Basic rules on handling situations with a difficult ex-spouse

The Problem:

No one knows you better than your ex, and often in unhappy ways.

She knows how to get under your skin.

He knows how to leave you threatened.

She knows how to harness the children’s feelings towards her and against you.

He knows how to do the same.

The vast majority of divorces are civil and reasonable. You were married to someone and it didn’t work out. You both deserve another chance.

While it is true that the one leaving (the leave-er) is usually less burdened by the divorce than the one being left (the leave-ee), an intelligent divorce is a possibility. Most people grieve, get some therapy or support, and sooner or later, call it a day and move on.

There is life to live.

Not so when you have a truly difficult ex-spouse.

People Regress in Divorce:

If you were angry, you may become explosive. If he was selfish, he may become narcissistic. If she was narcissistic, she may become sociopathic. If you were anxious, you may become more so. If he had been mean, he could become viscous. And if she had been dependent, she may become helpless.

While you may have been married to someone with a personality disorder like a Narcissist or a Borderline, more than likely you were married to someone with some of these traits that have morphed into the full blown version, at least for the foreseeable future.


Because divorce brings up many worries, including a fear of abandonment, an over-ripened sense of justice, fears of never being loved again, worries about money, the house, and of course, the children. These pressures bear on the psych like the proverbial straws on a camel’s back.

And many people break.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt …and Dysfunction:

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