Co-parenting with zero communication


Background: I was married to a man for 18 years who was controlling and mentally abusive. I finally divorced him which is a long story in itself, but because I was afraid of standing up to him, I didn’t get a lawyer and we decided to share custody of our kids. They rotate back and forth every week. Of course he talked a good story about how we would work together to make things as normal as possible for the kids. But as soon as the papers were signed, he stopped communicating with me completely. No phone calls, texts, emails, or anything. We’ve been divorced for 9 years and I’ve probably spoken to him fewer than 10 times, and not because I haven’t tried. He just refuses to respond. It’s very frustrating.

The problem now is that he will plan activities for them, pay for summer camps, vacations, etc. when it’s my week to have them without even asking if it’s okay with me. Many of these activities aren’t even things they want to do, but they don’t dare to stand up to him, and I totally get it. I lived with him for 18 years and know exactly what he’s like. The kids know I’m nice and will let them go, but I feel resentful because if I ever want them to do anything when it’s his week, they don’t dare to ask him and just tell me no. I know it’s easier for them to avoid the contention it will cause and I don’t want to put them in a hard situation. But the whole thing leaves me feeling resentful.

It’s my week for the kids and his dad planned things for him 4 out of the 7 days. I woke up this morning and he was packing for a Scout Camp his dad just told him about last night. Frustrating! So my dare for today was to talk to my son (15 years old) about this. It feels pathetic to me that I’m afraid to talk to my child because I don’t want him to be uncomfortable. I’m very aware that I try not to pressure or control them because I don’t ever want to be like their dad.

I know that I allow myself to be treated this way, and I want it to stop, but I don’t know how to change it. I divorced him to get away from his control, and I’m still being controlled. I hate it.

Most of the time I operate from a place of just accepting it and not making it a big deal (which feels like I’m controlling my thoughts in a good way), but occasionally situations like today get to me. My intentional thought model looks like this:

C – Kids activities with dad on my week
T – If it’s something the kids want to do and doesn’t interfere with my plans, I’m okay with letting them go. I can be the bigger person and not focus on petty control issues.
F – Acceptance (most of the time) Resentment (occasionally)
A – The kids go to activity and life carries on like normal
R – The kids think I’m a loving parent who cares about their feelings

But occasionally, resentment flares up and then I feel like I’ve just been trying to positive think a problem away. Suggestions? Where do I go from here?