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Advice on how to deal with exh

(17 Posts)
Buster08 Wed 08-Jul-15 14:55:36

I separated from exh in 2013 after 23 yrs, fully divorced since dec14. He was EA, self-absorbed, miserable, nasty etc etc. He had several emotional affairs which I found out about which he denied. He eventually said he wanted a divorce and.i reluctantly agreed. Life has massively improved since then for me & dcs now 13 and 8.

I live in the family home with them which I bought from him. He lives in an appt 5 mins away. They see him all the time, spending several nights a week there for tea and sleeping over. I pay for all their needs from maintenance. We are amicable for their sakes.

He is a massive hypochondriac and has spent the last 2 years feeling sorry for himself. He hasn't moved on at all, he's miserable and continues to moan about everything.

I've met a lovely new man and am moving on with my life. Although I like him a lot I've purposefully kept it fairly casual. He doesn't stay over when the kids are at home, we have no plans to move in together and I keep my relationship with him quite separate to my life with the kids. They come first always and he completely understands. There is no pressure from him for anything more than just company when we're both free.

In general the dcs seem happy, ds8 likes new man as he plays football and activities that his dad doesn't do. Dd13 is understandably more wary and I'm conscious of this so make sure I give her lots of time for us to do things together which she loves.

The problem is exh. He was always a very jealous type, despite never having any need to be. He does not like the fact that I've met someone else and has been asking dd to spend more and more time at his house to 'keep her away' from him.

Dd feels sorry for her dad because of all his medical issues, and feels that she needs to look after him, something I did for many many years. She doesn't understand what he's really like and I wont tell her because I still want her to have a good relationship with her dad and to make her own mind up.

Exh now wants to talk to me about this. I'm pretty sure he's going to say that dd doesn't like my new partner, and I'm damaging her etc, despite the fact that I only actually see him a couple of times a week and often when she's not even there.

I want to tell him where to shove it but I don't want to drive dd away. In all honesty my new partner is a far nicer man than exh and given chance would give both my dcs a lovely life but I'm keeping him at arms length to try not to rock the boat. In my mind I've got plenty of time after the kids are grown up to spend proper time with him and he's fine with that.

So how to deal with a paranoid, jealous exh without causing problems for my children. Dd in particular won't hear a bad word against her dad so I don't want to upset her but at the same time I want to move on with my own life.

wallypops Wed 08-Jul-15 15:18:37

I'm probably saying something quite unexpected. My dad married my step mum when I was 10 and DB13, DB16 &DS19. Me and next DB benefited enormously having a stepmother. She changed our lives beyond recognition.
I now have my own re composed family and it has improved my DDS lives so much having a step dad. So maybe there are different ways of looking at your future and that of your DCS.
Basically I think you need to tell your ex to take a hike. Neither he nor your kids get to dictate how this ends.

wannaBe Wed 08-Jul-15 15:37:51

don't speak to your xh, speak to your dd and find out how she really feels. It may be that your xh is fuelling this, but it may also be that she has genuine reservations about your dp and doesn't feel that she can articulate those to you because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings.

I can't say much here, but my ds has been through similar re my xh's dp, and he has talked to me a lot about his feelings. I did end up being the one who needed to talk to xh because ds was anxious over it all, but when I did talk to ds I did say that it was better if he could tell his dad how he felt, although understood that he felt he couldn't. I also said to him that if he'd had concerns about my dp he should feel he can tell me, even if I might not like what he said.

Listen to your dd and be open to what she has to say. Equally xh may have something to say, you can listen to him and perhaps then speak to your dd on the back of what he says, but your xh can't dictate to you what you do with the rest of your life.

springydaffs Wed 08-Jul-15 15:38:07

My main concern is not you but dd. She has seen her parents conducting a codependent relationship and now she's taken your place, looking after her dad. It's a damaging dynamic and I would want her out of it.

Iiwy I would keep this new guy away from the kids for the timebeing. Wait for things to settle down. I say this bcs my guess is your ex will go to any lengths to spoil things for you - or, rather, make it all about him - using any and every means: what better than your own child. He comes first, remember hmm

I would work on your daughter, perhaps enlist some professional support, to drive the message home she is no-one's caretaker. Certainly not at 13. He laid on the 'poor me's and she fallen for it. You don't want her having a lifetime of looking for men she feels she has to look after (like her mother had...) And now's the time to get that clear.

DorisDazzler Wed 08-Jul-15 15:57:28

I agree with the pp. This is not a healthy role for her at all. The victim role is an incredibly effective tool to manipulate people with. You cannot afford for him to try and turn her against you.

Buster08 Wed 08-Jul-15 17:04:34

Thanks for your replies. Springy & daffs you both say what I'm afraid of. That he'll go from piling all of his woes onto me and move them onto his daughter. I'm worried that she feels responsibly for him now, and he'll quite happily let her. It's the same dynamic as that of him and his sister and their own father, albeit when they were much older.

Dd and I have always been incredibly close and talk about a lot of things. But for some reason I'm struggling to address this with her, I think I'm scared of upsetting her. I feel terribly guilty on a daily basis about how much we've already put her through.

springydaffs Wed 08-Jul-15 17:38:00

Get this addressed, Buster. You have a window now before the dynamic between dd and her dad gets too established.

Guilt is a waste of time - I appreciate that's easy to say! Who, exactly, has put her through it? You say he wanted the divorce, you didn't. It sounds to me it is he who has put her through it - and he still is.

You have to get this limpet of her. Perhaps talk this through with a professional to get some strategies.

Let's hope, anyway, that her teens kick in and she loses interest in him and his woes. But it's far from a given.

springydaffs Wed 08-Jul-15 17:38:50


springydaffs Wed 08-Jul-15 17:50:51

I had to tell my kids things about their dad. It was hard to do but in the end I was backed into a corner and it was either lie, lie, and lie some more or two the truth. I felt the truth was more healthy, even though it was difficult.

You have to be careful how you put it bcs if it comes across as negative, and he hears you're saying negative things about him, it is likely he will strike back, putting her in an even worse position. Perhaps cite his history with his own father, that history seems to be repeating itself? If that is too incendiary then grasp the nettle and say you are concerned she has a role in his life that is inappropriate and bad for her. She should be enjoying herself, not shoring up a man child.

butterflygirl15 Wed 08-Jul-15 18:02:22

I agree with others - it is not your DDs job to care for your ex and keep him company just because he can't move on with his life. He is not your, or her, problem to resolve.

yougotafriend Wed 08-Jul-15 18:20:10

My stbxh has been the same with DS2. He's older at 17 but has switched from wanting to apply to a local uni to being determined to move away.

The tipping point was stbxh's refusal to take a key if someone is in the house when he's going out "I don't need a key do I? You're not going anywhere" meaning DS2 can't go out, can't take a shower, can't put his headphones on & watch a movie in his bedroom... When he asked me what his dad's problem over a key was I had to explain that the key has nothing to do with it, it's all about control. He can't control me anymore so has switched.

I told him to just laugh and say, you're the parent I'm the child yes you need to take a key. I think it's working!!

Isetan Thu 09-Jul-15 16:30:31

You need to very tread carefully, your daughter has witnessed a dysfunctional dynamic and she's being manipulated into replicating it. Listen to your DD and reiterate that her needs and feelings are important but refrain from discrediting her father. It's imperative that she keeps talking, whether with you or another trusted and responsible adult. If I were you I would talk to a professional about how to best support her because you don't want her replicating this dynamic with future relationships.

DragonWithAGirlTattoo Thu 09-Jul-15 17:11:15

DD might be upset because you are keeping her and new man apart? I know this might come completely from the wrong side, but she might feel that you dont want her to meet 'new man' because of something she said or did? (even subconciously_

I'm not saying rush to introduce and get them to bond, but have it in the back of your mind

And also - i think there is some really good advice here too - especially with the talking stuff

mojo17 Thu 09-Jul-15 17:16:10

He wants to talk does he well then he needs to hear from you about yours on what he is doing to your dd
Would he recognise that dynamic?
You need to tell, him over the phone not 'have a meeting' about him depending on dd too much and let her be a chi,d
Then talk to your dd it will be hard negotiating the right path but just keep talking to her and listening

Buster08 Thu 09-Jul-15 23:38:04

Thanks everyone, I've actually spoken to both exh and dd separately today. Exh was pretty accusatory, he said that dd has told him she doesn't like new partner, she can't say specifically why, she just doesn't. He hasn't done anything to reassure her from what I can gather, he's pressed her for more info about 'why' she doesn't like him - 'has he done or said something to her' etc.

I suggested that he meet him, knowing full well that he wouldn't, and said if it was me I'd want to meet his new partner so I could see what she was like and make sure I'd be happy with dcs spending time with her. He didn't want to do that, becoming quite aggressive at the suggestion.

I suggested it was actually him who didn't like new dp (and never would, no matter who it was) and that he was projecting it on to dd. He dismissed that.

I also told him how much dd worried about him and felt it was her job to look after him now. Dd herself confirmed this when I spoke to her later so it's definitely true. I said this wasn't healthy and she shouldn't feel this way (to him) but again he dismissed it, saying he was fine and there was nothing for her to worry about. He won't ever agree with anything like this but I tell him anyway in the hope that he'll think about it later.

But dd is the important one, and she confirmed what I thought about her feeling sorry for her dad. She does feel uncomfortable about dp so I've agreed to be more open with her about when he's coming round and have assured her nothing else will change, no big plans will be made etc

It seems that exh has been telling her all-sorts including that he still loves me (WTF?) and that he never wanted to split up. This no doubt is also fuelling her feelings of pity towards him so I had to make a call and tell her some more of what really happened, although not all obviously. It's the first time I've been really quite open with her and I just hope that she's sensible enough to make her own mind up about it all.

We had some tears and I told her she could say anything she wanted, including if she hated me/dp etc and I'd never be upset and would alway listen. We hugged & she wanted to sleep in my bed and wants to stay at home tomorrow with me so I hope she's not too upset with me.

I thought once the initial separation was over it would get easier but it seems to be coming in waves at the moment. I guess talking is the key, and I hope I can keep it up without messing things up any more than they need to be.

TopOfTheCliff Fri 10-Jul-15 10:51:26

Well done Buster that was a hugely useful and helpful conversation you had with your DD and will have eased her mind a lot.

I recognise this scenario too. When I left my XH he was totally distraught. I had been his slave devoted wife and looked after him and his moods for 27 years until finally I had enough of treating a world famous professional as if he had special needs. I moved out and left him with the adult DC in the family home. He wept and wailed and turned them all against me.

DD1 was reported to have said "Dad I'm your daughter not your psychiatrist" and left him to it. DS said nothing and went out to play football. But DD2 who is kindhearted and loving has become his confidant and taken my place.

Five years on we have all moved on. I am very close to all of my DC and recognise I am the parent they come to when they are upset, want a rant or need advice. Their DF gets too emotional so they spare him and only give him a sanitised version of events to protect him. He is good for financial support while I am the practical one who helps decorate, move furniture, or fix bicycles (as I always was).

Give her time and let her be unhappy. what you said to her was brilliant. My DC needed to be angry with me and shout at me and get it out, then cry and make up and be cuddled and loved. They still do! Afterwards you get back the closeness.

Buster08 Fri 10-Jul-15 20:16:29

Thanks TopoftheCliff, I'm glad I've spoken to her. There seemed to be a lot of unspoken worries that weren't getting dealt with.

I don't know if she feels any better but I hope she'll come to me now if she's feeling unsure. In some ways I wish we'd decided to separate when dd was younger. It must be so hard to deal with at her age. Ds is 8 and seems to accept things more easily although I keep a constant eye on him too.

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