by Jack Waggon
The other day was my son's birthday party. As usual, my ex-husband arrived ridiculously late with his newest girlfriend in tow. This girl said she was old enough to drink, but I have my doubts.
He's consistently late (when he comes at all) to recitals, school programs, and sporting events, and he always shows up with his latest acquisition on his arm. Every year, his girlfriends seem to get younger. Pretty soon he'll be dating women younger than his own children. It's so bad, even the kids are disgusted with him – except my son, of course, who thinks Dad's dates are hot.
He's always doing crap like this and I'm sick of it. What can I do to him to make him stop?
--Sick of the Party Pooper
Were we ever married? Never mind, I know it's not me, because my girlfriends stopped getting younger years ago.
If you're looking for some kind of magical legal advice that will put a stop to his disruptive activities, some way to hit him in the wallet or drag him into court, I can't help you. Though I'm not a lawyer, I have paid for second homes for a few lawyers in my day. And having been on the business end of a drawn and loaded legal opinion more often than I care to remember, I can say that your options in this situation are probably pretty few.
So why not consider the human side of this? Try to see him, not as your ex-husband, but as a human being. He's clearly being disruptive, and he clearly enjoys being disruptive. Why? Because it so thoroughly pisses you off. Your anger isn't just a form of entertainment, it's his way of getting you to pay attention to him. Now ask yourself why your ex-husband is trying so desperately to get your attention.
That was a fun thought experiment, wasn't it? I'll wait until you finish screaming. Please, put down the scissors.
He will stop being disruptive when his disruptive activities no longer satisfy his need to piss you off. You can't change him. You can only change yourself. So stop letting him piss you off. You need to commit to six months of being obnoxiously pleasant and accommodating. You have to show him that his antics don't affect you at all. Instead of rolling your eyes at his latest bit of eye candy, welcome her and pull her off his arm. She is both his shield and his sword, so rob him of his power to ruin your life by being bigger and better than he is. He'll either grow up or go away.
Another option is to give him positive attention away from the kids instead of negative attention in front of the kids. You've been divorced a while now. Maybe it's time to stop being mortal enemies. But tread carefully, for down that path may lurk remarriage. It's happened before, though thankfully never to me.
Got a problem? Let Jack Waggon set you straight: firstname.lastname@example.org