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How to communicate after a contentious divorce... Following a contentious divorce and custody battle, there are often high emotion and tensions between the parents. Research shows that constant and chronic conflict between the parents negatively impacts the children. The children sense their parents anxiety in their voice, their body language and their parents behavior. Here are some suggestions from Dean Stacer on how to avoid conflict.
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Author Topic: He feels better, so he wants to move back...  (Read 3618 times)
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« on: July 02, 2018, 10:08:38 PM »

The backstory clif's notes version: married 28 years to uBPDh - mostly had a difficult relationship, but I didn't put all the "difficulties" together until 5 years ago. H had a serious dysregulation episode back at the end of February. He quit his part time job at his church, saying that he was going to work on our marriage. When I asked him about it, he said at the time that he wanted a divorce and was moving out. He also felt like he was going to hurt himself, me, or our daughter. I realized that I was triggering his guilt and shame. He moved out, went to a therapist for a couple of months, until he felt better.

Currently, his roommate is going to be moving out in a couple of months. H and I met for coffee this weekend, and I asked him what his plans are after his roommate moves out. He said he would like to move back home, but he wasn't going to go somewhere that he wasn't wanted. (he felt like he wasn't wanted when he moved out) He also said that he would like us to live somewhere else because of the mold problem in our house - and thinks that we could probably afford a place without mold since he has managed to pay the bills for both the apartments.

Since he moved out, I was able to get medical insurance and have been trying to get caught up on all the things that were not available to my daughter and me before. He wasn't paying for our health insurance - he only had it. My working was a huge trigger for him, so I didn't have any way to access medical care for years. Our daughter is in counseling (or I and her counselor are trying to get her to engage). She still needs dental work and glasses.

I have also been providing our food and clothing, gas, household items, and paying bills, including childcare. Clothing has been rather high because we didn't usually 'have money' to buy clothing for the kids or me.

Now, he wants nothing to do with the church or Christians. I continue to be involved in my church.

I feel anxious about him moving back; I can't be in a position where I am responsible for his feelings. My daughter and I are trying to get healthy. I don't trust him to be there when I need him to be because he has betrayed my trust many times.

I will need to tell him that I don't want him to move back, and I'm not sure what the best way to do that is. I can't go full no contact (due to having d14 at home) and have been fairly low contact since he moved out.
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2018, 10:28:37 PM »

The backstory clif's notes version: married 28 years to uBPDh - mostly had a difficult relationship, but I didn't put all the "difficulties" together until 5 years ago. H had a serious dysregulation episode back at the end of February. He quit his part time job at his church, saying that he was going to work on our marriage. When I asked him about it, he said at the time that he wanted a divorce and was moving out. He also felt like he was going to hurt himself, me, or our daughter. I realized that I was triggering his guilt and shame. He moved out, went to a therapist for a couple of months, until he felt better.

You and your daughter being safe are paramount. In glad that you took him at his word. Short of any major therapy or change,  this is a major concern. 

Currently, his roommate is going to be moving out in a couple of months. H and I met for coffee this weekend, and I asked him what his plans are after his roommate moves out. He said he would like to move back home, but he wasn't going to go somewhere that he wasn't wanted. (he felt like he wasn't wanted when he moved out) He also said that he would like us to live somewhere else because of the mold problem in our house - and thinks that we could probably afford a place without mold since he has managed to pay the bills for both the apartments.

He's telegraphing that you need to be responsible for his feelings.  Even emphasizing with his feelings,  I would take them as sincere, how I would take this is,  "I'll return as long as I feel wanted,  but when I don't feel wanted,  I'll repeat my dysfunctional coping mechanisms that resulted in I moving out in the first place, little consideration of yours or our daughter's feelings or safety."

You and your daughter are safe. You've been able to do not only that,  but provide for your daughter medically where you weren't able to do previously. He also seems to have walked away from your faith.

The mission here is to preserve families, first and foremost,  yet everyone needs to be safe.  Would you feel so if you let him move back?

My ex asked to move back three years after she left.  It was tempting on a few levels to say yes.  Yet ultimately I decided no.  Our family, even split between two households, is still preserved, even if the kids would love nothing else than for us to all be in the same home again.  That isn't their choice,  and it wasn't hers.  It was mine.  Similarly,  it is yours. 

What do you think?
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2018, 01:40:43 AM »

I will need to tell him that I don't want him to move back, and I'm not sure what the best way to do that is. I can't go full no contact (due to having d14 at home) and have been fairly low contact since he moved out.

I'm impressed with how you've adapted to him leaving, found work, and supported yourself and your daughter.  I'm also impressed with your sense of boundaries in not wanting him to just walk back in when nothing has changed. 

How did you respond when he said he wanted to move back in?  How did you leave it with him?

WW
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 08:26:16 PM »

Excerpt
You and your daughter being safe are paramount. In glad that you took him at his word. Short of any major therapy or change,  this is a major concern.

Safety for all of us has been a big factor behind many of my choices for quite a while. I decided that he was making the safest choice he could at the moment. I agree, major therapy is needed as well as change.

Excerpt
He's telegraphing that you need to be responsible for his feelings.

That was the impression that I had afterward. Fundamentally, he doesn't feel wanted; nothing I can do to make him feel otherwise. He has even said that he has attachment issues... .  Now, he has turned his anger and rejection toward the church. Same song, different verse. He has abandoned friends, the church, and our family at critical times.

Excerpt
The mission here is to preserve families, first and foremost,  yet everyone needs to be safe.  Would you feel so if you let him move back?

We wouldn't feel safe with him back.
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 08:49:43 PM »

Excerpt
How did you respond when he said he wanted to move back in?  How did you leave it with him?

I gave kind of a bland response. He understood that I wasn't committing to anything and said 'pray about it'.

Excerpt
I'm impressed with how you've adapted to him leaving, found work, and supported yourself and your daughter.  I'm also impressed with your sense of boundaries in not wanting him to just walk back in when nothing has changed.


Truth be told, I had been getting training in a new field and was about to start an internship when he needed to leave. I was considering my options for living situations at the time because he has a history of being really unsupportive when I work outside the home. I've been getting myself healthy for a few years; I've had a lot of help in that process.
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 09:05:00 PM »

You said you need to tell him you don't want him to move back in, and need to figure out how to do it.  I can imagine that task being difficult for a variety of reasons.  What makes it difficult for you?

WW
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 09:24:36 PM »

I suppose a big part of the difficulty is that the real reason that I don't want him to move back is he hasn't changed even though he thinks he has (he feels better after all). He hasn't worked on rebuilding trust by keeping his word. That seems invalidating. I also don't want to make it seem as if he needs to do a specific set of actions to get back; he could manipulate that. Triggering more guilt and shame is not something that I want either.
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 09:54:54 PM »

My T told me,  "personalities typically don't change." His issues seem to be deeply held beliefs at his core rather than a few behaviors which could be worked upon.  My ex told me before she left that she thought she had an attachment disorder (Yay Google  )

I knew better than to respond by that point. 
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2018, 10:18:16 PM »

The fact that he said he felt he might hurt himself, you or your daughter is extremely frightening. That statement alone shows a desperate need for professional help. I can't imagine feeling like I wanted to hurt other people, especially my closest loved ones. That's really scary.
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 10:38:31 PM »

He told me that his therapist said he was emotionally unstable on a personality level. More minimal response. He didn't seem to have a clue as to what that really meant, probably the reason that she used that kind of terminology.

At least, I'm not taken by surprise by his reactions any more. And, he has either called or texted for the past 5 days in a row. I haven't answered for the most part.

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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 10:46:44 PM »

BIFF and neutral responses are good.  

2.03 | B.I.F.F. Technique for Communications

and

2.11 | Responding to Hostile Email After the Divorce

You may have seen these being here a while.  

Together or apart, hopefully he'll get help in order to be safe with you and your daughter.  
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2018, 11:46:36 PM »

I'm sorry if you've said this on other threads, but where are you thinking of going with the relationship?  Are you thinking of divorce?  Reconciliation?  Buying some time to build your strength before deciding what to do?  No pressure meant with th question; having the background on your intent if you can share helps us understand your situation.

WW
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« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2018, 12:43:01 PM »

Turkish, I have read the BIFF articles and have the book by Bill Eddy. It's been very helpful when responding to people who create high conflict. For the past 3.5 years, I have encouraged h to get help because I knew that it would continue to get worse unless he did. He was doing a minimal amount of things for a while and has mostly rejected the offers of help that he has received.

WW, I think that there are too many costs to reconciliation. So, I'm building strength and thinking of divorce.
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« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 05:58:43 PM »

WW, I think that there are too many costs to reconciliation. So, I'm building strength and thinking of divorce.

Have you read Bill Eddy's book, Splitting, yet?

What kind of relationship does your husband have with your daughter?  Does he get time with her?  Is there potential for improvement there?

WW
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« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2018, 08:13:12 PM »

WW, yes, I've read Splitting, too.

There is lots of room for improvement in his relationship with our daughter. He doesn't have scheduled time with her right now, by his choice. He has a history of physical and emotional abuse as well as neglect with her. He has not been an involved parent in general. They both seem okay with their relationship as it stands.

He also has chosen work that doesn't give him normal work hours; his schedule changes every 4 weeks.
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« Reply #15 on: July 04, 2018, 09:48:39 PM »

What do you think about the opportunities for improvement in his relationship with her?  Do you see any opportunities to encourage more contact, consistent with safety?  Has there been any counseling help to assess their relationship?  How often do they see each other?

I suppose a big part of the difficulty is that the real reason that I don't want him to move back is he hasn't changed even though he thinks he has (he feels better after all). He hasn't worked on rebuilding trust by keeping his word. That seems invalidating. I also don't want to make it seem as if he needs to do a specific set of actions to get back; he could manipulate that. Triggering more guilt and shame is not something that I want either.

Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions.  I didn't forget your original question!  You're correct to realize that any focus on him may be invalidating or trigger guilt and shame.  It's admirable that you are able to set boundaries for yourself, yet want to be compassionate and low conflict about it.  The best way to handle it might be to focus on yourself.  Say you're not ready, or whatever feels most appropriate. 

One potential issue with just talking about yourself is that the other person may not fully believe you, or may then have an expectation that you'll sort yourself out and all will be good later.  One way to add more authenticity and more of the truth about the full situation is to use "I statements."   You can look up and read about "I statements."  You can start with a statement about him that has "you" in it, and work on it on your own beforehand to turn it around to an "I statement" that places the focus on you but says what you need to say.  Have you heard about "I statements" before?

WW
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2018, 12:03:36 AM »

As far as his relationship with her, he has been taking her to her conditioning practice once a week. It's about an hour commitment on his part, and he says that's about all he can do because of his schedule. I asked him if he could do it and he agreed.

She is in counseling but so far has been uncooperative with her counselor. (she says she is fine and really doesn't want to cry... .) There hasn't been any assessment of their relationship, yet.


I'm well versed in "I statements"; they are my normal way of communicating. Using them doesn't necessarily mean that they are understood in the same way that I say them, even if in the moment, understanding seems good.
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2018, 12:39:56 AM »

I imagine that may be hard to see him with just a small relationship with your daughter, but know that there's a limit to what he's capable of.  It also sounds tough as a parent to know that she must have feelings inside that are hard to talk about, but hasn't been able to open up to the counselor.  How long has she been seeing the counselor?

Yes, I hear what you're saying on the "I statements."  It sounds like you know how to handle the conversation with him, but are really not looking forward to it, and understandably so.  Would you like more help thinking about what to say to him?  Perhaps some other members will join us.  Do you have an idea of how soon you want/need to have the conversation?

WW
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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2018, 07:09:43 PM »

It is hard to see such a small relationship with our kids, especially because I had a pretty good relationship with my dad. At the same time, I'm okay with it because it also limits the negative effects. She has only seen the counselor a couple of times by herself.

His roommate is here until at least mid/late August; he is in a training program this summer. So I had asked h what his plans were for after roommate moves out. H also rented an apartment on a 3 month lease toward the beginning of March, so I'm thinking that he may have signed another one in June and his lease might be up at the end of August. (I haven't checked on that, though)

I would appreciate more help thinking through what to say to him.
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2018, 07:51:34 PM »

I would appreciate more help thinking through what to say to him.

OK, we can help with that.  First a couple of questions will help with context.  You said you were thinking of building your strength towards a divorce.  What is the timeline for that?  What sets the timeline -- emotional journey, financial independence goals, other factors?

WW
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« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2018, 08:05:53 PM »

Hi empath,

So sorry you are struggling with this not knowing what to say problem.  I can totally relate.  I also understand what you mean when you don't want to outline a set of actions that he should take to move back in.  I have tried to avoid that, too.  In the past, I had set up conditions, he said he would do these things, but didn't follow through. 

In thinking about why I have accepted unacceptable behavior during my marriage, I have been learning a lot about codependency.  I read that part of the problem with codependent relationships is ineffective, dishonest or problem communication.  It never occurred to me that this was a problem, but when I thought hard about it, I realized it was.  My throat even constricts just thinking about telling him my true thing thoughts and feelings.  Is communicating your wants and needs a problem for you?

I am able to communicate pretty well in my job, with friends and in life in general.  The trouble is that with my husband, I weigh everything I say.  I don't want my words to upset him, be misunderstood or twisted and used against me.  I had gotten to the point where I basically said yes, no, uh huh because I was just exhausted.  Do you have trouble telling him things he doesn't want to hear ?

I am working on knowing what I need expressing it.  It's difficult.  Often, my husband would be demanding for me to answer his questions or explain myself.  That would cause me a lot of anxiety.  My mind would race.

Recently, my husband was demanding, and i mean demanding, by text and phone calls to know why I hadn't engaged an attorney.  I felt extremely anxious, I just didn't want to actually say what I felt. I wasn't even sure what I felt.  But, I did search myself and later wrote an email.  I sat on the email for 24 hours, reread it, edited it and then sent it. 

I made sure it was truly how I felt without focusing on if I say this, he will think that, etc.  I expressed how important the relationship had always been to me.  How This was such a difficult decision and this was the biggest reason I had not engaged an attorney.   Then I outlined the ways that he had treated me that I would never accept or even potentially expose myself to (a boundary).   

I accepted responsibility for making things worse at times and not being everything he needed me to be.  In the end I wished him the best and I truly mean it.

It felt good to be authentic.  To finally express how I felt.

I don't know if this is the problem for you, but it may help to think about what you truly want for yourself and for your family and this will help you ultimately communicate your needs, wants, boundaries. 

Take care,

Mustbeabetterway
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« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2018, 08:54:36 PM »

WW, it is mainly financial independence goals; that is the one that is more difficult to determine the timeline for divorce. I'm actively engaged in that process, and it is taking much longer than I had hoped. It may be that I am not able to be where I desire to be before a divorce needs to happen, and I'm coming to acceptance of that possibility.

Mustbe, I've been communicating fairly effectively with him - part of the 'issue' that led to him leaving was that he was very aware of his actions and how they have impacted our relationship. He also 'twisted' my words (correctly understood in the moment) into something opposite. I had to pull back to email communication to find out what the problem was.

These days, I limit the needs that I express to concrete things. Just yesterday, he was going to get me a drink at a coffee house. I communicated what I wanted verbally on the phone and in text. He came with a couple of drinks that were not what I said. He went back and called me while he was there, I coached him through. It makes him anxious.
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« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2018, 10:03:29 PM »

Mustbe, wow, how well said!  I have absolutely fallen into that trap many times -- not saying what I really thought or felt for fear of how my wife would react.

empath, OK, so it sounds like the date is far enough out that it could be a while.  Here's a thought -- how about if you write a few sentences here of what you'd say to him, and we'll give you feedback?  A totally clean delivery will likely focus on you, and less on him, and also not provide any carrots about moving back in in the future.  For example, if we're sticklers, "I'm not ready for you to move in" could be taken to imply that you may someday be ready.  It's not a bad answer though.

Let me back up, though, and consider Mustbe's perspective.  What would be horrible about being totally honest with him?  You don't have to be brutal, just pick a couple of the most important reasons you don't want him to move in.  Perhaps you could put it in S.E.T. (Support, Empathy, Truth) format.  While the truth might be uncomfortable or upsetting for him, why should you be burdened with hiding the truth, and doesn't he deserve to hear the truth?  I'm not intending to lean on you here, just to open a discussion.  Let us know what you think.

WW
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« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2018, 12:10:15 AM »

WW, sometimes, it's easier to not say anything than it is to say what is necessary and try to walk through the minefield of emotions.

I think, fundamentally, I don't trust him. There are examples of abandonment, betrayal, and lies. I've told him that before, too, and I've talked with others about my lack of trust with him. The interesting thing is that he managed to betray everyone who he turned to for help with our marriage, so now, I'm not the only one saying it.
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« Reply #24 on: July 10, 2018, 12:29:14 AM »

I certainly agree that it's easier not to say anything than to say what's necessary!  In fact I lost track of how many times I did that.  I'm not sure it was always the best call.  But it's not a tool I would have given up cold turkey   Only you can decide what's best for this situation.

How do you feel about his emotions?  When you see that minefield of emotions, what's your reaction?

WW
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« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2018, 09:40:53 PM »

When I see the minefield, I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, usually knowing that I have to go through it but it's going to take a long time to get through it. Sometimes, I don't actually have time to help with the minefield - then, I have reminded him that he has other people that he can talk to about his feelings and spoken my truth. One of the crazy things about BPD is that a supportive statement can be twisted into invalidation... . 

I'm applying for employment during this time, too, so I've received a number of rejection responses. Sometimes, they will say that they are going in a different direction... .  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2018, 09:48:44 PM »

It sounds like you're doing a great job of being mindful when you feel his emotions coming on, making a deliberate choice about whether to move ahead or deflect, rather than reflexively doing one or the other.

I'm applying for employment during this time, too, so I've received a number of rejection responses. Sometimes, they will say that they are going in a different direction... .  Smiling (click to insert in post)

My sense of board decorum prevents me from riffing on all the employment-inspired things you could say, or referring to a Paul Simon song 

I'm sorry to hear about the rejections.  Are you returning to the workforce after an absence?  Or upgrading or switching fields?

WW
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« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2018, 01:30:10 PM »

Thanks for the comments. Between detached contact, mindfulness, and good education about BPD tendencies, I've been okay with our contact.

I have a good friend who loves Paul Simon's music.

I suppose I'm both returning to the work field after a long absence and switching fields. I realized a few years back that I needed to switch fields at least for the near term so that I might be able to support myself and d14.
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« Reply #28 on: July 14, 2018, 07:23:46 PM »

Empath, I just want to say how impressed I am with what you've managed to achieve!  I think this speaks to your ability to get things done when the chips are down.  How are you currently feeling about telling him your decision?  I can imagine it will be a relief to have it said. 

Love and light x 
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
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« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2018, 05:43:16 PM »

Thanks for the encouragement; it's good to hear what others are seeing.

I'm feeling apprehensive about telling him my decision; at the same time, I know that I need to do what is best for all of us. One of the recurring themes and passions in my life is health and wholeness. I have a sense that this is the path toward that for all of us and that it is not going to feel like health to h when I tell him or afterward.
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