Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Problems with My Ex-Husband

Rebecca (not her real name) has sent me the following email about problems she is having in avoiding contact with her ex-husband:

“My story is different, I think, and I really need to finally tell somebody.
23 years ago, I met, through a male friend (who incidentally did warn me against him), and married a farmer 10 years my senior.

His mother, lived 10 metres away (and still does) from the old farmstead (her old home) - has been a widow for over 40 years - married a divorced man 30 years her senior. His father was 60, when my husband was born.

I came from a very wealthy background with a huge amount of emotions flowing through my life - all functions and ocasions were very important. I think my husband comes from a very unemotional and poor background.

During our courtship - my husband was certainly not the "Knight in Shining Armour" I imagined he would be - he was insulting and terribly jealous from the start! My instincts initially were to run, but I was so in love, I thought things would eventually change.

My husband and his mother are very un-emotional - almost bordering on narcisstic abuse. Well, over the years, this has proved to be true.
The farm is owned by my mother-in-law, my husband and his older brother. My husband has taken on the responsibility of running the sawmill, and looking after his mother,
I feel he has made her No. 1 in his life, instead of me and the boys. My brother-in-law lives much further away, has a great life, and holidays regularly! My husband is constantly at her beck and call - very often she would be at our bedroom window at , to see what we are doing, or in the house to check if he has enough food, or, even worse, to have tea in my garden section, with her friends! I really didn't know what to do! So - I would hide! He has breakfast with her every morning (I'm never invited), and a walk in the evenings without me. Once, I spoke to her about the situation - and she said that I would be the same with my sons! Of course, I purposely haven't!

Communication broke down between us, and I built my own business away from the farm - obviously to form some sort of identity. I also needed serious personal attention - my husband would clarify it as "trying to control him"! He would leave me at home after a fight, and purposely take her for a drive in front of me, while I just sat there on the verandah, and watched, and waited!

If we ever went on holiday - (which was so seldom, approximately every three ears) - especially when the boys were very young - his brother would get upset, they would argue, and his mother would have a whole set of chores for him to do, on the day we were due to leave! I would wait patiently, but not happy. He would then be so frustrated, that we would have an argument about nothing! His anger began to frighten me. He began to inform me that he had a bad side, and don't bring the bad side out, or he would retaliate!

Eventually, as I'm sure you have now realised - I left! We have been divorced for 2 years now. The trouble is, I am his neighbour, and he constantly calls and visits over the weekend for a dinner , etc.

I have refused, and he is not happy - I need to know how to reject him!
Despite all the bad things, I still love him?

What do I do?”

Response from Life Coach David

Hi Rebecca

Many thanks for your question for my life coaching blog.

The first thing that strikes me about what you describe is that in most of what you say you talk about your ex-husband as if you are still married. It was only when I got near the end of your email that I realised that you are now divorced and have been for 2 years!

This being the case, I would suggest you clarify in your mind how much you want your ex-husband in your life and then decide how you want to act in line with that. You mention that you have refused some of his efforts to make contact but the implication of what you say is that you are having difficulty carrying this through, so it may be useful for you to sit down and think through what is going on in your mind in a clear way.

To help with this, I suggest you draw up a list of the benefits of not having your ex-husband playing such a part in your life – i.e. not having him seeing you regularly through visits and/or calls. Then draw up a contrasting list of what you get out of him coming round – the payoffs for you. These may be practical, psychological, rational or irrational – but it is important to be aware of them before you decide what to do. For example, one payoff may be simply that he is giving you attention.

Once you have drawn up your list of benefits of reducing contact with him as against the payoffs of keeping contact at the current level, decide which side outweighs the other. If reducing contact with him is the side that is stronger, then decide what your options are to help achieve a reduction in contact – this might include not answering the door if he calls (and if necessary taking legal advice if he persists) or deciding to move out of the area or anything else you think appropriate.

Once you have decided what you want to do, commit to doing it and carry it out unless there is a very good reason not to. If you find yourself wavering in your commitment or you are not sure what you want to do, then this might be a situation where coaching sessions could be helpful for you to think through your options and build your motivation to act in the way which you decide is best.

Blog Post Written by Life Coach David
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