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Have I done the wrong thing?

(19 Posts)
kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 19:50:03

This could be long, sorry, but I really need some advice. My husband left in April, moved straight in with OW. We have a 2 year old and 3 year old, and he has seen them for 10 hours since April, and not at all since June (16 weeks tomorrow).

From the start, I tried to get him to give me dates when he wanted to see the children. He works shifts, so I knew it may not be regular, but he has his shifts 6 weeks in advance, so I figured we could sort something out. He refused to do this, and would text me with 24 hours notice demanding the children. On the 2 occasions I said no because they were at pre-school, he accused me of denying him access and told me he was recording the phone call and would take me to court.

When he had not seen the children for one month, I went to mediation, with a view to sorting out contact with a 3rd party's help I had my initial appointment, and they then wrote to him, but he refused to attend. A week after, I got a solicitor's letter stating he was filing for divorce.

At this stage, he told me he would only see the children if his girlfriend was present, and I said no. I just felt it was totally innapropriate, given the children's ages and the fact that they hadn't seen HIM for such a long time. He really pushed it, and again accused me of denying him access, but I stood my ground on the basis that HE could see them whenever he wanted, and a few months down the line when he had re-established his OWN relationship with the children, the OW could then be introduced.

His solicitor then wrote to me asking me for my proposals for his contact with the children. I said that I thought he should commit to seeing the children ON HIS OWN for 2 afternoons or one whole day a week for 2-3 months, then his girlfriend could be introduced, and they could see them for the same amount of time for another 2 months, then when the children knew her, and were settled, they could stay with them every other weekend. I just felt that would allow him to re-establish his own relationship with them and for them to get to know OW gradually too. That was sent on the 20th August, and the only letter I have received back so far was chasing up the divorce papers.

Should I have just let my children meet her from the start? Have I prevented them from having a relationship with their dad, or is he just playing games? I really thought I was protecting them from even more hurt in their tiny lives, but now I'm worried I've done the wrong thing.

Please let me know what you think, I'm getting desperate.... Thanks.

Tortington Thu 25-Sep-08 19:52:32

no i think you are right - i think that you you must be able to trust that he wont be introducing any old shag slag to your kids.

Surfermum Thu 25-Sep-08 20:08:56

It's interesting that you ask this as I was having this conversation with dsd (nearly 13) on Sunday. She hadn't seen her Dad for nearly 2 years (not his choice) when we started seeing her - she was just 4 at that time. Dh had seen her for a couple of 2 hour contacts in a contact centre and then the next time both of us took her to the zoo, and from then on contact was built up and I was almost always there.

I asked her if she would have preferred it to be just her and her Dad and if she felt that because I had always been around when she was seeing him that had affected things, or she felt that I shouldn't have been there. She said she hadn't minded, it wasn't really something she had thought about and she didn't feel it affected her building her relationship with her Dad again.

But I do know that if dh's x had said contacts must be without me, and dh had had the choice of seeing dsd without me or not at all, he would have opted to go without me. It would have stuck in our throats a bit given that dsd had had her mum's new boyfriend living with them from the day dh moved out - but even so, what dh wanted was to see dsd and he was prepared to jump through any hoop she put in front of him in order to do that.

Surfermum Thu 25-Sep-08 20:13:45

Oh and I just remembered, at the start dh had a REALLY complicated shift pattern, involving him being away at sea a lot of the time. As soon as he received his shift pattern he wanted to try to arrange contacts around them and it was his x that refused.

She told him that she would decide when he could see dsd and if it didn't fit in with his shift pattern it was tough luck. We would have loved her to be like you.

I must say though, when I talk about her like this on here I always feel bad, because things are good now between us all and things like this are no longer a problem.

moosh Thu 25-Sep-08 20:14:24

I think you are totally right. You are in charge of your children. You decide when and where and if they should meet the OW.

My ex partner left a message on my phonethe weekend he had the children and told me that the children had met his new girlfriend. I was livid, not because I'm jelous cause I ended the relationship but because he had only been with her for about 2 months. There relationship has been on and off ever since they got together about 6 months ago!!!! What does that show to my dc ????

I have had 2 men since I have split with him and not once has it ever occured to me for my dc to meet them.
Stick to your guns if his children mean that much to him he will abide by what you want and if he doesn't then really it is his loss. You are lucky that they are fairly young where mine are just a little older.

kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 20:20:41

Interesting Surfermum. I'm not saying that all contacts must be without OW, but just for the first few months. The reason I feel that, is given the nature that my ex left. One day he was there, the next he wasn't, Literally. I have had to explain things to my children (not easy when they are 2 and 3), and be there to pick up the pieces. They reacted very badly, and I consulted with my health visitor regularly. She said that my 2 yr old was suffering from seperation anxiety (normally suffered by 9 mth old babies) where he would literally scream if I left the room, because he didn't think I was coming back. Even now, 5 months on, he will only stay with me or my mum.

As a mum, it has been heartbreaking to see, and I still feel (I think) that my husband needs to be a proper daddy to my children again before anyone else is introduced. To my children, they want to see their daddy, this OW is nothing to them. That obviously may change in time.

Surfermum, your last paragraph is what I feel - that a father should go to any lengths to see his children. I just wonder if I'm being unrealistic in thinking that.

kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 20:20:41

Interesting Surfermum. I'm not saying that all contacts must be without OW, but just for the first few months. The reason I feel that, is given the nature that my ex left. One day he was there, the next he wasn't, Literally. I have had to explain things to my children (not easy when they are 2 and 3), and be there to pick up the pieces. They reacted very badly, and I consulted with my health visitor regularly. She said that my 2 yr old was suffering from seperation anxiety (normally suffered by 9 mth old babies) where he would literally scream if I left the room, because he didn't think I was coming back. Even now, 5 months on, he will only stay with me or my mum.

As a mum, it has been heartbreaking to see, and I still feel (I think) that my husband needs to be a proper daddy to my children again before anyone else is introduced. To my children, they want to see their daddy, this OW is nothing to them. That obviously may change in time.

Surfermum, your last paragraph is what I feel - that a father should go to any lengths to see his children. I just wonder if I'm being unrealistic in thinking that.

kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 20:20:58

Interesting Surfermum. I'm not saying that all contacts must be without OW, but just for the first few months. The reason I feel that, is given the nature that my ex left. One day he was there, the next he wasn't, Literally. I have had to explain things to my children (not easy when they are 2 and 3), and be there to pick up the pieces. They reacted very badly, and I consulted with my health visitor regularly. She said that my 2 yr old was suffering from seperation anxiety (normally suffered by 9 mth old babies) where he would literally scream if I left the room, because he didn't think I was coming back. Even now, 5 months on, he will only stay with me or my mum.

As a mum, it has been heartbreaking to see, and I still feel (I think) that my husband needs to be a proper daddy to my children again before anyone else is introduced. To my children, they want to see their daddy, this OW is nothing to them. That obviously may change in time.

Surfermum, your last paragraph is what I feel - that a father should go to any lengths to see his children. I just wonder if I'm being unrealistic in thinking that.

kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 20:21:47

Interesting Surfermum. I'm not saying that all contacts must be without OW, but just for the first few months. The reason I feel that, is given the nature that my ex left. One day he was there, the next he wasn't, Literally. I have had to explain things to my children (not easy when they are 2 and 3), and be there to pick up the pieces. They reacted very badly, and I consulted with my health visitor regularly. She said that my 2 yr old was suffering from seperation anxiety (normally suffered by 9 mth old babies) where he would literally scream if I left the room, because he didn't think I was coming back. Even now, 5 months on, he will only stay with me or my mum.

As a mum, it has been heartbreaking to see, and I still feel (I think) that my husband needs to be a proper daddy to my children again before anyone else is introduced. To my children, they want to see their daddy, this OW is nothing to them. That obviously may change in time.

Surfermum, your last paragraph is what I feel - that a father should go to any lengths to see his children. I just wonder if I'm being unrealistic in thinking that.

harpomarx Thu 25-Sep-08 20:22:33

no you are not wrong.

he hasn't seen them properly since leaving, can't commit to seeing them regularly and reliably, which is incredibly important - and now is setting an unreasonable condition up to seeing them again. Does he want to see his children or not? If he really did, then surely he would be making more of an effort.

I think you are absolutely right, and you sound very reasonable to me.

kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 20:24:39

Sorry, I didn't mean to post my 2nd message a million times!! My computer got stuck!

Thank you harpomarx - that is exactly what I'm thinking and also the question I have. Does he REALLY want to see them, or is this all just a big game to him. He has made no effort whatsoever.

Surfermum Thu 25-Sep-08 20:42:13

I think your situation is very different, and he does seem to be putting up barriers himself to having contact.

But I do wonder if contact with him with her there is better than no contact at all.

kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 20:48:06

That's what I'm wondering Surfermum, but I don't even know if he would commit to that. He's become a completely different person since leaving, and I honestly don't know where he is 'at' at the moment. He has had NO form of contact with his children for 16 weeks tomorrow. How could somebody do that?

But on the other hand, my children are little more than babies. They do not understand anything of what is going on, and deserve a relationship with their DAD first and foremost.

harpomarx Thu 25-Sep-08 21:05:29

yes, they deserve a relationship with their dad - but he has to provide that. Do you believe he will stick to any contact arrangements you make just because she is allowed to be there? The signs are not good so far, are they? I think that by setting up a proper, stable framework for contact you are doing the best possible for them under difficult circumstances. Predicability/reliability is key with small children ime/o - he's not providing this.

kara0811 Thu 25-Sep-08 21:22:25

Harpomax, no I'm not convinced he will stick to anything, and even my solicitor warned me that the signs aren't good.

I also agree that the children need reliability, and they don't have that at the moment. All I want is for a contact arrangement to be in place so that my children see their dad regularly, the times slot into their weekly 'schedule' and we al know where we stand. The problem is, I can't force it to happen. His relaionship with them is his responsibility, and I'm scared he's just going to walk away from it.

Pannacotta Thu 25-Sep-08 21:58:36

I too think you are being totally reasonable, I would say exactly the same thing in your shoes.
I don't understand his behaviour and found your posts quite upsetting to read, it sounds like a heartbreaking situation for you.

Hope things get easier for you and your DCs soon. Can you ask him to attend mediation with you, would he consider doing this as a way of resolving the contact issue? Is there a third party who knows you both and the DCs who coudl talk to him?

Fluffybubble Thu 25-Sep-08 22:05:10

Kara - I think that you are being SO good about all this, in what are extremely difficult circumstances. I do think though, that you have hit the nail on the head when you say that his relationship with the children is HIS responsibility. He is shifting the blame/guilt on to you (which I have found is quite common!) but you are doing everything you possibly can to enable him to have a relationship with your very young children.

I spent a long time feeling angry that my exh did not make more effort with our ds, but it finally dawned on me that I cannot make him behave differently. You have been so reasonable, and I don't think that any solicitor or court would disagree with your approach. You have your dc's welfare at heart, your ex has his own agenda...

I think that you should feel confident about your decision. Ultimately the ball is in his court, and if he decides to not pursue contact maybe it is better that you know that now, and not later, while the children are young enough to adapt?

kara0811 Fri 26-Sep-08 10:05:16

Pannacotta - it is heartbreaking. Everytime I look t my children, I just want to cry. Up until 6 months ago, they had a wonderful, hands-on dad, and they don't seem to have a dad at all. I can't even begin to explain it to them, because I don't understand myself. It is like he has made a decision to leave me, and has walked away from everything to do with our life, children included.

I have tried to arrange mediation twice - once independently, and once through my solicitor, but he has refused to atend both times. He has cut all ties with our mutual friends, and his family no longer speak to me, as he has told them I won't allow him to see the children. It is a truly awful situation.

Fluffybubble - thank you. It is good to hear someone that agrees with me. I am not trying to be spiteful, but I genuinely believe it is in the interests of my very young children to have their relationship with their dad re-established. Especially as it has been 16 weeks since he last saw them. And you are right about the guilt thing. He has told people that he doesn't see the children because I won't let him, when in reality I have tried my hardest to get him to see them. It is only now I am realising that I can't FORCE anything to happen.

Fluffybubble Fri 26-Sep-08 17:35:51

I think that it is very hard to understand when a dad behaves in this way. As surfermum said, you would hope that he would jump through any hoop produced in order to see his children. It may well change in time, maybe he is caught up with his new life / feeling rotten about what he's done to you and the children and so keeping away.

He is being very unfair to blame you and you should pat yourself on the back for being so reasonable in these circumstances. You can't force anything to happen, all you can do is make it clear that he will be welcome to see the children at any time. If you wanted to you could possibly go through the courts to arrange an access arrangement, as I think your ideas regarding the introduction of the OW are completely appropriate. Or you can accept that he is behaving appallingly, and that it isn't your fault in any way, and hope that he comes to his senses sooner rather than later.

Am sorry...

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