I was married to a guy that vacillated between father-of-the-year and complete deadbeat. This trend continued and magnified through our divorce.
If so, your ex is a Jeckell-Hyde.
Designed to confuse
This vacillating persona is a great source of confusion for the children. One minute they are raging and throwing things and an hour later they are tucking the kids into bed. What gives?
I think most of these Jeckell/Hydes are personality-disordered individuals. I actually believe that they have limited capacity to control how they show up in the world. They are extremely reactive and can’t keep their shit together when challenged.
No need to feel confused…or irritated
If you have an ex who vacillates between hero, aggressor and victim you can actually start to predict this behaviour and expect it. No need to be shocked or upset. Try this sentence on: Oh…this is when s/he gets crazy because the kids decided they didn’t want to go there for the weekend.
Your ex is providing enough drama. You don’t need to add to it. I choose to feel bored by it all.
When the kids ask you about why mommy/daddy is like this I prefer to tell a child-friendly version of the truth: Mommy/Daddy struggles with managing her/his emotions and sometimes acts out. It doesn’t have to be a problem for us.
Stay in your lane
For those of you who are in a custody battle, you may feel threatened when your ex starts to play parent-of-the-year for the sake of litigation. Here’s the thing. You have no control over what your ex says and does. Here are my suggestions for managing when your ex is a Jekyll-Hyde:
- accept the good behaviour when you get it
- never trust that it will last
- don’t try to control the behaviour – just watch and document
- have faith the mask will come off
- stay in your lane; focus on how you behave, not your ex