So to be clear, it’s emotional not physical abuse. Our marriage has been over for years and we were living apart for over a year. Looking back, I wish I would’ve done things differently so I didn’t need his financial support now but I’m here now.
I hate the fact that our children see us fight constantly. I HATE him with every fiber in my body.
What can I do?

Editor's Response

First, put things in perspective. Remember that he’s no longer your husband. Work at emotional detachment. Yes that’s easier said than done; but with conscious and concerted effort applied daily it becomes easier. Just figure out the techniques that you will apply to detach yourself so that you no longer react the same way as you always have to the same things. That is a huge part of the problem. For an attempt at emotional abuse to succeed, the targeted person has to participate by reacting to whatever is said or done in a hurt or offended manner.

If, for the foreseeable future, you have no other options but to live with your ex husband, you have to learn how to stop taking his stuff personally. You never needed to take it personally before when you were still together and you certainly don’t need to be taking it personally now that you are exes. People’s issues are their own. You don’t have to take on people’s stuff as if any of it is your responsibility or your fault. You don’t have to feel like you need to defend yourself against any of it. You just have to know that their problems are theirs. You’ve got your own stuff. Focus on your own stuff. Don’t try to put your stuff on other people. At the same time don’t allow other people to put their stuff on you. Which isn’t to say argue with them and tell them not to put their stuff on you. It’s about you refusing to take the bait in the first place. It’s about you reminding yourself that whatever is going on with your ex husband is really not your problem (even if he tries to make it out as if it is). So you’re not going to react and respond with an equally contentious attitude that then leads to an ugly fight between you.

Second, devise a plan and strategy for removing yourself from the situation. This too might be easier said than done depending upon your circumstances. But if you can make other living arrangements, prioritize working on that.

An aside: Your ex-husband can’t be 100% heartless because he’s allowing you to live with him. The kids are one thing. They’re his kids. He can’t exactly have them living on the street. But you are a different story. Many an ex could not care less if their former spouse ends up homeless. So consider that your ex-husband, while he might have some personal issues that manifest themselves in emotionally abusive behavior, also has a decent enough bone in his body that he didn’t take some of the uglier routes he could have taken when you found yourself in your predicament. I don’t know the details of your situation, but in some cases this could have been an opportunity for the ex to pursue legally taking the kids from the down-and-out spouse.

Presumably you and your husband fought like you do now when you were married and the emotional abuse you reference plus all the fighting and discord led to divorce or at least estrangement. Okay. You are now no longer “together” though you are living under the same roof. Why not let go of all the animosity and begin to work on a new relationship as parents of the children you have together?

If you’re concerned about your children seeing you go at each other, stop going at each other. What have you got to be so full of hate for each other about at this point? The past is the past. Let it go. You’re no longer each other’s problem at the end of the day. You’re two civilized adults. You can live together without having to get under each other’s skin.

It’s about the kids now. Restrict your communications to the subject of the kids. And be respectful of each other. You’re not in competition to see who is the better parent. It’s not about one of you being right and the other being wrong. You share responsibility for the welfare of the children. It is both your job to raise them and get them to adulthood in tact. So work together to get that done and forget about the relationship you used to have. It’s over. Just be united co-parents now.