Everyday trouble with the Ex: How you can stop dancing to his tune


You are familiar with everyday hassles with your toxic Ex, right? But do you think you’re dancing to his tune or not?

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, of course I’m not dancing to his tune! I’ve still got it!”

But wait a minute. There’s a situation or two you probably know where you’ve done just that. Wanna bet?

There’s the weather-wear that the Ex didn’t think to return, or an important school book. He can’t bring it to you because he has an important appointment (more important, anyway, than carrying the books after the kids).

So if you (!) absolutely want the things today, you have to get them yourself, but please pronto, time is short.

The fact that it’s not you who needs the stuff, but the kids, falls conveniently under the table. You know and feel that it is not about the children, but about the fact that he has something that is important for a smooth everyday life with you.

And it’s about the big difference in the perception of responsibility: you’re wearing yourself out for the children, trying to meet all the requirements as a mother, and you really take your responsibility very seriously and importantly.

Your narcissistic ex-partner, on the other hand, doesn’t care about any of that. The word responsibility is foreign to him anyway, but he knows exactly that it is important to you. He enjoys having the upper hand in these cases and thus throws you the energy rope.

And you catch it.

It annoys you beyond measure. Rightfully so.

So what do you do? Do you keep a straight face and pick up the things? Or do you improvise until the next contact day?

I would always consider the last option first. What happens in the worst case if the child doesn’t have this very textbook with him? What other jacket, which is perhaps already a bit too small, would still work?

If the child’s only weatherproof boots are with the Ex, then it is probably to bite the bullet. Don’t let on anything, don’t get involved in any conversation, take the things and turn around. Or, if necessary, take someone with you if you are afraid of a direct encounter.

Is the everyday hassle now about child welfare? Or is it pure harassment?

In the next example, a heated discussion once broke out in my Facebook group of strong mothers:

The mother concerned lives in an alternating residency model. During the father’s week of contact, she received an email saying that if she did not bring medicine for the children’s incipient cold today, she would get sick children back in two days on the next alternating day.

It was a normal workday, the pharmacies all still open, the tone of the email was harsh and demanding, laced with blackmail. The basic tenor: If she doesn’t get the medicine, the children will get sick – and it will be her fault, of course.

How does a mother deal with that? How would you deal with it?

Of course we don’t want our children to get sick!

However, when the father took the alternating residency model to court against the mother’s will, he more or less officially confirmed that he is able to take care of the children equally with the mother. That would already include the procurement of medicine for an incipient cold, or what do you think?

An email like this is completely exposing for guys like this, and gives a deep insight into the ex’s basic attitude towards child welfare – if the mother doesn’t jump, the kids get sick, so what now?

Just imagine that we would call the Ex in the morning when the child has a tummy ache and ask him – in a reproachful, vehement tone – to bring the hot water bottle. He would also show us the beeping bird!

If we give in here, however, similar incidents will occur again and again. Because:

You can’t give blackmailers what they want. Otherwise they will never stop.

Especially since we have to protect ourselves from such encroaching demands. As if we are responsible for the well-being of our children with the Ex!

Your job is to enable and respect the relationship between the Ex and the children. You do that by keeping the agreed (or ordered) times of contact and not talking nasty about the father in the presence of the children.

Your Ex doesn’t want you to call him all the time during the contact to hear how the children are doing, does he?

We have to learn to let go, even with toddlers and babies, even if we have a really bad feeling about leaving the children alone with the irresponsible ex.

But this learning to let go also extends to such an example from above.

We no longer have any responsibility for what the Ex does in his contact time or how he regulates things.

Theoretically, we could even play the ball back: What would he have done in the last days that the kids would get sick now?

BUT: we don’t do that, because otherwise we will quickly go back into the negative energy spiral. You will get a spiteful, arrogant answer back by return of post, which will only burden you even more afterwards.

In our relationship with the toxic Ex we keep the contact and exchange as low as possible – in the alternating residency model with less possibilities of evasion, in the residency model with more chances.

No Contact! is the strategy of choice.

Sober objectivity is our friend here.

How could one now proceed in the above-mentioned case in order not to let the everyday trouble get so close?

I would probably have the phone number of a pharmacy with a delivery service ready and give it to the Ex via email. Without any comment or even a litany of justification on my part.

If you know you’ve given it to him before, you might also consider ignoring the message.

You’re not ignoring the kids, you’re ignoring his toxic demand on you.

Invitation to the FeelBold Friday

Subscribe now to my free weekly newsletter

To the newsletter >>>

Note: This example is not about a serious illness or a medical emergency! In that case, you know that you have to act immediately, and if necessary, you will organize an ambulance right away if he can’t manage it.

If your child needs constant medical care and he does not take care of it on his contact days, then you should talk to your legal counsel anyway, which application you can make to the court and which one would have a good chance of success in your case.

If the email in the example above had been written nicely and if the contact tone had normalized in the last weeks, it would certainly be a different situation. But even so, some narcissists are really good at wrapping you around their fingers, so you have to be careful there, too.

After all, I’m talking about toxic ex-partners who have a rampant sense of entitlement and want everyone to dance to their tune!

If you do NOT want to have the feeling of having to dance to his whistle anymore, then you will have to get used to defining BOUNDARIES and reaffirming them over and over again until they are no longer questioned.

If the children were already sickly before the change, then you as a pragmatic mom naturally give the children something – because you see what’s coming up and because you don’t want to rely on whether the child’s father has the right medicine at home.

Other mothers leave the children at home when they have a cold, which is not so easy with the alternating residency model, if you are highly contentious with the Ex and you have already received a corresponding ruling à la “As long as the child is fit to be transported, he can also cure his illness at his dad’s.”

Yes, by far it is no longer about the child welfare, but about justice! Everyone should get some of the child’s cake, even the sick one.

Oh man. ☹️

BUT: Where there is no plaintiff, there is no judge.

Please do not go into anticipatory obedience and give him the feverish child in the contact, only because you have heard from other mothers that you must do this, because they have already received appropriate court decisions, but you have not!

Your ATTACHMENT to the child is paramount – especially when he is sick and just needs his rest, you have to make yourself unpopular!

“What does my child need now?” – that is the question that should guide you. And not, “What will others think of me if I (don’t) do this now?”

The everyday hassle of dealing with a toxic Ex partner is pervasive

And no, it won’t stop, unfortunately, as much as I’d love to tell you otherwise!

Simple is different. But that’s just the way it is now, so let’s make the best of this messed up situation.

Focus on your HOLD when it comes to everyday hassles with the Ex.

You’ll learn to handle it better and better as time goes on. At this point, I would also like to recommend you an older article of mine in which I write about the Graystone Method and Attitude. Many mothers have already written to me that they were able to use this method successfully in dealing with the narcissistic Ex-partner.

Your task in the coming months and years will be to acquire a more and more relaxed attitude, so that you can keep your eyes on the children like a rock, limit your relationship with the Ex to the bare minimum and protect yourself at the same time.

My last question now to you: How do you cope with your narcissistic Ex partner in everyday life? Do you already have a good strategy that works for you and the kids? Write it below in the comments and share it with us, then the other readers will get something out of it too…. Thank you!

Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?


Invitation to the FeelBold Friday

Subscribe now to my free weekly newsletter

To the newsletter >>>