MY wife and I separated a couple of years ago and our twin seven-year-old boys live with her and her new partner. Initially things between us were OK, but when she met her new partner things began to break down.
He has a great job and they all live in a big house with its own pool. My wife now lavishes money on the kids and I feel I’m being pushed out of their lives because I can’t compete financially.
The separation left me with very little, and I work in two jobs to be able to meet my monthly bills and have a little left over. When I see the boys all I hear is what Mum has bought them, what new clothes they have and where they’re going on their next holiday. I’m finding it hard to cope.
MS: The situation you’re describing is common after separation. It might feel as if your wife is deliberately rubbing your nose in her new-found wealth but it’s probably not her intention. Many separated parents are acutely aware of the traumas their children have gone through and they feel guilty about it. The need to spend money on them can be a way of trying to make up for the difficulties.
Have you told your wife how you feel? If not, try to sit down with her and discuss the issue. If the two of you can work better in this regard, your overall parental relationship should start to improve – and that can only be of benefit to your boys. In years to come, it is likely they will not remember who bought them their new games console or tablet, but they will remember the fact that their mum and dad were able to work together and make them feel cared for.
The truth hurts
My ex-husband and I have a ten-year-old daughter who lives with me. We separated when she was six. After we split, he didn’t pay child support and I had to go to the CSA to get a contribution. He then fought hard over the divorce settlement, and after costs there was virtually nothing left. Now he has a new partner, a new family, a nice house and two cars, but he refuses to help pay for things like school uniforms. I’ve had enough.
My daughter noticed recently that I was feeling low so I told her what I thought of her dad and the fact that he was causing our financial situation. I know she was upset but she’s old enough to know the truth about what is going on and what kind of person her dad is.
MS: Financial issues are often the first and longest-lasting problems to arise after separation. This can lead to a heightened sense of frustration, anger and resentment between parents. The desire to involve a child and make them see how bad the other parent is can seem justifiable. But it isn’t. Children need to be shielded as much as possible from parental conflict. Think carefully before saying anything else to your daughter and perhaps consider mediation with your ex.
• Mark Stalker is service manager at Relationships Scotland Family Mediation South Lanarkshire
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