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Looking for advice - husband using children as pawns(17 Posts)
Hello - I'm a newbie here. Have found some of these threads so helpful recently and desperately need some advice around my current situation...
Some background – I have recently started divorce proceedings against my controlling, manipulative, bullying husband. He is being very uncooperative – stalling the process as much as he can, playing the victim, taking the moral high ground accusing me of ruining my children’s life, treating me like I am committing a crime by wanting to get myself and my children out of this awful marriage. We are both still living in the family home with our 2 children. It is a horrible atmosphere which is unbearable and damaging for all of us but he refuses to move out despite being asked by myself and my solicitor. I can’t afford to move out myself and won’t go without my children.
I tried to have a sensible conversation with him today about divorce proceedings and about how we should tell the children. I was trying to find a way we can present a united front. He has no interest in this and made it clear he would blame me entirely for the break up if we spoke to them together. I feel like he is using this to bully and control me, to punish me for wanting to leave and most of all to sabotage my relationship with the children. He is planning to do far more than just be honest with them, he wants to put as much blame on me as possible, present himself in the best possible light and me in the worst.
What can I do about this?. It just seems so unfair. He is being so selfish and not thinking about their best interests. I am at such a disadvantage in this situation and no one seems to be able to help me. I have spoken to the helpline and to ROW – they are very sympathetic but can’t suggest anything.
I’d be really grateful for any advice. I can’t believe I have to risk my children being turned against me in order to get out of this situation. I feel like I am crumbling physically and mentally with the the stress of it.
Can't help on the living together. As to the rest
Be dignified. Don't expect a united front so don't seek it out.
Separate in your head the difference between fact and opinion. This is hard coming out of an emotionally abusive relationship. It is really important for your children's sake you start to do this and do it with them. This is what will help them trust you and their own judgement.
Correct fact but only if you have evidence "that's not quite true, we know that because..... ". Don't correct opinions or facts you haven't got proof of because that means going up against their Dad and why should the my believe you over him (even if you are right). Acknowledge opinions and recognise them as that. "well that's your dad's opinions on ....not everyone shares the same opinion. " "my memory is different, I remember..... but people do remember things differently". Keep the emotion or recrimination out of it.
Answer questions honestly. Where you can't without being negative about their dad make that clear "I can't answer that without slagging your dad off. My memory of that is different/I hold a different opinion." As they get older offer them the choice of whether they want to hear or not. Don't promise anything you cannot be absolutely sure you can deliver on because he will.
They are 9 year old twin boys.
Should I give up on the idea of talking to them together and do it on my own?
It’s incredibly hard, but remember your boys have their own experience of you and to some extent will know the truth because you are their mum. They know how you are with them, and I think children are only interested in you as ‘mum’ to them, not as ‘wife’ to your ex if you see what I mean? They have their own truth is what I am clumsily trying to say.
It is, I think, always better to tell them together. I took over the talking (XH would have cocked it up) and simply said we didn’t love each other and couldn’t stay married. But remain, always, Mum and dad - that never changes. Important I think to get across that you and XH are the broken bit, not the Mum and dad bit.
Would your XH go into mediation? I found it hugely helpful. Otherwise i’d Recommend some counselling for you. I found it helped keep my mind clear.
If your soon to be ExH isn't wanting to do it with you then yes.
If i was you i would email or text (so you have proof) something like "on this date i will we telling DC that we are splitting up. I will be saying sadly mummy and daddy no longer are happy in a relationship together. there we don't know all the details yet cos we are still working them out. This is the approach I'm planning to take. whilst I feel it would be better to present a united approach, I will do it on my own if you can't do this with me. I don't feel it is in the kids interest for either of us to do it solo but they do need to know this is happening."
If he jumps in first after receiving this email you use it as evidence of his inability to act in the kids best interests. To the kids "I'm sorry I was not there when you found out." Play it by ear but lots of "your dad has his perspective on this mine is very different I am happy to answer your questions where I can and will tell you when I can't.
YY To recognising the kids have their own perspective. It will be different to yours and that is right.
Part of what you are trying to do is enable them to recognise the difference between their perspective and other people's so they don't just adopt other people's as their own (especially when it is not healthy for them to do so).
Is this something that a mediator could help with?. Hopefully we are doing this soon although it's not always recommended in an emotionally abusive relationship so I have some worries about it. We were going to couples counselling but he has refused to continue as he decided the counsellor was siding with me against him.
You know he's going to screw you over. So be prepared to fight your corner. That doesn't mean lying but it does mean refuting lies about you. I would talk to the boys yourself calmly. And get the best solicitor you can.
Counselling for yourself may help. I don’t rate couples counselling generally. I found my counsellor on the directory and it was the best thing I did.
I found mediation really very useful. We did agree to only discuss our divorce at mediation. That was helpful.
Mediation is only helpful if both parties actually implement the agreements made. In your case, as your ex has made it very clear he doesn't intend to act in the best interests of the children, I would tell them myself. Don't warn him first - just tell him afterwards. You can say he is very angry/upset and wants to blame you but that you just want to do things as fairly and amicably as possible.
Sorry that you are going through this, my exh did the same.... in fact he’s still angry even though he has a new girlfriend. I don’t know about your ex but mine. Behaved like that due to his dented ego and image.its been hard to see how much he now HATES me despite loving me for so long. You do get used to them just being that way and quite often I think it helps them cope. If they opened up emotionally then they are seen as weak. Be prepared as the financial battle will inevitably follow xxx sending hugs
confused You are considering the right things here. How the children will deal with this. Go gentle on yourself, and know that you might not always get it right. I've got it very wrong many a time. But that the general support you give your boys will heal many a wound.
I hope you have told them yourself now and that it went ok. They will understand waaay more than you think they will. It's going to be ok. You are their mum and they love you. They will not turn against you. I promise.
As for staying in the same house... I'm so sorry that has to happen for you. I had to move out after physical and emotional/financial abuse. I couldn't really afford it and still can't. I feel like you need to escape. Can you stay with family/friends? Check housing benefit for renting or LA housing. Anything. Because the atmosphere is toxic and it is not helping you or your boys. Use EntitledTo to check out what you may receive in benefits.
spottybotty1 I'm with you 100%. Sorry you are also going through this. It helps to know you are not alone.
Thanks so much for all your responses - really helpful.
Themuminator - yours was so kind it actually made me cry a bit!
spottybotty 1 - really sorry to hear you’ve gone through something similar. How did your children respond to your ex blaming you for the divorce?
Well he stopped doing it openly to them after a while he just kind of simmered down. The children are more upset that he won’t speak to me politely.thats all they want to see.
Believe me I know what a difficult decision it is to make to leave. But now a year on I am much happier and this simply generates to the children I’m now trying to minimise any concert act with him so they can’t see his behaviour.
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