How Do You Have a Normal Relationship with Your Ex?

Updated on June 14, 2007
J.A. asks from Saint Croix Falls, WI
9 answers

I am wondering how you can have a normal relationship with your ex, when he is a immature, controlling,selfish,blah blah blah person? I know that he is very hurt because i ended the marriage, after he cheated twice, that i know of and wasnt there for me during pregnancy or anything for that matter. I am willing to be a adult about this, for the children, but he refuses to listen to anything.I think that most of the problem is he is listening to his GF (who is much, much younger then him) and his disfunctional family. *not kidding* Someone who is going though this please give me some advice....

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answers from Wausau on

I have the same problem and, frankly, I need this advice as much as you do.

I have tried just about everything. I talked to him, yelled at him, left him letters, talked to his parents, talked to his girlfriend, etc....

I even just dropped Torri off at his house when I had to go to work, effectively forcing him to watch her. But I found out that he wasn't really watching her. Instead he would be playing video games the entire day or locking her in another room so that he could have sex in his. Eventually she had to be rushed to the emergency room because he had locked her (she was almost 3 at the time) in the bathroom and told her to "go potty" while he was having sex. She took a bite out of a 1000 Flushes bar and they didn't know if it was poisonous or not (luckily she was fine).

Now I've gotten to the point where I don't even try anymore. He seems to try to make my life as terrible as possible so we just don't talk. And seeing as he hasn't paid child support or even kept a job in over 2 years I guess he just isn't trying. It used to bother me a lot but now I don't care as much and I just wish that he would terminate his rights to her. He hasn't been around to see her in so long that Torri doesn't even seem to notice and every time we speak of her father she responds with, "Oh. You mean Robert?"

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answers from Duluth on

I have three kids with my ex, ages 13, 11, & 8. One thing that is always in the back of my head is that I once loved him and there was a lot of good that came from the experience of being with him. He cheated on me, left me alone a lot, was controlling and selfish. But that doesn't negate the good times for me that being with him brought in to my life. Not everyone can fall onto those thoughts, though, but it is one of the things that has made a difference for us. He hasn't changed a lot and I have had to forgive him for past and some more recent behaviors. Not forgiving is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die...I like that saying. If you haven't forgiven him for being a schmuck, it could help many areas of your life if you did. The other thing I do is to let things roll off my back, most of the time, if they do not really matter. My ex's wife puts ideas out there that I do not appreciate, but I know it's between me and him, but I can't shut her up, so I have to let it go. It's as irritating as heck, but I find a way to work off the annoyance. It really is about the kids for us, 100% - aside from a big disagreement three years ago, so both of us suck it up at times when we really would rather rip the other apart. Stick to only things related to your daughters, allow 'the system' to work financials as much as possible. I'm not sure how you guys do things now, how much contact you have to have. Good luck in this, I know it's hard. I divorced six years ago but there are still things that need to be ironed out. I live day by day most of the time, only trying to control what I can, most of the time. Know what you can have control over.

I hope I am making sense and not coming across in a condescending manner. Best of luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Why do you want a relationship with him? It sounds pretty toxic. Your children are old enough now that they can be responsible for negotiating their own relationship with their dad and you can stay out of it. They can arrange their own visitation details. You call them "children" but they really are young adults. You say he won't "listen to anything" - what could he possibly have to "listen to"? You've been divorced for over 8 years.

Sometimes people get almost addicted to the negative drama and they can't see that it doesn't have to be that way. You guys have proved that you can't have a "normal" relationship.

I have been divorced for 14 of my daughter's 16 years and could be in your same situation letting her dad drive me crazy but I have treated that relationship like a business relationship and now, she totally manages it herself. He doesn't see her or call her but she isn't dying to go over there either. I ask her if she would like my input and sometimes its yes and sometimes its no. He doesn't pay his child support either but the state will deal with that. My yelling and screaming won't get him to write that check so why bother.

I say, "Move On!" What reason could you possibly have to wanting to have this negativity in your life? Put all that extra positive energy you will save by not having it drained by him to good use on your own life or into your relationship with your daughter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

My ex was horrid when my son was young! Well he still kinda is now but ya that is another story. LOL I finally just threw my hands up and gave up. I was running in circles trying to make him be mature and be a good dad. I was wearing myself out and my son wasn't getting anything out of it. Just let him be. Don't call him or push anything. He may still call and try and that is good. Or he may flutter away into his own little world. Don't let it stress you out. Be there for your kids so they have at least one normal steady parent to lean on. Set strong ground rules that he has to stick by. Tell him this is how it will be and I will not bend because your GF doesn't like it. If it becomes a big deal and he takes you to court over it oh well. Then the judge can kick him in the hinder for you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I have a good relationship with my ex and he sounds exactly like yours. Because we get along, it makes things so much easier on our daughter. I think people are misinterpreting a "relationship" for just getting along, which you absolutely must do for the sake of your children. Nothing is worse for your child then parents that don't speak or just tolerate each other. I know it was h*** o* me as a kid when my parents acted like strangers. It makes you think there was never anything good between them.

Honestly, I just ignore his bad behavior, forgive it and move on. You can't control what he does/says, but you can control how you react. I do what I can to make sure they have a good relationship. He never calls her so I make sure she calls a few times a week. I invite his family to everything I can. I take her to see them or him (they all live in different states). As far as rules or whatever he may not listen to you about, again not much you can do about it. As long as it is not going to harm your children emotionally, mentally, or physically, don't worry about it. You may not agree but if you leave it alone, he may eventually agree with you. My ex hates to admit I am right about ANYTHING. If I state my side/opinion and leave it, he ends up doing it my way for the most part. It's all in how you act.

*HUGS* Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

you cannot have a normal relationship with someone like that. but you can act like you have a normal relationship around him for your daughters sake and not react to his lack of ability to listen to what-ever it may be you would need to for him to hear.

he isn't going to change, his family isn't going to change, his younger girlfriend isn't going to change...

8+ years ago is a long time to still be having issues in communicating and or other, so maybe a mediator should be in place so the two of you can learn to talk with one another regarding the kids.
***I wanted to add since I saw your previous not talk with him aren't going to get anywhere, you need to have an authority figure talk for you in this case***



answers from Minneapolis on

I felt like Tracy was reading my mind. Why do you want a relationship with him? Or what would you classifiy as a 'normal' relationship? I understand you may see him at the events that affect your daughters, but limit contact as much as possible. And so what if his young girlfriend/family has weird ideas, just remind yourself that that is why you left him and it is not your problem anymore. Remember, we cannot control other people, we can only control the way that we react to them. So sweep the toxic energy out of your life. Sorry if I made this sound too simple, but without an example of what you want him to listen to, its hard to understand what you want from him.



answers from Minneapolis on

This sounds sort of like what I went through, except I wasn't married. This was 8 years ago, going on 9. I still don't communicate much with him. He has gotten better over the years. He still blams me for everything. But he has moved on and has gotten married, so have I. I have full custody of our daughter. He used to say that I stole her from him. Even to her. I just move on with my life and if and when I need to talk with him about something, I keep it simple and to the point of the discussion. Nothing more. Focus on your children and make sure your don't say anything bad about your ex to them. They might see him differently and that's ok. But you might never have a 'regular' relationship with him. And that's ok too. I would like to have a 'regular' relationship with my daughters father but I know that will not happen. As long as the kids are happy, why worry about him. Don't waste your time on that. Move on and enjoy your kids and your new life. It's better this, right?! Good luck!



answers from Madison on

Sounds like you're in a tough spot but good for you for thinking of your kids first. Luckily the girls are old enough you shouldn't have to put up with him much longer. Maybe it would make things easier for you to just accept that you may not ever be able to get along and have a normal relationship with him. He is who he is and you can't change that. All you can do is keep it superficial, talk about only the things that need to be discussed for the sake of the kids and let his words/actions/behaviors roll off as best you can. If he is controlling and immature then it rewards him when you get ruffled by anything he does. Do your best to not play into it, which includes letting it bother you even just a little bit. I know that probably sounds trite and too simple but just keep reminding yourself that this is why you made the good decision to leave him in the first place and that you're in a better place now because of it. Take care!

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