I received the e-mail below from a man seeking divorce advice:
Jackie, My ex wife and I have been divorced about 4 years. We have one child who is eight now. Our interactions have been good when I’m doing everything she wants and horrible when I don’t. I don’t fight back with her I just remove myself from the situation. She told me a month ago that she’s engaged. We have a fairly equal co-parenting schedule with joint custody. I would like to have an amiable interaction with both of them for my son’s sake and my own sanity. It’s seems that it may end being worse than ever though. It’s almost as if they are trying to drive me away or something, which I really don’t understand as I have been a big support for her with taking our son, pickups/drop offs from school etc while she finished school and allowed her to take a job schedule that she couldn’t have otherwise. Thoughts?
The first thing I thought of when reading this comment was the movie, “Taken.” Have you seen it? At the beginning of the movie, it seemed like the ex wife was trying to drive Liam Neeson away. Remember? She was married to some new, wealthy guy, and Liam Neeson goes to his daughter’s 17th birthday party and a security guard says to him, “May I help you?” Neeson says, “I’m her for my daughter’s birthday party.” The guard says, “No, her father is over there,” and points to the stepdad.
I think there are many men and women who attempt to drive their ex’s away, and I think it is selfish, cruel and really bad for the kid. It angers me. Why can’t people realize that there is a place for everyone? The dad is the dad and the stepdad is just another person who can offer support and love to the kids? I just don’t get it.
Is it possible that your ex still harbors a lot of resentment towards you? Because that’s what it appears as to me. Is she trying to hurt you? Forget you? Get you out of the picture so that SHE can move on? Whatever the reason, she is dead wrong. No parent should try to take their kids away from the other parent, unless there the person is dangerous or abusive in some way.
Here is my advice to you. Don’t let them drive you away. Be your son’s dad. Enjoy him. Spend time with him. Have your life with him. Try to be civil and kind to your ex, but nothing more. She has made it very clear that she doesn’t want to be buddies with you. Don’t let that bother you. That’s HER issue. I do believe there will come a time when her new husband won’t be Mr. Perfect anymore and she’ll come around. But I wouldn’t even think about that right now. Just think of your son and how much you enjoy being his dad. And keep being it.
Remember that you are unable to control how your ex acts, what she does and says, and how she feels towards you. But, you can control your own thoughts, words and actions. Take the high road with this and just be polite. For years and years and years I tried to be friends with my ex, and I would get hurt and cry when he was cold and distant. It actually still happens from time to time, and I ask myself when I’m going to realize that he doesn’t want to be friends with me and be ok with that. That doesn’t mean the two of you have to be cruel to each other and fight. It just means that she doesn’t want your friendship, so make yourself be ok with it.
One last thing. No one ever seems to remember what the other did for them while they were married. In other words, when your wife was finishing school and you were helping her out with that and her work schedule, you were really helping your son. So, who cares if she conveniently forgot. Again, you ultimately helped your son. Good luck to you!
I face a similar situation in which I’m thinking about moving away from my ex-wife to get some peace, even if that means leaving my son with her full time. Currently, we share custody 50/50 and she pays me child support, but she is so hard to deal with and controlling of our son that I feel he would be better off with one of us rather than this shared custody. Of course, I feel that I’d be better for him, but despite all of her flaws, I think she would still be better for him than the current situation. Ultimately, I WILL lose custody if I move away unless our son makes the active choice to move with me. At 13 years old, he just doesn’t have the maturity to decide these things, even though it would be better for him to be with me.
There are a number of reasons my situation is superior for him, including the fact that I’ve remarried and have a loving family that accepts him as a brother and step-son. I allow him the room to grow by letting him make his own friends and attending his own social activities, trusting him to go out into the world on his own without me holding his hand. Conversely, his mother remains single and poisonous, preferring to company of other divorced women. she does not allow our son to go outside on his own and determines who his friends are through associations with her own social circle. She confiscates his cell phone when he arrives are her house so she can monitor his calls to me on her own phone. And I could go on.
Ultimately, my ex needs to control the world around her, and my family is affected by that. A judge would only see that my moving away would alter our son’s entire social circle and would not be in his best interests, so I would have to accept that moving away is defacto an abandonment of my child. But it needs to be done for my son’s and my mental health. You see, my ex uses every opportunity to frustrate my wife and I by using my son as a weapon. This is good for nobody but my ex-wife, and the only solution that doesn’t involve me going bankrupt in court is to remove myself from the equation so that she won’t have a target to use our son for her own ends.
My son will be able to visit me on occasion (once or twice a year), and if his mother’s behavior continues and he matures, he can come to live me full-time. If he does not develop that maturity, and his mother continues to use him as a weapon against my family under the new situation, I will simply remove myself completely from his life and accept that my ex beat me away. I guess I’m writing this to demonstrate that a parent abandoning their child is not always an act of selfishness per se. Removing myself from the situation does benefit me, but it simplifies my son’s life as well. He will no longer have to feel torn between his mother and father, and even though he may grow to hate me, at least he’ll have the stability of a single family to call his own.
I’m sure many will find my thoughts repugnant, but there are many men out their experiencing the same choice. Many women use their children and the system to drive their ex-husbands away. Ultimately, they often succeed which feeds the narrative that women are more nurturing and loving to their children, but the opposite is true in my opinion. My abandonment of my child is an act of love. I just can’t bear to see him used a tool to control me anymore.