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separation - struggling with co-parenting and boundaries(20 Posts)
(D)H and I have separated after >10yrs of marriage, 2 DCs age 1 and 4. It was hard to come to a decision but once there things settled down a bit. We are on reasonably good terms, have frequent contact regarding kids and both have an aspiration to co-parent 50/50 from now on... although I think in practise that will be difficult to achieve. Finances are tight, and the only way we can both afford to continue living locally (in same village, close to school, friends, etc) is by me moving in with my mum, who thankfully does have space and is very willing to help, and H living in the marital home (his family are supportive but not local). I would make no claim on my share of the marital home until the children have grown up, and in the meantime H would have to cover the mortgage alone. I think we can probably make that work on paper. I know I am making a significant sacrifice but I am doing it because I believe it is in the best interests of the children to have both parents equally involved in their upbringing and to have both living locally in adequate housing. If I insisted on selling the house or keeping it myself then H would be forced to cheaper accommodation miles away and I know that would seriously affect his ability to co-parent. Also, I personally find parenting hard work and, much as I love my kids, I am a better parent to them if I get some "time off".
All that said, of course this rests on the premise that H does 50% of the parenting. I am already worrying that he might not. He has spent Mon-Fri last week away on business, which I understand he has to do from time to time, but I can feel myself starting to resent him for it already. I am sad to be moving out of our house, which I love, and this week it has been sitting empty while the kids and I lived at mum's. I know some flexibility is important in these situations, and one day it might be me asking for a favour, but experience tells me it is usually the other way round. Which is one of the (many) reasons our marriage has failed.
There are other things that are niggling away at me too. Like his alcohol consumption, which I have always had a problem with. For years my very presence in the house has been enabling his heavy drinking. When we first separated, I insisted he get a breathalyser and that he had to be under the drink-drive limit if he was looking after the kids. He has been using it, and so far always been well under, but now he feels he shouldn't have to and it is an invasion of his privacy. I just don't feel I can trust him with alcohol due to some bad experiences in the past. I can't see us coming to a amicable agreement on that easily.
And today I found out he has fitted blinds in DDs bedroom. They are old blinds that have been given to him, and they don't have any child safety fixings so as I see it they are just nooses waiting to hang small children (DS is 1 and a climber). I haven't taken this up with him yet but I know he'll tell me I'm overreacting.
So I'm not sure what I asking really. Perhaps for some advice if anyone has been through similar.
I am being a dick with the breathalyser thing? Is it right for me to be judging him and holding him to my own standards? Should I insist he takes the blinds down? How many business trips is it reasonable for me to support?
In essence I think I'm worried that we have 15+ years of co-parenting ahead of us, and we need to be able to negotiate a path through it. I have always had trouble with boundaries in our relationship, and he generally always ends up getting his way. I suppose I was hoping that ending the marriage would relieve me of those difficulties, but in truth we will always have to discuss and compromise because of the DCs. And I want us to both be reasonable and sensible for the DCs sake, but sometimes I can't tell when he's starting to take the piss. And when I finally do realise, I explode. This is why we cannot live together any more.
Sorry that was long and meandering. Thanks for reading :-)
So he's an alcoholic who puts himself and possibly the children in danger by driving drunk?
And you've given him the family home and want to co-parent with him?
? Where did I say that?
He has never driven drunk. The breathalyser thing is so I know how much alcohol he has drunk at home, while he is looking after the kids. I've always said he drinks too much but since he has been sending the breathalyser readings they have been so low I have started to wonder if I was overreacting. They are never anywhere near the drink-drive limit. Although, of course, he could just be being extra-careful at the moment.
What were the bad experiences in the past around alcohol?
I think expecti g him to be under the drink drive limit (which is v low) whenever he has the children is ridiculous, but I don't know what the previous issues have been.
With regard to the blinds, you can just buy the fixing that keeps the cord against the wall. Why don't you get them and suggest he fits them. No biggie.
he's an arse when he's drunk. Doesn't give a shit about anyone. I really properly hate him when he's drunk. To be honest most of my bad memories surrounding drinking are before DC (blazing rows, getting out of the car in the middle of the night and walking 30 miles, or just embarrassing me) but since DC it is just that when he drinks too much he sleeps so heavily I don't believe he would wake up in the night if they were distressed.
Have you seen a solicitor? Regarding keeping the marital home in trust for the next 17 years? I think he's fucking you over financially and you will lose a very significant proportion of your entitlement to the house.
Get the blinds sorted. I understand they can be made safe. It's no over reaction. A child very near to us died from strangulation with blinds only a few months ago. Tragic for all involved.
You don't trust him. So why are you trying to co-parent with him? The breathalyser thing is ridiculous and totally unsustainable.
I don't drink at all so I realise I may be lacking perspective on the alcohol issue. I know plenty of people have a few drinks once the kids are in bed, MN is full of posts saying exactly that! What is normal? He is a pretty huge bloke and often drank a bottle of wine/night when we were together, which I thought was excessive but it wouldn't make him act obviously drunk. He'd sleep very heavily, though. I hate the thought of the kids crying in the night and him not waking up for them.
When I finally separated from my now XH three years ago, I took a similar approach to you op. I let him keep the house which was quite close to the DC's school and moved into private rental 30 minutes away (couldn't afford to rent in original area). I did it because I wanted us to be amicable and be able to coparent and I knew the most important thing to him was his money. I pretty much left with our clothes and nothing else.
The final reason for me leaving was his 8th affair. We agreed to a divorce so didn't go through court and I even agreed to let him save face by processing the divorce under my infidelity (technically true as I met someone after we separated but morally it was he who was the cheat). Again I did this to remain amicable.
Two years on and I bitterly regret letting him have everything. It didn't make a difference to the way he treats me, he often has me in tears the way he treats me now. He's nasty and critical towards me and has no respect for me as the mother of his children. Now I feel silly for thinking it would be any different. He was EA and it wasn't our relationship that made him this way, it's just who he is and always will be.
So I would urge you to proceed with caution. Do not do anything that will adversely affect your financial position. Even if he cooperates to begin with, things often change when one or both of you meet new partners.
With respect to the drinking, I completely understand as my ex also has a drink problem afaiac. He doesn't agree. I have tried to keep out of his parenting decisions although have butted in when he does something really bad - latest example was sending our youngest home in very dirty, stale urine soaked clothes. It didn't help though because he just got defensive. Thinking about it, I'm not sure I can advise on this because I'm utterly failing at this bit with XH.
X-posts. My XH is a very heavy sleeper also, and even worse with drink. Whilst I bite my tongue a lot and try not to offer my opinion on his parenting choices, sometimes I do step in. If the DC are ill for example, I won't send them because I just know he won't get up to check temperatures etc in the night and wouldn't wake if they cry. He's ok with this because he wants to save himself the hassle.
I feel for you op. My DC were slightly older (3 & 5) when I left. Part of the reason I stayed was because I couldn't trust him to have our DC when they were younger. He never bothered with them when we were together really. It must be hard to send a baby to be looked after by someone you don't really trust. I completely understand how you feel.
ToTheLeft is totally right. There is no point whatsoever in laying down and letting this man walk all over you, even when you're separated. It would have been easier, in that case, to stay married, at least then you would have been able to monitor him more easily.
Make a clean break. If you don't trust him with the children, do something about that. But forget about managing everything. You will end up a furious shell of yourself.
You're right, I don't trust him. But I really do want to co-parent. I don't think it's fair on the kids to do anything else, they are used to having us both around: we both work pt and even before we split tried to parent 50/50 as much as we could. The DC have a great relationship with both of us and I can't bring myself to ruin that.
The house thing was my suggestion, not his. He was looking to move about 15 miles away in order to afford something but I didn't want that for the DC. It was the only way I could think of to keep him close by. While I'd like to live in the marital home, living with mum has a lot of advantages. She doesn't work so the house is well looked after. I try not to take advantage but it is soooo nice to come home to a clean house and cooked tea. Even if I could afford it, I think I would rather live with mum for the time being. And then it seems silly for me to have thousands sitting in a bank account and the kids being shuttled backwards and forward to a grotty house 15 miles away. I'd rather the money benefitted them.
I am planning on getting a house valuation in the next couple of weeks. We know the value of the mortgage, so I can put a figure on the equity i "own". Then I will define it as a % of house value and I will keep that % share of the house until it is sold. I don't feel like I'm being screwed over. Should I?
You want to co-parent with someone you don't trust?
yes. Does that make me a fool?
TBH, I'm not sure any of the alternatives would solve my problems. If I did become residential parent and him NRP, perhaps I could keep the home but I'm not sure I'd live in it. He'd still have contact with the kids every other weekend or whatever, so my problem trusting him wouldn't go away. I'd have to look after the DC pretty much alone, and they would miss out on a lot of contact with him. I don't see that as a better alternative. And if I became NRP my world would fall apart.
I can't see what a "clean break" would look like. We still have kids together, and they have to come first.
Listen to Totheleft.
I wonder if this 50/50 arrangement will mean you are expected to be entirely flexible and he isn't?
Get to a solicitor. Get everything in a court order. Don't assume that because you are being reasonable that will be enough. All I see in your posts are red flags waving.
Thanks for sharing your experience, ToTheLeft. Sorry to hear it's not turned out well. You describe what I fear for the future.
I appreciate the advice, it sounds like everyone thinks I'm nuts. But what I can't see from where I am, is what is the alternative? Any other scenario I imagine is worse, both for me and for the DC. Please can someone tell me what a good outcome looks like? (Without STBXH having a complete personality transplant). It's not as if I can cut him out of our lives completely.
Would mediation be an option for you both? A mediator will guide you to what is a fair outcome.
Also, you need to think about how you want things to be in the future (older kids/new partners/provision for retirement).
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