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Most moms are so accustomed to being the caretakers in their relationships that they can’t break ties cleanly when the relationship ends. Worse case, they let their ex (boyfriend or husband) continue to have complete power over them.
Most likely, you aren’t even aware of this power.
Do You Relate to Any of These Signs That Your Ex is Still Controlling You?
- Constantly making accommodations for his schedule
- Consider his feelings or his reaction before you make a decision
- Avoid specific topics because you’re afraid to upset him
- Ask his opinion on issues outside of children’s immediate welfare
- Feel the need to respond to every single one of his text messages and voice mails
- Find that his decisions impact your emotions
- Still, ask your ex questions on how to handle situations
- Worried about your ex’s opinion on how you’re raising the kids or your new relationship
- Agree with him even when you want to disagree
It can be challenging to go from being married (or in a relationship) and having help around the house to doing everything yourself.
But a clean break is the only way towards your new future.
Here’s the good news: you can do this!
How To Release Your Ex’s Control Over You
You still need to communicate with your Ex when you have children together, but you can minimize your interactions by:
Refuse to communicate via text and instead use a Co-parenting app for all your communication and kids/work calendar. Some co-parenting apps keep a record of your communication and missed custody schedules. If your ex refuses to use the app, you can sometimes get it mandated in mediation.
If you struggle with making all the decisions yourself and use your ex as a sounding board, then choose a trusted friend who will take this place.
Spend some time reviewing your most recent interaction with your Ex. How do you feel about your actions in the conversation? What about his? How would you have preferred to respond?
Do you see a pattern from this exchange and the ones you’ve experienced in previous relationships? If so, you may be co-dependent. Unfortunately, many think of the term co-dependent only when drugs or alcohol are present. Still, it’s a trait all of us are susceptible to regardless of an addiction being in play.
The book “Co-Dependent No More,” is an excellent resource on this topic.
Don’t feel guilty when your Ex is mad or upset, and try to fix anything. Those are his emotions, not yours. If you handled yourself with respect and dignity, there’s no reason for you to feel any of his emotions.
Remind yourself that you can only control your emotions. Your Ex’s response is their emotion. You may need to tell yourself this every time you make a decision or have a conversation.
Tell yourself you’re doing this (communication) for the well-being of your children.
Set boundaries for yourself when it comes to your relationship with your ex. Maybe this means blocking your Ex on social media or refusing to communicate after 8 pm. Or try a co-parenting app for your communication. There you can access a shared calendar which can help to reduce the number of one-on-one conversations or messages.
Ask for help
Find a friend or family member you trust to help you. Tell your friend you’re trying to get out from under your ex.
If you’re unsure if you should respond (or how to respond) to your ex during a specific situation, run it by your friend. If possible, have your friend (or family member) present when exchanging the kids. Not forever, but just while you try to gain independence.
You can only change yourself. So don’t try to convince or change your Ex. It’s wasted energy. Instead, figure out your part in the relationship and focus on that.