My ex-husband and I separated six months ago.
It followed several years of a deteriorating relationship after I discovered he was cheating.
Despite promises to end it and marriage counselling, the affair was still going on.
He’s now dating this woman openly and has included our two sons frequently – eating at her house, going out with her as a “family,” etc.
He’s also been grilling our boys about what I do when they’re with me, then emailing me his criticisms.
I was always the more involved parent, as he was a workaholic and absent even more hours and weekends during his affair.
I’m concerned that my ex may be thinking of trying for sole custody.
Meanwhile, when I said I thought it was too early to involve the kids so much with his girlfriend, he said it was okay because he’d already been with her for so long – but that was when we were married!
How do I deal with a man who thinks he’s never in the wrong? How do I protect my joint custody of our sons?
Tug of War?
There’s no war yet, but definite signs of future battles.
Keep a record of any actions by your ex-husband that you find questionable for your sons’ best interests, or with regard to a full custody bid.
Alert the lawyer you used for your joint custody agreement about your concerns.
Neither of you can control the other’s new relationships, but you can question whether the amount of involvement with your children is appropriate for their age and comfort.
Suggest post-separation counselling. If he won’t agree to it and your worries persist, seek court-ordered mediation.
I’m the brother of a “needy” sister, age 37. She has some mental health issues, took years to complete a university education, and has never worked.
She’s artsy, and very occasionally sells a piece of her creative work. Her rent is paid through a small but invested inheritance from our grandparents.
All her other ongoing support comes from Mom and Dad.
I’m three years younger, worked through university, got a job and moved up to better positions and pay.
My wife and I have a house and mortgage, are raising two children, and she also works at a demanding job.
My parents recently raised the subject of their will and how they have to make sure they take care of my sister.
In other words, there’ll be an uneven divide just as there’s always been.
It Feels Unfair
I agree, it feels unfair.
But life isn’t fair… not to your sister for whatever conditions held her back from being able to have the satisfying sense of accomplishment you’ve gained from your own efforts.
It’s also not fair to your parents, who’ve had this worry about their daughter for most of her life.
You’re the lucky one with the pride of independence, a life partner, and children.
Your parents don’t owe you an equal half of their assets in their will when they pass, even though that’s an ideal so many people take for granted, and many parents wish they could provide.
One response might be to ask if they can set aside something to leave towards your children’s education, which would link the kids’ future to their grandparents’ interest in them.
If possible, assure your parents that you’ll stay connected to your sister and watch out for her when they’re gone.
That’s their biggest worry, so you’ll be giving them peace of mind.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who wants to end driving someone who has bad body odour. (Oct. 4):
Reader – “I agree with you that we cannot judge or blame someone for their condition.
“But I think the person needn’t feel guilty or obligated to continue.
“Why should we feel awkward or upset because we don’t know how to address issues like hygiene?
“I’ve experienced a similar situation and it’s very difficult – do you put up with it or do you avoid it?
“I’m compassionate and sympathetic, but I’ve learned that it’s easier to not put myself in those situations if possible.
“Once you start driving someone, it’s hard to stop. It’s better to not start if you feel you’ll be put in an awkward situation.”
Ellie – His main question was about how he’d appear if he stopped driving him. You’re correct - it’s awkward and won’t be appreciated after letting it become a pattern.
Tip of the day:
Despite the ideal, parents don’t “owe” children equally in their will, especially if one child has greater needs.