Since lifetime marriage is no longer a thing, and since the vast majority of you men are either divorced or will end up divorced someday, learning to deal with an ex-wife is a critical and necessary skill for long-term happiness, and a required one for the modern day man.
It’s common for me to see guys experience all kinds of regular drama and conflict with their ex-wives, particularly if children are involved. It’s become a societal norm. In contrast, I’ve been divorced almost a decade, and I’m proud to report that I’ve experienced exactly zero ex-wife drama since my divorced was finalized so many years ago. Both of my kids are now happy, high-functioning adults. And of course, I’m blissfully unmarried living the Alpha Male 2.0 life. Win, win, and win.
Today I’m going to give you four simple steps to use so that your new life of divorced-guy freedom and happiness won’t be disrupted by semi-regular conflict with the that woman who now seethes with hatred at the very mention of your name (you know, that woman you stupidly married because she Wasn’t Like The Rest™).
As I’ve talked about before, your post-divorce period will be the happiest in your life. (Until you stupidly get monogamously remarried again that is, which sadly and statistically most of you guys will do after your first divorce. Gotta love that Societal Programming!) There’s no point in disrupting your post-divorce happiness by involving yourself in useless drama with the ex-wife.
I’m going to start with the hardest step.
1. Emotionally accept that your kids will be raised “wrong” when they’re with their mother, and that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
If your ex-wife is doing something truly horrible and/or illegal, like she’s physically abusing your kids or doing hard drugs in front of them, then obviously you need to contact both the police and your attorney and do your best to get your kids away from her.
But that’s the rare exception to the rule. Assuming your ex-wife is not a monster, but rather the typical irrational woman, you need to accept that while your kids are over at your ex-wife’s place, they will be subjected to parenting that you really, really won’t agree with. This could be all kinds of things…
Maybe she’ll expose your kids to a stupid boyfriend you really don’t like.
Maybe she’ll feed your kids food you really think they shouldn’t be eating.
Maybe she’ll badmouth you constantly in front of your kids or lie to them about you.
Maybe she’ll often lose her temper, and scream and yell at your kids inappropriately.
Maybe she won’t help your kids with their homework when they need it.
Maybe she’ll kiss the kids’ asses, and shower them with money or gifts when they don’t deserve it, or let them watch TV or play video games way too often.
On and on, I’m sure you and I could come up with 100 more items to add to this list…and it doesn’t matter.
You need to emotionally accept two things:
1. This will happen every time your kids go over there.
2. There is nothing you can do to stop it.
I mean seriously, what are you going to do? Are you going to go all Alpha Male 1.0, storm over to your ex-wife’s place, bang on her door, and scream at her for 30 minutes about how she should help the kids with their homework more? (Men have actually done this.)
Even if you do such a stupid thing, will that work? Will your ex-wife, who already hates you and blames the divorce on you, suddenly say, “Ah yes, he has a really good point. I shall now help my kids with their homework whenever they need it. I’m so glad he came over here and screamed at me. I really needed that.”
Are you going to hire an attorney, pay him $35,000 when all the dust settles, and go after your ex-wife in court to stop her from feeding your kids too many Twinkies? (Men have actually done this.)
Do you have a spare $35,000 lying around? Going to court takes a massive amount of time too. Do you have that kind of free time in your schedule on top of your work, parenting, fitness, dating life, and everything else?
Here’s the most important question: Will it make you happy to go to war against your ex-wife, even if you think you have a good reason?
The answer is no. Doing these things will set a near-permanent source of unhappiness in your life that will hover over everything else you do like a dark rain cloud. I have seen men, guys who were otherwise intelligent and/or successful, suffer years upon years, if not decades of constant unhappiness because they chose to go to war against their ex-wives for non-extreme behaviors like the ones I listed above.
As I describe in detail in my book, the goal of life is long-term, consistent happiness. This is impossible if you chose, and yes it is a choice, to blow your stack every time your ex-wife parents your kids in a way you disagree.
If you want to be happy, you just need to be a man, suck it up, and accept it. I know it’s not easy. I know it doesn’t sound “Alpha.” But it works. If you want to be happy, that is.
My kids’ mom is a decent person. Yet, over the last decade, she has parented my kinds in ways I completely, 100% disagree. You know what? That’s tough shit for me. I’m not going to suffer constant unhappiness because of it. I’m not going to go to war, nor take the time out of my busy schedule to constantly call her or text her to straighten her out (and she wouldn’t even if I did).
Years ago I had to accept that if I truly wanted to be happy, the ex would be parenting my kids in ways I disagree, that there was nothing I could do about it, and that it was up to me to take up the parenting slack and be a positive role model for my kids. My kids turned out pretty great, so this worked. It will work for you too.
2. Don’t argue with your ex-wife. It’s a complete waste of time and will just piss you of for literally no reason.
This is a corollary to the above. There is no point in arguing with your ex-wife, about anything. I know a lot of divorced men and women, and I know very well how they think and act. Thus, keep in mind several things:
1. She likely hates you, or at least strongly resents you.
2. She likely blames the entire divorce on you, and likely takes very little (if any) personal responsibility for it.
3. If her current life is shitty in any way (with money, or with men, or with her weight, or whatever), she likely blames this on you too. This is because she likely and inaccurately romanticizes how good your marriage was before you screwed it all up and caused the divorce.
4. Damn near 100% of her friends and family agree with her regarding her opinion of you and of the divorce (whether it’s accurate or not) and these people reinforce this belief in her on a regular basis.
5. If you have kids together, she likely enjoys using the kids as weapons against you.
6. Unless she’s doing something truly horrible and illegal like physically abusing the children, you have no legal recourse against her, and she knows it.
7. Because she was born with a vagina and you weren’t, the family court system automatically favors her over you, and she likely knows this too.
Given the above seven items, she has literally no reason whatsoever to pay any attention to anything you say or threaten on any topic, including and especially your kids. She has no reason to take you seriously no matter how right or angry you are. So you scream your head off (either verbally, or over email, or over texts, or whatever) and start telling her to stop doing X or start doing Y or else, and she just laughs. She doesn’t have to do shit, and she knows it. You have no power over her.
Thus, arguing with your ex-wife, about anything, will accomplish only one thing: piss you off and make you unhappy. Seriously dude, that’s all it will do.
Now if you’re a drama queen and kinda like being unhappy (and I know some of you guys fall into this category!), then by all means, scream your head off and argue with this woman all you like. But if you want to be happy, make a policy that you won’t argue with her, ever. If she starts being unreasonable or bitchy, just end the conversation and move on. Consider it a soft next.
3. Cut off all contact if necessary.
It’s true that you don’t have power over her any more because you’re now divorced, but hidden beauty of this is that it swings both ways. She doesn’t have any power over you either. (Assuming you’re keeping up on child support and alimony payments of course; otherwise because of our very fair legal system, she can snap her fingers and have you thrown in jail. When I say “power” here I’m talking about power outside of financial matters.)
When you were married, her power over your life was vast and mighty. She controlled your financial life (even if indirectly), she controlled your sex life, including when you had sex and who you had it with, she controlled where you lived, and largely what you did day-to-day, just like she was your little overlord. This is why women want to get married so badly. They love having a little guy (i.e. the walking wallet) to boss around.
More importantly, when you were married and she was screaming at you, you had to take it. You lived together full time, so soft nexting wasn’t even an option. She was your only source of sex and the mother of your children, so you had to put up with her drama and bullshit, at least to some degree.
But now that you’re divorced, she doesn’t have this power over you any more. If she starts bitching at you now, you can just hang up the phone on her with a smile on your face and get back to your amazing life. If she starts emailing you, Facebooking you, or texting you, you can just delete her messages and block her. Problem solved.
Yes, I did this years ago. Shortly after the divorce we would still talk on the phone, but every time we did she would eventually end up screaming at me. So I just stopped taking her calls. We went to email instead. This worked fine for a while, until she started bitching there too. I stopped using email and went to texting, where the messages are shorter. Soon she started getting dramatic over texts, so I just stopped all communication. This entire process took about a year and a half; in retrospect I should have just cut off all contact as soon as the divorce was final.
Any required communication we needed for pickup and dropoffs for the kids was done through a third party, usually my mom (who got along with my ex-wife just fine; my mom is a sweet lady). Usually even this wasn’t necessary because we would do things at the same time and place every week. Also remember that once your kids have their own cell phones, there’s no need to go through the ex-wife as a middleman for scheduling purposes.
If there are children involved, of course there will be unusual times where you and your ex-wife have to communicate. That’s fine. About two years ago my kids’ mom and I had to talk over the phone for about 30 minutes regarding some decisions we had to make about my daughter’s school. It was the first time we had actually spoken in many years. During the conversation she was cold, and clearly not excited to have to talk to me, but there was no drama. We were both adults and had a productive conversation.
In other words, it worked.
I’ve seen other guys who do this experience the same thing I did, in that eventually (and it takes a while) the ex-wife gets accustomed to not communicating to you, and it actually helps calm her down. You want your ex-wife to be calm, because this means she’ll be a better mother to your kids. Win, win.
4. Be the example for your kids.
It’s your job as a father to make up for the deficiencies of their mother (if there are any). If their mom has a huge temper and blows up at your kids, you need to calm, cool, and happy with your children. If their mom is disorganized, you need to be very organized and make sure your kids see this. If their mom is a floozy and goes around sleeping with a bunch of guys, or worse, has a serial monogamy parade in front of your kids, showing them one boyfriend after the next, you need to have your women far, far away from your kids so they experience some stability and consistency.
You get the idea. Whatever the problem is, you must be the example for your kids that they don’t see from their mother. This will not only help your kids, but it will be emotionally helpful for you, knowing that you’re picking up the slack left by the other parent.
To be clear, I’ve said before that the best way to raise kids are by a mom and a dad who live together and like each other. If you can pull that off, that’s great. If you can do that within an open marriage, swinger marriage, OLTR marriage, or similar, that’s even better. But open or monogamous, the odds of you and your baby momma staying together for 20+ years to raise all those kids are quite low, and getting lower every year.
The next least-bad option for raising kids is by a mom and a dad who don’t live together but get along with each other just fine.
The third least-bad option is the most common one these days and is what I have described above, where there’s a mom and a dad who live apart and don’t get along. Under that scenario, your job is to keep ex-wife drama to a minimum (or zero) and to be the best damn dad you can be within the time frames you actually have with your kids.
(If you were curious, the fourth and worst option for raising kids is when kids are raised by one parent while the other one is pretty much gone, like the entire generation of kids being raised by single mothers today. Society is just now starting to feel the effects of millions of people being raised by single moms now entering adulthood, and it’s going to get much worse.)
Having ex-wife drama not only saps your own happiness, but it’s bad for your kids, who are already at a disadvantage in life by not having a mom and dad who live together and like each other. So do it for yourself, but also do it for your kids (if you have any).