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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: Serenity now.... sanity later.  (Read 2787 times)
Couper
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« Reply #60 on: May 23, 2022, 08:30:37 AM »

I relate to this twisted thinking, it's fascinating that they can believe in it. I think it has something to do with the fact that she can't control your thoughts and feelings, so she views it as you controlling her. So she sees boundaries as control.

I think that could be a component of it.  It also follows her steady narrative of painting herself as the victim.  She tells people, "I can ask, but he won't let me go" and then they hug her and say, "Aw, Mrs. Couper we understand.  Mr. Couper bad".

There is a proverb that says a fool believes anything they are told and she has gone out of her way to surround herself with fools.  When she runs across a fair-minded skeptic, she will not play these games with them.  I actually have a letter that she wrote to me once where she admits to manipulating people.  

Thank you for taking the time to share your insight, 15.
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« Reply #61 on: May 23, 2022, 09:02:17 AM »

Excerpt
She tells people that I exercise absolute control over her...

Ditto.

In my case, when I assert a boundary (don't hit me), pwBPD sees and promulgates it as me exercising power and control over her.

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Couper
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« Reply #62 on: May 23, 2022, 04:26:06 PM »

In an instance from last summer, the nosy pastor at this fanatical church became very interested in having us over for dinner because "our kids are playing with each other and we should know each other better".  I was only ever of interest to him once she started trashing me to him, so I'm sure that was a veiled excuse to want to get face time with me.  Whatever, I'm not scared of anybody, I'll go.

One time -- one time only -- after I had spent all day out in the hot sun she tells me "they want us to come over tonight, do you want to go?".  It was impossible because they live 20 minutes away, we were due there in 20 minutes, and would have had to leave immediately, and I was a mess and cooked and just wanted to sit.  At a later date I saw her journal entry that she herself was dreading going, probably because she knows I'm pretty candid about things and if he had pressed her issues on her behalf, I would start spewing truth that didn't fit her narrative.  Despite my philosophical differences with them, they are actually very nice people and I really doubt they called and said "come now".  They probably gave a 24 - 48 hour invite, she held off until minutes before it was due to sabotage it, and then went to them saying I objected.

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« Reply #63 on: May 24, 2022, 05:07:32 AM »

Ditto.

In my case, when I assert a boundary (don't hit me), pwBPD sees and promulgates it as me exercising power and control over her.



That's f'd up and I have experienced something similar.

My wife wants me to promise her I'll NEVER run away from her in argument, not even when physical violence is involved. Her logic here is that she would never attack me if I committed to staying no matter what. She used the argument of "give and take", I have to give up running away and what I get is that she stops attacking me. I know for a fact it wouldn't work, I'd just end up taking a beating "like a man" every once in a while.
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Rev
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« Reply #64 on: May 24, 2022, 05:21:47 AM »

Hi Couper

I'm coming rather late to thus conversation so I'm just going to say "hello" and continue to support you by listening.

I too can totally relate to the twisted thinking by an abusive spouse who thankfully I share no children. I shudder at what shape I would been in if it were otherwise.

Hang in there. It may take time for your body to catch up to your mind.

Rev
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Couper
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« Reply #65 on: May 24, 2022, 09:45:13 AM »

Thank you, Rev.  The well-wishes I have received past and present mean the world to me. 
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BigOof
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« Reply #66 on: May 24, 2022, 11:33:48 AM »

Excerpt
My wife wants me to promise her I'll NEVER run away from her in argument, not even when physical violence is involved. Her logic here is that she would never attack me if I committed to staying no matter what. She used the argument of "give and take", I have to give up running away and what I get is that she stops attacking me. I know for a fact it wouldn't work, I'd just end up taking a beating "like a man" every once in a while.

That's exactly what Amber Heard did. You can listen to the taps begging him not to leave during (violent) arguments.
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« Reply #67 on: May 24, 2022, 01:29:54 PM »

That's exactly what Amber Heard did. You can listen to the taps begging him not to leave during (violent) arguments.

Yes I heard that recording. One example where if you try hard enough you will understand the "logic".
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Couper
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« Reply #68 on: May 24, 2022, 04:13:43 PM »

I had my second visit with the lawyer this afternoon.  I didn't come away from this meeting feeling as good about the first one.  He wasn't prepared with the notes he took six months ago so we had to cover a lot of the same ground again, but he did start to remember.  He was also fresh back from vacation, which may not have helped.  The meeting was shorter and seemed like an inconvenience to him (I think he had an appointment show early that was waiting in the office -- she came in before me and when leaving I heard him refer to her as his "early bird").  The first time six months ago he said "we can have as many of these consultations as you want to pay for until you're ready to start" and this time it was more like if you want to do this again, pay the retainer. 

I still think he's technically competent where both family and my business matters are concerned.  Finding someone with the business understanding is tough.  It was more apparent this time that in terms of dollars -- this is going to cost me.  Why that is scary is it is very difficult for the self-employed to get a mortgage and I'll have to remortgage the place where I'm already living and running my business in order to keep it and get uBPDw's name off of it, probably have to take on more debt to pay off uBPDw for her "stake" in things, and it's already tough to get through the financing process as it is.  If I were ordered to sell this place, I could not afford to move my business again. 

I have another piece of family property (for which I still owe my parents) that it has become apparent I will never have the resources to restore.  They live on the same lot, so simply selling it has never been a prospect.  I can't evict my parents.  It's kind of a unique place that people inquire about on occasion and someone else did so recently.  When I got back today I called this stranger for a chat and laid down some bold terms, like they can take the one house, but my parents have the perpetual right to rent back their current home for as long as they see fit.  That didn't seem to phase her.  It would be a complex deal, but it could unburden me of that property, give me a large window of opportunity to get my own possessions out and the place cleaned up, and still give my parents stability.  Otherwise, I'm faced with the unhappy prospect that when they meet their demise someday I'll have a vacant place with lots of stuff there far away.  I had this talk with my Dad afterwards and he was very open to it and said it's the kick he needed to go talk to an estate attorney to get his own affairs in order.  He already had a place on his radar screen but had been putting it off.  There might be another angle because if my mother needs to go into a nursing home soon, the property could be in jeopardy since they carry the note.

I didn't like that the attitude today was basically I have to decide to pull the trigger on divorce and then roll the dice to find out what the accounting will be.  Maybe what he intended was pay a retainer and then find out the accounting.  When I look at problems, I just try to see them as things that need a solution and that there is almost always a solution.

I guess I understand the process better.  I need to set up a separate bank account and start filling it.  I need to see if my second property can be leveraged to unburden myself of uBPDw.  It might be enough to pay her off, me get something out of it, get my life-from-afar in order there, and keep my place here with no new overhead.  The lawyer was big on filing and getting a start date established, but I really need my Dad to move on this estate planning stuff first.  I like negotiating deals, but not under these circumstances.  If I were dealing with a health-minded person, this would almost be enjoyable.  My fear is what will happen when I broach the subject and the timing of doing so.  I think I need it right up to the point of pulling the trigger before I say anything to uBPDw or else it will be followed by months of apprehension.

Another benefit of this conversation was getting some of this out in the open with my Dad.  He still knows nothing of my intent to divorce, but we have had a few years of indecision about what to do with him and my mother.  My mother is probably short on time and she never wanted to leave the property.  Conversely, my Dad is extremely adaptable.  He has been on the family property for 50 years now (since marrying my mother) yet said that he could move anywhere if circumstances change.  When I asked where he would go, he had no idea.  I have had in my head that I would love to have him here.  We have the same interests, the place is big enough that he could live downstairs and have his own floor with what is essentially an ADA bathroom, and he would be happy hanging out in my shop and having me take him along to the places I go.  Maybe I would get back some of the years I missed since moving away.  That's all a lot of talk, but I'm glad that it's a talk we finally had and that he's open to the concept.

Thanks for listening.           
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« Reply #69 on: May 25, 2022, 01:14:41 AM »

Not fun to feel like an inconvenience, I'm very sensitive to that kind of stuff. Still, you came out of this appointment with a lot to think about so it wasn't wasted. If you went for a third consultation, he could be as engaged as the first time.
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Couper
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« Reply #70 on: May 25, 2022, 06:36:15 AM »

Thanks for the input, 15, and I believe you are right.  I'm not sensitive to how he responded on a personal level, just trying to sort through it.  I think part of it was that I didn't really go in with anything new.  I was sort of hoping he would guide me.  Maybe that is bad form for a consultation.  Probably makes me look like a tire kicker trying to get by with $60 bucks at a time.

My wheels were turning all night and my phone call with the interested party turned to texts and sharing photographs.  She does seem to have a genuine love for the property and that was important to me personally.  I know all too well that once something is sold that you relinquish control, but her interest seems to go beyond speculating.  It also doesn't help that I tend to think that things happen at the right time and place for a reason.  Through the years, I have had many such notes left in my mailbox, but none have been as persistent or genuine as this person has shown (so far).  

A direct sale and having to vacate has always been a fear of mine (there is stuff to move -- heavy bulky stuff -- and decades of accumulation to sort through).  I am far away.  The city isn't what it once was.  If overnight nobody was there anymore, it would not be a shock to me if I came back and it was ransacked.  It's early yet, but if she is truly willing to negotiate a deal where my parents have the right to rent their place back for as long as they want, that is very attractive.  It should be for her, too, because finding decent renters in the city is tough.  We could plan a staged exodus.  I would be unburdened of my house restoration, the insurance on the structures, and the maintenance.  Most importantly, based on the rough numbers from yesterday, I could conceivably pull out enough cash to buy out uBPDw, have some left over for cushion, and take on no new financial risk on this end that would cause me to put my work-property here at risk.  The thought of getting in too deep and not being able to obtain the new mortgage was overwhelming.  I don't mind the cash aspect of having to buy uBPDw out to make her go away.  If I amortize it out over 40 years, I would gladly pay that every year to get rid of her!  It's just that immediately after the meeting yesterday, a path forward wasn't clear.

As much as anything, it would do my heart well to find a buyer that could do the house justice.  In 20 years, I have struggled just to maintain it.  I have to face the fact that in another 20 it could meet its demise under my ownership, and who wins then?  As much as it was my dream to restore it during my working years and have a second home at the old family place, that just isn't ever going to happen, and my dreams of what I hope to do in my retirement years have evolved and it is not to sit on a porch and watch the world go by.  (Or watch someone sitting on a couch Facebooking and Tweeting and obsessing over conspiracy theories.)  By the time any of that comes to fruition, the people I want to go back and see will all be gone, anyway.

I think the next steps are:

1. Open the new bank account and start filling it.
2. Continue to negotiate with this prospective buyer and make sure she's genuine.
3. Get my Dad to the estate lawyer and find out some rough numbers.
4. If they work, retain the lawyer and see if he concurs that the numbers work.
5. Then start steering the discussion here toward formal separation.

uBPDw likes money.  Not like she's a gold digger, but her narcissist side finds more security in having cash in the bank than a husband's word that he will provide for her (I'll spare you the life insurance story again unless you want to hear it).  As much as I detest her, I don't want to send her out in the world destitute.  Unnecessary hardship on that end will only cause my kids to resent me.  I can play fair without being doormat.  She'll still have to find work, but I think the way to paint this is to set her up, tell her she can go pursue her crackpot obsessions with joy, and hope she embraces it.  The enablers she has surrounded herself with are already dying to catch her when she falls and I have no interest in winning their favor.  Let them have her.

Thanks again for letting me put this out there.  Maybe TMI, but it gives me somewhere to come back, reference, and regroup.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2022, 06:42:50 AM by Couper » Logged
Rev
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« Reply #71 on: May 25, 2022, 07:48:17 AM »


Thanks again for letting me put this out there.  Maybe TMI, but it gives me somewhere to come back, reference, and regroup.

No such thing as TMI.  Bear in mind that there are people who are reading this and not necessarily commenting.  And yet, they are learning from this conversation. You just never really know who needs to hear what's on your heart.

Thanks for all of this.

I too have learned - impressed that you a putting a plan together now. Gives me hope.

Hang in there.

Rev
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« Reply #72 on: May 25, 2022, 10:59:47 AM »

No such thing as TMI.  Bear in mind that there are people who are reading this and not necessarily commenting.  And yet, they are learning from this conversation. You just never really know who needs to hear what's on your heart.

Thanks for all of this.

I too have learned - impressed that you a putting a plan together now. Gives me hope.

Hang in there.

Rev


Thank you for the reminder.  It falls into the category of "things we know but seldom remember" and really helps to hear from another.

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« Reply #73 on: May 25, 2022, 11:37:27 AM »

As the wife of a lawyer (who doesn’t do divorces, but has friends who do), I think the attorney was setting a clear boundary that he doesn’t want to advise you of what route to take. So often people see divorce lawyers as de facto therapists, and reputable ones try to steer clear of that role, though the lines easily get blurred.

Though he may have been rather blunt, I think he was trying to save you from wasting money and giving you an incentive to get clear on your path.
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« Reply #74 on: May 25, 2022, 12:03:28 PM »

Our member notWendy often writes that her father stayed with her BPD mother.  My impression is that's one of her biggest regrets, that her father didn't leave and give her an opportunity for at least some of her life (edit: childhood) to be away from her mother's environment.
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« Reply #75 on: May 25, 2022, 12:19:25 PM »

As the wife of a lawyer (who doesn’t do divorces, but has friends who do), I think the attorney was setting a clear boundary that he doesn’t want to advise you of what route to take. So often people see divorce lawyers as de facto therapists, and reputable ones try to steer clear of that role, though the lines easily get blurred.

Though he may have been rather blunt, I think he was trying to save you from wasting money and giving you an incentive to get clear on your path.

That's an interesting thought and you may be right.  I wasn't asking him whether or not to do it, but you are right that his response could have been along that same vein.  The one thing I do still like about him is he doesn't seem to adhere to these conventions like the man has to go live in a box and the woman gets the house.  I get the sense that he would be every bit working for me.
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« Reply #76 on: May 25, 2022, 12:22:59 PM »

Our member notWendy often writes that her father stayed with her BPD mother.  My impression is that's one of her biggest regrets, that her father didn't leave and give her an opportunity for at least some of her life to be away from her mother's environment.

This is something I actually think about and hope for.  They may not know it at this stage of their life, but I would hope it comes to them later. 

My uBPDw has been on much better behavior lately since starting the "counseling" that isn't counseling, but the monster still lurks beneath.  One thing is still the same, though -- my kids interact with me.... but they only respond to her. 
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« Reply #77 on: May 27, 2022, 09:02:33 PM »

Today I opened the checking account at a different bank.  It's only a little thing but I keep trying to put one foot in front of the other.  This afternoon it occurred to me that I can tell the post office my box has been compromised because my second key is lost and get them to change the lock and issue me two new keys.  The fee will be small compared to the drama of having to revoke the second key and it would be who knows how long before she ever found out because she'll go a whole year without ever going to fetch the mail there.  I feel somewhat like I'm starting to get my head wrapped around it.

The party interested in my out of state property won't go away.  Perhaps that is an omen that the necessary pieces are starting to fall into place.
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« Reply #78 on: May 27, 2022, 09:50:33 PM »

All steps in a good direction.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #79 on: May 28, 2022, 01:31:02 PM »

Couper, I'm not fully caught up on your situation but of what I read, I admire the thoughtful planning you're doing. Bank account, separate mail box, interviewing lawyers.

One thing I learned the hard way is that your lawyer works for you. You're the boss. But it's a strange kind of relationship because they're the experts on the law and you're the expert on your life.

Are you telling them what your goals are? Maybe that's a helpful way to engage them if you aren't doing that already? Then ask them what strategy and tactics they would advise.

Then compare.

Your wife will likely want the opposite of anything you propose, even if it's in her best interests. You will probably have to think through how to negotiate with that mindset and then advise your lawyer, even if he/she has experience with high-conflict divorces.

A lot of us go through these divorces managing a truck load of guilt and obligation that can also seem a bit batty to lawyers. I think they size up the degree to which we are rational actors and since they aren't in the business of therapy, let out as much rope as we deem appropriate.

It just adds another element to the client/attorney relationship. You may be the boss of this situation, something that can be both good and bad.
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« Reply #80 on: May 29, 2022, 11:26:54 AM »

Couper, I'm not fully caught up on your situation but of what I read, I admire the thoughtful planning you're doing. Bank account, separate mail box, interviewing lawyers.

One thing I learned the hard way is that your lawyer works for you. You're the boss. But it's a strange kind of relationship because they're the experts on the law and you're the expert on your life.

Are you telling them what your goals are? Maybe that's a helpful way to engage them if you aren't doing that already? Then ask them what strategy and tactics they would advise.

Then compare.

Your wife will likely want the opposite of anything you propose, even if it's in her best interests. You will probably have to think through how to negotiate with that mindset and then advise your lawyer, even if he/she has experience with high-conflict divorces.

A lot of us go through these divorces managing a truck load of guilt and obligation that can also seem a bit batty to lawyers. I think they size up the degree to which we are rational actors and since they aren't in the business of therapy, let out as much rope as we deem appropriate.

It just adds another element to the client/attorney relationship. You may be the boss of this situation, something that can be both good and bad.


Thank you for all of this.  I think you are completely correct.  The attorney / client relationship aspect is not completely lost on me.  My work is technical, not law, but my role would be described as "expert on topic".  A customer still has to provide their input and guidance, but I advise them on what is feasible or realistic.  It's kind of a dance and ultimate cooperation is required for a good outcome.

Your point about her going the opposite way is well-taken.  You have may have seen me state elsewhere that during a rare moment of unfiltered truth when dysregulating (or whatever it was), she once stated, "Whenever somebody tells me to do something, I feel compelled to do the opposite".  While she has been more level-headed these last few months than I have ever seen in the last 14 years, I know for a fact that the monster still lurks and this may be enough to send her spinning back out of control.  She has a documented history of cutting off her own nose thinking it will spite the other person's face.  She is either at a point of acceptance or she is going to go 180 on everyone that has been feeding her this narrative that a miracle is waiting around the corner.  I can't tell which.  

My hope is that she will accept it and cooperate.  Past experience tells me that she will not.  If anything, I think she may be in a better place for this than she ever has been because she has this new support network of rescuers that would be happy to circle the wagons around her.  They can have her.  They'll probably find her somewhere cheap to live.  Maybe they'll give her some sort of flexible mom-job.  She will do no more than she has to so that she can keep her "most favored victim status" intact.  She actually has such a job now, but about two years ago just decided she wasn't really going to do it in any meaningful way anymore and all without telling me.  I can make in two hours what would take her a ten hour day.  For years I implored her to do the housewife thing (like she claimed to dream of) and make it so I could get up each morning and get out the door to work.  So that we could sync-up and be partners like we talked about, but there has never been any partnership.  It's sit up late on the couch watching t.v., surfing conspiracy theories, picking fights on Facebook, and waking up later than anyone else in the house.  Then interrupt my day and expect everything to come to a halt to take care of things that could have been done the night before or in the morning.  However, she has a bachelors degree (I do not) and she was 33 when we got married, so she can't claim the whole "never worked, gave up my education to be a homemaker" thing.  She got a very useful degree and then decided to be nothing more than a low-level admin.

Sorry, that got bigger than I expected.  Just sort of came spilling out, but maybe it gives you some background, at least.

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« Reply #81 on: June 14, 2022, 09:55:45 PM »

Since my last post in this thread, I have been compiling information for the lawyer, making notes about assets, and other general questions that revolve around some estate planning that my parents are doing.  I found a way to fund the bank account without raising eyebrows and keep finding a way to put one foot in front of the other.

Today I finished that information packet, took an assortment of past tax returns from the file cabinet, and delivered it to the lawyer with a check for his retainer.  I have no clue how far that money will go, but some of the things I asked of him were things that are related to, but also not part of, pursuing separation.  Things I needed answered anyway. 

I made it clear to him that I want to see some general numbers about what it will take to buy my way out of this mess rather than just pulling the trigger and hoping for the best because, with time, I have options at my disposal.

I think that my uBPDw is starting to understand that a better life awaits her without me and during a discussion the other night, I stated to her clearly that I am totally detached from her, that she is free to pursue whatever kookery she wants to pursue (which she acknowledged with amazement that I do allow without interference despite manipulating people by telling them that I exercise control over her), and that I agreed with her words that "this is no way to live".  She is right and while it is no way to live, what she would expect of me for her to be happy is to capitulate and participate in all of these new interests that she has that I loathe.  She could not deny that I am still the same person I was 15 years ago.  There's more, but why ramble on.  One thing I do know is she loves money more than me.  I can't buy her a house and a new car and make it so she doesn't have to work for the rest of her life, but I think the fair (in a legal sense, not me throwing money out the window) payout she has coming is probably a good bit more than she has imagined and that might go a long way toward getting her to cooperate.

So, that's what happened today.  I'm very curious to see what the lawyer hands back.

Something I forgot to put on my question sheet to the lawyer (and I know this is a longshot) but if an amicable split can be negotiated where the kids are concerned regarding visitation and time and rights and all that, can that be settled between the two parties without the kids having to be interviewed by social workers and court oversight and all that other horrible stuff I read about on here?  I would feel a lot better about things if I knew I could spare them all of that and uBPDw harbors such strong objections to any kind of 3rd party critique that I think that could be good motivation to get her to play along.

 
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kells76
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« Reply #82 on: June 15, 2022, 09:49:39 AM »

Excerpt
if an amicable split can be negotiated where the kids are concerned regarding visitation and time and rights and all that, can that be settled between the two parties without the kids having to be interviewed by social workers and court oversight and all that other horrible stuff I read about on here?  I would feel a lot better about things if I knew I could spare them all of that and uBPDw harbors such strong objections to any kind of 3rd party critique that I think that could be good motivation to get her to play along.

The short answer is that yes, that is technically and legally possible.

The longer answer is that you need to know your kids' mom's "currency" in order to get her to sign a legally binding document that protects your rights to time with the kids and protects the kids' rights to time with both parents (whatever the time split would be).

You mention that she is "financially motivated".

While it is frowned upon to link child support with parenting time, perhaps there's a creative way to come up with "tangible things you can concede to her" that would make her "feel like she is winning and you are losing" when in fact you are actually securing your parenting time. Check with your L to see what is seen as OK in your area. It may or may not be worth your time to have $ related incentives for her as you try to negotiate PT.

You also mention her objections to getting 3rd parties involved (makes sense; some pwBPD are "allergic" to having neutral light shined on their behaviors). Can this revulsion somehow be leveraged to get signed agreement for your parenting time? "Well, this plan in front of us is really fair... it'd be horrible if some awful mediator had to come look at it and tell us what to do... let's just sign it now so that they don't have to get involved"

Additionally, there may be certain days, holidays, practices, etc, that she would feel like if she "got control of", would feel like "she was winning". Yet you could use those days/holidays/practices and "grudgingly concede" them to her in exchange for more PT. For example, if she would "feel like the better parent" if she had the kids on Easter Sunday, then can you "grudgingly concede" Easter Sunday to her every year, in exchange for... you having 80% parenting time? That's just an example, of course, but that's the idea. She may gravitate towards some wacky specific things that would make her feel like she got the upper hand on you, when in reality you are gaining the lion's share of daily parenting time.

DH conceded Christmas Day to the kids' mom every year, which is EXTREMELY atypical... but we get Christmas Eve every year, and often will "do Christmas early" with the kids. This means that they aren't "burned out on Christmas" with us and are still excited. It gives us flexibility to get together with family at a time when everyone's schedule is open, versus panicking about "who can come on the 25th".

So if you can get into a mindset change about how it's not the day of the holiday that's the most important thing (though I do understand that for some practices, it is), that can be a huge bargaining chip for you. Keep the long game in mind -- it's not really about who has the kids on Thanksgiving day, it's about getting the majority of parenting time so the kids have a stable, peaceful base with you.

Another area of leverage/concession can be if she has a self-image as a "martyr mom". Does she "bend over backwards" to "do everything" and "nobody is grateful for her sacrifices"? Is there a way to give her PT for activities where she gets noticed for "being amazing" but you get more PT even if it's less public/more quotidian? I.e. does she want PT for 2 hours every afternoon to take the kids to extracurriculars? Would she take that if you got the rest of the PT? (extreme example, but that's the general idea).

Food for thought.
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« Reply #83 on: June 15, 2022, 08:23:35 PM »

I also did some of the things kells76 suggested when I was separated and working out how to make a dissolution work. I knew my H and that $ talks, so I worked things out on paper to his advantage but to my safety and need to be D from his business choices. I literally showed him how he would get more than I would (part of it was his inheritance which was his to begin with). We didn't have young children, so I didn't have to deal with that. With his N nature, he took the bait and didn't argue. I made sure I got what was important to me for my financial future and let the rest go.

You've taken a big step, Couper. I'm glad that you're preparing and planning and being wise.

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« Reply #84 on: June 15, 2022, 10:59:49 PM »

The longer answer is that you need to know your kids' mom's "currency" in order to get her to sign a legally binding document that protects your rights to time with the kids and protects the kids' rights to time with both parents (whatever the time split would be).

Thanks for the thorough reply, Kells!  Oh yes, I would certainly have any agreement on paper.  I can't even trust her to give me the same answer to something five seconds after she says it!



Excerpt
While it is frowned upon to link child support with parenting time, perhaps there's a creative way to come up with "tangible things you can concede to her" that would make her "feel like she is winning and you are losing" when in fact you are actually securing your parenting time. Check with your L to see what is seen as OK in your area. It may or may not be worth your time to have $ related incentives for her as you try to negotiate PT.

I like this angle.


Excerpt
You also mention her objections to getting 3rd parties involved (makes sense; some pwBPD are "allergic" to having neutral light shined on their behaviors). Can this revulsion somehow be leveraged to get signed agreement for your parenting time? "Well, this plan in front of us is really fair... it'd be horrible if some awful mediator had to come look at it and tell us what to do... let's just sign it now so that they don't have to get involved"

I actually have great hope for this.  More worrisome to her than subjecting the kids to that would be subjecting herself to it. 


Excerpt
Additionally, there may be certain days, holidays, practices, etc, that she would feel like if she "got control of", would feel like "she was winning". Yet you could use those days/holidays/practices and "grudgingly concede" them to her in exchange for more PT. For example, if she would "feel like the better parent" if she had the kids on Easter Sunday, then can you "grudgingly concede" Easter Sunday to her every year, in exchange for... you having 80% parenting time? That's just an example, of course, but that's the idea. She may gravitate towards some wacky specific things that would make her feel like she got the upper hand on you, when in reality you are gaining the lion's share of daily parenting time.

Yes, very much so.  She will definitely what all of Sunday so she can drag the kids to her new church.  Anyone who doesn't agree with the specifics of her beliefs is a pagan, so she would be glad to show up her pagan ex to all her new friends and accept pats on the back for taking control of their spiritual upbringing.  I know it is just an example, but I can't see her allowing me 80% and I wondered if she'd even do 50/50.  That's a big question mark to me.  She can have the holidays.  I can make the most of any day.  The only thing I don't like about that is if I just said take all the holidays as a negotiating tool, she would twist it into me being selfish and not wanting my kids around on special days.  The other thing she will try is in the fall I have one specific event where I take off for a week every year (a combination of work and play).  She would love to screw that up for me but I don't think she can.  My kids are old enough now that I'd just take them.  I'd have taken them already, but what I didn't want is her to come along!

My parents live very far away and to take them for a visit it is a minimum nine day trip to make it worth it.  I'm curious about how to balance that out.  She goes to her parents all the time and for a week at a time.  They are only two hours away.  Mine are an 18 hour drive. 


Excerpt
DH conceded Christmas Day to the kids' mom every year, which is EXTREMELY atypical... but we get Christmas Eve every year, and often will "do Christmas early" with the kids. This means that they aren't "burned out on Christmas" with us and are still excited. It gives us flexibility to get together with family at a time when everyone's schedule is open, versus panicking about "who can come on the 25th".

I like this.


Excerpt
So if you can get into a mindset change about how it's not the day of the holiday that's the most important thing (though I do understand that for some practices, it is), that can be a huge bargaining chip for you. Keep the long game in mind -- it's not really about who has the kids on Thanksgiving day, it's about getting the majority of parenting time so the kids have a stable, peaceful base with you.

Excellent strategy.  I would like there to be some flexibility because with my work I could take them on impromptu road trips, but I understand that this new way of things may scuttle that.


Excerpt
Another area of leverage/concession can be if she has a self-image as a "martyr mom". Does she "bend over backwards" to "do everything" and "nobody is grateful for her sacrifices"? Is there a way to give her PT for activities where she gets noticed for "being amazing" but you get more PT even if it's less public/more quotidian? I.e. does she want PT for 2 hours every afternoon to take the kids to extracurriculars? Would she take that if you got the rest of the PT? (extreme example, but that's the general idea).

Yes, like the church thing I mentioned above.  She does drag them to a lot of things anyway (though I think half the time it's more for her to have "mommy time" with other moms than for their own advancement).  What's going to make this hard is the homeschool thing and her entitlement mentality that she was never going to have to work again.  She is going to have to start taking all that time she uses to bicker with people on social media and start making money again because having to provide a free ride for her would bankrupt me.  Very curious to see what the lawyer says about numbers in this respect and how much of the financial obligation will land on her shoulders.  I could see sending her away with a chunk of cash and replacing her old used car with a newer used car, but that chunk of cash would not give her years to live on. 

As an example, one of the very first warning signs soon after we got married was over life insurance.  We got quotes and whatnot and I did the math and said okay, we can afford this big of a policy (equal) for each of us.  Oh, no no no.  There was supposed to be no policy on her but double the money on me because if I died she might have to go back to work.  I explained that I thought this was a partnership, what about if I wind up being the survivor?  I can't afford to be left with nothing and raise kids on my own -- "Well you can just work harder, but I would have to go back to work".  After much fighting she finally gave in and we have equal policies to this day, but from that moment on I always felt like I was nothing but a free ride to her.  I was so floored by her brazen entitlement.  I had not seen any of that beforehand.   


Excerpt
Food for thought.

Indeed -- thanks again!
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« Reply #85 on: June 15, 2022, 11:04:03 PM »

I also did some of the things kells76 suggested when I was separated and working out how to make a dissolution work. I knew my H and that $ talks, so I worked things out on paper to his advantage but to my safety and need to be D from his business choices. I literally showed him how he would get more than I would (part of it was his inheritance which was his to begin with). We didn't have young children, so I didn't have to deal with that. With his N nature, he took the bait and didn't argue. I made sure I got what was important to me for my financial future and let the rest go.

You've taken a big step, Couper. I'm glad that you're preparing and planning and being wise.


Hi Wools!  Thank you for your kind words.  They mean the world to me.  The child thing is the hard part to achieve balance with all of this.  Otherwise, I have a few carrots I can dangle similar to what you did.

Whatever the payout would be, I look at it divided over 40 years and it looks like a bargain to me!  We've all heard these divorced types that forever moan about what it "cost" them, but what is the cost of a life ruined?  Quite frankly, a lot of what they pay would have been paid if they had stayed married.  Just like if I were to replace her car -- I'd rather give her a car and send her down the road in it than to have her stay and have to get her another car and hear it coming up the driveway every day!   
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« Reply #86 on: June 19, 2022, 09:56:49 PM »

Oh yes, I would certainly have any agreement on paper.  I can't even trust her to give me the same answer to something five seconds after she says it!

More important, would a signed agreement alone stand up in court?  In some areas, unless it is filed with the court and maybe even has the judge's signature, it means little or nothing.

... I can't see her allowing me 80% and I wondered if she'd even do 50/50.  That's a big question mark to me.  She can have the holidays.  I can make the most of any day.  The only thing I don't like about that is if I just said take all the holidays as a negotiating tool, she would twist it into me being selfish and not wanting my kids around on special days.

Courts expect parents to alternate holidays, any a parent didn't get one year they can get the next.  Courts have a time-tested long list of holidays, just make sure to strike out any that neither of you observe.  Regarding birthdays, most jurisdictions only include the children's birthdays, parents' birthdays are NOT deemed crucial.  Also, there is a hierarchy to parenting time exceptions and priorities:
(1) holidays
(2) vacations (generally 2 or 3 weeks max per calendar year)
      can be 1 or 2 weeks each;
      remember, notices and not timid requests for approval
      generally no distance restrictions, except international
(3) regularly scheduled parenting time
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« Reply #87 on: June 20, 2022, 09:36:16 AM »

More important, would a signed agreement alone stand up in court?  In some areas, unless it is filed with the court and maybe even has the judge's signature, it means little or nothing.

Good input and that is not lost on me.  I will get clarification pertaining to how things work in my locale.


Excerpt
Courts expect parents to alternate holidays, any a parent didn't get one year they can get the next.  Courts have a time-tested long list of holidays, just make sure to strike out any that neither of you observe.  Regarding birthdays, most jurisdictions only include the children's birthdays, parents' birthdays are NOT deemed crucial.  Also, there is a hierarchy to parenting time exceptions and priorities:
(1) holidays
(2) vacations (generally 2 or 3 weeks max per calendar year)
      can be 1 or 2 weeks each;
      remember, notices and not timid requests for approval
      generally no distance restrictions, except international
(3) regularly scheduled parenting time

All good stuff.  Thank you for the clarification.  If I recall, I think you went down this road pretty early in your children's lives.  My son is closing in on 13 and in no time will be an adult.  I wish my daughter were a little older, but still, she'll soon be of an age where she has a phone and a car and is able to make up her own mind about things.  I have no more than eight years of this ahead of me and I'm hoping that being closer to the end of the tunnel makes it easier to swallow.
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kells76
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« Reply #88 on: June 20, 2022, 09:51:28 AM »

You can consider looking up "boilerplate" parenting time schedules for your county, especially ones for 50/50 as a start, and considering if you could live with that. Then have that, or something darn close, be what you submit to be signed off on by a judge.

I suspect it wouldn't be a good look for her to balk at agreeing to a completely normal, run of the mill parenting time agreement. She'd have to have some kind of justification and she probably won't be able to collect any meaningful documentation for her concerns.

The plus side of selecting a "boilerplate" 50/50 (or 75/25 in your favor) parenting plan is that if she objects to it, the onus is on her to show why it wouldn't be best. So, you wouldn't be doing her work for her. She'd have to explain within the legal system why a very, very, very normal agreement doesn't work, and she probably won't be able to.

The minus side is if she dysregulates and isn't having great executive functioning, she may lash out by making wild and destructive accusations. I.e., instead of listing "5 documented and pertinent reasons why it'd be better for the kids to be with me 60/40", that is, responding at a moderate 4/10 level, she may immediately jump to "a 45 page email of my feelings of how Couper is a sadistic abuser and beats the kids so they should only be with me forever", that is, responding at an 11/10 because she has no skills at effective compromise.

Check with your L to see how it typically goes in your county to propose a standard PP and what typically happens if the other parent objects to it/won't agree. It's just speculation right now that the "work" of showing why it wouldn't be best would fall on her. Would be good to figure out the rules in your area -- like "if in 30 days Wife does not produce substantial documentation refuting 50/50, it automatically gets signed by the judge".
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« Reply #89 on: June 20, 2022, 10:55:08 AM »

You can consider looking up "boilerplate" parenting time schedules for your county, especially ones for 50/50 as a start, and considering if you could live with that. Then have that, or something darn close, be what you submit to be signed off on by a judge.

More good stuff.  Thank you!  I tried looking up schedules for my county but all I could find is a blank per se form for self-representation.  That gives me an idea of all the various things under consideration, but makes no suggestion about how it would look 50/50 or otherwise.  This is not a big county and their online resources are not as detailed as more populus areas.

I'll add that and everything else to my list to ask the lawyer about.

It's an interesting strategy, but I could see the 75/25 suggestion getting shot down outright on account of the homeschool thing, though in reality that might actually work because school is only a few hours per day and she'll need the rest of the time to actually work and make money to support herself.

The other night when we went down the rabbit hole on a few topics, I raised the issue of how she won't let me take them away overnight but she has the luxury of doing that whenever she wants -- "but I've never been away from them and you have".  I told her the only thing stopping that is her -- be an adult and be by yourself for a few days:  "I can't do that".  So, that mindset is going to make any custody agreement more difficult, no doubt.   
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