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Managing ex-husbands and new relationships

(12 Posts)
atrociful Tue 18-Oct-16 00:06:33


First-time post as I'm at my wits' end. Apologies for the long post...

I left my ex-husband in 2014; we have two DDs (then 5.5 and 2.5) and I was determined to do the best for them, and to be amicable and civilised about it - he wasn't an arsehole, I thought, but just hapless, chronically depressed, and apparently suffering from an enormous degree of learned helplessness courtesy of a very indulgent mother trying to make it up to him that his father died when he was tiny. We shared custody for six months, and went to see a counsellor to see if we could work it out, but when I said that I felt we were getting nowhere, he eventually confessed to having an alcohol problem that pre-dated our relationship; we met when we were 19, and he had been drinking too much since he was 17, quietly and secretly. It turned out he'd reached the point where he was drinking up to 21 units a day; he admitted he was worried that he wouldn't hear the girls if they woke in the night, and that he had driven while drunk many times. I took custody of the girls full-time straight away, and told him we were done in no uncertain terms, not because of the alcohol but because of the lying, and the danger he'd put the girls in.

Fast-forward to December of last year, and a lovely man I'd met bizarrely on Twitter moved in with us when I bought a house after the one my ex and I co-owned sold. The divorce, not then finalised but at least done to decree nisi, was a bloody nightmare - my ex moved from being repentant and grateful that I was reasonable in my reaction to his alcohol revelations (I never hit the roof; I made sure the girls saw him every single weekend, spending two hours a day doing the round-trip so that they weren't getting in a car with him; I promised I wouldn't try to take them from him and that I was - and remain - committed to ensuring they had access to him) to being vengeful and manipulative as soon as he knew I had met someone else - everything took far longer than it should have done, and he would blame his solicitors, apparently unaware that I had seen some of their emails, from which it was clear that he was holding me hostage over the financial clean-break agreement by demanding increased access to the girls.

Eventually we got the agreement done when I threatened him with an enforcement order; he still claims he didn't know what his solicitors were doing and that they took matters into their own hands.

He niggles about the custody arrangement (arrived at through mediation, in which the mediator pointed out that he's doing pretty well to have them for one night out of seven, and that really she'd like an independent risk assessment done, and a social worker's report, given his history) constantly, and never misses a chance to remind me that he thinks him only having them for 17% of their time (the 1/7 night, and then two school pick-ups a week) is damaging them, and that 'they need' far more time with him. He's unreliable - missed picking DD1 up from her Brownies' sleepover despite emails and texts to confirm arrangements, for example - and seems to think it's OK to tell the girls whatever he likes about me, though he claims he never says anything negative.

Meanwhile, my partner is doing his nut. He wants my ex out of our lives; he has talked about us moving out of the area etc. I don't feel we can move; DD1 has been to three primary schools, and needs stability and reliability, I feel, more than ever, and DD2 could do with a bit of that too! I can't just click my fingers and make my ex disappear, much though I might wish I could. My partner is clearly really trying, but he is often very down about our circumstances, and feels that he either has to lie to me about his feelings, or that I have to change the way we are living. I feel that things could be a lot worse; at least at the moment I have my girls for the vast majority of the time, and that means I can at least shield them from some of their father's shortcomings. I know it's not perfect, and I can see that my partner wants the sort of exclusivity that naturally goes with falling in love with someone... But I don't see how I can give it.

Has anyone had this sort of experience? How do you manage the expectations of two men who basically loathe each other while still feeling like a sane human being, and a decent mother? I feel like I'm being pulled in two. Either I cut my ex out more and risk him taking me to court and yet more acrimony, or I avoid that but I worry that my partner will walk at this rate...

doji Tue 18-Oct-16 01:08:39

Your DP can't cope with your daughter's father still being a part of their (and by extension your) life? I'd proritise your children here (hint: being in a relationship with a man that wants to stop them seeing their father is very unlikely to be in their best interest).

Mouikey Tue 18-Oct-16 06:55:55

Not excusing your exh but significant alcohol intake over a long period of time can have a significant impact on memory - it wouldn't surprise me if he would argue to the end of days that he hadn't said something or done something. I'm sure you have or donso, but it might be worth documenting things via email with him so you have a clear trail that he has been told of arrangements and issues if he continues to have problems.

as you have children your exh will be in your life until they are at least 18, but likely longer - if you move away you will be the one who has to drive longer/further to drop the kids off (until they can get the train etc). As the pp has said, your new partner has to accept this as it won't change wherever you are located

Mouikey Tue 18-Oct-16 06:56:33

Donso = doing!!

PirateCatOvenGloveOption Tue 18-Oct-16 07:02:32

Sounds to me like your new partner is being manipulative. It's not about him is it, the DDs get priority FFS.

TheNaze73 Tue 18-Oct-16 07:05:01

Your new DP sounds a bit of a prick for suggesting that. DC come first, no excuses

Starryeyed16 Tue 18-Oct-16 07:12:15

I agree with other posters he will be apart of your life you have two DC together. My DH accepted my ex coming to the house twice a week even dropped DS off at their house and answered the door he does it for DS he doesn't like ex but he's civil enough.

DoubleCarrick Tue 18-Oct-16 07:19:50

My Dad had alcohol issues and an awful problem with memory. He still does sometimes repeat conversations three or four times.

Not excusing the behaviour though

Costacoffeeplease Tue 18-Oct-16 07:22:53

I agree with pp, current partner is a dick - it's not about him. He's often very down about your circumstances??? I don't think he's cut out to be in a relationship with someone who has children

You don't have to be torn in two, you can take control here, like you did regarding the alcohol problem - tell them both, esp current partner, this is how it's going to be, like it or lump it

atrociful Tue 18-Oct-16 07:56:33

Thanks for the replies, everyone. DP has evidently come over far worse than I feel is fair - he does interact with my ex, and has done things like taking the girls over to see him when I wasn't well with a very good grace. I think part of the problem is that my ex behaves as if this is all my/DP's fault and he hasn't done a thing to bring the situation about - DP says he wants to look after me and stop my ex pissing me about, basically, and it hacks him off that no matter how hard he tries, the ex won't try, and pisses the girls around too. DP is brilliant with the girls - picks them up from
school every day and does breakfast/snack prep, all the laundry, homework.... He just can't seem to get his head around the ex being involved because he can see he's crap at it. Some days
I think it's just time and we need to just wait it out a bit, but there is a significant age gap here too (I'm 37 and he's 59), and I don't think that helps as he feels he doesn't have forever.

Costacoffeeplease Tue 18-Oct-16 08:22:18

But the ex is their father, he has to get his head around it

I thought you were going to say he was relatively young, but he's nearly 60?? I would have thought he'd show a bit more maturity

HermioneJeanGranger Tue 18-Oct-16 08:26:32

He needs to realise your ex will always be there - he's their dad, no matter how hapless or disorganised he is, you can't just move and cut him out of your lives - surely he knows that?!

I'm sure he's nice enough but can he really cope in the role of step-parent for the rest of his life? If he resents your ex, the girls will pick up on it and it will cause tension and arguments as they get older.

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