My ex-husband has no communication with me.
This might sound like an ideal outcome, but we have two children who we apparently “co-parent”.
Five years ago we signed Court Orders agreeing to the terms of childcare. He fought tooth and nail to get a larger share; my cynical side felt he increased the days to improve his financial settlement. It was not long post-divorce that his commitment to childcare waned.
Today, the balance of care has changed to maybe 10% or even less. I’m working full time and looking after the kids and he does what he wants. This school term there are eight weekends – we should have four weekends each, but it is looking increasingly like I’ll be lucky for him to get two. He just disappears off the edge of the world and even the kids don’t know what is happening.
Since our divorce, I’ve had no voice. I communicate with my ex via email, keeping him up-to-date with the issues I feel are important and reminding him the dates of care, school events, etc. I start the year with a calendar I send to him, saying, ‘This is a draft – if you want any changes, no worries’. I’ll probably send it four times as a reminder and I get no response.
This month, I found out after weeks of being in the dark that he was overseas. Last year my son was given the job of asking if they could have Christmas with me, revealing Dad had forgotten it was his turn. School holidays come and go; sometimes it takes him a week to pick them up and at times he does not eventuate. Nothing can be planned.
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My shoulders are reasonably broad so I manage this, but my kids are living the ongoing tension of a failed marriage. They’re given the role of messenger, an unfair task for very young kids. When they say, ‘Aren’t we going to Dad this weekend?’, what can I do? I can’t say no and I can’t make them feel unwanted because they already feel unwanted. I put them first. I cannot take my frustration out on them. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not perfect and sometimes this situation gets to me. Some things, some days, just give.
This is complex for both the kids. They want both parents to be happy and try to insulate us from issues that may cause pain.
Women are predominantly nurturers and they put their children first; this is behaviour that makes them vulnerable to ex-husbands who are opportunists. The role of nurturer is essential for the children’s sake, and it results in women everywhere being used.
You can’t publicly shame the man, because it hurts the kids, and if you have wasted money going down the divorce path the Court Order has no value. To enforce them you need to take the other party back to court, blowing more money you don’t have and leaving you broken – not to mention the children, who are further damaged by the vitriol.
From my new perspective, it's easy to see why many women are at the bottom of the pile.
Their salary is lower than their male equivalents. They step out of the workforce to look after the kids and family and when the walls come tumbling down, if their partner has no moral compass, they are left to carry the lion’s share of responsibility. The care, the discipline, the making dinner, the lunches, making sure they have cleaned their teeth, their hair, dental appointments, doctor visits, driving to and fro - the list is endless.
On the whole it's OK, but some days I’d love a voice to say: what the hell is wrong?