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So what does being divorced really mean?

M Updated
So what does being divorced really mean?

I thought it allowed a couple to split up and go their separate ways, when their are children there are shared responsibilities.

Yet despite having had divorce go through the court and financial settlement I don't feel divorced at all.

Yes we live in separate places.  But she has trained the children to not accept that it is ok to stay with me.  Initially fine, I was sharing a house so just had 1 room.  So I moved nearer them in September to a 1 bed flat at more than double the monthly cost.  They still don't want to stay with me, yet give no particular reason.  So everytime I see them it is invariably just a few hours round my place then take them home.  Then, in December they moved even closer to me - now a 7 min walk away and for one reason or another as I am closer it is "can you come round and help with homework" - ok fine  I am ok with that - to "while you are here can you fix this" - errr ok then - now it has become "Mum isn't feeling well can you make dinner here" - errr no I will take you home and feed you.  Except that the eldest (16yr old) has a lot of homework and wants to stay in her own room to do it in so won't come to my place to eat.  Sometimes I take the other 2 and bring back some cooked food for her, other times she just cooks something quick for herself, well it used to be like that, now the younger two refuse to leave the house once they are there.  So in the past couple of weeks or so I ended up cooking the occassional meal at the weekend or evening round their place.

Ex is not well so understandable she will need some support but shouldn't she have built up her own support network rather than getting the kids to depend on me?  Her illness gets worse with stress, separately from this she can't manage on the maintenance money and is hassling me for more.  When the condition kicks in with the stress she calls an ambulance and gets taken to A&E.  A few episodes of this since December (just as they were moving) meant I had to take days of work to help them move, get settled etc and then to drop/pickup kids from school.  As I work on freelance I don't get paid on those days where I do not work.  She has been told by doc to manage her stress but she seems to think that is a licence for her to say what she wants and for me to just say "yes".   Err I divorced you becuase I couldn't meet those demands I ain't going to meet them now.

So things came to head after she felt really faint on Thursday and I put all my spare time that day and the weekend to help them out, including cooking for them at their place and some ironing. And It was a one off I thought.  Big mistake.  My freelance work happened to finish on Friday and so for Monday I said I am not working for a week or so I can do the school run.  Which I did.  "I am not well can you feed kids", ok they can come to my place.  "No we don't want to, we just want to be at home".  So I cook at their place, whilst cooking I was asked if I can stay to do the ironing.  No, I gave up my weekend and I have my own things to attend to.  I left.

They didn't like that.  Big arguments followed by SMS, then my eldest called to say the stress had kicked off the condition again can I come back.  I went back and I said to ex shall I call ambulance, she said "no".  OK then you need to stay calm and the symptoms will go.  But it seems that she and the eldest wanted to have an argument instead saying I had let kids down and then saying it is normal for the ex husband to help out when the wife is unwell.  So it was about the ironing then I challenged, is the ironing so important, the kids won't suffer if it is skipped.  "Yes it is important" they said they can't manage without it.  I am not your domestic helper you need to find a way to manage or pay for some help, I said, adding that I had things of my own and my own place to attend to.  Then a big outpouring follows of how I am not meeting kids needs and that other ex husbands are better - well fine maybe they are if they can get on but I can't get on with her.

Clearly I was not helping by staying and with a non molestation order hanging over my head too from the FMH I decided it was best to leave even though kids are in tears by now.

Since then I have had a stream of abusive texts saying I am not meeting kids' needs when she is not well.  My reply is that if they need looking after they can come to me where I live. I was just told that the kids think my place is a "pit" so don't want to be here - this is after the eldest helped choose it.   Then more abusing texts demanding an apology to her and the kids.  Not sure what I am supposed to apologise for, I asked and was told for making the kids feel unimportant.  So she has brought them up to believe that if Dad doesn't come to their place and iron on demand then they are unimportant.

So the next step will be how many weeks of "sorry kids don't want to come out today"?

So that's why I don't feel divorced, they seem to think I am still tied to them.

Has anyone else experienced this?  Do I have the wrong expectations of what being divorced means?

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Sounds as if you have an extremely manipulative ex who is using the children against you.
Perhaps the best thing to do is stay well away and wait to see if the children will get sick of being around her and come over to you voluntarily to escape.
Whatever- good luck.
Boundaries - yes a good point she doesn't seem to understand about those at all.

Share arrangement - I would love, however due to past history of losing temper due to mental stress from ex when married and subsequent episodes of angry outbursts the kids are too scared to stay overnight with me.
Everyone has made very valid points and the worst thing is the arguing, which is so destructive for the children, they should not have to live like that. They are old enough to fend more for themselves - Mum sounds very manipulative and the boundaries do need to be very clear, although some people don't understand about boundaries. You could read a couple of books on this they might help? You are divorced! Be unavailable for a couple of weeks and see what happens?
hi, yes. others have said it so i dont have much more to add on the: you need to put some boundaries in place topic. imagibe if you could do 50/50 shared care and that wa structured around 1 wk with you and one wk with your ex. i think that works and is fair. i did it this way and actually had a shared care order in place. the kids grow up quick. i had to make special allowances on my work arrangments and it was tough. funny how you never here that about a single working father1?
Hi winterfrost and sungirl, thanks for reading and thanks for the tips :-)
What a diffecult situation, your dammed if you do dammed if you don't. I don't know the ages of your childeren but I have a 14 year old that has to help out around the house including doing her own ironing. I think you need to be tougher with them and I know from experience this is really hard. Many childeren have to do more around the home and just because you are near by, im sure it won't hurt for them to help out more. If their mum is ill and they need tea I would say they must come to your house, if they choose not to that is there problem. Your divorced and don't want to be in constant contact with their mum, this is totally acceptable but of course as kids they don't understand this. I don't think it is wrong to sit them down and explain this too them. You will never be able to move on in your life if you are constantly at your ex's home. Imagine if one day you meet some one else. How will you ever be able to have a new realationship and build a new life if this continues. You need to set some strong boundaries. It also sounds to me that your constant visits, even though they request them are causing a lot of stress and arguement in the home which seems to making your ex's illness worse not better. I would tell them that your work commitments are increasing and they need to help out in the home more and help you by having tea at your house when needed, hopefully this will help. I also wouldn't reply at all to your ex's ranting text, she will soon realise she isn't getting any replies and they should stop. I was onced advised to treat my ex like a diffecult business customer, professional and too the point. Hope it helps.
I would add that you appear to be showing signs of codependency. Learn about it [url]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency[/url]and find out where the CODA meetings are in your area. They can help.

You're going through a bad time. I'm not giving anyone any lessons because I'm hardly a prime example of knowing how to cope alone but surely cooking and ironing at the ex's is a big no-no? It looks to me that they are guilt-tripping you into submission and you are eagerly accepting it. You are loving your abusers. I definitely wouldn't live 7 minutes away because that means you're ensnared and at their beck and call. All they have to do is holler, cry a bit, call you a bastard and you come running to do all their chores. Sorry, I'm being harsh but I hate to see someone being abused in this way. You are now divorced, seperate lives but shared children. Your ex's health problems are exactly that: her problems, not yours. Let her deal with them, it's her shit. Your issues are with your kids and that's where you have to work hard if you want to have a relationship but consider this: do you want to trash your own life by pandering to the brattish behaviour of your offspring? I'm not a psychologist and my own experience has not been exemplary but I'm farther down the road that you and can see what is happening. I too had an abusive wife who guilt-tripped me to hell and tried to turn my daughter against me so I know what I'm talking about. It took me years to re-establish a relationship with my daughter and it's still touch and go but I didn't pander to her, it was more a case of "I'm your dad and you know where to find me but if you get into a mess, deal with it".

Let me know how you're getting on. PM if you want. Helping you will help me, that's what this site is all about. We're all suffers.