Unreasonable behaviour

I have to draft a list of unacceptable behaviours that occurred within my marriage in order to be ‘allowed’ to get divorced. As our mediator explained, this is kind of an archaic part of UK law whereby you can only get divorced for one of five reasons: unreasonable behaviour, adultery, desertion,2 years separation with consent or five years separation without consent.

I believe that ‘unreasonable behaviour’ is given as a reason for almost half of all divorces now.

In a keenly ironic twist the mediator suggested that I be very diplomatic with my wording so that my husband will have no reason to flare up and decide to contest or draw matters out. I had a list of bullet points all ready to go but now I’m going to have to rethink and start dreaming up vague notions of his shift work ‘getting in the way’ of family life; him not helping round the house more, etc.

Those things are true but they don’t demonstrate what an emotionally abusive, selfish, manipulative person he actually is. They don’t give a real insight into what it was really like to put up with a life spent walking on eggshells.

I’m lead to believe that it doesn’t really matter what I say though, because ‘unreasonable behavious’ is so subjective.

How’s this for unreasonable: this weekend he has finally had the children for almost two days and one whole night!! (That’s not the unreasonable bit). I offered to drop them off adding another forty mile round trip onto my weekly schlep. He had them overnight and then today, at about 2.45pm I discovered that he was taking them about 25 miles in the opposite direction to our current home so that they could meet up with one of his friends in another town.

This seemed a bit crazy but I assumed he would still have the kids back to me by 6pm (it’s a Sunday – a school night). It later transpired that the ‘friend’ they were meeting up with was a woman who I believe to be his new girlfriend. He has point blank denied to there being another woman (the mediator asked, not me), but I have lots of evidence to the contrary.

Anyhow, it got to about 6.10pm and we wondered where they were so I phoned only to be told that they were still in this place, an hour away from home and it would take them ten minutes to walk back to the car. And, oh yes, the kids had been playing on some stepping stones across a stream and the six year old had fallen in and was wet up to the ankle.

It had started to get cold and later, when they finally got dropped off at 7.20pm it transpired that they hadn’t been offered anything to eat except an ice lolly since lunchtime. He had left all the six year old’s most treasured possessions behind at his (our) house – his Amazon tablet and his muzzy collection (a bit like leaving another child’s most beloved cuddly toy behind) and he had also forgotten to pack the list of dates he had promised to give me for his upcoming child contact for the next ten weeks (something he had agreed in mediation to provide me with two days ago).

He then phoned me at about 8.15pm when I was in the throes of trying to sing a restless three year old to sleep. I said I would phone him back. I finally got the three year old to sleep by 8.50pm. I decided to call him to get the dates but he immediately tried to start wrangling over possible cancellations and the wheres and whens of the first handover out of ten week’s worth of dates. Meanwhile our poor six year old who should have been in bed an hour ago needed to be settled.

I told him I would stop by the house on the way to school in the morning to pick up the six year old’s belongings and his list of dates and he told me I couldn’t because he needed a lie in and didn’t want to be disturbed. He suggested I come after school in the afternoon and suggested he would pick our son up. I said no – I finish work at 1.30pm on a Monday and I already have to spend over an hour hanging around waiting for the school pick up as I can’t go back into my own house when he’s there.

I asked him to have the children one specific weekend in June when I know he is off work – I was honest and told him that I have a wedding to go to. He said he didn’t think he would be able to do that for me.

I became heated as he was playing mind games and I had a very tired child on my hands. I told him it was very late and I had to settle the six year old. He seemed to think that 9pm was not late at all.

The more heated I became the more cold and calm he became. He actually said ‘you’re getting angry aren’t you?’ in a very patronising way.

I have to try and stop myself from rising to his general nastiness and game playing. I have to take a leaf out of the book of his previous ex-wife. She never compromised and she didn’t have to. If he can’t put the needs of our children first and stop treating me as an adversary now then he never will and one of us has to protect their interests.

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