Henry wanted to stay with his wife until their youngest daughter, Alice, had become independent but when Alice was in her teens, he couldn’t take it anymore. His wife was not only a bullying, abusive shrew but she finally had an affair. When Henry divorced her, she was bitter and vindictive. She blamed everything on him. She did her best to turn their children against Henry.
Thirteen years later Henry met another woman, his age with grown children also. It was love at first sight for both of them and brought the best out of them both. After their marriage, Henry and his wife reached out to all their adult children, offering them warmth, hospitality and fun. All the children except Alice rapidly saw their parents had chosen a wonderful person and were made happy by their new partner.
But Alice turned on her father.
She waged an endless campaign of hate directed against his new wife. She was determined to drive a wedge between them.
Alice would never holidays with the new wife. She called the new wife all sorts of names to Henry’s face and behind his back to her siblings. She made up stories and twisted conversations with Henry in order to badmouth his new wife.
She always had different reasons and excuses to justify her feelings about his new wife. For example, after one of Alice’s tirades, the new wife had even said that Alice was toxic, trying to bullying Henry into submission. Alice’s feelings were hurt and she raged even more. She’d never forgive the new wife. She was totally negative about their marriage and happiness.
Why did Alice do those nasty things?
Of course we can list some of the typical reasons people have for Alice’s type of behavior: Loyalty to her biological mother who hates that her ex has found love, hatred of a woman whom her father now loves, hidden desire to get her biological parents back together, etc. Underneath these psychological excuses is Alice’s assumption that if she feels a certain way, she’s right and she can do whatever she wants in order to get her way.
Dealing with Alice’s reasons and excuses is futile. Henry tried reasoning with Alice but Alice didn’t want to change. She knew she was right and she was righteous. She even used her therapy to convince a counselor she was right and her father’s new wife was evil.
Henry tried all the seven tactics nice, reasonable people try but that do not stop bullies. And they didn’t stop Alice. All his attempts based on his understanding didn’t move Alice at all. In fact, when Henry tried to reason, to beg, to minimize or defend Alice’s behavior to his wife, to bribe Alice, she only attacked him more.
What matters is what Henry is going to do in the face of an enemy who wants to destroy his new-found love and happiness, even though that enemy is his daughter. What matters is what Henry is going to do when faced with an enemy who wants to beat him into submission or to blackmail him into an all-or-none choice.
What did Henry do?
Henry finally gave up trying to please his daughter[BL1] and started treating her like he would anyone else who attacked him like she had.
- He told her siblings what he was going to do so they’d know the truth from him, not from a lying, manipulative hater. He encouraged them to avoid getting in the middle and he wouldn’t talk with them about Alice. He knew Alice had put them in a position with divided loyalties, but he and his wife wanted to see them and their children as much as possible.
- He told Alice’s children, who were old enough to understand, their mother was attacking his wife and preventing the kids from seeing him and his wife. Therefore, he wouldn’t be seeing them until they were old enough to come by themselves. He and his wife would sent them birthday and Christmas presents, but he didn’t know if Alice would let the kids have them. He told them he and his wife would love to see them when they were old enough to come despite their mother’s anger and retaliation. They’d see who had courage and who didn’t.
- He told Alice that if she wouldn’t accept his new wife and be kind and gracious, if she wouldn’t apologize to both him and his wife, he was done with her. He and his wife were going to have a wonderful life and they weren’t going to waste time and energy thinking about Alice’s abuse of them. They weren’t guilty and they weren’t Alice’s slaves. He’d make no more attempts; the ball was in her court. We was cutting her and her children out of his will until she showed a long-term pattern of kindness to his new wife.
- Henry remained firm.
- After months, Alice made a peace offering to Henry: She really missed her daddy and he could see the grandchildren but his new wife still couldn’t. Someday Alice might be willing to go into mediation with his new wife but that wouldn’t be for a long time.
- Henry told her that was no change. There was nothing to mediate. Either she became gracious to both of them or she got nothing.
- After almost a year, Alice capitulated and accepted Henry’s conditions. She said she finally realized he was serious and wouldn’t be beaten or guilt-tripped into submission.
- Henry waited for three years of continued good behavior from Alice before he put her back into the will.
I’ve seen the same patterns in all combinations of father and mothers, sons and daughters. I’ve also seen the same patterns after the death of one spouse.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- 1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- 2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.