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Boundary setting post seperation

(10 Posts)
Ismeyes1 Sun 09-Aug-15 15:57:31

I recently instigated ending my marriage for various reasons. We had couples counselling, but both went into individual (with completely different counsellors) after a few sessions at the advice of the lovely counsellor.

One of the issues I have is that I feel responsible for everyone else and I have neglected and lost myself. I feel very wobbly stepping out on my own with DD and horrendously guilty for breaking up the family. However, something had to give as I was so depressed and anxious I felt my life was a prison sentence.

I had originally offered to move into rented with DD when we split, but H insisted on me staying in our family home. He came to see DD today (I absolutely want to support their relationship) and just walked in like he still lives here. Made various critical comments about my 'upkeep of the house' and then settled down on the sofa. I'm feeling really anxious because I don't want to upset DD, but I feel like I'm being trapped in this house and he will keep doing as he likes/commenting.

I know I need to set boundaries, and I will talk to my counsellor this week, but I'm wobbling today and just need a little support about how to handle it?

Walkacrossthesand Sun 09-Aug-15 16:19:20

Was this the first post-split contact?
Either way, a call/message/email is required, to say that DDs contact with her dad is henceforth outside the house - he doesn't get/need to come in, he comes to the door and you hand her over. The principle is that, even if he is paying for it, this is now your home, not his, and he only comes in if you invite him - which you are not going to do!
If that's going to be too hard to enforce, could you make sure you have an ally (friend, relation) in the house when he comes, to open the door and keep him on the step while you get DD. Or can he pick up/drop off from a grandparents house? Get the idea? wink
If none of these are workable, maybe you'll have to move out into rented after all. Good luck!
was he a domineering, controlling type while you were together?

Ismeyes1 Sun 09-Aug-15 16:26:15

Thanks walkacrossthesand. Yes, first post-split contact and I know that because I'm terrified of upsetting DD that I'm letting things go rather than confronting. If I say anything, he is likely to twist it into being best for her and I will give in.

I think he was/is controlling, but maybe I'm just saying that to justify leaving? That's what I can't get straight in my head. Maybe I'm just making it seem like that and it's all me?

Walkacrossthesand Sun 09-Aug-15 16:32:57

It's not 'good for DD' to have him stroll into the house as if he still lives there, particularly if he is disrespecting you and taking a pop at (eg) level of tidiness. It would be good for her to see her dad treating her mum with respect, ie by being polite and kind, which he can be on the doorstep.
He needs to get new routines set up, which don't involve him being in your house, and the sooner he does that, the better.
I presume he doesn't want to split up, but also wasn't able to work with you on changing how your relationship functions to make it one that you could live in?

Ismeyes1 Sun 09-Aug-15 16:42:05

No he doesn't want to split up. I just couldn't continue in the marriage. Even the couples counselling became something I needed to do better in his eyes. I felt like I was going crazy.

I understand what you are saying about it being not great for DD if this pattern continues. I just wasn't sure what was normal. I just feel panicky when he is around at the moment.

Walkacrossthesand Sun 09-Aug-15 17:43:38

Sadly, it's probably 'normal' for there to be difficulties around contact - after all, if you two got on like a house on fire, you wouldn't be splitting up!
It sounds like the feelings you have around contact are the feelings you had to endure all the time while living with him - so it's really worth digging deep and finding the resolve to stand up to him now - he is not the boss of you, although that's not the way he sees it.
Have you spoken to Womens' Aid? They have a lot of experience of helping women who've been bullied and worse - they'll be able to help you see things clearly.

newnamesamegame Sun 09-Aug-15 18:01:32

Don't have any particularly great advice to offer, just wanted to offer my support and solidarity as I'm going through almost exactly the same thing -- split 3 months ago at my instigation. Ex and I still have a relatively good relationship, all things considered (despite a long list of grievances on my side which I won't bore you with) and its working pretty well with DD who is generally taking it really well, but he still behaves as if he has a right to tell me how to run my life, despite giving me almost no financial support.

I think when you're determined to make it easy for the children there's a risk of not establishing boundaries soon enough and I know I've been guilty of this and am trying to address it now.

From what little I've learned, its helpful if you speak your mind on things that cross your boundaries early, clearly and without drama, then refuse to be dragged into an argument about it. If abuse is involved its different, of course. But it definitely helps to deflect that sense of entitlement to criticize if you put your foot down really early.

Ex still has a bad habit of coming into the house and criticizing various aspects of the way I run my life, from my approach to nutrition to the way I look after my goldfish. I now just say if he's going to come and criticize me for these things I'm going to ask him to leave, then move swiftly onto more neutral or positive ground. He will generally bitch about it to me later on the phone and accuse me of being nasty, but he has now learned that he can't walk in like the lord of the manor and start giving me orders.

Good luck with it. I think it does get easier over time as you both find your feet in your new life.

Ismeyes1 Sun 09-Aug-15 18:21:27

Thank you for the further replies.

Walkacrossthesand you are right about this being a continuation of the feelings I had whilst in the relationship. I guess I thought I was now going to be free of this, and today has thrown me. I'm not sure about women's aid, I don't think it's bad enough and I don't want to use resources that can be used by those who really need them.

Newnamesamegame- it's good to hear from someone else a little further down the road. Was your ex also critical during your relationship? I hope it does get easier, DD seems to be coping well, but I'm so jumpy and I can't seem to settle properly and I keep feeling guilty and like I've just caused all this angst for everyone else.

ponygirlcurtis Sun 09-Aug-15 20:29:07

Hello Ismeyes, if he was controlling in the relationship then I'd think there is a good chance he's suggested the 'you stay, he rents' setup precisely so he can continue the control in the way you describe during the first contact, ie he gets to swan in and out (but has his own very private place). So yes, setting boundaries is essential. He should not be coming into the house and having contact time with DD there - he may own it but it is not his living space any more. He needs to be collecting her (from the door/front gate) and taking her out or back to his. If you suggest this to him in a reasonable way and he kicks up a fuss, this will tell you a lot.

Have you had a look at WA's website? You'll get good info from it, if you don't want to contact them directly.

Oh, and keep a log of everything, starting with this first contact event.

flowers for you - the first months are hard, it's a roller-coaster, hang on in there.

newnamesamegame Sun 09-Aug-15 20:36:25

Ismeyes1 yes, he was very critical when we were together, bordering on abusive at times. For example he used to get angry with me when DD got colds (she is mildly asthmatic so it was a bit of a worry) saying I wasn't wrapping her up warmly enough etc. Also complained constantly about the condition of the house when a) I work full time in a very stressful job and b) he elected to spend most of his weekends either sleeping or in the pub and basically didn't lift a finger to help me with any of it. That was a key reason why I asked him to move out.

I don't know what your H is like but unless he is seriously abusive and a real bully -- in which case you may need to talk to WA -- some very firm boundary setting will help. It won't be easy and will take time and there may be some pushback but he needs to know that its no longer his place to tell you how to manage your domestic life.

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