A woman has told how all communication with her ex about their two children is made over email, but “he’s so hateful and sometimes I can’t bear to open them,” she writes as she asks agony aunt Coleen Nolan for help
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Nearly a decade ago I divorced my husband.
He was an angry man and, although he was never physically aggressive, he was emotionally abusive and my life was miserable until I finally plucked up the courage to leave.
At the time, my son and daughter were just five and seven. They’re both teenagers now.
They attend school and college near their dad’s because that’s where our family home was – so during term time they stay with him and come to me every weekend and holiday.
However, during lockdown, both children came to live with me, which I couldn’t have been happier about.
My problem is, my ex is still so rude towards me after all these years. He literally cannot say a civil word to me.
All our correspondence about the children is via email and I dread opening his messages.
It’s a drain on my energy and stops me from being truly happy. I wish I could just ignore his words and his tone, but it’s hard.
When I respond I’m always polite and keep it to the subject in hand and never take the bait, even though there’s plenty I want to say to him.
I know my children find it very sad their parents have such an awful relationship, but how can I tell them my side of things without affecting their view of their dad or setting off another barrage of abuse from him.
What’s your advice?
He does sound very bitter and clearly blames you entirely for the problems in your marriage, refusing to accept any responsibility.
I’m not sure he’ll change unless he does some serious soul-searching and is able to look at the wider picture.
He’s really got to help himself through therapy or anger management counselling, but something tells me he’s not the kind of person who would be open to that.
If you can, try to focus on the positives in your life, which I’m sure outweigh the negativity in these emails.
Try not to get bogged down in his messages – read them, make a note of any arrangements, then stick them in the trash folder.
You have moved on and, sadly, he hasn’t – he’s still consumed by what happened nearly a decade earlier.
I’m sure it’s been hard not to be frank with your kids about their dad’s behaviour and why you left the marriage, but you’ve done the right thing. They’re now at an age where they can form their own opinions and ask you questions.
You’ve also done well not to react in anger to his emails – often the other person will get bored with this approach and move on, but it’s clearly just pushing all your ex’s buttons and he’s carried on.
Maybe the thing to say is: “Unless you’d like to talk calmly and respectfully about what happened in our marriage, then let’s keep emails to arrangements for the kids.”
I don’t know how that’ll go down, but you could try it. It shows you’re willing to have a constructive conversation, but you’re not willing to be abused via email.
The good thing is, when your kids are both 18, you won’t have to discuss arrangements with your ex. Good luck.