Still stuck after 2 years…

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  • #9899 Report



    I am desperate for help in how to move on from a separation two years ago. I have a 4 and 6 year old; they see my ex on a Weds eve for a couple of hours, all day every Sat, and Fri and Sat night every other weekend.

    I am still stuck in a strange cycle with my ex. We can go a few months getting on extremely well, then something happens and things turn considerably frosty. I am very anxious when any kind of conflict arises, to the point that I shake and feel physically sick when I even see that he’s sent me a text message. He is not my eldest child’s  natural father, but has been in his life since he was one. We were not married (not my choice; false promises were made by him). He bought a house in his  name when we discovered that I was pregnant and I moved in with him with my child. When we split (not my choice), I had to move out into rented with my children. He pays maintenance for our child together.

    I am constantly on eggshells and do whatever I can to keep the peace. I long for a whole weekend with my children but feel physically sick at the thought of discussing any possibility of changing arrangements. Christmas the year before last led to him getting physical with me in front of the children and threatening to not bring the children home to me: all because he suddenly decided he wanted to collect them at a different time to the one we’d agreed. The police were involved and things were strained for a few months afterwards. The police were keen to take things further but I just couldn’t do it to the children at Christmas time.

    He had the children in his car last year in the passenger seat without their car seats on “two minute journeys”, despite having car seats for them fitted in his car.  When I spoke to him about this, he got defensive, hung up on me and didn’t speak to me for a couple of weeks. When I have tried to speak up in the past, he gets defensive and says things like “oh here we go…this is what you do…criticising me again…” and this is even when I end up going all around the houses and trying to say something in a way that will not cause conflict.

    I am assertive in all other areas of my life. I just cannot stand up to him. He misses his time with the children due to various stag weekends abroad, holidays (3 weeks on one alone last year) and nights out, but won’t take time off from work to spend with the children during the holidays. When I have tried to explain how this doesn’t seem very fair to the children, he will agree, will say “I don’t even really want to go” and then the next social thing comes up and it happens all over again. I feel I am at his mercy for contact arrangements so as not to upset the children; sometimes during the holidays he’ll text and say “my parents will have them on X day.” He will make an arrangement with his parents without discussing with me first. If I then have to tell him that actually, I have plans with them for that day, he will question why I can’t change my plans, then his mood changes and the cycle starts again. I’ll then end up offering an alternative time out of “my” time with them in order to keep him happy. This usually gets declined as it doesn’t suit him or them.

    He never checks dates before he goes away. I just get told “I’ll be away on xxxx date, which is my weekend, so I’ll just have them on xxxx date instead.” I feel totally taken for granted and angry with myself for letting him treat me like this. Then he’ll be very nice and I feel trapped again. The children also don’t want to be at his parents without him there, but I don’t feel I can tell him this in case it upsets him.


    When we were together I was a stay at home mum. His money was his money and I had to ask him for cash for various things that the children might need that the child benefit didn’t cover. I then started self employment again with a few hours a week, and the money I earned went on our food bills. He was very controlling and did what he wanted, went out when he wanted, and never went without the latest gadget. My parents supported me and the children financially when we needed clothes/ a few pounds for an occasional cafe trip etc.


    When things are okay between us he sails around my house and makes comments about various things at pick up/ drop up time like he owns it. I feel powerless but like I’m to blame because I let him in because of the children saying “please can daddy stay for a bit?”. He doesn’t help with homework, he doesn’t do anything other than collect them, take them to his or his parents and let them play console games. Their teeth are not brushed at his, he gets frustrated when they don’t go to sleep for him. When they’re with him, I text and see if they’re both okay and if things are good between us he’ll reply instantly, and if things are not good he just doesn’t bother for hours which sets my heart pounding at the thoughts of these weird mind games. My parents are so supportive of me and the children, emotionally and financially, but even they are at a loss to advise me as they don’t understand why I am still getting so anxious and upset over things considering all the things that have happened because of him.


    I would really appreciate some help…please be kind! Thank you if you read this far.

    #9906 Report


    How were the contact arrangements organised in the first place? If it was just between yourselves then you might need to make it more formal, possibly through mediation or putting together a parenting plan. If he keeps bending the rules then you might have to consider being stricter about what contact he is allowed and when. There are clearly safety and well-being issues here and if it were to go to court issues such as violence, not brushing their teeth, handing them over to others to look after during his contact time, not wearing seatbelts, etc. would all be alarming and might result in an order to reduce contact to a contact centre only for a period of observation.

    I would give these guys a call:

    Support with any parenting problem: Family Lives 9am-9pm weekdays, 10am-3pm weekends FREE helpline 0808 800 2222

    They might have other ideas to help you be firmer over access issues. I think you’re getting to the point where you’re going to have to put your foot down, which might make him worse, but just be sure that if that happens his access could be stripped back and if he really cares about that (and the idea of maybe getting a criminal record if he is physically or verbally abusive to you – keep all those texts etc because there is a thing of malicious communication as well).

    I reckon it’s going to get tougher for you in the short term, but you will come out of it stronger and you won’t wobble in front of him so much. He will come out of it with a better relationship with his children and hopefully a better attitude. The problem is if you don’t he’ll have nothing holding him in check and that will mean it gets even worse for you and the children.

    Keep it together and let us know how you get on. All the best.

    #9916 Report


    Dear Empty and Anonymous,

    Wow, thank you both so, so very much for your composed, helpful, and compassionate replies. I can’t believe you both took the time to be so incredibly kind! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it…I woke up to your advice after an unsettled night and I can honestly say that I have read both of your replies a few times and feel more positive after each read through. Thank you, both of you, very much indeed.

    Empty; the arrangements were made between ourselves verbally. When we were together, I worked on a Saturday whilst he had the children at his parents. When we first separated, this just stayed the same as I was keen to avoid even more conflict with him and thought I’d be doing the right thing for the children by keeping that aspect the same for them on a Saturday.

    There is so much to process from your advice and I can see from re-reading my post that I have been a sap and somehow blinded by it all. Anonymous…you saying that he is abusive and a bully was a lightbulb moment. I never let myself believe it before as the woman I was before him would never have accepted this treatment.

    I hope you both realise that you have made today a very important turning point for me, and for my children as well.

    I will update when I can.


    Very best wishes.



    #9919 Report


    Well done Cee. We all care about you.

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