Much like any relationship you enter into what you put up with you, will get stuck with, life after divorce with your newly ex spouse, will be no different. I am often told stories and scenarios of ex spouses who just won't fully let go, or who just do not understand or want to understand that their ex is after divorce, no longer a part of their life. To me this all falls under the umbrella of control. How many of us after a divorce still try to hinder, effect, hurt or control an ex? I will estimate quite a high percentage, especially if as the other ex spouse you do not set very strict guide lines for your controlling ex, in what is acceptable or tolerable, in your newly found single life. The following are list of commonly found issues and how to disengage and fully let your ex go once and for all.
1. No personal property boundaries, very often after a divorce one or the other spouse will remain in what was the marital property, set very strict guide lines for your ex spouse, they are not to enter your home, have a key or make you feel in anyway that they will just show up there unannounced. The MSA (marriage settlement agreement) will very clearly give the property to one or the other of you, and the moment this is signed the spouse has no rights to show up, attempt to enter, or act in anyway shape or form that they own or have rights to said property. If you can not feel comfortable with your Ex not to do this, move home, change the locks, or very worse case if they continue to do this unlawfully, get a trespassing order. It is not OK to feel that you have no personal private space, to go to, or feel safe that your Ex won't show up at anytime. Your Ex may have also left belongings in your home, rest assure that they are on some level doing this as a way to not fully let go, of their life with you. More than likely your MSA will include a clause stating every item in said marital home belongs to the person living in it, (they may vary so double check). In this instant, be polite, give them an exact date that items must be removed by and if this date comes and goes, feel free to box up said items and either deliver them to the Ex spouse, or Good Will will be happy to collect them also, there is no reason except for control that your home after divorce, is filled with items owed by your Ex.
2. Exes who try to sabotage and make it hard for the other to date or enter into a new relationship, are also trying to wield control over their Ex by behaving like this. This may manifest its self when they sense you have plans, dates or a new love interest, they may not pick up children or not drop them off in a timely manner, they may also, try to orchestrate ways to make you feel guilty for moving on, accuse you of caring more about dating than your children. They may try and micro manage your free time from afar by giving you instructions, chores to do for your children, that they know will interfere with your free time and social life. In this case, a very precise conversation where you spell out to the Ex, that you are following the terms, visitation set out by the MSA and that your free time without your children is yours, and yours alone, may help. In extreme cases this won't and at that point all you can do is very clearly stick to the MSA, disengage from all other rhetoric your Ex may direct at you, and live your life the way you see fit. To engage, back down or compromise, only gives your Ex the message that you will still be controlled by them, after your divorce and this will be an on going nightmare for you to deal with. So be firm, be fair, and remind your self that even if connected still by children, your Ex is no longer a part of your life, you no longer have to listen to them, cater to them, indulge or engage in arguments or discussions with them. Controlling spouses will turn into controlling ex-spouses, so stay strong and do not buy into their manipulation anymore, this is no doubt a factor in why you divorced them in the first place.
3. Exes who overly communicate, especially if they know you are with a new partner. Ever had this happen? Your child accidentally has mentioned to your Ex that you are headed to a date or weekend with your new partner, then for the entire evening or weekend your phone is bombarded with texts from your Ex spouse, either trying to push your buttons, or engage you in some kind of drama that is sure to strain your relationship with your new person? Well this situation is common, jealousy and the bizarre and bad perception, that an Ex has a right to do this to you is wrong. When you exit a marriage, you give up all rights to control, harass, have a say in anything to do with your Ex or anyone the person goes on to be with. Your Ex is no longer your spouse, they are no longer your lover, or in many ways no longer your friend, Unless you are lucky enough to have a civil and adult friendship after your divorce, where both your new loves and partners are fully respected. In my experience though this is few and far between. What I feel is really important to remember is that you may not be the first person to move forward after your divorce, but that doesn't give you the right to try and hold on or set rules for your Ex in their single new life. This on going strategy - to allow your ex to harass you by text or calls on your free time, will only lessen the chances of your new relationships succeeding, no one really wants to date any one, who is still embroiled in some kind of dysfunctional secondary relationship dynamic with their Exes.
4. Using your children to guilt an Ex spouse into not letting go. If you are an Ex spouse who believes just because you have a child with someone you still on some level own your Ex for life, think again. You will always have that child or children together but the reality is your Ex spouse will go on to fall in love, date, marry or even have more children with someone else. You may have created a child together, and you should find a way to pleasantly co-parent, but besides that, you have no say or control over each other. Peoples ability to use children as some kind of leverage to control their ex spouse is well documented, as a source of contention after divorce. You really as the person who is trying to be controlled by your Ex in this manner, need to find a way to totally disengage from this, ignore texts, don't answer calls, answer in very short precise ways, do not take the bait and be dragged into the Exes web of arguing, controlling or giving them the satisfaction of a reaction. This is exactly what the controlling Ex is looking for, the proof that they still can get to you, still manipulate you and still get their way. DO NOT allow this. Nothing, diffuses the situation better and gets you to a happier place quicker, than disengaging, separating yourself from the toxic Ex, and letting everything roll off your back. Not easy I know but like all bullies and control freaks, these people will eventually quit when they realize once and for all, you are not reacting or engaging in their drama. There is a reason that child custody and concerns are a large part of the MSA this is to lessen the children being used as a pawn, as a weapon or as a way to inflict pain on the other spouse. A good rule of thumb is to use this phrase in communications. "Please refer to the MSA". There is no arguing it, it is set out in a court of law, in black and white and you both signed it, so don't allow your Ex to think they are above the law, or above the MSA.
5. A spouse who tries to control who you can date after a divorce, this is is baffling, but I have heard it many times from divorcees I speak to. An Ex who will verbalize things like "I want you to date but why are you dating her/him?, I don't like your girlfriend/boyfriend, I don't want MY kids around your new girlfriend/boyfriend, anyone else is fine just not them". This is clearly a crazy form of control, unless the new partner is a criminal, or someone who may legitimately be a danger to your child, you have no right to say, comment or control who your Ex spouse dates. You are not their parent, not their partner, and most certainly not their spouse, you even have paperwork to prove it, called a divorce. Generally an ex spouse may incorrectly feel that they are allowed to be jealous, allowed to feel insecure, that you moved on or upgraded from them, but this is also 100% the Exes own issues and attempts to not fully let go, and control your situation. You may be tempted to engage or argue or defend your new partner to your Ex. In doing this though you are saying to your Ex that you are listening to their opinion in some form, and allowing them to have some control over who you date. They do not. You are a single adult the ONLY person who has a say in who you date, love or go on to marry is you. In my opinion even if your ex attempts to question you about your new love interest in a polite or kind way, you are under no obligation to answer to them at all.
As a generally rule when giving a Ex spouse who refuses to to let go, an inch they will always try to take a mile. This is why setting ground rules, and being firm, but fair from the start of a divorce, is always the better way to go. Follow the MSA, give your Ex no reason to drag you in to drama, at the first sign of communication that smells like control or manipulation- disengage. Remind yourself that divorce is a severing of interpersonal relationships between two people. Remind yourself that like all other aspects of divorce, time is much better spent focusing all your energies on the present, and future and ceasing to spend them on anyone or anything from the past. Your children are your children, and their love for you will not alter based on you spending time, focusing on your new life, new relationships or new goals. Happy parents make for happy children. It is also a good time to remind our self that we can not control other peoples behaviors, we only have the power to control our own reaction to them. When you do ignore and disengage, the other person will always eventually stop, as they are getting no reaction, and most likely will transfer that controlling streak to their next relationship, rendering us once and for all free! So anything you can do to get that that place quicker do it. Good luck and if you find your self as the person who maybe is having trouble letting go, the same advice applies, spend your time, energy and focus on building your own life to be as happy as you can make it, trying to inflict pain and control on an Ex will not get you to a happier place or future ever.