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Want to finally leave partner - can any of you MN'er's help me with what to actually SAY?

(100 Posts)
wanttofinallyleave Thu 14-Nov-13 11:20:52

A bit of the backstory to this -

We have been together for 9 years, but not the past 6 months really (more on that to come). We have 2 DC , one is 8 and one is 4.

The main problem over the years (although there have been others) has been P basically absenting himself from family life. It wasn't so bad until our 2nd DC was born, but it became awful after that. He is self-employed and does not earn much at all , just a very basic equiv of minimum wage, yet he 'works' all hours, loads of hours, on his business. I says 'works' because I know he spends much longer working than necessary ie he just pisses about 'working' after he has done his required 9 hours or whatever he will stay at work 'working' but really he will be tinkering about with things. He stays at his mothers A LOT (she lives nearby). Sometimes with one of the DC, sometimes not. He goes on frequent camping trips also as a hobby, again sometimes with one of the DC, sometimes not.

All of this means he is generally only in the house in the early evening for dinner with us 1 night a week (!) or maybe 2 at a push. He leaves for work in the morning and does not come back until 9pm on a good day when kids are already in bed. At least 2/3 nights a week he stays at his mothers. This means we have next to ZERO family time. I feel like we are strangers and I resent the fact that he does not seem to see family time together as important for the kids. Also when the kids do see him, they see it as a novelty "fun time", because I am the one who does all the boring day to day stuff with them (I work only 2 days a week).

The issue is the next to zero family time. He makes loads of excuses for this (usually involving work). We have argued, I have tried practically begging him to spend more time at home in the past, I have tried threats, tried everything, I used to get really upset and feel rejected but I have hardened myself to him now. He always says he will change it but then does not and ignores it when I bring it up to him that he has not made changes. I have got to the point now that I feel it does not matter the reasons WHY he is hardly here, all that matters is that it is unsustainable for any family to function like this and I want out.

Until 2 weeks ago, we were actually separated since May of this year because of this issue. We had been discussing things and made an agreement that he would be in the house in the early evenings at least 4 days per week. He agreed to this. But as predicted, it has not happened!

I feel he has broken enough agreements and that it is not feasible to go on any further now. However I know him and I know that he will just turn it round on me and say I have "thrown him out" of his family home, denied the children their father etc. He will point blank refuse to acknowledge what I say at all. He is not abusive per se (although I agree that him ignoring me deliberately and pressing the reset button so to speak all the time is a form of abuse, but that's all he does) - so we are not in any danger.

I just don't know what to say to him - the words I mean. If I try to speak in person or on phone as soon as he senses where the conversation is going (I think he knows I want out now - I made it very clear 2 weeks ago this was last chance), he will walk away or completely ignore me or hang up. So it sounds silly, but I need to do it via email and keep re-iterating the same definitive message over and over and over. Also it has to be quite short, as he does not seem to take in long emails / texts.

I know this sounds really silly, but does anyone more eloquent and less rambling (have you seen the length of this post!) than me, have any ideas on how to consolidate a relatively short and to the point email which I can just send him again and again when he tries to say it's all my fault how could I leave him / do this to the children blah blah blah ?

Thanks ever so much if you have made it this far x

ps - house is rented and in my name and anyway he seems to prefer his mothers so I don't think there will be any legal problem there, although he may refuse to leave initially.

hellsbellsmelons Thu 14-Nov-13 12:12:46

I think I would pack his stuff in a bin bag - if you have a car, drop it round his parents or otherwise leave it outside the house.
Send him a short text saying 'It's not working for me. Your stuff is at mums / outside. Collect and I'll be in touch regarding access to kids.'
Sorry he's such an arse.
You'll be better off with him out of the house permanently and then knowing there will be a routine with the kids etc....
Good luck.

wanttofinallyleave Thu 14-Nov-13 12:20:25

I just couldn't do that (although it would be simpler!) as it would surely cause chaos for the kids and also with the ILs. The it's not working for me part may be useful!. Thanks for replying.

I already do everything practical with the kids by default. He does a lot of "fun stuff" with them, but no actual making them food and making them eat it, making them brush their teeth , do their homework etc. Just all the "fun dad" stuff, and I am cast in the role of "shouty mum".

I was thinking of

"This situation of you hardly being around is not working and not sustainable. It basically makes the whole idea of a family pointless, whatever the reasons. And it's going back on what we both agreed on and you cannot keep making excuses. You cannot blame me for that. Me and the kids not living like this "with" you anymore. It's not fair at all and not even viable. So it is ending now and you will have to move out and back with your mother"

Is this OK?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Nov-13 12:21:27

Sounds very assertive. Good luck

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 14-Nov-13 12:26:00

I would say, "You checked out of this marriage a long time ago. Now I want you to move out completely, so that I can move on with my life."

And then whatever he says, reply with "I'm sorry, but I've made my decision."

You don't have to justify it to him; you don't need his permission or even for him to realise just how reasonable you are being and have been!

But it is hard, I know. Give him as little airtime as you can. He's had so many chances and he's just taking the piss.

whatdoesittake48 Thu 14-Nov-13 12:26:44

I think you can be even more direct.

Try: This situation of you hardly being around is not working and not sustainable. It's going back on what we both agreed on and you cannot keep making excuses. So it is ending now and you will have to move out and back with your mother this weekend"

Your ultimate message is that it ends now. the other stuff will be talked about probably - but he needs to get the message loud and clear.

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 14-Nov-13 12:27:14


Your message sounds great!

onetiredmummy Thu 14-Nov-13 12:29:21

Dear stbxh,

I am leaving you. You can now work as much as you want, you don't have to have any family time & can do exactly what you please. As this is already what happens the change will be minimal for you so I suggest you come & collect anything you want to take on xxxx & leave the keys.

I will let you know about arrangements for the divorce & I will be contacting the CSA for maintenace and seeking advise for your access to the children.

You knew this was going to happen as you ignored all my efforts to talk & sort through our problems. You have ignored our agreements & I no longer want to be with you as I am already a single parent.

onetiredmummy Thu 14-Nov-13 12:32:07

Ha x posted with everyone!

Have courage OP xx

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 14-Nov-13 12:32:10

Maybe try to sort out contact arrangements and maintenance between yourselves before involving solicitors/CSA, although certainly see a solicitor for initial advice now.

When you're thinking about what contact with him you want your DCs to have, remember that here's his opportunity to do some of the shitwork. (Unless that will all be passed on to his mum hmm )

wanttofinallyleave Thu 14-Nov-13 12:36:50

Thanks for the replies.

I have always struggled in life with being assertive in various different ways, not just relationships. But recently I am starting to see that with him there is a NEED to be completely assertive, or else he just pretty much ignores what I say or tries to twist things. Wants his cake and eat it I think (the family and partner at home, but also to pick and choose when he rarely wants to actually participate in it). When we had the discussion and both agreed on the rule of he would be in at dinner time (like 6pm or so) at least 4 nights a week - that was and is viable for his work, i know it is, then I was very assertive and made sure he knew that if things went backwards again then that would be it over. He said he understood at the time, but he is obviously just trying to "reset" things again. So I will just have to be assertive in ending it. It is not natural for me though and I hate confrontation unless absolutely necessary and I hate it even more when the children are around (and there is no time the children are not around).

Thank you for your ideas. I think I need to make it more about the family as a whole and less about 'our relationship'.

I am thinking the repeating like a broken record and the less engaging with him the better would be the best option to go down.

Vivacia Thu 14-Nov-13 12:37:12

I think that's too confrontational onetired. I would keep it short and factual and along the lines of making the trial separation permeant.

Roussette Thu 14-Nov-13 12:42:05


"This situation of you hardly being around is not working and not sustainable. I want a family with a Mum and Dad that work together for the good of their children and I don't have one. I have given you very many opportunities to make our family a complete unit, but you are not engaged in this. I am emailing because you are not prepared to discuss this. Please move out and back with your mother. I will make every effort in the future to ensure the DCs see you, but you will have to be the one to make that happen".

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 14-Nov-13 12:42:22

I've been in a similar situation recently, OP, so I sympathise.

I have now left and got my own space and am actually doing less now, because the DCs stay with him sometimes. It's crazy to feel life is easier as a lone parent, but it shows what the marriage was like!

I have found it hard to be assertive, too. But then, I've had years of learning that assertiveness got me nowhere, as he would always end up doing just what he wanted. Your assertiveness will be an excellent example to the children, particularly if you can defend your boundaries without attacking him, iyswim.

Twinklestein Thu 14-Nov-13 12:44:18

Your message is perfect OP.

You can just keep resending that, and if necessary one that says: "I have made my decision please accept it."

wanttofinallyleave Thu 14-Nov-13 12:47:08

Thank you so much for the replies, they are all so useful to me. I tend to over-elaborate and try to always see the other person's point of view to my detriment, so I am being helped so much by these messages.

I have calculated we will be only slightly worse off if he leaves because it will be just me working 22 hours a week so I will receive some help with the rent etc, whereas now with him working and me working part time we get no help with bills and only CTC , not WTC which I would be able to get if on my own.

Re the arrangements for contact. He has threatened this in the past - that if I force him to live away from his children then he will use every legal means possible to ensure he gets as much of the week with them as he can sad. He said this when we split up in May, but in reality he has had them 2.5 - 3.5 days a week (or more accurately you are right - his mother does most of the childcare, meals, showers, pick ups and drop offs on 'his' days!). These threats have stopped me being as assertive as i should be for sure. Although I know that he will not be allowed legally to just take them away from me all or most of the time. I have some experience of the family law system and of course I do not have any objection to him seeing his children even 50% of the time as they deserve a relationship with him, so rationally I know it shouldn't come to the situation of him 'taking them away' (a big somewhat irrational fear of mine). x

maras2 Thu 14-Nov-13 12:49:25

Do it sooner than later love.My lovely SIL has put up with the same crap for over 40 years.The kids hate him and this has filtered down to the grandkids.He's just gone on holiday with 'the lads';pathetic for a 60 year old.Her parting words to him were 'and don't come back'.He will though and the cycle will continue.Best of luck.

ShoeWhore Thu 14-Nov-13 12:49:33

I like whatdoesittake's form of words. Short, factual and to the point.

Fwiw I can totally see why you want out. Sounds like he has pretty much opted out of family life anyway. Good luck OP, I suspect you will find it easier once he's gone.

CharlotteCollinsinherownplace Thu 14-Nov-13 12:56:25

Oh, what an idiot re the "all legal means possible." Because of course you're going to try to stop him seeing the DCs, when for the past goodness knows how long you've been desperately trying to get him TO SPEND TIME WITH THEM! hmm confused angry

I am still adjusting to having to say goodbye to my DCs so regularly, when before I did everything for them all the time. The first couple of times it was just heaven to be able to relax for once, but that quickly wore off - now it feels like too much, too late. But as you say, they deserve a relationship with him. I'll adjust in time and so will you.

Btw, if he has always been about his needs, it's not surprising that you think more from his perspective than your own.

GetOrfGetStuffed Thu 14-Nov-13 12:57:18

Oh poor you.

I would not state any of the reasons why you want to finish. If you say 'it's because you didn't stick to your side of the agreement' or whatever, it gives him the chance to argue and say 'well that was because of x,y,z'. You don't want a dialogue with him. You have made you decision so don't give him the chance to try and make you feel tied up in knots again.

Just say 'I have thought about this very seriously and I don't want to continue any more. I have made my decision and this is absolutely final. I would like it if you could arrange to take your belongings to your mother' or something along those lines. And repeat repeat repeat.

wanttofinallyleave Thu 14-Nov-13 12:58:27

Yes CharlotteCollins, I have realised that his 1st priority is and will always be 1) Doing exactly as he wants, which he will do anyway and will just see me as some nagging voice in the background to be 'reset' with promises to change every so often, and his second priority is 2) the actual real needs of his family.

I don't actually hate him iyswim, I am just angry that he has not been honest and has been saying one thing and doing the other for years and years, and so has wasted our time and hurt me so many times. I recognise that I have had a part to play in it too, by allowing this to continue for so long and giving him so many chances for him never to follow through consistently.

Defending my boundaries WITHOUT attacking him is exactly what I want to be doing! smile. I am quite a defensive person so I tend to make things very personal and emotional and not sticking to the facts. He often manipulates the emotional line because it is not clear-cut facts and this is why I chose to make a set "plan" for what he would do this time to make the family viable and he has not done it.

If I go on the attack, even slightly, then he will just twist it round into being just as much my fault as his. He is always trying to drag you down into arguing or attacking him (ie verbally) so that whatever he has done in the first place is then re-painted as "an argument caused by both of us, and we cannot deny the kids a family because of petty arguments between us" .

I have a lot of learning to do to remain calm and state my case in an assertive manner.

GetOrfGetStuffed Thu 14-Nov-13 12:58:34

Bloody lazy bastard getting his mother to do all the practical stuff whilst he is the fun dad.

Is that why he goes to his mothers all the time? To be waited on hand and foot like the golden boy!

GetOrfGetStuffed Thu 14-Nov-13 13:00:59

I totally agree OP, don't attack him or blame him or say anything negative to him for any reason, as it gives him a chance to argue back and defend himself. Just say 'I want, I feel, I believe, I think' instead of 'you never did this, you said this, you promised'. It's bloody pointless now anyway. No point in arguing about any of it.

dozeydoris Thu 14-Nov-13 13:05:08

Did he have a poor relationship with his own father? Because it seems strange he just can't make this little extra effort, plus he seems to have an unusually close relationship with his mother, why choose her company over his DCs.

I would just hand him a solicitor's letter and say sorry, but you can'tput up with being messed around any longer. And not get into a debate or discussion about his behavior. You have tried your best. Time for things to move on.

wanttofinallyleave Thu 14-Nov-13 13:05:12

GetOrfGetStuffed that is very very good and exactly how I feel - i have thought about it very seriously (I bet he has not!). However if I say this he will then say that I am just flippantly denying the children a proper family because I don't want to be in a relationship with him. To which I would probably reply "well it has never been a proper family anyway because you have hardly been here to make it even a viable family unit, despite your promises to do so, so therefore it will be no different" - but then that would be engaging more with him, I see what you mean ! blush.

I have realised that trying to engage with him on an equal level like I would with colleagues or friends, just doesn't work , because he will not listen to any point of view or explanation that deviates from that which suits him and his life.

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