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How do I decide what's for the best?(17 Posts)
My exH has just recently requested a change in contact with our 2 children & I can't quite decide what to do for the best.
He currently has them for 2 weekends on, 1 weekend off. This was agreed because after his affair, he decided to live where he worked, and with the OW, which is 90 miles away. I obviously do all the weekly stuff with our kids - juggling working, all homework, my house etc on my own. I have to occasionally call on my mom if I am required to work late of an evening. I limit this as my mom has a health issue which means I don't really want her running after my rampaging pre-schooler.
The whole time we've been doing this weekend arrangement, he has been staying at his moms house, which is close to where I live. He has finally bought a house where he lives & has been dropping hints for quite some time about the almost 200 mile round trip he will have to do on a Friday & Sunday.
He's very manipulative. Everyone falls for this as he's also incredibly convincing as a nice guy - don't get me wrong, he's not a complete wanker - he pays for his kids & so far, he hasn't let them down. But he is very self-absorbed & quite clever at making out he does things for everyone else's benefit/the greater good.
He recently asked to change to EOW & offered to have them for some of the half terms (the whole week) to compensate for the lost weekend. The crafty bugger sent a long, long email detailing how it would be great for our kids as my elder one can play with her friends more, that my relationship would benefit with my boyfriend etc etc.....
Bear in mind he's just asked me on a run of bad news - my BIL has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer & is rapidly declining, I've just lost my job & my contract finishes in August & my sister appears to be having some kind of mid-life crisis, which is worrying me a lot.
I have pointed out to him in that I not saying no to this change - but I am already quite stretched by juggling all of this stuff on my own, whilst he gets to have all the freedom during the week. No school drop offs, pick ups. No midweek breaks whilst he has the kids.
I have already had his sob story about how OW had terrible depression last year as she felt guilty about their relationship. She can see divorces everywhere, the difficulty of blended families. I don't react to this - I bite my tongue as there's no point in me saying that maybe that's karma for you.
He's offering to pay for some kind of nanny service/childminder for any late nights I have to work if I need it.
To top it all off, I've had my eldest daughter in tears over this - prior to this, she felt that her dad puts the OW first. She feels this even more now. She points out that her dad is always saying he's skint whilst flying off all over the place with OW. They're holidays with their dad seem to be decreasing. He complains that he doesn't get enough time with OW to her.
I'm worried about how I'll cope with the change - as much as a big part of me thinks it would be lovely to have another weekend every month with my girls, I also know that I'm knackered by looking after them as it is. I'm an older mom, and I'm an introvert who needs time to recharge.
But more importantly, I am worried about my eldest daughters sadness about her dad. How she's increasingly angry about him. I think she's a bit hormonal these days but she's also showing some little signs of potential depression too.
I feel increasingly fucked off that life keeps bloody dealing me what feels like never-ending shite. I have now had years of really shitty things happening to me & my family, & every time I think to myself this could be the year that is a good one - some security, some stability - just to be bored by how everything is so easy, another big pile of shite descends.
Am I being unfair to say no to him? To be honest, I think I will end up saying yes - but my daughters reaction to this worries me. I need any decision to be about what is best for her & my other daughter - not what my exH wants.
With him, I think he is desperate to ensure his relationship with OW works - and I suspect that this is because if I that goes tits up, what will he have left? He'll have caused all this hurt & pain for something that didn't work out.
I could just do with some other perspectives on this - I want to make the right decision for me & my girls really...
I would have thought every other weekend is quite reasonable to both parties especially if he is offering to have them in the holidays too and this is the norm amongst my divorced friends. However I am talking as someone whose ex never has them for the weekend and never has contact with them in the holidays so if he ever did just once I would be overjoyed.
I understand you do all the school runs and how stressful that is. On the other hand I can't imagine not seeing my children for two weekends in a row as that is down time for us which is important after a busy week.
I am thinking of saying yes. I did really rely on those weekends when my marriage broke down as I was struggling to manage my toddler at the time - I was barely eating, dealing with the divorce & my DD2 was a handful.
Now I'm on more of an even keel, I do want that time with both of my kids. I'm more worried about my eldest daughters feelings that she's becoming less of a priority in her dads life.
I take my hat off to those single parents that don't get any time off - I honestly think I would have fallen apart if that had happened to me.
Managing one child would have been perfectly fine - I think it's been a struggle as my youngest is a definite firecracker who constantly pushes boundaries.
I am very grateful for some of the stability I've been able to maintain - I've stayed in my home & financially, things have been ok so far.
Can you sit down with your daughter and ask her what she would like?
I have asked her what she wants. She doesn't like the thought of being without me for the whole week over the half terms (that he's offered). I've tried to point out that she might not find that so hard as I'll be seeing her for an extra weekend really.
She finds it quite hard to cope with the fact that her dad spends all of his time with OW. I've pointed out that they get on well & that if she's kind to her, then that's a good thing.
I think all I can do is be there for her & try to reassure her that everything will be ok. I can see that she is harbouring a lot of resentment towards her dad - she feels abandoned & her dad isn't quite on the pedestal he once was. I tell her all the time that he loves her very much.
Maybe have a word with him expressing her concerns and suggest that he asks her what she'd like to do when together. Or he asks her sooner rather than later.
I think EOW is OK as long as he does have them for full weeks in holidays as much as you need. I would also put a formal arrangement in place for childcare two nights a week which he pays for so you get time you need. Would he agree to pay for a cleaner for you as you will have less time now? I think that's reasonable. However I think he should discuss this with his children in the first instance and explain it to them and see how they feel- not leave it to you to do his dirty work. He also needs to stop telling them he's skint. Sounds like emotional blackmail.
He told you the OW was depressed?
How did you manage to not tell him that you gave zero fucks?!
Falling - it's funny you should mention emotional blackmail - a few months ago, he raged at me over whatsapp when I told him that our eldest daughter was feeling like OW was a priority & he needed to chat to her & reassure her. He accused her of emotional blackmail - she's 10, ffs!
I think that I do need something formal in place as I worry he will start saying that he can't do the extra times in school half terms as his holiday entitlement won't allow it. He has already expressed how difficult it might be for him to pick the girls up on a Friday when he changed jobs, as they might not let him get away early. I pointed out that I have to juggle being a parent & working - I have to find a way to make it work as I doing it on my own & my employer has to be aware of that.
Cabrinha - I bite my tongue a lot! Because I have learnt that all I get is a tirade of abuse or a whole lengthy spiel of "poor me!" from him. In the throes of discovering his affair, I was told it was all my fault - for the four miscarriages I had & the depression I suffered as a result of it - it made him have an affair, apparently.
I just don't trust him really - understandably so. Like I said, he is very self-absorbed, but also very good at making out you are unreasonable/demanding/selfish.
I do my best to avoid any conversations relating to his relationship with the OW. I write down what I want to say elsewhere as nothing I could say to him would make any difference to him & his outlook on it all anyway. All I would do is make myself angry & very upset. This is a man who told me with utter venom, that he wanted me to die when I was having an emergency C-section with DD2. All because I had the audacity to tell him that he needed to spend more time with DD1, rather than bombarding her with OW - she needed time to adjust.
Sorry, my comment wasn't very helpful to your question! I meant to post more but got interrupted.
Well done for holding your tongue and maintaining your dignity. He's a proper shit, isn't he?
I think you're right to get everything in writing.
Tbh, I think you'll prefer having your kids EOW. Right now you're too knackered to really get the best of leisure time, but as they get older I think you'd get annoyed that you were getting the daily grind and little of their fun time. I know the ideal is that you swap it for less daily grind... but still. It's not fair on you, but it'll also be easier for the kids as they have party invitations, events with friends etc. Sorry if I sound like him with his greater good manipulation! I know his his self serving.
Play to the one strength he seems to have - sticking to financial agreements. Make sure any maintenance goes up accordingly. Also, you well past the CO stage but in my CO I had it written that my XH pays half of childcare. In your new agreement, get it agreed that he's responsible for X holiday weeks. So if he does as you think and dips out of having them, at least he's paying for their holiday club. Don't have him pay for evening nanny when you actually use one. Calculate how often you need to stay late, and make an agreement in pounds shillings and pence - £x per week - one session to cover late working, one session to cover other babysitting so you can go out.
He is going to try to get you to share the driving at some point, so head that one off! He does the pick up/collection and pays for it. That includes paying for any childminding on Fri evening because no way is he going to make it every Friday in good time - 90 miles of Friday traffic? Even if negotiates with his employer, he only has to change jobs. Do your kids like his parents? Can they go there on a Fri night so that you never have the stress of not knowing what time he'll arrive? Plus - devious - if he wanted to pull a fast one and not come, he'll happily dick you about. But if the GPs expect your kids every other Fri, then he has to tell his own parents that he's letting his kids down.
Honestly I think you'll find him more likely to stick to EOW. Whilst I have zero sympathy for him, I think that 3 in 4 will feel like he does the long journey all the time, occasional break. But EOW and it won't seem like that - not just cos it's actually less, but also cos after every long driving weekend, the next one is always free.
Reading the OP again - so he's moved to work - was he doing the 90 mile each way trip daily?
If so even if every weekend he had the kids he's swapped 10x 90 mins for 4x 90 mins. So never fall into any sympathy for the driving!
We've only just really completed the divorce - does this mean I have to go through the courts to get this changed again?!! It took over 2 years to divorce him as it was!
I can't drop the kids at his parents - his mom was widowed around the time we split up & has met someone new last year. They are getting married soon & she spends a lot of time at his which is miles away.
Everything is in a state of flux regarding my job anyway - I teach, my contract has not been renewed as they effectively moved the goalposts & student numbers are dropping. So, I've got to try to find another job - they are thin on the ground for the subject I teach - I keep picking my brain for other options or retraining ideas, but I'm stumped. I'm digressing slightly here - so it all feels a bit fluffy & that I can't firm things up until I know where I am with a new job come August.
I do fear that he will try it on with the driving or the Friday pick ups.
He is good on the financial side - always was good at throwing money at things rather than doing the day to day, or the donkey work.
I'm not about to agree to his wishes until I have really thought about what I need too - I feel like I have to pay the price for him to continue to pursue his career, without the hassle of managing the children, whilst my working options are very limited.
I am looking forward to spending more time with my girls - just a bit pissed off that he doesn't have to juggle his working week at all
You don't need to assure everyone you want to spend more time with your girls that's not the point here. The fact is he has the luxury of being able to "choose his hours" with his children and prioritise where he lives, his relationship and goodness who's what else over them. Sounds like he'll do his "duty" and nothing more. And you'll be left picking up the pieces and trying to facilitate his relationship with them. He clearly isn't as committed to them as they are to him as they have already picked up on this themselves.
Sadly I think if you say the change in weekends doesn't work for you things will get nasty. I do think though you need these Friday pick ups as well as holiday etc in a formal agreement. He can't be letting them down every other Friday because he's failed to make an agreement to with his work about his childcare restrictions. He's worried he won't get out of work on time.... What does he think you do? Wait until the last minute and see if you can bolt out of the door?! Tell him he needs to speak to his work and have a formal agreement in place about leaving at a certain time every other Friday and tell him if he fails to stick to the agreement then HE is the one organising alternative childcare and pick up and explaining things to his children. Not you. Point out to him that under this new arrangement he's proposing you will have your children for 86% of the time. He will have them for 14%. Surely he can manage that?
If he gets worse and worse and withdraws from his relationship with them completely let him explain why. I think you have your work cut out for you with this one he clearly has no understanding of his children's emotions and needs at all and is more interested in a clean slate with the OW.
You say that you are worried about your daughter. Surely it is very wrong to keep telling her that her Dad loves her. In my opinion it is better for children to know the truth and be helped in how to deal with it in a loving and supportive way, for their psychological wellbeing.
Children need protection from manipulative and unloving fathers, a regular routine and choices that they want.
I think it's because I can't quite believe what an arsehole he is, at times. Like I said previously, he is very crafty & cunning about making out he is reasonable, concerned with his kids etc, and sadly, a lot of people swallow his bullshit.
He makes me doubt myself too - I know this is all part of the manipulation. I can kind of see through it all, I just feel incredibly sad for my girls really. It's all about money with him, over time & effort. Always was.
I'm going to hash this all out on paper for myself - then I will be firm with him about what I think is right for our girls. He needs to talk to my eldest about this too - not that I think it will make any difference to him and what he wants.
Thank you for all your input - I really appreciate a different perspective & some objectivity about this situation.
I think what can happen after a manipulative relationship, is shock and trauma that is felt by the wronged party. One almost feels that one "should", be then both the father and the mother, to ones child/ren.
However, this sadness can be passed onto your children and it can make them feel inadequate. You can change this, and really help your children by telling them you love them, listening to them and showing them how you love them in practical ways. This time will pass, and you will get through it.
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