Going through a divorce definitely has its challenges. We all know that. But what happens when during divorce, one person starts spreading lies about the other? Here is one reader’s story. During her divorce, her ex is actually telling people she is mentally ill.
“How do you handle the gossip they spread? He’s telling family that I have a mental illness and he’s telling our adult kids to be afraid of me. He says he is going to expose me to everyone. I’ve never seen a doctor or been diagnosed with anything. It’s just his way of explaining why we are divorcing. I don’t know if I need an attorney to put a stop to it before he tries to have me committed? My poor kids having to experience this during divorce.”
It’s horribly upsetting to have someone spreading gossip about you during divorce, particularly to your family and children. However, the best thing you can do right now is ignore your ex-husband’s behavior. Don’t get defensive or reactive, try not to see yourself as a victim, but rather someone who is rising above that toxic behavior. If your children or family ask you questions, respond to those questions honestly but without defensiveness or attacking your ex back. Go high!
Your ex can’t expose something during divorce (or anytime) that isn’t there.
He can’t have you committed and if he threatens that, share that with your attorney. Stay as calm as possible, talk to your children about the situation, and then live your life.
He is using gaslighting and bullying behavior to get to you. Don’t let him.
The best way to handle a bully during divorce is to not react.
Set solid boundaries on your conversations with him and walk away if he begins to verbally attack or criticize you in any way.
It is actually very difficult for someone to have someone else committed. It’s not like it looks on TV. Take care of yourself through this time and that will keep you both emotionally and physically healthy. Start to develop your life around you and your children versus in reaction to him. He’s trying to engage you in drama and you get to choose not to go there.
Think about what you enjoy in life and do more of that. Look for new hobbies, new friends, and new ways to live your life without the drama and negativity.
Show your family that you are strong and can take care of yourself despite the ridiculous accusations of your ex. If necessary, talk to a therapist, coach, and definitely mention this to your attorney. He/she might be able to talk with you ex’s attorney about having the behavior stopped.
Surround yourself with others who are kind and compassionate to your situation. Now is the time to take care of yourself, learn to trust your own strength and wisdom, and emotionally separate yourself from his verbal abuse. By doing so, you will be modeling to your children, friends, and family that you will not tolerate his behavior. You will be showing them that not only are you mentally fit and strong but you are also not willing to be bullied in any way.
Practice using the broken record tool. Have a line that you will repeat to him when he is trying to push your buttons. If he says, “I’m going to tell everyone how mentally ill you are, I’m going to expose you.” You would say, “I’m going to end this conversation unless we need to talk further about the children and their arrangements.”
Keep repeating this every time he tries to insult you or pull you off of topic. If you feel yourself getting angry or defensive, go back to this line and then walk away. You’ll get better and better at this and you’ll soon be confident in your ability not to react to him.
In closing, some people tend to become their worst selves during divorce, because of hurt, fear, anger and resentment. Hopefully when these emotions fade, he will stop spreading lies and gossip. It’s important to remember that you don’t have control over the way HE acts, only how you REACT.
Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D., CPC is a professional certified life and executive coach, psychologist, and professional speaker. She helps people tackle that “One day I’ll do this and then I’ll be happy” goal, today. You can reach Lisa at Lisa@lisakaplin.com or lisakaplin.com
Like this article? Check out, “20 Things I Wish I Could Have Told My Newly Separated Self”