY STOP TALKING TO ME" that might be relevant in other situations. If she mentions how tired she is, you can just say "hm" and move on to talking about the kids. Refuse to engage, but not in an aggressive way.

I don't know what your parenting plan is like, with respect to how much time you have the kids vs her, but try to do what you can for them without engaging her. When I've had two or more kids losing their shit (this includes screaming and violence), waffle has taken one of them on an impromptu basis. This isn't the cool detached parenting that SI typically advocates, but having more than one SN child is its own special hell.

As a first step, I would try to step back from the conversations about her. Also, if you haven't already, set up a calendar or something online with all the kids' appointments, times at preschool or whatever so you both know what's coming. On ours, if you click on the appointment, I've written in for him who is responsible for the copay. This should cut down some of the need to talk about it. If she's the primary, this will require her cooperation. For the rest, be friendly, but firm.

I am jealous of your special needs ministry. You've lead that horse to water, so no need to mention that again.

If she doesn't take the hint, then you might need to take the more direct route.

SBB posted 5/7/2013 16:17 PM

Another vote for no contact. Total NC until she gets her shit together. Don't tell her shit about what you're doing. It will make her crazy/ier.

You are not her KISA. Yes, you want whats best for the kids but you are also enabling this 'woe is me', helpless sort of behaviour. She needs to stand on her own. If she can't she needs to work that out.

What she is doing is leaning on you for emotional support. There is an emotional bakery as well as a physical one.

You are divorced.

She fired you from that job.

If she can't handle the kids then tell her you're willing to have more custody. That should shut her up or resolve this once and for all.

Let HER move in with her parents or family. Let HER make some sacrifices.

Its not your job to make her life good or make her be a good mother.

You'll do all of this trying to protect them but as soon as the next or the next boyfriend comes along she will throw it in your face.

In short, you set the boundary with your behaviour. Avoid speaking to her - all comms via email or text. If she is really not handling things then you protect those children by removing them from her.

I hope you're taking a record of everything friend. You think the fuckery is over but it rarely is. Only NC will protect you and your kids from the fuckery to come.

Dreamboat posted 5/7/2013 16:39 PM

Not only do you need to implement 180, you also need to learn to cut off the conversation when it drifts into any area that you do not want to discuss. It is rather easy once you get the hang of it.

Simply say "I will not talk about that." or "I have nothing else to say." or "I have to go." (just pick a line and use it over and over) and then you simply hang up the phone or walk away or close the door. Just be matter of fact and cut off the conversation and take yourself away from her. You don't have to be rude but you certainly do not have to be nice or ask permission or anything like that.

You will get the hang of it. And she will eventually get the message.

Good luck

bigpicture3236 posted 5/7/2013 17:01 PM

You are getting good advice here. I would just add if she starts whining about her life that you just stand there, mute, in response. Do not engage her as all she wants is for you to feel sorry for her. Sounds to me like you have done enough.

dlmos posted 5/7/2013 18:05 PM

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I'm trying real hard not get TOO frustrated with it, but it always manages to get under my skin. She does has primary custody so I know it can be exhausting, I have the kids about 1/3 of the time due to my work schedule. We have had a very "kids/money" thing going on but I think she is thinking I'm going to poof, which isn't going to happen. The current financial arrangment was made for the kids sake and will end after they both enter full time school this fall, but I can tell she is depressed about not being able to live to the same standard she was used to and I think that is contributing.

I think she is getting depressed that the grass wasn't greener. I don't think she wants to try and get back together, which won't happen, but she doesn't have the support structure I have. Hopefully she will find that soon, it's just hard not to tell her what she needs to do to fix that (i.e. get involved in the church, make use of the programs, budget, etc...).

It's hard trying to balance having compassion for someone, while also knowing they have to learn the lessons for themselves.

GabyBaby posted 5/7/2013 18:45 PM

I think she is getting depressed that the grass wasn't greener.
XWH meet Consequences.

It sucks (for her) that she doesnt have the support system that you have, but again, her choices are what got her here. As long as you're doing everything you can for your kids, her woes are not your problem.

180. If for no other reason than your own personal sanity.

tabitha95 posted 5/7/2013 18:59 PM

((dlmos)) I'm giving you hugs, not 2x4's, because i know how hard it is to cut the roles we once had in our M's. I have struggled in figuring out the new roles we play in each other's lives too. I would go total NC if I could, but i don't want the kids to see hate between their parents. I do want us all to get along for their sake and it does sometimes end up with me taking on a emotional role that I shouldn't.

If you want to draw a boundary with her without being rude, tell her that you need to take an emotional break from talking to her about anything that doesn't involve the kids for your own sanity.

Williesmom posted 5/7/2013 20:04 PM

Her actions created this mess that she finds herself in. She needs to figure out how to deal with it.

Talk about kids and finances only. She sounds like an emotional vampire with entitlement issues.

gonnabe2016 posted 5/7/2013 20:17 PM

it's just hard not to tell her what she needs to do to fix that

Remembering that she won't take any advice that you give her anyway should help you solve that urge. I mean, heck, YOU filled out the paperwork for the church SN program....and she can't be bothered to even turn the papers in, right?

She needs to grow up and learn to stand on her own 2 feet without you propping her up.

tryingagain74 posted 5/7/2013 20:17 PM

About a year ago, I posted here about how STBX (when we were still doing in-house separation hell) and I got into an argument, which ended with him wailing, "I have nobody! I have nobody!" He then ran off, blubbering, to the den where he was sleeping on the fold-out couch. I remember standing there, wondering if I should go after him, and feeling just awful that he was in there crying, feeling all alone, and I wasn't doing anything to reassure him.

Good thing I had SI. I went up to my room and posted about it instead. That was a turning point for me-- everyone said, unanimously, "He fired you from that job! He's probably feeling sorry for himself, not sorry that he's lost you! Don't go after him-- stick to the 180!" They were so right. He DID fire me from that job, and even though every instinct in me cried out to "rescue" him, I knew that, for my well-being, I had to stop doing that. We were no longer married, and what's even more pathetic is that while he was burbling "I have nobody," he was still deeply into his relationship with the OW, the same one he plans on marrying once the D is final! So, I would have been a super chump if I had gone in there to make him feel better. Talk about having his cake and eating it too. I could have dried his tears and made him feel all better, and then he would have had a sex chat with the OW online after I went to bed.

Too bad that your xWW is having a rough time of it. Did she consider your feelings when she was having her A? No. Did she worry about how you were going to handle it, or how it would affect you financially? No. She's fine with you sleeping in your parents' basement-- does she ever say how awful she feels that you need to do that to make ends meet? No. She just wants more of an allowance. Well, guess what-- lots of places are looking for temporary help over the summer, so tell her to go apply at Dairy Queen! The bank of dlmos is closed!

[This message edited by tryingagain74 at 8:18 PM, May 7th (Tuesday)]

kernel posted 5/7/2013 20:17 PM

dlmos, you're getting a lot of good advice here. It sounds like you're getting sucked in but good from a master manipulator to me. You know you've got the KISA thing going on and she is playing you. You are allowing it. You're still rescuing her in all kinds of ways, in the name of protecting your kids. Think about how that comes to be - little comments she makes, stuff she knows will push your buttons. Now that you've covered all the bases with the kids, she's after you to make her life easier - the job she fired you from. She is realizing the consequences of her choices. Stop saving her.

ruinedandbroken posted 5/7/2013 21:25 PM

Too bad that your xWW is having a rough time of it. Did she consider your feelings when she was having her A? No. Did she worry about how you were going to handle it, or how it would affect you financially? No. She's fine with you sleeping in your parents' basement-- does she ever say how awful she feels that you need to do that to make ends meet? No. She just wants more of an allowance. Well, guess what-- lots of places are looking for temporary help over the summer, so tell her to go apply at Dairy Queen! The bank of dlmos is closed!


dlmos posted 5/7/2013 23:24 PM

Thank you again everyone, y'all are right. She did fire me and I need to just back off. When I was doing the 180 the last couple months, only discussing the kids/money things went real smooth. I thought maybe we had entered an better place recently but we haven't, and I can't be her emotional outlet anymore. She false R then made no attempt to stop the D process. She really only made the efforts she needed towards securing herself, knowing I was the one having to rebuild. She did fire me, and while I'm sure her situation isn't he greener pasture she thought it was I need to focus on tending my own fields. Thank you again for giving me the advise I need to hear.

wonderpets posted 5/8/2013 01:03 AM

I have said before, "I know that you are going through a tough time and are upset about things, I just want you to know that I don't care at all. "

That is a good conversation stopper.

HopeImOverIt posted 5/8/2013 11:43 AM

Do you have any "frienemies" at work? People you have to stay cordial with in order to get your job done, but don't care for?

I would treat her the same way you do them. If a frienemy of mine mentioned a personal problem to me, I'd say "I'm sorry to hear that," and then get back to discussing business.

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