They say it’s hard to know what to buy for someone who has everything. By the same token, it’s hard to know what to call a spouse whose exit from our daily lives and those of our children seems to shatter everything. Sometimes, though, it’s gleefully easy to call your Ex any number of names.
But few are terms we want kids to repeat.
Ah, “The Ex”—surely this single term couldn’t do justice.
And “Was-band” falls rather flat—was he merely a preppy hairband that went out of style?
The “Ex-Man” may once have been our superhero, but he sure isn’t now. The ending of a marriage often throws a live grenade into our homes, dreams for the future, financial reality, emotional equilibrium, and even our sense of self. For a while, when the myriad of emotions we feel after divorce turns to grief and sadness, it can be painful just to say his name.
If you can only generate curse words about your Ex, another part of you may be wondering, “How Long Does it Take to Get Over a Divorce?”
Sometimes we have to make a heroic effort to drive through that pain and rage, and laughter is one of the best ways to step on the gas. We’re not suggesting that every new name you might want to give the Ex should bubble with laughter or even have the angry stink of brimstone about it.
Expletives of the Sh**head, D***head, and As*hole variety may let off steam but most of us realize that these don’t land well on younger psyches or in many professional settings.
Aside from that, even a good cursing can get a little stale. Overuse of ugly words muffles the punch of the best potty-mouthing. Similarly, the same old words for the Ex lack some imagination.
If you need to hit pause here because you are thinking about how you’ll heal, consider reading: “46 Steps to Your Divorce Recovery: A Definition and a Guide.”
So, allow us to offer some suggestions for your Ex’s new name.
“Ex of a Lower Caliber”
Excalibur was the magical sword King Arthur pulled from the stone, proving his right to rule England. (Yeah… the entitlement and phallic compensation issues here are jaw-dropping). We’ll just let the macho ramifications of ye olde tale lie for now. For our purposes, the point of that sword is to cut the Ex down to size so the pieces of a life that divorce leaves us with are a little easier to digest. But do we really need a sword-like tongue to do that? Of course not.
He’s just not that glorious, and we don’t need to give away that much of our power. But there are the Exes who have been abusive, condescending, controlling, who have lied or cheated or hurt our children. Sometimes there are Exes who are just run-of-the-mill selfish jerks. Ex of a Lower Caliber is an elegant new name for that kind of Ex that puts the point right where it belongs and skewers an over-weaning ego.
(Perhaps we’ll just call him Pen-knife.)
“Dirty Dish Distributor” (“DDD”, a.k.a. “Triple D”)
Another dirty little secret from my store of personal memories involves my Ex Man’s near-pathological aversion to doing dishes—whether it was washing, rinsing, or putting them into the dishwasher. It didn’t matter who cooked; he just resisted any tidying process. So, one day, I was deep-cleaning the kitchen and I got up on a stepladder so I could scrub the top of the fridge.
Lo and behold, there were three dirty plates up there, absolutely fossilized with old food and sporting some very interesting mold growth. Knowing the top of the fridge was well out of my 5’2” line of sight, Triple D just slid his plates up there so I wouldn’t see them and then ask him to rinse and put them in the dishwasher. Out of sight, out of mind, off the to-do list. It was such five-year-old behavior that I actually got a kick out of it and laughed instead of losing my mind, but the cumulative effect of his slobbiness was difficult to be Zen about all the time.
Appreciate that you are not alone. There are legions of women like you. Consider reading our “Life After Gray Divorce: What Women Must Know.”
Gamey for short, this is a higher-browed twist on the Baby Daddy term. A little less crude than Sperm Donor and a little more tart than Father of My Children, Gametes Guy (or Gamey) is for those occasions when you feel more like a lemon-tongued shrew than a sugar bowl.
“Cicerone of the Cerebral-Rectal Inversion”
To put it bluntly, this Ex has his head so far up his own ass he could teach seminars on how to walk that way.
It may take a while to realize it, but eventually, it becomes clear that the Ever-Rights of the Ex variety are nearly impossible to work or grow with. Relationships by nature require a give-and-take of responsibility for our myriad behaviors that can be hurtful or unfair to the people in our lives.
Beyond the control freaky power play of never being wrong, the more serious result of this type of Ex is that they often only take responsibility for their behavior if it’s their idea to do so, which also means they are in a chronic state of condescension. Additionally, whatever your observations are of them will only be seen as defensiveness or an egregious wounding. Gaslighters, whether they are conscious of it or not, are often Ever-Right.
If you are coparenting with this type of an Ex, or a version like him, you may well benefit from reading “41 Things to Remember if You are Coparenting with a Narcissist.”
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If we can manifest anything with what we believe in and visualize, then we can de-Manifest the Ex.
Not the Silver Fox, “The Silverback”
The male silverback gorilla marks his jungle territory one mangled banana tree at a time, swaggering through the foliage, ripping off leaves and branches and flinging them aside as he goes. The male human, of the subspecies Slobbus Gigantica, marks his territory by entering the family dwelling, shedding clothing, coins and shoes as he goes and leaving them wherever they fall—tabletops, counters, the middle of the living room floor, the back of the toilet or the back of the dog.
The silverback gorilla’s activity probably helps cut a path through the brush for the smaller members of his troop and other jungle-dwelling animals and facilitates biological diversity by allowing sunlight down to the plants and organisms of the forest floor.
The human male Silverback? His behavior is just a bother.
No Marlboro Man, this Ex is the intimate vinegar rinse of Exes, the douche (yes, I said it) who throws off all kinds of balances, not just one’s pH.
“The Void Droid”
A humorous name for a sad and exhausting relationship dynamic, the Ex who is a Void Droid is someone who you poured cheerleading, positive feedback, patience, communication skills, and encouragement into.
You listened for longer than you had the energy for and listened some more. And none of it healed them, made them happy, or came back to you in a balanced exchange of love. The Void Droid is an emotional drain, a vacuum.
We can also become a Void Droid ourselves if we begin obsessively counting our love pennies, chronically seeking a return on every gift of our attention. If we seek validation, gratitude, and “in-kind” giving and measure every loving exchange against what we think it “should be,” then we go a long way to taking back the gifts we give.
It doesn’t mean we don’t all deserve to be appreciated, seen, and validated, but if we take a transactional view of every relationship and seek an emotional return from every effort, we, too, become the Void Droid.
Yes, I’ve gone ahead and gone there. This name for the Ex is only allowed if he was a premature ejaculator, a selfish lover, AND a horrible person (that’s the rule for saying something this personally revealing about an Ex; he has to be an Ex of a Lower Caliber, a Massengil Man of Epic Proportions). After all, it’s pretty malicious.
Chappaquick-d*%k is a horrifyingly mean yet fun name to toss out over several glasses of wine with your girlfriends. And when it comes to an abusive Ex, finding ways to laugh about him diffuses his power and helps to shrink the lingering fear of him down to a manageable size.
If your spouse is very much in your rear-view mirror (or at least, getting there), keep moving and check out “100 Must Do’s for the Newly Independent Woman!”
“The Previous Chapter” (“Chap”, or “Chappy”):
We shall end with The Previous Chapter, a.k.a. Chap or Chappy, because we need a new name for the Ex that is short, kind, or at least neutral, and also illustrative of the fact that though this marriage is over, our own story continues.
And the next chapter is EXCELLENT.
Jennifer Bent is a freelance writer, former print journalist, and feature writer living on the West Coast. Connect with Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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SAS Invites YOU to coin a new, honorable name for your Ex
We are inviting our readers to suggest healthy, creative name(s) for one’s former spouse, and/or father of one’s children.
This name must imply that YOU are beyond the name-calling of your last chapter. You are taking the high road and this title/name for your EX has no sting to it. It’s a title that suggests you have healed from your story and that you are now in a place to reframe what you call this former partner.
Send your suggestions to liza@sasforwomen or comment below.
We will award the winning contributor whose name for her Ex we like with a complimentary, 1-hour scholarship, coaching session on the topic/issue of her choice!