Every time I get a text, I’m cringing because I know it’s going to be my ex insulting me. We can’t communicate well at all and it only hurts my feelings when I talk to him. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the phone, email, or text. And I need to talk to him sometimes because we have three kids under the age of ten who need their parents to communicate about their needs and activities. What should I do because I can’t stop talking to my other parent, but I continue to get battered by him in some way, which makes it so difficult to move on and be happy??
It’s so challenging to be in a situation you cannot control. Unfortunately, that covers just everything in our lives. My first suggestion is that you figure out a way to not read his written communication. So, first you could figure out who your trusted GO TO person is. A friend, sister, brother, parent, cousin, or therapist but definitely NOT one of your children and ask if s/he or they would be willing to filter your emails and texts. This GO TO person should be someone who can contain their own feelings about your ex, in order to support YOU and do what’s in YOUR best interest without contributing to the drama. **IF the person you are considering will get as riled up or reactive as you, then find someone else.**
Here are some tips on how to avoid reading rude, mean, or just plain silly things that have the very simple intention of hurting you and getting a reaction from you. It, by the way, is NOT about you! It is about them and their hurt and their inability to express themselves in a healthy adult way. Having said that, I suggest…
- Literally changing, if you haven’t already, your phone settings so that when you receive a text you first only see from whom the text is sent and not the actual message. When you see it’s from him…delete it before you read it. If he has the kids and you fear it may be important, then show it to your GO TO person first.
- Not opening your emails from him. Immediately forward those emails to your trusted GO TO person and wait for them to give you the gist of what it says.
- Save a copy of the “unfriendly” email for your lawyer or mediator.
If an email or text DEMANDS a response (after being filtered), take your time in doing so. Write whatever you like and SAVE it. Walk away from your computer or phone, sit on it. Think about how you would feel if you received it. Consider your intention and what the consequence might be. Be thoughtful. Try to be forgiving. Try to be allowing. Remember that your ex is hurting just like you! And maybe they are unable to behave any differently than they are right now.
And lastly, if you MUST read the text (MUST= he has the children and it’s an ‘in case of emergency’ situation) and your GO TO person is unavailable, then take 6 slow, deep breaths…count ‘em out…before you read it, while you are reading and again after you read it. And remember it’s not about you and you have the power of choice to NOT engage!!