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An example of the daily test - I am paraphrasing a little bit for anonymity.

Yesterday W asked (via text) if she could stop by an after-school thing my kids have (I had the kids all weekend through tomorrow). She has a friend in town, and wanted her friend to say goodbye one more time.

I said okay, but also told her that I was planning to leave work early to pick up the kids from the activity (Normally our babysitter would take them to my house for another hour until I get home from work). I said I don't mind if she and her friend stop by, but wanted her to know in case she wants to avoid any awkwardness with her friend there. I assumed she wanted to avoid us running into each other.

She told me that they would stop by, but leave before I got there, and I should still plan to come pick up the kids. So... plan confirmed, I am going to pick the kids up from the activity.

Today, as I'm driving over to pick them up within 20 minutes, she texted the following:

1. Confirmed I was coming to pick them up.
2. She didn't realize I leave work early on my Mondays to pick them up.
3. If I wasn't coming, she would stay with her friend to say goodbye to the kids.

Then I responded with: "Yes I was planning to pick them up at time xyz. But if you and your friend want to watch them to the end, I can go to my house. Please arrange to have them dropped off afterwards and pay the babysitter for her extra time if she is dropping them off."

She responds: "No problem, we will just leave early and you can pick them up. You did not make it clear last night your plan."

I texted her a screenshot of my confirmation the night before of my precise plan and said: "Sorry for the confusion. This is what I sent last night and I thought it was clear."

Her: "You did text that. Thanks for the limited time with them."

Me: "Ok"

My thoughts:

1. I tried really hard not to respond emotionally.
2. I did feel guilty.
3. I could tell my W was stirred up.

I'm not sure how I could have handled this differently. It seems like she just wanted to be upset.

These types of situations come up ALL the time. It is a minefield to navigate. I have to stand up for myself, or she will never respect me, but I also need to avoid falling into emotional traps.

Anyways, any advice whether I could have handled this differently is much appreciated.

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Hey U,

Sorry you're going through this man. It seems like you're dealing with a pretty toxic situation.

I have similar things pop up. I posted a week or so ago about an email I sent to my XW where I responded about a point she raised. She said she never received the email. I said no worries, I'll resend it. She then checked her emails in front of me, and acknowledged she had, but she couldn't see the specific reply because the paragraph was too big. I lightheartedly agreed it was hard to see and said I'd break future emails up - issue resolved.

I think you sending a screenshot of what you sent probably triggered her. I'd avoid that, and just resend the original sms/email. Keep it lighthearted too. I wouldnt have replied with the 'ok' at the end.

I suppose too you could end sms's arranging stuff with 'please confirm', thus short circuting future attempts to pretend she didnt understand.

Good luck buddy, and keep taking the high road like you always do.


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Originally Posted by unchien
Yesterday W asked (via text) if she could stop by an after-school thing my kids have

Check. I rarely to never prevent my ex-wife from seeing the kids during extra-curricular activities.

Originally Posted by unchien
I said okay, but also told her that I was planning to leave work early to pick up the kids from the activity (Normally our babysitter would take them to my house for another hour until I get home from work). I said I don't mind if she and her friend stop by, but wanted her to know in case she wants to avoid any awkwardness with her friend there. I assumed she wanted to avoid us running into each other.

Was your message as simple as:
"You and <friend> are welcome to stop by. I'm picking the kids up at <time>."?

Originally Posted by unchien
Then I responded with: "Yes I was planning to pick them up at time xyz. But if you and your friend want to watch them to the end, I can go to my house. Please arrange to have them dropped off afterwards and pay the babysitter for her extra time if she is dropping them off."

Seems complicated. During my custody, my ex-wife is a passenger. "You and <friend> are welcome to stop by. I'm picking the kids up at <time> pm." I do not offer to modify my custody.

My last message to my ex-wife: "If you're asking me to take the weekend of Dec 6 - Dec 8, please confirm. Yes, I can!" No feelings, alternate proposals, etc. I initially considered telling her how much trouble I went to, to modify my schedule to take over her custody period, and how close I came to saying no. But, why? I accept or I don't. I usually accept time (no trades) because I like time with my kids. My choice.

Originally Posted by unchien
I texted her a screenshot of my confirmation the night before of my precise plan and said: "Sorry for the confusion. This is what I sent last night and I thought it was clear."

I'm confused. Wasn't that the last text you sent, or you sent so many texts you need to refer back?

Originally Posted by unchien
Her: "You did text that. Thanks for the limited time with them."
2. I did feel guilty.
3. I could tell my W was stirred up.

She does sound annoyed. Why do you feel guilty? You were more accommodating than I would be, and most single parents I talk to are surprised how well my ex-wife and I get along.

She asked to share your time due to a special circumstance and you granted her request.



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Originally Posted by unchien

I said I don't mind if she and her friend stop by, but wanted her to know in case she wants to avoid any awkwardness with her friend there. I assumed she wanted to avoid us running into each other.

I wouldn't make any assumptions - it's not really worth worrying why she wanted to do it. I actually think there's a small positive side to this - despite the awkwardness she still chose to let you know what she was doing.

Quote

Then I responded with: "Yes I was planning to pick them up at time xyz. But if you and your friend want to watch them to the end, I can go to my house. Please arrange to have them dropped off afterwards and pay the babysitter for her extra time if she is dropping them off."

"Yes, I pick them up at (time)." Eliminate the rest, it simplifies things. She can figure out the rest.

Originally Posted by Unchien

She responds: "No problem, we will just leave early and you can pick them up. You did not make it clear last night your plan."

I texted her a screenshot of my confirmation the night before of my precise plan and said: "Sorry for the confusion. This is what I sent last night and I thought it was clear."

Her: "You did text that. Thanks for the limited time with them."

Me: "Ok"

Yeah she is definitely testing you and your newfound strength. Don't take the bait. But at least she is trying to communicate with you and not doing things without your knowledge, so that's a tiny little bit of positivity in all this.

I might not have sent the screenshot, but its not the end of the world. When my W was in the anger phase and sent a text, I mentally crossed out the passive aggressive parts of the text and responded only to the questions or the parts that needed my attention. I made sure to read and reread my responses a dozen times before I hit send. I call it the "seven second delay".

Originally Posted by Unchien

1. I tried really hard not to respond emotionally.
2. I did feel guilty.
3. I could tell my W was stirred up.

I think you did pretty good, U. But I don't understand why you felt guilty..? You have your routine established, it's not you that is changing things up. And as far as what your W was feeling, that's her issue, not yours.

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Originally Posted by unchien
Anyways, any advice whether I could have handled this differently is much appreciated.


I think you handled it well enough, the one change I would make in the future is quit bending over backwards to try and avoid her (or allow her to avoid you). See the crossed out sections below:

Quote
Yesterday W asked (via text) if she could stop by an after-school thing my kids have (I had the kids all weekend through tomorrow). She has a friend in town, and wanted her friend to say goodbye one more time.

I said okay, but also told her that I was planning to leave work early to pick up the kids from the activity (Normally our babysitter would take them to my house for another hour until I get home from work). I said I don't mind if she and her friend stop by, but wanted her to know in case she wants to avoid any awkwardness with her friend there. I assumed she wanted to avoid us running into each other.

She told me that they would stop by, but leave before I got there, and I should still plan to come pick up the kids. So... plan confirmed, I am going to pick the kids up from the activity.

Today, as I'm driving over to pick them up within 20 minutes, she texted the following:

1. Confirmed I was coming to pick them up.
2. She didn't realize I leave work early on my Mondays to pick them up.
3. If I wasn't coming, she would stay with her friend to say goodbye to the kids.

Then I responded with: "Yes I was planning to pick them up at time xyz. But if you and your friend want to watch them to the end, I can go to my house. Please arrange to have them dropped off afterwards and pay the babysitter for her extra time if she is dropping them off."

She responds: "No problem, we will just leave early and you can pick them up. You did not make it clear last night your plan."

I texted her a screenshot of my confirmation the night before of my precise plan and said: "Sorry for the confusion. This is what I sent last night and I thought it was clear."

Her: "You did text that. Thanks for the limited time with them."


U: Yes I will be there at time xyz.


Just live your life. If she doesn't want to see you then that's her problem, you need to still come and go as you please and let her figure out how to avoid you. If you're walking into a room and she's there and that makes her uncomfortable, well then SHE can leave. In the above case just tell her "I am picking up the kids at XX time" and that's it. No explaining, no working out what do to if she's still there, none of that. If she's there when you arrive then so be it.


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that was awfully confusing to me.

However, you can avoid that confusion by doing exactly what AS said in that last paragraph. You let her decide what’s uncomfortable for her. Be clear and concise always.

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U,

You handled that exactly how I would have. I can see that your intentions are pure in wanting to please or appeal to your W. I do agree with the above in that a shorter, more straightforward path would have accomplished two things. 1) It would still show your strength (kudos!) 2) It would have effectively dodged her testing and pushing back

Good job handling what I'm sure was a stressful issue and keep your head up!

Kristin


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I echo what AS said. The one main thing I would underscore again is this - 'Stop apologizing'... stop saying 'sorry'.. we have a tendency to do that but it is not necessary or required. You didn't do anything wrong, and if you had, then it makes sense to apologize.


No one is coming to save you!

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Thanks everyone for so much feedback! I know the story was confusing. It was confusing to me as it was happening =)

I agree I should focus on being more concise.

This morning W pinged me over text. She said she didn't read our entire text thread the other night hence her confusion. And then she was upset I didn't allow her and her friend to spend more time with the kids. I pointed out that I did offer that over text. It was defensive of me to respond, but I felt like setting the record straight.

This morning W pinged me over text about 3 items.

1. She wants to reach out to child psychologists because S7 is having some behavioral issues.
2. She asked about the plan for starting mediation.
3. She complained about the issue yesterday, and said in the future she hoped we would each make accommodations for each other when friend care in town.

We have a scheduled talk tomorrow night. So I replied, "Can we talk about all 3 items tomorrow night? Text and e-mail are not working well for us."

I could have left out the 2nd sentence...

For item #1... she went ahead and already started reaching out. Last week in MC she implied S7's issues were my fault. I do think he needs some help, but I have a somewhat irrational fear about W's motives. Perhaps she wants to hand-select the psychologist. It's just one of those fears I have to face that she's going to drag us into court eventually.

For item #2... I will wait until we talk tomorrow. I don't have to, I am choosing to because I think it's the right thing for me to do.

For item #3, I'll hear out what she has to say, but these accommodations she refers to are going to be very one-sided. It seems clear we are going to need a very detailed settlement agreement to make things crystal clear.

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