Target Practice

target practice

Tyler and I have not been getting along well lately.

(Disclaimer: I always strive for brutal honesty in my posts, and this one might be a little too honest… but I have a feeling that this is a common issue among newly-divorced parents, so hopefully I don’t regret writing it, and here goes.)

The whole thing is frustrating.  I’m not sure how it’s possible that we had an uncontested and totally civil divorce and yet now we are always at each other’s throats.  I guess our coparenting relationship has been kind of a roller coaster ride rather than a steady uphill climb, just like the rest of this process.

Due to all our visitation issues, Tyler doesn’t take Caroline for overnight visits anymore.  It seems to work best for Caroline if the three of us spend Tyler’s parenting time together, so that’s what we do.  Which means we have to hang out.  Which hasn’t been going so well.

I’m stubborn and still angry, and he’s stubborn and still angry, and it seems like he willfully misinterprets everything I say.  (He reminds me of my iPhone.  I mean let’s get real here, phone, at this point I think we both know I didn’t mean to type “shut”.)  It’s supposed to be his parenting time, but it turns into both of us using each other for target practice.  He knows just how to get under my skin, and my problem isn’t that I don’t think before I speak, it’s that I think carefully, decide I shouldn’t say anything, and promptly open my mouth and just say whatever.

Example: we’ll be standing there watching Caroline play on the playground.  (She is, of course, out of earshot.)

He says: “At least my new girlfriend doesn’t have a body like a 12-year-old.”  (Bullseye.)

I think: (one of my divorce mantras) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.

I say: “Yeah well this ’12-year-old body’ carried your child, a–hole.”

Not productive, Julia.  Not helpful.  Not mature.  Sometimes I open my mouth and then I want to grab myself by the shoulders and shake myself.  What happened to all of our maturity and determination to keep things friendly for Caroline’s sake?  He and I both know we need to get it together.  She is probably picking up on our tension and it has got to stop.

So, we have a new plan: no more communication for the time being unless it’s directly about Caroline.  He’s actually leaving this weekend for his usual summer trip to North Dakota and won’t be back until September, so hopefully we can have a fresh start when he returns.  (I’m hoping that he and Caroline can do the same, and maybe he’ll be able to start overnight visits again.)

How do you handle tense situations with your ex?  Any advice, or secrets to keeping the peace?

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  1. by Chandra

    On June 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    My ex had this problem with his son’s mother… They just could not get along for anything. I think the biggest problem was that she still had feelings for him but wouldn’t admit it to anyone, including herself. His problem was that he couldn’t stop himself from throwing every awful thing she said right back at her.
    When he and I were dating I was the one that dealt with her, which worked well because we were able to get along fine, but eventually I told them that I couldn’t always be that person and that they had to learn how to get along for the boy’s sake. So when they started fighting I told them to do exactly what you said, don’t talk about ANYTHING if it didn’t pertain directly to the child and if things got off track, just stop talking and walk away. It worked very well for as long as they did it…

  2. by Allison

    On June 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Sorry, I don’t really have any advice, but I will say your response in that one example was just fine by me. What is he doing making comments like that?!? I guess just keep trying not to engage and hopefully things will be better in the fall.

  3. by mj

    On June 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    I think you’re wise to stick to conversations that only involve Caroline. She is your grey area, your no-mans-land, the main thing that you still have in common. I hate to say it, but if Tyler parented more often then he might know Caroline better and you would be able to keep the content directed at making decisions about her.

    This is my first time commenting and I’m curious; does Tyler know about this blog/read it? What ever came of Tyler taking Caroline to North Dakota for a couple weeks this summer. That might actually be really good for their relationship…

  4. by Julia

    On June 17, 2011 at 7:32 am

    He knows about it– he has since the beginning, I started this blog not too long after we got married. He says he doesn’t read it anymore because it depresses him, which I believe. I’m sure he does check it every once in awhile, but I don’t ever write about anything I wouldn’t want him to read. I try to walk the line between honesty and over-sharing… I am sure I inadvertently cross it from time to time.

    As for the North Dakota trip, he canceled it. We talked about it and decided that at this point it was too much for her to be away from me for so long, because she has enough trouble going with him for just one night. When she gets a little older (and their relationship hopefully improves, if he starts seeing her more) maybe she will be able to go with him for trips like that… his family is fantastic and she has a lot of cousins her age out there.

  5. by Angela

    On June 17, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I have the same problem, but were not divorced and he contantly cheats and wants to have our daughter involved with his mistresses, I was ordered 2 years ago to let him have overnight vists where he ended up leaving our daughter with his mistress of that year for hours and when I went to get her, the police wouldn’t allow me to get her because it wasn’t in writing that he wouldn’t leave her and that he would actually watch her, none the less, she never speant another night over and he moved away from that mistress and has a new one and has moved back home with his mother, and wants our daughter to visit for a whole summer with him and his family(whom has never associated with our daughter in the 5 years of her life)she just turned 5 in May, so he didn’t show up for our custody case and has lost that and doesn’t pay his court ordered amount of child support every month, always 3 months behind, how can I not be upset and make the right decision for our daughter?

  6. by Katie

    On June 18, 2011 at 7:23 am

    First off I see why you divorced him with childish comments like that. In the end maybe that’s what you two need, is to have a moment where you can express your anger, without your daughter present.

    Another option is to have an neutral 3rd party come with you on visitations until the tensions are gone or at least to a bare minimum.

    Either way it is good that you recognize that the anger is an issue that needs to be addressed. My parents were divorced when I was 5 and they are both still sore about it 24 years later.

  7. by Caitlyn

    On September 3, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Realistically, did you fee better after you said that? If you’re like me, probably not. My fiance’s daughter’s mom is the same way and he used to respond similarly…until he realized that he was just fueling the fire. Instead, when he makes a childish comment, just remind him that you are there to help him build a relationship with her, not you, and if he cannot behave like an adult around you, you won’t be there anymore. Period. And good luck to him building that relationship without your help.