Have you ever had a situation where you just can’t get someone to leave you alone? Generally, if it is a friend or co-worker who keeps fussing over something, that experience can be somewhat annoying.
But what if it is your ex husband who won’t leave you alone. The phone rings and its’ your ex. A text message and another and another comes flying into your phone and of course, it is your ex husband again. Just when you thought you had put him behind you, he seems to pop up all over the place. It is as if your ex cannot process or understand that the marriage is over (or soon to be kaput).
Sometimes an ex takes a while….a long while…to realize that you have moved on or are trying to move on. His continued efforts in trying to engage with you….hoping that the marriage relationship can be re-started or re-ignited….can be an emotional drag on your well being.
If you are in a situation where your husband just won’t get out of your life, then take a minute or two and read about how you can push him out of your life. In this post that deals with this topic, I outline some solutions you may wish to give a try!
Some ex husbands border on exhibiting behaviors that are obsessive as they try over and over again to lure you back into the relationship. Often, their obsessive or controlling tendencies is the very thing that contributed to the marriage break up in the first place.
And as you probably well know, people just simply don’t change over night. If they exhibited such behaviors in the past, insisting you respond to their every call or text, then it should not be too surprising that your ex husband is having difficulty letting go the ways of the past.
But keeping your ex husband out of your life is important to you, isn’t it? If you are going to create a new future for yourself and move forward in experiencing new people, activities, and personal challenges, then it is imperative you create space between you and your ex hubby.
What if you find yourself in the middle? What if you are uncertain as to what is best for you? I dive into this offshoot of this discussion below….
When we are dealing with an ex husband who keeps bothering you or who is literally harassing you, we have entered into a different territory and it calls for some strategic measures you should consider deploying to keep your sanity and bring closure.
How to Handle Your Ex Husband When He Won’t Leave You Alone
Let’s talk about closure first.
A while back, I was consulting to a client named Emily. She and her husband had been separated for four months and she was pursuing a legal divorce. She decided to move out and get a new apartment. Given that she was financially independent, she believed it would be best to break away from all of the memories of her ex. And getting set up in a new apartment was one of the measures she took to establish a new way of life as she pursued new routines and her new identity without her ex.
Given that her ex was exceptionally controlling, she believed that these measures were both reasonable and necessary. Yet while she believed she was making some progress in pressing forward without her husband, she was still experiencing problems with his insistence to frequently stop by her apartment and call her randomly some evenings to check up on her.
When she came to me for advice, she was near tears. The things that she disliked so much about her life with her husband which caused her to pursue a separation and possible divorce……things like his controlling and overbearing nature along with his temper tantrums when she would not bend to his will….it was these behaviors that seemed to be re-entering her life. Feeling trapped and frustrated, Emily wanted to explore if there was anything she could do to get her ex to leave her alone.
I gave her a three point plan. Let’s talk about it here because I think it will help a lot of women who are undergoing a similar situation with their ex.
Seeking Closure from Your Ex Husband
The first thing that is important is to communicate clearly to your ex husband what may seem obvious. You want him to know that he needs to step out of your life. Often times, despite what you may have said before, your husband may be possessed by this notion that he is somehow entitled to have free rein when it comes to talking with you anytime he wants.
Obviously, if your phone is ringing of the hook and your email box is filled with messages from the ex and you seem to get an endless stream of text messages, then you have a problem. So you first must ask yourself if you are doing anything to create an illusion that what he is doing OK. Have you told your ex husband that he is “crowding you”? Have you told him in no uncertain terms that you don’t want to wake up to text messages or emails about “whatever”.
In my client’s case, that was not the issue. She had told her ex that his attention was not welcomed and to stop bothering her.
Now, let me clarify something before pressing forward. There may be instances in which you need to hear from your ex about something this is pressing or is critical. For example, if you have children together, there obviously will be times in which you and your ex husband will need to converse.
But in cases in which the two of you have split up and are leading your own individual lives, it is usually best to convey to your ex that you feel strongly that no or limited contact is in the best interest of both parties.
For those ex husbands who seem not to grasp what that means, you will need to spell it out clearly. Tell your ex husband that for your own emotional health (and his as well), you have decided that you do not wish to see him or talk with him or exchange text messages with him for an indefinite period of time. Short of getting restraining order, make it very clear that its over and that you are still going through a healing process and his actions are hurting you.
Point out to your ex that you are unhappy and uncomfortable with how he is intervening in your life. Tell him that his efforts, irrespective of his intentions, are unwelcomed.
Explain in specific language that his frequent efforts to connect with you is disturbing to you and that neither of you will be able to successfully move forward with your lives if the trend continues.
This will be clearly a difficult piece of news for your ex to hear if you express it in the way I described. But sometimes, to cut through any ill conceived notions or hopes he may be clinging to, the language has to be succinct and to the point. The tone need not be ugly or mean spirited, but the words and the meaning they convey must be absolutely clear.
And if you are uncomfortable with telling your ex how you really feel in person, then write him a letter. An email would be a more efficient way of communicating, but in my view, a letter conveys a more personal approach.
Also a letter to your ex allows the message to sink in. Often times, when certain “truths” are being communicated, a person can “deaf ear” what you are saying. An ex can pretend they did not hear your words or later convince themselves that you did not mean what you said. People do this all the time. They can easily fall prey to a form of delusional thinking. But you can turn this around.
I know the thought of talking to your ex spouse in terms of the “hard truths” can be tough for you to do and for your ex to hear. But it can be done in a respectful manner and my experience in these matters is that if your real feelings are not conveyed to your ex husband, he will just continue to go on interrupting your life as he sees fit.
Ending Your Husband’s Reliance on Pyschological Reactance
So what do I mean by ending psychological reactance? First, let’s define the term. Let’s start with what is driving your ex to behave in the manner that is driving you crazy.
Understand that we are creatures that are often governed by our unconscious. While we act and operate from our conscious level of processing things, we also have urges that arise from our unconscious.
The science of the mind tells us that about 95% of everything our mind processes and regulates is at the unconscious level. I know, it sounds crazy, but this is what neuro-scientists have discovered over the past decade. Everything from breathing, blinking, sneezing, and many other physiological activities are regulated at the unconscious level. Much of our emotional center is also controlled by the far reaches of your mind. Emotions such as fears, anxieties, and all sorts of our drives, operate behind the scenes in the unconscious mind.
Psychological reactance occurs when a person loses what they perceive is a certain personal freedom. An example of such a personal freedom would be their ability to reach out and talk to you whenever they want.
At one time, you were very much part of your ex’s life. You slept together, you ate together, you watched television together, you made love together, you even fought together.
Though it may not feel like a individual freedom at the time, since we often take these experiences we have with our spouse for granted, losing such experiences can be a jolt to once psyche.
When one is unable to do those things that at one time brought pleasure and/or feelings of security, then the loss of that can cause one to desire it even more.
While your ex husband may understand that the marriage is over, he may still refuse to accept it and may be unconsciously drawn to trying to reconnect with you.
You were in his life before, but now you are gone. If something is taken away or if someone is told they cannot have something, it usually causes the person to be more attracted. It is as if a gravitational force is pulling them toward this aim of seeking you out.
Remember, we are very complex, emotional animals. And we do not always know what is in our best interests, particularly when we are operating out of the right side of our brain (i.e. our emotional control center). If your ex is continually making efforts to communicate with you, then you can be assured he is being influenced by these emotional forces.
So how do you combat the way in which your ex is behaving? On a logical level, he probably knows he is upsetting you to some degree as he continually makes efforts to contact you. Is he completely at the mercy of these emotional forces? I say, absolutely not.
Here is what I recommend you do to reverse the tide. Clearly, the pattern of your ex’s insistence in interfering with your life must end. The good news is patterns can be broken.
Most everything begins with a single step. You have to start somewhere and if that first step can make a lasting impression, the you are off to a good start.
So let’s talk about employing a technique. It is a simple technique, but it can be very effective if you put it to use in such situations. It is called, “naming the behavior“.
What is happening is that your ex cannot resist trying to contact you. He just won’t leave you alone. So the next time he calls you or texts you, tell him with no uncertainty that you do not welcome his attention and put a name to what he is doing.
Point out to him that he is being controlled by his psychological urges to and his behavior must stop. Put a name to it. Instead of blaming him and turning the conversation into a negative, explain he is acting on psychological urges that are damaging both he and you. Again ask him to respect your need for privacy and self healing.
Hopefully, this will over time, cause him to pause and question his behavior. I assure you, if you put a name to what he is doing, it will imprint on his conscious mind.
He may deny that he is driven by unconscious urges. Your ex may seek to dispel or ridicule that there is any merit to such a thing as psychological reactance. But it will be there in his mind. And he will have to deal with his future behavior since you have “named it”, effectively calling him out. The very mention of what he is doing and what might be causing it, could enable him to modify his behavior.
Ask him to resist these impulses to contact you and emphasize that it is very important to you and your peace of mind. The effect of this will hopefully raise your ex husband’s awareness of the bigger picture of how he is perceived and how it is adversely impacting your state of mind.
Avoid Engaging With Your Ex Husband
You may be tempted to respond to your ex’s efforts to communicate. Sometimes, what happens after a separation or divorce, is you will go through periods of doubt. You will question whether breaking up was the right thing to do.
Your ex may turn on the charm and you may find yourself in a situation in which part of your mind’s psyche is yearning to return to the “good days”. Indeed, your ex husband may be clever and even somewhat manipulative as he showers you with positive attention. Then could cast even more doubt in your mind as to whether you did the right thing to break it off with your husband.
Trust, that this is a natural emotional cycle you will experience. We all have vulnerabilities and it may be true that your ex husband actually provided you with some sense of security. The memories of why you left him may temporary recede into the background and coupled with all of the positive overtures your ex is making, you may drop your guard.
All these things can cause you to get confused and actively explore whether there is a chance that the two of you could possible make a go of it again. These kind of thoughts and feelings can be powerful and overwhelm your better judgement, particularly if you are in a vulnerable emotional state.
A good way to help you put things in perspective is to write down all of the reasons why you left your ex in the first place. Document all of the instances in which your ex husband made you unhappy. Write it down and don’t leave anything out. Just keep writing until you have identified all of the things you remember about those days in which your husband made you feel miserable.
Then read it out loud to yourself. Working through this process should help you balance out your true feelings and memories of what happened before and what is likely to happen again in the future. Remember, past behavior patterns (of your husband) is usually predictive of the kind of behavior you can expect from him in the future.
Another way you can avoid engaging with your ex husband is to keep yourself busy with life’s activities. Stewing over your ex may and contemplating whether you should respond to him will most certainly drag you down the wrong path.
Stay true to your commitment not to acknowledge his communication efforts and get busy with life. You should reach out and embrace new physical and intellectual pursuits . You should do things you have not done before. Explore new experiences that can be fulfilling and educational. Sign up for a yoga class. Take up a group workout regiment. Enroll in a class and learn a new hobby.
When you leave your ex, things change in many ways.
Gaining a larger sense of perspective is your aim. Be aware that it will not be unusual for certain feelings of insecurity to creep into your mind. The routines you use to experience with your ex husband have come to and end. They need to be replaced with something new and better.
Part of you may desire a return to normalcy. But you must accept things will be different and to fill the void, you need to create a new normal. And by embracing new personal experiences, both on the intellectual and physical side, you be able to make positive strides in becoming the best version of yourself.
Remember, you are much more adaptable and resilient than you give yourself credit for. And the same applies to your ex. In time, your former husband will learn to stop crowding you and give you the space you need. It won’t happen over night, but if you stick with the game plan I laid out, you will likely get that a lot faster.