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Is my ex annoying me on purpose?

Updated: Nov 22, 2022



Separation is a huge emotional roller coaster where we can get angry, annoyed or frustrated at what our ex does.


Are they doing it on purpose?


There are many times where we could get riled up thinking our ex is doing or saying something just to make us mad. We can often question in our own head are we going crazy, overreacting or a victim of our tormentor?


It is key to deep dive on some key questions to uncover whether it is us or them making us mad!


Let’s look at an example;


Example 1. Your kids tell you that Dad and Amy, his new friend picked them up from school on Friday and they went to a café for a milkshake!


Well, you feel your blood start to boil, you become hot and bothered, you grit your teeth, and your heart starts pounding! Your mind starts racing with visions of your ex standing at the school gate with a leggy blonde, laughing, flicking her hair back and looking doe eyed at your ex. You start to feel sick, you think ‘How could he take her to the school to pick up my kids, he has done that on purpose just to upset me’


Stop…..and rationalise what is really going on here!


Ask yourself ‘Why is this upsetting me so much?’


Were the kids unsafe?


Were the kids upset about it?


Do I feel jealous it might be a potential new partner?


Am I hoping for reconciliation so that's why it triggered me because I fear that it may not be possible?


Did it scare me that another woman may become a step mum and take over my role?


If you uncover the reason why you feel upset, it will help you work out how to respond to it.


Firstly, don’t get angry and get into an argument about it with your ex especially in front of the kids. The kids will feel they caused the argument because they told you about Dad bringing a lady to the school. It will make them reluctant to tell you about times with Dad in case it upsets you. This can make kids feel like they are walking on eggshells.


Secondly, realise you and your ex may not have discussed who can collect the kids from school yet. You might agree together it should be just parents, siblings or grandparents.


If the kids are not upset by Dad bringing Amy to school, then is it really a big issue in the scheme of things. In other words, is it worth arguing with your ex over? Remember if you resist a new partner being accepted, then you are setting the example that when you meet someone they may be rejected by your ex and children too.


Have a calm conversation with your ex on reaching agreement about who should be able to pick up the kids from school or how long it should be before you both introduce new partners to the kids.


Example 2. Your kids come home so excited because mum has booked them on a trip to Disneyland!


Well, you start to shake with anger, your stomach is in a knot, and you start pacing up and down.


Your mind starts racing with visions of your ex splashing the cash on a lavish holiday, buying the children’s affection.


You start to feel sick, you think ‘She makes more money than I do. She has done this just to annoy me knowing I can’t afford to take them on a big trip’


Stop…..and rationalise what is really going on here!


Ask yourself ‘Why is this upsetting me so much?’


Do I feel jealous I can’t afford to take them to Disneyland?


Am I worried that the ex will become the favourite parent?


Am I concerned the kids will want to be with their mum more because she can afford more expensive gifts and holidays?


Am I still hurting because she left and I fear the kids will leave me too?


Do I feel inadequate as a parent because I can’t give them more, feeling like it is a competition on who is the better parent?


If you uncover the reason why you feel upset, it will help you work out how to respond to it.


Firstly, don’t get angry and get into an argument about it with your ex especially in front of the kids.


The kids will feel they caused the argument because they told you about the Disneyland trip. It will make them reluctant to tell you about things in the future as they will be scared of your reaction. This can make kids feel like they are walking on eggshells.


Secondly, realise you and your ex are NOT in competition to see who is the better parent. Any parent that is supportive, loving and caring is always who the kids can depend on. You may have been the parent that when things went wrong in their life, they immediately came to you as you are the problem solver. For example, they missed the bus back home and they call you to come and pick them up as they know you can be relied upon to help them.


Don’t measure yourself as a parent by how much money you spend on your children, measure it on how much quality time you spend with your kids and how much you are there for them when they need you. There are plenty of fun local holidays that are less expensive that you can take the kids on which they would love, such as camping near the beach, going to a farm stay, or going on a road trip to seek adventure.


If the kids are excited about the times they have had at mum’s house or a trip mum has planned, be happy that your kids are adjusting well to the new family structure.


Have a calm conversation with your ex on reaching agreement about discussing holiday plans and how much notice is required to ensure shared parenting schedules can provide make up time for loss of time with the kids.


Always double check your reaction to what your ex does based on whether the kids are upset, the kid’s safety is in danger or your reaction is due to how you are feeling about the breakup or yourself.


There are examples where your ex punishes you on purpose. This could be for leaving, for starting a new relationship, or doesn't want you to be in their life, therefore ensures you aren't in your children's life. So, this once again is a reality check. If your children are upset because they are not allowed to see you then you know your ex is doing it on purpose.


The best role model is one that provides good parenting, minimises conflict and enables the children to have a meaningful relationship with both parents.


Author – Cheryl Duffy - Divorce Coach, Mediator & Author

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