ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.
My STBXH moved 100 miles away from the children and me, leaving us with no way to cope financially or emotionally, so I made the decision to move nearer my family for support. I was in an emotionally & financially abusive marriage, where alcohol and mental health issues featured strongly (his), and find it difficult to be rational about when he has a point and when he is just trying to threaten me and my boundaries are messed up and I just need to grow a pair. The marriage got so bad that I was diagnosed with situational depression and anxiety, which has mostly gone but I feel myself shake sometimes when I have to deal with my ex.
So what do other people think?
In terms of contact. I have said he can visit the children on weekends, half terms, holidays. He can either see them here or come and fetch them and take them back to his parents' home (where he lives) particularly school holidays so they can go for longer. It is a 300 mile trip or just under. I live on benefits, only sporadically getting maintenance (he has been on 4 different employments this year) and I can't afford the petrol/train ticket/the car is 11 years old and literally the exhaust fell of last week, brakes need replacing, tyres and I am skint. I am also exhausted I am a single parent to two young children and am the only carer for them and am worried that frankly adding a 600 mile trip every fortnight will tip me over the edge. My solicitor also told me not to drive them. That has been the advice from every one I have spoken to. He has the new family car and no responsibilities. He doesn't even do his own laundry as he lives with mum and dad. He has a new job, well paying (it will take many months before I get any via CSA) and can afford petrol. He has chosen not to see his children for 20 weeks now.
I suggested he call the children daily at a time that was convenient for him, so he rings at 6. Some days he doesn't call. Less than once a week I am not able to answer, either because he calls half an hour after the set time or we are at friends' or something like that. The children appreciate that he calls, some days they don't want to talk, some days they chatter on.
I suggested he skype. Unless I let him do it daily he won't and gets angry. I think once a week is enough, as it is quite intrusive. He has not taken me up on that once for 3 months or longer. He wants to be able to facetime the children instead of call. Again I find it very intrusive so have said no. He bought himself a new shiny iphone 5 so can facetime on the go, and I feel it is not for the children's best to see him at a train station distracted by things around him. When he calls/skypes he tends to not talk to the children and instead you see him on the internet chat rooms having discussions with people/sending emails/texts and not even looking at the children. They are there for his entertainment in a way, so when they fight/play/sing they are amusing him. I also have the cheapest internet on the market and have a very limited download allowance and daily Skype wouldn't even be possible.
He chose not to see them at xmas. His father later called me and we arranged that he (grandparent) comes and picks up children for a long weekend now. I am happy with that. STBXH had nothing to do with arrangements, but suddenly got all stroppy and threatening last night and told me at 2100 that I needed to drive the children 150 miles the next morning to make his life easier. I refused and he is now threatening me with legal action, so the "courts can force me" to do what he wants (i.e. drive the children to him, and let him skype/facetime at will).
He has sent me over 200 emails since Easter, probably the same amount of texts and he has huge mood swings - so they vary from friendly, to over friendly, to intimidating. I try not to answer them, although obviously if is something relevant I do reply. Not so much to messages declaring his fidelity. I had to turn off everything that went beep on my phone, other than ring tone, as I was jumping out of my skin every time I heard something arrive.
I guess two questions: am I preventing him having contact with his children, and how do I protect myself from what I feel is him trying to control me with threats?
Have you taken legal advice to get a consent order in place? Or gone to mediation?
You need to get contact and finance formalised. That way he cannot control you.
My ex is a nightmare so I feel for you.
First thing. DO NOT DRIVE THE CHILDREN TO SEE HIM. You are not in a position to.
Second thing. Ignore everything he tells you about courts letting him do what he pleases.
Stand your ground. You have given him plenty of freedom to see/speak to the children. If it does go to court all you do is make your suggestions and give your reasons for them.
How old are your dc?
My Ex took me to court to do a similar trip and I refused. He lost. Do not ever drive as once you start the courts will see you have done it once. I said (among other things) it was not safe me to get into a car I was being forced to drive. That I would be angry/stressed and tired and this would increase my chance of an accident and therefore putting my childs welfare at risk.
The social worker agreed with me.
Thank you so much for your replies. Finance is in theory formalised as I took my solicitor's advice and got CSA involved this summer, it is just that he keeps being fired.
The divorce is slowly going ahead, although he has been dragging out returning forms as far as he was able. I am just at the applying for nisi stage, so the contact will have to be formalised in court anyway, as I doubt he did anything but write a 400 page response to the divorce application.
My children are 3 and 5, and I am so torn between wanting them to have as much contact with him as he allows, and not wanting to feel walked over. It really helps that it seems I am not being too unreasonable, and I agree that forcing anyone to drive anywhere would not be safe. I really wish he would take some of the responsibility of seeing his children on himself, they deserve a dad that would walk to the ends of the earth for them.
My new year's resolution is to grow a pair and learn to say the word no without feeling guilt and without explanation! I am so looking forwards to getting the divorce finalised and getting more closure.
It's difficult, I can sympathise I have a similar long-distance situation with my ex-h and he has similar mood/responsibility issues. We've been divorced a year, separated 1.5 years. I'm still learning how to deal with the frustrations, but the important thing is to focus as much as poss on your life with your children. You are the important, consistent and constant person in their lives. If only we could conduct the relationship between our ex and children on their behalves - but we can't sadly. Don't do journeys you don't want to otherwise you'll never get a break at all. If your ex is anything like mine, it doesn't matter what you do/don't do, they'll never agree or be happy with any of it, so don't kill yourself trying, or worrying. You sound entirely reasonable to me, just think of you and your kids. Their dad will play whatever role he's capable of and now you're divorced, it's not your responsibility.
Thank you. I am trying so hard to make sure I don't do anything to stop him having a relationship with them, but at the same time that it is solely his responsibility too. I think you are right, it wouldn't matter what I did it would not be enough for him, there is a bit of a control issue going on. I am so glad I am learning to start listening to myself more, I need to work on that without the self-doubt.
I wouldn't do the driving. But I would relax a bit on the facetime and skype. Yes, it's intrusive but it would be good for the children to speak with their father every day, surely? With the facetime thing I would agree being at a train station isn't ideal but I am sure there are plenty of dads who commute for a living who are using the technology to see their children when previously they couldn't.
Sometimes I do think there's a need to balance what is probably best for the children's relationship with their dad and our own needs as the resident parent. The children see you everyday, why shouldn't they see their dad everyday too? I told my ex to stop phoning me 5 times an evening when I didn't answer (3 times on house phone when we're not there, twice on mobile whilst I was driving as we'd been at my mums) and accept that we're not avaliable rather than I'm trying to stop him speaking to the children so he no longer phones between contact at all (all or nothing, I'm afraid!). Lovely for me but is it quite so lovely for the children?
But they already speak to him every day on the phone. I agree it is important for them.
But they don't 'talk' when they use facetime, they totally ignore him and play and squabble, and it goes on for 40 plus minutes like that. He does his own thing on the other end. At least when it is just phone they are 'talking'? I don't see a problem with skype once a week, but video-phone every day? It also means we have to be home when he calls.
you don't have to be home when he calls. That doesn't need to be part of the agreement at all. He can phone whenever he wants - if you pick it up, you pick it up. If you're not in, you're not in. If he is willing to accept that then it shouldnt' be a problem?
Facetime sounds a nightmare! Perhaps they are too young for it at the moment. Put it on hold for now but remain open to it?
Sorry I think my last post was defensive.
I think my problem is two fold, once we got children the relationship became controlling and emotionally abusive and eventually it lead to me getting situational depression. And this is hard to emotionally get away from. If he decides not to call for days that is ok, but if I don't answer for 2 days in a row (for fairly valid reasons e.g kids have a playdate, often I tell him beforehand too) I get multiple calls and threats of lawyers.
He has been able to skype the children and hasn't done so for many months, all he needs to do is give me reasonable notice (so I can turn on a pc). So I haven't stopped him skyping, he just wants it on his terms. I think I am annoyed as it feels controlling. Before I got internet at home, he insisted I did not do it at my parents' house, but rather that I should take the children to an internet cafe in the evening. I galls me a lot that he doesn't skype at all (but he can if he wants to) and then insists on daily.
We ended up with an agreement that he can call at 6 pm, he chose the time. Because I had 200 emails and about 200 texts over half a year "organising" times to call. It seemed better that it was regular for the children's sake and was hit and miss (from his part) before that.
Once the children can have a calm conversation I don't see a problem with things like facetime, but I can't afford a new phone because they are running around the flat with it and fighting. I find it hard to control their behaviour when they are on the video, I guess because I am scared he will get angry at me restricting his interaction with them.
I suppose it is a lot to do with me being scared of his moods, and my needing to stop that now and learn to just say no.
oh I so understand where you are coming from. In the early days of my separation, I used to sit us all on the sofa with the phone next to me about 15 minutes before he was due to call. If I didn't pick up - for legitimate reasons - I got all the threats too and I was terrified of what that meant.
The reality is that it meant nothing. I wasn't restricting or denying contact. I was trying to conduct a family life and do the best my children. What he was trying to do was control my life - and that of our children - by demanding we be where he said we should be at a particular time. I guess it's about finding the balance and perhaps that will come with a bit of time? My ex has backed off I think because the reality is that having to phone the children every night at a certain time is as much as a bind for him as it is for us. And he's probably accepted he can't control me and/or no longer cares quite so much.
Yes, dont' be scared of him. Say no. Accept that there might be consequences to that but if you're basically supportive of the children having a relationship with their children, there really aren't going to be any consequences that you can't handle.
Firstly, it sounds like you are doing a marvellous, job so go easy on yourself.
Secondly, could I suggest arming yourself with a few tools to cope with his behaviour so you find it more bearable? Techniques like repetition of previously agreed arrangements can help. I'm sure a few MNers can suggest books they've found helpful in dealing with awkward exes.
Lastly, do remember he is now your ex and you do not have to have any kind of relationship with him any more if you find it distressing. He can only control you if you let him so now is the time to let him go and move on.
Best of luck xx
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