This is the last in a three-part series that encourages you to ask yourself: "What Type is My Ex?" In recent posts, I introduced the six types of exes as I have identified them over my 30-year career as a family lawyer. Based on the myriad types of behaviors that I have seen exes employ, I have narrowed the field to these: The Intimidator, The Passive Aggressor, The Manipulator, The Terrorist, The Victim and The Cooperator (aka the ideal ex.)
We turn now to the last two.
The "Victim" -- In the arenas of control, there are more Victim types than most people would think. This type sets up their former spouse to make them feel as though they are always being abused by their ex. Closely aligned with the Passive Aggressor, they exert control through the back door, so to speak. They may attempt to make you feel guilty. They may greet you at the door in tattered clothes when you drop off the children. They may purposely lose their job, have their car repossessed, or be seen sitting forlornly in familiar places like the country club, a family restaurant, at weddings and celebrations of mutual friends. They want one thing: Pity. If they can evoke this emotion from you, they have emerged victorious. Anyone going through a divorce has an opportunity to make his or her life better; yet those who go the opposite direction are called Victim types.
The "Cooperator" -- At last...this is the ideal ex, the one most people complain that they do not have, the ex type everyone longs for! The Cooperator is a self-contained individual who neither feels the need nor the desire to control another person. Cooperators are flexible with plans and arrangements regarding the children, thoughtful and gracious in all dealings with extended family and friends, and sincere in a desire to work through the "aftermath" of divorce (whether it is dividing assets, paying off bills, or working out differences with a mediator, therapist or lawyer.) The Cooperator wishes to move forward with his/her life productively, and even wishes the same for his/her ex.
Keep in mind that many exes display characteristics of more than one category. For instance, your ex may be The Victim and also a master Manipulator. The object is to identify the type of ex you are dealing with as closely as you can so that you can stay in control without toppling your ex's right to his/her own sense of control.
Stacy D. Phillips practices family law in Los Angeles, CA. She is the founder and Managing Partner of Phillips Lerner, ALC. She is an author, contributing columnist and sought-after speaker. Her book, Divorce: It's All About Control (How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars) is now in its 7th printing.