Last time we discussed ways an ex-spouse or ex-"significant other" can affect you by expressing opinions that you may actually still be considering as factual. Today, we're going to dive deeper. Just because you may be wise to the words your ex may use, what about his or her potentially manipulative actions? Some of that stuff is a lot more subtle. By getting you to buy in to reacting to certain actions on his or her part, an ex-spouse holds the potential of staying in a control position with you for months, years or even decades after the break-up happens. This, of course, is the proverbial Thing That Must Not Be. But you know that without me telling you?right? Okay then, let's see to stopping it.
Take a look at the limited list of possible situations below, and think carefully about if and how any of the "subtleties" described affect you-and to what extent: 1) Manipulation through planting "issue landmines" A real landmine works by inflicting explosive destruction whatever triggers it by crossing its path. Your ex can figuratively do this by creating "issues" that appear to demand your attention. Often, this is done in an attempt to divert energy, inflict hardship or even simply to rattle you.
Anytime something comes up courtesy of your ex that could have been easily dealt with by the ex him/herself without your help, introduces complexity with questionable necessity and/or is presented with extreme urgency (i.e. "You have to do this RIGHT NOW.") you now know what you are looking at. Examples include calls about something received in the mail, rumors and/or "rumors of rumors" (or any other such gossip-fed nonsense), disputes about where certain "community property" items are (especially small, cheap ones), unnecessary legal wranglings, etc.
2) Manipulation THROUGH the kids, or manipulation OF the kids To many, this is the lowest form of skullduggery. But it goes on nonetheless, doesn't it? Any time an ex-spouse brings the children into any differences ex-spouses have between each other, it's flat-out manipulative. Children can be involved in an effort to either send you messages and/or gain information about you to be used against you when/if appropriate. Sometimes your ex may want to try to rattle you by making sure the kids tell you certain things. Other times, they can be coached to glean info from you that will be "downloaded" when they are with the other parent again.
There is no easy answer for how to handle this brand of manipulation since it can take so many forms, and such is probably the realm of a completely different type of professional. But regardless, your ability to recognize that it's going on and be wary of it is a big part of making sure it ends. The absolute low point is when an ex does the unthinkable and coaches your son or daughter to think poorly of you. Rest assured, kids are typically way better at things like reading intentions and drawing their own conclusions than we give them credit for. As such, these tactics will likely not work if you are a good parent. 3) Manipulation of the schedule If you are involved in court proceedings with your ex, be vigilant towards any 'accidental' coincidences in court scheduling that result in your extreme inconvenience.
They may not have been accidental. More typically, however, this factor revolves around the kids. The further Mom and Dad live away from each other the easier it is for one ex to control the other with the schedule.
Perhaps it's a last-minute announcement that something "came up" that precludes you from seeing the children this weekend. I've even heard stories of dads being stood up completely when going to pick up children hundreds of miles away, because the ex "forgot". If both parents live in the same city, maybe there's a call requesting "extra time" this week.
If granted, it morphs into more frequent requests until you have significantly less time with the kids?and which you are the "bad guy" for putting the kibosh on eventually. You get the idea. Don't put up with it. 4) Manipulation by weakness / eliciting pity My favorite example of this is the story of the guy who still answers calls from the ex wife or girlfriend to come over and help her change light bulbs, cut the grass, remove spiders, or whatever. Matter of fact, that's the only example I need. You get it.
And, oh yeah, men can do it too. 5) Manipulation by distraction Anything that takes your focus away from what is important to you and redirects it towards what is important to your ex (or not important AT ALL) falls into this category. Your ex spouse may deflect a real issue with a subject-changing tactic, or may be attempting to keep you from moving on in your life however s/he can.
The first example that comes to mind of the latter motive is a repeated tendency on the part of an ex to call the other at 9.45 on Friday and Saturday nights, when a date might be (or should be?) happening. OK, so we have the obvious verbal opinions from Part One and now the more subtle manipulative tactics out there on the table also , don't we? If you, the reader, are going to DESERVE WHAT YOU WANT you clearly have to be strong enough to recognize destructive opinions and tactics and not fall prey to them.
Work on that if you don't have it handled just yet. And if you have some ideas you think I forgot to mention and should have, send them on over. Now I'm going to drop a bomb. It is arguably even more important that you check yourself to make sure YOU are not DISHING OUT anything on this menu either towards your ex. (How's that for a plot complication?) Are you the one saying destructive things or acting with dark motives? Do you justify it as "responding in kind"? If you have fallen into this trap, be advised: you are not meting out justice.
You are sinking to your ex's potentially destructive level. And it will hurt you. What we're talking about here is LETTING GO and MOVING ON. Both exes must succeed in doing this.
It's all part of you being able to be the kind of person who deserves to not have history repeat itself the next time around. You learn how to spot the destructive behavior and resist it so you are not affected by negative energy as you seek to move on with your life. That's easy to see. You refrain from partaking in this negative form of lashing out yourself so that you will be a strong, effective, healthy, mentally alert and ATTRACTIVE partner to your future spouse.
Scot McKay's dating strategies for those who refuse to settle for anything less than the ULTIMATE relationship are found at: http://www.relationship-advice.us/. Stop by right now and grab a FREE e-book ($20 value) when you sign up for the X & Y Communications Newsletter, which is always packed with unique and practical dating tips.