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#1 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My partner, via email: "It's supposed to start snowing this afternoon, with heaviest amounts this evening. Up to 10 inches by morning. You want to do an early drop off so we're not driving in a dark blizzard?"

Ex: "This has been my ONLY day off out of the whole week. You know I NEED a day each week where I'm not responsible for anyone or anything." (Aside: Do any of you have a 24-hour-period, or even a 12-hour period, where this is true--you don't do work or school or have responsibility for children? I have not had this since August, when my partner and I went on a trip while SD was on a trip with her mom. Before that it was probably 2006--before I moved in with my partner.)

Partner: "Um, OK. But it's going to be unsafe after dark, probably through about noon tomorrow."

Ex: "FINE. We can go at three. But you OWE ME."

***

Ex, via email: "Do you want to keep (SD) for MLK day? She has the day off. Do you?"
Partner: "Let me check."
Ex (time stamped three minutes later): "You know, you COULD just say yes and miss work FOR YOUR DAUGHTER like I do once in a while."

(Note: Ex has MLK Day off too.)

(Note: Partner and I have missed a collective 5 days of work/school in 2008 to accommodate not illness, not days off from school, but SD's mom's discretionary travel. And we missed plenty over the summer when SD was sick and in our weekday care.)



***

Sigh.
My partner has to pretty much walk on eggshells and take 20 minutes crafting an appropriately worded email as not to piss off his ex. And even then, it's a crapshoot.

He'll sometimes ask me to look at the wording of an email before he sends it, but I really don't want to do that unless it's something technical (i.e. if he wants me to verify that directions I provided are correct).

Anyone have any tips for (a) me to stay out of it to the extent I'm able and (b) my partner? Email was supposed to be this great neutralizing force.

Thanks.

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#2 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 03:21 PM
 
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Honestly? None of that is a hill to die on. Yeah, she could have phrased things differently. But none of it was really worth getting aggravated over. IMO.
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#3 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 03:36 PM
 
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Here's what I have learned when dealing with an unreasonable person: (dhs' ex)

A) I don't try reason, or talk to that person like they are someone that can be reasoned with. There are no 'right' words or ways to deal with someone like that. All you can do is control your end. We have found ways to decompress after particularly crazy exchanges with dhs' ex. After a while her nuttiness is just that. Her nuttiness. We can't remove her from the childrens' life or ours or hit and her with the truth stick and magically she will be kind and reasonable always . . . but we can make sure she doesn't poisen our day when she pulls her nuttiness.

(she does manage to ruin my day at times but I am getting better at letting it all roll off my back )


For example: We (my dh and I ) have learned now that when we make plans we always make a plan for his kids being late or not being able to come at all. We don't plan holidays/weekends etc. that involve airline tickets or paying pp ahead of time. We are going away for Christmas. His ex has said their ds can't go. Their other child, dd, is 17, and she is coming. Dhs' ex can't control whether she goes or not. We are going. We have to think about our/his/my other three kids that CAN go. And, btw, she may allow him to go last minute. She pulled that this past summer. One minute he couldn't go and hours before we left he was allowed to come. I think she loves the melodrama and the feeling of being in control.

B) You can support your dh by listening, being kind when he is pulling his hair out in frustration . . . and for you, being very clear about what you are willing to do or not do in relation to his ex.

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#4 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Honestly? None of that is a hill to die on. Yeah, she could have phrased things differently. But none of it was really worth getting aggravated over. IMO.
Yeah, I know--it's just every little thing recently has gotten a snide response, and it puts my partner in a funk for awhile later. His rational brain knows that this is how she is, this is how she always has been (even while they were courting), and it should just roll off his back. But it doesn't.

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#5 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 03:57 PM
 
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Maybe with the driving blizzard thing he could have given her a choice like "do you want me to drop her off early, or if the conditions are unsafe for driving I will drop her off the next day when the roads are clear." Although I might be misunderstanding who was doing the dropping off. Were they meeting at a midpoint?

And with the day off thing, he could have checked first, rather than telling her "I'll check."

As far as cutting down on the drama, he could just refuse to engage (yeah, easy-peasy, right?) His "um. ok. but..." response could have been something like "Ok, I understand. We'll keep her here until the roads are safe."

It sounds like she's frustrated and needs a break, since both posts where she was annoyed were about her having her daughter when she thought she'd be getting alone time. If she isn't partnered, she may really need that time alone to recharge and be a better mama. Maybe if you look at it that way, and try to help her with that issue (rather than just looking at the surface wackiness) then things will go more smoothly. Or not. I'm all too familiar with the drama that can come up, and the eggshell walking.

These are just some random thoughts...
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#6 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe with the driving blizzard thing he could have given her a choice like "do you want me to drop her off early, or if the conditions are unsafe for driving I will drop her off the next day when the roads are clear." Although I might be misunderstanding who was doing the dropping off. Were they meeting at a midpoint?

And with the day off thing, he could have checked first, rather than telling her "I'll check."

As far as cutting down on the drama, he could just refuse to engage (yeah, easy-peasy, right?) His "um. ok. but..." response could have been something like "Ok, I understand. We'll keep her here until the roads are safe."

It sounds like she's frustrated and needs a break, since both posts where she was annoyed were about her having her daughter when she thought she'd be getting alone time. If she isn't partnered, she may really need that time alone to recharge and be a better mama. Maybe if you look at it that way, and try to help her with that issue (rather than just looking at the surface wackiness) then things will go more smoothly. Or not. I'm all too familiar with the drama that can come up, and the eggshell walking.

These are just some random thoughts...
Thanks, I appreciate it.

We're 70 minutes apart, and meet at the midpoint. The roads are unlikely to be safe until tomorrow afternoon--when SD has school (which may or may not be canceled--this is Wisconsin and it takes a LOT to cancel), I have a presentation at school that I can't miss (unless school is canceled, see above--the universities cancel even less frequently than K12 schools), my partner has work and school, and SD's mom is completely off (so if school is canceled, she doesn't need to miss work). So it's either do a drop-off two-and-a-half hours early (after we've had SD since Wednesday morning for the holiday, and SD's mom has been "free" since 4 pm yesterday), or keep SD until tomorrow afternoon, where she'd miss school automatically (as the roads certainly won't be decent enough to get her out tomorrow morning), and one or both of us will have to miss some school or work to accommodate it.

I know from her POV, it's disappointing to have to change plans. But sometimes it's unavoidable. We've had to cancel plans due to weather, SD being sick, etc.--and once we had to rearrange an entire week around SD's mom deciding she was going to travel, booking tickets, calling SD out of school and telling us "oh yeah, you'll need to take her for the week, bye" without even asking if we were, say, going to be in the country. (There's a thread about it here somewhere.)

And yeah, in retrospect, checking then saying "oh, yeah, we're off MLK day" would be better, but it's one of those things you don't think about--most people don't react either way to "I'll check." KWIM? (For what it's worth, according to the parenting plan, MLK Day is *not* a designated holiday, and three-day weekends are not allotted either way, so SD would be at her mom's house that day.)

We have my stepdaughter every weekend, plus most of the summer, plus most breaks--it's about 40% all told. SD's mom has *every* Sunday completely duty-free. No work, no child. Her job does not require taking work home. She is not in school. She gets more breaks than I do. She does have other frustrating stuff going on in her life (including that most of her time with her daughter is wakeup-school-rush-rush rush stuff), which I understand, but honestly--every little thing on my partner's end gets a reaction. Even a "how was the soup you told me you were going to make?" has gotten something along the lines of, "it would have been better if you hadn't taken the ladle when we split up."

(I'm a bit wound up over something unrelated, so sorry if this is coming out more nastily than it should.)

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#7 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 06:02 PM
 
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I am not always great at it, but I try to remember that her nastiness is a reflection of her own state of mind and mental health, and doesn't actually have anything to do with us. She feels crappy on the inside, so she needs to pick a fight so she has a reason to be mean that is not just tied to her own self-image and self-esteem. IF she feels chaotic inside because of her own mental health, she needs to do something to cause some chaos so that the outside world matches her inside feelings. Her own little coping skill to feel more sane than she is...

So I try to recognize it for what it is... her stuff that she doesn't have anywhere else to spew. Depending on my own state of mind, I either feel bad for her misery or I gloat that she's miserable and I'm not.

(And, of course, sometimes I take it personally and lose sleep or get a stomach ache... I'm still working on it...)

I also try to keep myself out of the loop because it makes me insane. I want to support my husband and give him the help he needs, AND I can do that better in ALL aspects of our life if I am mentally healthy... which means limiting my exposure to her ridiculousness. My husband tries to limit his questions to "If I can't get coverage on Friday, can you do a drop off?" And I try not to ask "Why the &%@# are we dropping off on Friday instead of Saturday??!"

Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
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#8 of 21 Old 11-30-2008, 07:23 PM
 
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It is hard to deal with an ex whose tendency to play diva and/or drama queen seems to impact every interaction and much of your own life. I have empathy. Dh also has to spend way too much time carefully crafting the wording of emails. I vascillate between being mildly irritated to outright pissed off at how much time he spends trying not to set her off, but generally when I get really mad about it it's because something else is bothering me as well.

I think treating this type of ex like a toddler is a great idea, in terms of giving choices when possible. "We can do ____ or ____. Which one works best for you?" The more specific and narrow the choices the better.
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#9 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 06:48 AM
 
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OK.From my point of view I read your partner's original email as being quite rude: "you want to..." isn't a phrase people use over here, but it would put my back up. (Remember, I'm on the other side of a very big fishpond. Take this or leave it, as you wish. )
Of course, she then throws a diva strop, but hey :

Email is, frankly, the wrong medium for an "oh, crap, the weather has turned bad and we need to change plans" discussion. It's an hour spent checking emails, or a 2 minute phone call. Further, it's hard for you to get dragged into a phone call

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#10 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 09:25 AM
 
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OK.From my point of view I read your partner's original email as being quite rude: "you want to..." isn't a phrase people use over here, but it would put my back up. (Remember, I'm on the other side of a very big fishpond. Take this or leave it, as you wish. )
I'm in MN (the state next to ProtoLawyer) and this way of asking a question is very common and not considered rude. Maybe not grammatically perfect, but I've never known someone to take offense to it.

It is hard to deal with people who are determined to be negative. When something goes awry in my dsd's mom's life, she tries her hardest to make everyone miserable around her. Heck, she was even making snarky and rude comments at our wedding rehearsal. I give my DH a lot of credit for letting it roll off his back - he is much better at it than I am. I think that he just tries to view it as her thing, and not let it affect him. I'm not that good. I hold grudges forever and I'm sick of someone being rude to me that I can't be rude back to. It is frustrating.

Although a phone call can be easier, if the two parents are prone to fighting, that can end way worse than any sort of email exchange. DH and DSD's mom do a lot of quickie decisions by text message. They get along just fine, but sometimes it seems the easiest way to do it. DSD's mom likes to talk on the phone, so a 2 minute conversation about a dropoff can turn into a 20 minute rant about her boyfriend.

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#11 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OK.From my point of view I read your partner's original email as being quite rude: "you want to..." isn't a phrase people use over here, but it would put my back up. (Remember, I'm on the other side of a very big fishpond. Take this or leave it, as you wish. )
Of course, she then throws a diva strop, but hey :

Email is, frankly, the wrong medium for an "oh, crap, the weather has turned bad and we need to change plans" discussion. It's an hour spent checking emails, or a 2 minute phone call. Further, it's hard for you to get dragged into a phone call
I should add: I wrote the email here from memory, so I don't know whether he wrote "you want to" or "do you want to," but it's close either way. (And it's a common colloquialism here and nobody would take notice. But that's interesting how language can vary!)

Email is the communication mode they use, per their lawyers and mental health professionals, ironically to avoid a shouting match. In this case, my partner sent the email around 1 a.m., before he went to bed the night before, kind of a "I just saw the forecast" thing. If it was at the last minute, he would have called.

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#12 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 10:49 AM
 
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honestly, IMHO you two probably need to find your happy place when dealing with her. It sounds like she just pokes to poke...probably out of anger for being alone, or b/c he's with you now, or b/c no matter how hard it is and busy it is for a couple, its nothing like being a single mom. I know one day a week may seem like a lot to have to yourself, but when you have no one there on the days you have to be ON, regardless if you feel like being ON or not, its rather exhausting. Having been single before, its worlds away from being in a relationship and having someone that COULD be a relief if i wanted..even if i didnt ask or didnt need it, pyschologically, its reassuring.

If you guys dont react to her, and try not to let things like this get to you, you two will definitely be happier...also, your SD will be happier b/c she wont have to overhear issues like this (if she does...kids are great at hearing what they shouldnt have to worry about it).

again, just my opinion.
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#13 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 10:58 AM
 
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I think some days it turns in to a production because it can, and she likes it. I try not to let her get the reaction she wants. Just smile ( or the email equivalent) and move on.
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#14 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 11:57 AM
 
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Yeah, I know--it's just every little thing recently has gotten a snide response, and it puts my partner in a funk for awhile later. His rational brain knows that this is how she is, this is how she always has been (even while they were courting), and it should just roll off his back. But it doesn't.
There comes a point when one has to let it go, though. Does the kid have a ton of missed days? If not, give Mom the choice of earlier Sunday or Monday after the roads are clear. She can come get the kiddo herself and Dad will do a full o/w trip next time. Let her choose and move on.

And, to be fair, it's not always Mom who's unreasonable. I remember taking my two to EWR to catch a flight to Dad's, when the entire Eastern seaboard was shut down due to fog. The best the airline could do for me was a flight 7 hours later. I called Dad, got stepMom... I was reamed out for cutting into Dad's time - even though I offered to change their return for the day after they were supposed to be home. Yeah, 'cause my favorite thing to do on my "day off" is to sit in an airport when I'm not even going anywhere.
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#15 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 02:59 PM
 
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And, to be fair, it's not always Mom who's unreasonable. I remember taking my two to EWR to catch a flight to Dad's, when the entire Eastern seaboard was shut down due to fog. The best the airline could do for me was a flight 7 hours later. I called Dad, got stepMom... I was reamed out for cutting into Dad's time - even though I offered to change their return for the day after they were supposed to be home. Yeah, 'cause my favorite thing to do on my "day off" is to sit in an airport when I'm not even going anywhere.
The OP was not asking about fairness or a comparison on how and when one or the other party is being unreasonable. She was simply requesting some advice :

Quote:
Anyone have any tips for (a) me to stay out of it to the extent I'm able and (b) my partner? Email was supposed to be this great neutralizing force.
Being in the middle of a unpleasant exchange can be stressful . . . wouldn't it be great if we could all just get along?
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#16 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I'm well versed in the irrationality and unreasonableness of people other than Mom. Dads and stepparents and bosses and people in general (myself included) go off the deep end on occasion. (Hey, it keeps people like me in business.)

I had a boss once freak out that I missed a day of work because my flight was canceled and I couldn't get another until the next day. I was at a business trip. My boss sent me.

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#17 of 21 Old 12-02-2008, 12:19 AM
 
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After reading the OP, I wonder what may have been the acceptable response to the snowing email. Mom clearly didn't want to do it so would dad have accepted a straight no answer? Just wondering since clearly a LOT of snow seems to be normal in that area of the country.
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#18 of 21 Old 12-03-2008, 03:27 AM
 
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I think the Mom gave to much information. If I was her friend I would advise her to just say something like"no, I'm sorry that's not going to work for me. We'll have to stick to the original plan". It keeps things so much simpler that way. But since she didn't, I would suggest you read it like that and not look to heavily into the details of what she's saying. That way you avoid all the score-keeping and stone throwing that messes these situations all up. It would be much simpler to just see it as a simple "sorry, no" and leave it at that.
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#19 of 21 Old 12-03-2008, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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After reading the OP, I wonder what may have been the acceptable response to the snowing email. Mom clearly didn't want to do it so would dad have accepted a straight no answer? Just wondering since clearly a LOT of snow seems to be normal in that area of the country.
A straight "no" answer might have been acceptable (certainly we'd need to live with it--what else are we going to do?)...but it also would have been unprecedented (at least, a "no, we'll meet at the usual time" would be unprecedented; a counteroffer would have usually followed). Snow is very common here, but so is readjusting pick-up and drop-off to avoid driving in the worst of it, if very poor visibility or icy roads are expected. Most snowstorms are run-of-the-mill, but sometimes the cops even say "stay off the road." (This storm fell into that latter category, though it ended up fizzling overnight and accumulation wasn't as bad as expected. For a few hours, though, driving was downright hazardous.)

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#20 of 21 Old 12-03-2008, 01:42 PM
 
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As you know Protolawyer, some people just cant see the forest for the trees and would rather be right than happy. And would rather be right and "win" in spite of childrens/other peoples safety.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. s

As for tips on how to deal? We're still learning, some days are better than others. Mostly we just tell ourselves to let it go, we cant expect the other parents to parent the way we do, and remind ourselves that we are turning the other cheek for our children. And somedays, we hide in our room and call the others nasty names with a bottle of wine after the kids have gone to sleep. It's almost like a cleansing, lol.

But we also have decided to expect nothing from them. Nothing at all. We put our minds in a place of, "there is only us and these kids, no one else, so we will do it all" so when we do get anything we're happier.

Another thing, she doesnt have all the power. She thinks she does, but she doesnt. What she does have is emotional power over your partner and only he can break free of that.

Good Luck!
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#21 of 21 Old 12-03-2008, 02:38 PM
 
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I'm sorry you are dealing with this. It is extremely difficult to deal with irrational people on a regular basis. I agree with the others, all you can do is control your own response. If ex becomes irrational just end the conversation. It is important to fight the urge to get defensive - just stick with the task at hand and do not respond to all of the other BS.

It has taken a while but I'm now at the point where I just feel sorry for my ex when he has his violent outbursts and temper tantrums. It must be sad going through life being so angry. It is a clear sign of unhappiness as well as dysfunction. I also feel sorry for his new wife and our son because they both have to witness these angry outbursts.

Zen doula-mama to my spirited DS1 (2/03), my CHD (TAPVR) warrior DS2 (6/07) & a gentle baby girl (8/09)
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