Amy was married to a verbally abusive man, who hit her once in a blue moon.
He was cruel to their son and treated the daughter like a goddess. Jonathon told the girl that her mother lied and not to trust her. He essentially built a wall around the daughter and orchestrated fights between the two children.
When the girl became a teenager, her mother said it was time to start doing chores. The dad forbade this, stating that she did not have to do her mother’s work.
It was as if Jonathon was the master puppeteer and his family were marionettes ready to do his bidding at the pull of a string.
Finally Amy reached her limit regarding Jonathon’s manipulations and said enough is enough. The children were thirteen and sixteen when she filed for divorce and Jonathon moved out of the marital home.
Jonathan’s parents revealed to Amy during the divorce that their son was a sociopath and had received treatment as a child.
Her in-laws were aloof during her marriage and she never felt accepted by them, possibly because they were different religions. Amy wondered if Jonathon married her to get back at his parents, for some reason. Her in-laws mainly approached her when they had questions regarding what their son said regarding money.
Amy had to be the one to initiate contact between her in-laws and her children during and post-divorce. She would take the siblings to see their grandparents who were cold and did not hug or show affection to them once their son was out of the picture. After several months of this, Amy stopped calling. It was difficult for the kids to grasp the situation.
During divorce proceedings, Jonathon flitted from job to job to avoid paying child support. Amy certainly could have been more assertive by demanding that Jonathon have a set amount determined and letting Child Maintenance Service (CMS) deal with collecting it. She was passive and did nothing when he said that he was giving her the house and that cancelled any child support obligations. The house was heavily mortgaged, so was more of a liability than an asset.
The father did not agree to any visitation schedule and promised the daughter an airline ticket so they could spend Christmas together. When that never materialized after repeated promises, then the daughter began the slow process of getting to know her mother.
The son never saw his father again, and the daughter did one time when she and her toddler ran into him at a park, over a decade later. The daughter became close to her mother after becoming a parent herself. The son drifted through life until age thirty-five when he went back to college and completed his degree.
Amy is now happily remarried and learned some life lessons along the way.
When in a marriage with a sociopath, Amy was in survival mode and could not stand up to him in order to have a better relationship with her daughter. Getting a divorce much earlier would have benefitted all. She said that she did not realize how much her son had been struggling, since her focus was on her daughter. She recommends family therapy when coming out of an abusive marriage. Her son could have expressed his anger and gotten his life back on track sooner.
If a situation is not changing in spite of good intentions, put less energy into it.
She wanted her kids to have a link to their father, so she kept pushing the grandparents and kids together long after it was clear the grandparents had no interest.
Amy said to learn to accept that there is only so much one can do and that you cannot change others. You cannot force family members to love your children or desire a connection with them. You cannot prevent kids from having hurt feelings, but modelling your resilience may help. Give unconditional love and be there for them. Again, Amy emphasized giving kids the opportunity to express feelings to a neutral third party can give them strategies to move on.
Wendi Schuller is a published author who has conducted classes on various subjects. She draws upon her knowledge as a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer (NLP), and hypnotherapist, providing a blueprint to guide women through this difficult transition. Schuller hired an attorney for a court divorce, but decided to go the collaborative route instead and has worked with a mediator post-divorce.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce