Got a New Life, Got a New Wife
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Claudia Anderson PG Dipl Psych, Registered MBACP
21st April, 20130 Comments
Having recently attended a women's conference, which was both empowering and challenging, I was particularly struck by a single working Mother called 'Selina' whose life had been turned upside down, by her ex-partner in the space of a few months. She stood at the podium, in front of hundreds of women, and began her story.
Her relationship with her ex-partner of 10 years, and father of her children, had been amicable, generally maintenance payments were paid on time, the children were happy and had adjusted to the mutually agreed 'contact' arrangements. Infact 'Selina' said that her relationship with her ex - partner was better, then it had been when they were married. He had, had a few girlfriends, over the years, but none that had caused her or her children particular worry, until he started dating one particular woman, who changed her job, and moved many miles to be with him.
'Selina' explained that at first all seemed well, during her ex-partner's three year courtship, until he got married. There were a few occasions, when her children seemed unhappy, but she assumed that it was just a process of adjustment and her ex-partner did not indicate that there were any problems. A year after his marriage, the children began to enjoy their weekly weekend visits to their father less and less. It was during a particular weekend sleep-over that her children spoke of ill treatment at the hands of their stepmother, that prompted 'Selina' to confront their father.
As a result her ex-partner did little to reassure her or his children, but instead fiercely defended his wife. To Selina's surprise, during a heated conversation, he asked 'Are my children receiving the maintenance I pay you or is it funding your social life?' 'Selina' felt stunned by this sudden verbal onslaught from a man, she thought she knew. Humiliated and uncomfortable at the thought of having her children in the company of their stepmother, she still felt a degree of loyalty in maintaining a degree of continuity for them and adjusted the 'contact' arrangements, reducing the frequency of visits. Her ex-partner responded, non - verbally and maintenance payments ceased. For the first time, in his children's lives, he did not give or send birthday cards or gifts to them. In the flick of an eye - he was out of their lives. It was almost as if he had never existed. The only communication they received from him was a ad-hoc text message, that lessened day by day.
Other women joined in the debate, and told of similar tales highlighting how they were abruptly thrown into the role of 'Mum and Dad'; subsequent frustrated calls to the Child Support Agency; having little or no time to see friends or opportunities to engage in new relationships. Of course there are many men in society today, who have experienced a similar emotional trauma, as a single parent.
For those who are dealing with the parental psychological backlash of 'Mum, why did you leave Dad, it's all your fault?' or 'Dad, I cant stand living here, I wish you were still living with Mum' - there is no easy answer. Unconscious levels of guilt and blame can rise to the surface, unexpectedly, as the parent with greater parental responsibility strives to protect their children at all costs. However as children develop, their thoughts and feelings change. Some grow to understand and accept, whilst other remain bitter and resentful.
Life is all about changes, and there will always be children - innocent victims, who are caught up in the crossfire, of a decaying relationship. Whether this is due to a complete communication breakdown between ex - partners, or the introduction of a new partner, there is practical advice and emotional support for those, who want to share their experiences with others or need one to one professional help.
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