I''ve been separated from stbxh for a year, we tried to keep it amicable at the start but as the divorce progresses our relationship has deteriorated drastically. We usually end up in some kind of disagreement on changeover days with our 6 yr old daughter (I''m the resident parent). I''ve tried to stay neutral but that man knows just how to press my buttons and is so obviously hostile to me in front of her it''s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain composure. So much so that dd said to me yesterday ''why is daddy mean to you mummy?'' That broke my heart and I want to get our contact organised properly so she has more structure and he can stop bullying me each time I see him!
As it stands he has her one night over the weekend. I never know which day beforehand because he likes to leave it until the last minute to tell me - an element of control there so I cannot make plans. Most weekends he will drive 60 miles to visit his mum and then spend the rest of the day with his sister and her family. He rarely spends quality time with daughter alone. Now, me and his sister have never got along and I am EXTREMELY uncomfortable with her having a weekly input in my daughters life, I realise she is my daughters aunty and I have no problem with grandparents having such regular input but his sister and I have very different values and see life polar opposites, (and she recently has a son out of prison). I am not happy at all with it. He says it''s none of my business but I am sure he would be unhappy if the boot was on the other foot.
Also, he see''s dd one night during the week usually (but not always). Again, this depends on what day he decides her wants to see her. He usually just sends me a text message and asks to see her and I agree. However, I can''t drop her at his during the week until after he''s finished work (after 6pm - he''s self employed and a gardener, there really is no reason why he cannot leave work a little early on contact night to spend some quality time with her before bed - but that''s another story). Also he will drop her back with me very early the next morning, rather than take her to school himself (I drive 20 miles each way to take her to school and he works in that area!
So basically this is all very unsettling for dd each week. To and fro, with no firm plans.
However, he is VERY against making any firm plans for contact.
My solicitor suggested a while ago that a lot of people ''do'' every other weekend. The non-resident parent perhaps doing pickup from school on the Friday afternoon, having the child for the whole weekend and then dropping back Sunday night or taking to school Monday morning. When I suggested this to stbx he said I was being completely unreasonable.
It has been suggested that I write to him to confirm this new arrangement even if he doesn''t agree to it. Seeing each other 2 times a week is really not working as we currently cannot stand the sight of each other and I truely do not want little one to be caught in the middle of this as is beginning to become apparent.
I am struggling to find the right words to put this request in writing to not sound condescending or to get his back-up.
Anyone have any ideas on how I word it to sound matter of fact and in control? (I''m always too waffly and put too much emotion in my writing!)
Maybe you could take an assertiveness class and that might give you some ideas on how to cope with him calling the shots.
At least I am lucky in that I do not have to face my ex and my children are old enough to make their own decisions regarding contact.
Maybe regarding making your own plans on a weekend (and I am assuming that you mean the odd Friday or Saturday or Sunday away or night out) you could let him know when an invitation or plan comes up so that he is advised in advance that he can have his child on that date (as it would be mutually convenient and good for the child) or that you have already made arrangements to be out with your child on a certain day (so could he arrange to have your child on the other day or weekend).
If he is totally detirmined to call the shots it might not help but then again it might help you feel that you are not at his beck and call.
Also if he knows how to push your buttons is there anyway you can avoid seeing him when he picks up or if you feel yourself getting wound up just say you will discuss it later.
I would definately hate to have to attempt to write my husband a letter as any communication I try to have with him is a red rag to a bull. I gave up even attempting to have negotiations with him several years ago.
I suppose you could write a letter asking for regular contact but bearing in mind he doesn''t want that it might well be a waste of time and energy and just something else he can beat you with.
Also you mention that you get too emotional and neither of you can stand the sight of each other so maybe you need help to be less emotional and get to the point where you are beyond those feelings.
So many people say that the best point is when you feel totally neutral. I think getting wound up about him driving back to you early when he is near the school and worries about the imput of other parties isn''t going to help at all.
You need to shut those emotions out of your mind otherwize they will just keep driving the bad feelings on. Maybe there are things about the way you are behaving that he doesn''t like but both of you need to accept that you are having your own lives now.
divigirl, you have my sympathy! It is so difficult amid all the turmoil to remain "civil" for your child. Your story is very similar to mine, and a lot more on here I think.
If you want to try and make a regular contact pattern, which lets face it is best for ALL concerned, maybe you could suggest sorting one month at a time? Days, dates and times, then you can plan what you have to do?
Explain to him that you all have a life and some things have to be arranged in advance, and in future if he just expects to text the day before, then no contact will happen as you need notice?
I''m afraid sometimes you have to be strong and put your foot down (says she who took nearly a year to do it!!)
At least your ex communicates with you, mine is totally childish and so that is how I treat him now....
YOu need to focus on the needs of your daughter and how to meet them. If your husband then reacts unreasonably there is nothing you can do about it. I would just say that the animosity between you at hand overs isn''t good for your daughter and needs to stop. To that end she would benefit from a regular routine with hand overs taking place in a neutral place such as school. Include the schedule you are proposing, but be prepared to negotiate and compromise about the detail using a mediator if necessary. If you later go to court the letter is evidence that you have behaved reasonably.
HOwever, it isn''t possible to reason, negotiate or mediate directly with someone who is being unreasonable. All you can do is establish physical and emotional boundaries. TO that end it can be worth paying an independent third party (a solicitor) to write letters on your behalf even if you decide to represent yourself later should the matter not be resolved and you go to court.