How to Approach Your Ex About a Change

By DadsDivorce.com reader Big D

Here you are, years after your divorce is finalized. Life is moving along at a good pace and you are really enjoying everything about your “new life” without your wife.

ex-wife divorceYour communications with your ex-wife are typical. You bicker over small issues, she complains about not getting payment fast enough, you complain that the children are not cared for well enough while at her house, you both complain about how your teenagers act so odd!

But for the past year, you have been contemplating a change. The change can be as simple as inquiring about why the children never have their homework completed while at your ex-wife’s house, or as complex as trying to obtain 50-50 parenting time from the every other weekend plan you’re currently on.

No matter the change, you have told yourself that the change “makes sense, it is something I deserve as a father to my children, and it will make sense to my ex-wife.”

But remember, change is something that most people hate, and when it comes to ex-wives, they are the CEOs and founders of the Change Haters Group.

Step 1

In order to make little waves with your desired change, you attempt to weave your change into a conversation with your ex-wife. You casually, but vaguely, bring it up in an email or voicemail to help gauge your ex-wife’s response and attitude to the real change issue.

Your initial attempt will typically bring one of many different responses:

  • Level 1: Ignoring the comment
  • Level 2: Question back to you regarding your comment, something like “What were you thinking about with your comment?”
  • Level 3: A comment back to you on your comment, something like “I was also thinking about your comment and have a few opinions on that as well.”
  • Level 4: Direct question back to you on your comment, something like “What did you mean by your comment? I hope it is not leading down the path I think it is leading!”
  • Level 5: Direct comment indicating that your ex sees where you are going with that comment and the answer is NO!

At this stage, you have a few options.

  • Abandon the change, knowing the outcome would become ugly and costly.
  • Try to continue to feel your ex out, knowing the outcome will become ugly and costly.
  • Answer the questions that came back from the initial inquiry, knowing the outcome will become ugly and costly.
  • Stand firm, taking a direct approach to your change, knowing the outcome will become ugly and costly.
  • Tell her exactly what you want with your changes, knowing the outcome will become ugly and costly.

Note: All results at this stage, except for abandonment, will end up ugly and costly!

 

Step 2

Step 2 is when you take any steps beyond Step 1, except for abandonment!

 

Step 3

Stand back and watch the fireworks!

When I say fireworks in this context, this is not typically a fireworks show that turns out good. When you “tap the bee hive”, “rock the boat”, or “attempt to change what is not broken” (at least in your ex-wife’s eyes), you are asking for war.

One thing I have learned with the family court system is you never know what the outcome will be!

I have provided documented proof of lies and allegations against me, only to get punished in the end. I have also just stated my opinion in situations where I was accused of horrible things and had the outcome ruled in my favor. I have had judges punish me for things the judge messed up, only to have the judge tell me they messed up, but that I should have known better!

For all men that are just trying to make a small change and make things “even” or “right”, there is no such thing as a small change! Be prepared for the worst, as this is typically how every ex-wife will react. I say this from experience and from talking with many other divorced dads over the years.

I know, you might be thinking that I am just a negative person. You might be thinking that my story must include details that I am not including. You might be thinking that my story is unique and no one else could possibly be dragged through what I am being dragged through.

I wish you were right, but it is not the case. Remember that an ex-wife is the CEO and founder of the Change Haters Group.

Read about more real-life divorce experiences and divorce advice for men in our series Divorce Survival Training.

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