Isn't it strange how you can compare your bitter ex-spouse with a toddler? It's like they went back in time to retrace their childhood steps, but they left all logic and reason behind. More specifically, it's like they've never learned to communicate on an adult level. Because if they don't get something, they throw a tantrum. If you don't jump to their needs, they scream. If they start an argument, you can bet your behind they are getting the last word.
For everyone who has had the liberty of spending a day or two with a toddler, this should sound very familiar. But even if you haven't, it might still sound familiar. That's because you probably have an unreasonable ex who acts like a toddler.
Want some help stopping them in their tracks?
Here are three effective tips for turning the tables on your unreasonable ex.
If your ex is acting like a kid, you need to treat him or her like one. In other words, do what any informed parent would do - form a distraction. For instance, the moment you catch your little bundle of joy reaching for an electric socket, you are going to pull them away and immediately do something interesting. Even if you just start to break out in song, chances are your baby will forget about the socket for a while.
Yes, it's sad to say, but the same strategy will probably work with your ex. For example, if they call you to pay for something they arranged without involving you, you immediately hit back with something like, "Oh, before I forget, I heard you got that promotion. That's so great! Of course, I knew you'd get it. And you have to tell me all about it next week because I'm in the middle of some heavy traffic. Call you when I get a chance? Bye, and congrats!"
Seeing as toddlers want all attention on them, it quickly defuses your ex's motivation when you stroke their ego, even if you don't like doing.
2. The Old Time Out
It has become a very common punishment for parents to give their kids a "time out" when they don't behave. A good example would be when they cry for more candy after they've had enough. And the way to handle it is to get them into a quiet space where they have to sit and linger on why they are being punished.
With your ex, it can be just as simple and straightforward. When the conversation is getting out of line, and they throw their tantrum, all you need to do is say, "Bill, I don't appreciate your tone of voice or the way you are speaking to me. I'm going to hang up now, and we can talk again when you feel like being more productive." Just be assertive and make them aware that they are in a "time out."
3. Simply Ignore Them
While it's usually considered the last resort, some toddlers and exes just don't fall for the above-mentioned tips. In fact, they are too dedicated and stubborn, which means you have to pull out the big guns. So, with a toddler, you want to make it clear you disapprove of their behavior, and you will only interact with them once they stop. There is no negotiating or reaching a middle ground. If they don't stop, you keep ignoring them.
You'll be surprised at how effective this trick can be on adults, especially when they want you to react to what they are saying. But if your ex can't do anything but be sarcastic and insulting, act like they don't exist. And the more you ignore their existence, the angrier they get. Eventually, they realize they are the only ones getting worked up, and they'll start playing by the rules. And yes, they'll know exactly why you are ignoring them, which means you'll be putting them through a training session every time they get personal.
I'm not saying these tips are full-proof, but they are worth trying. And if they don't work for you, they might work for somebody else.
Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash