‘My attention-seeking ex-wife’s maintenance package is exorbitant. I feel foolish for marrying her’
Tell Me About It: How can I ensure our children do not end up like their mother?
“Such was my relief to finally get out from her clutches that I happily agreed to part with a house worth in excess of €1 million.”
I am separated with two daughters from my previous marriage, 14 and 16. My wife’s maintenance package is exorbitant and one that most self-respecting women might be embarrassed to accept.
However, such was my relief to finally get out from her clutches that I happily agreed to part with a house worth in excess of €1 million, maintenance in the sum of €60,000 per annum, all utilities paid to include mortgage, insurances, school fees, trips, phone bills, all property charges, medical bills and car replacements. The upshot being that she hardly has a bill left to pay. She has never had to stand on her own two feet and she comes from a wealthy background, unlike myself. I am tired of her haughtiness and her sense of entitlement and the example she is showing to our children on her €120,000-plus per annum windfall.
I often look back and think she saw me coming and I feel very foolish for having married her. However, I do not regret the birth of our wonderful children. We met in our 30s and I married her after she became pregnant with our first born.
My attention-seeking ex-wife is obsessed with creating a perception of herself to others of a person who is an independent, super-accepting mother that gets on with life graciously despite her painful separation. She has always acted the martyr and the victim to others and she relishes in those roles. On the dark side, however, she engages in dishonest, manipulative and controlling behaviour in a bid to elicit sympathy and admiration from others.
My partner and I now have a baby daughter and my partner is the polar opposite to my ex-wife. She is an honest, hardworking and kind person and she pays for more than her share of everything. She is the type of role model I would like for my children. She accepts responsibility for herself and she is totally independent and secure in herself.
My relationship with my children is very good, much to my ex-wife’s disdain, because I have worked tirelessly at maintaining contact, ensuring they know I am always there for them. Sometimes it breaks my heart to leave them with such an incapable, dependant, attention-seeking individual. How I can ensure my children do not end up like their mother? How can I counteract her behaviour and teach them to be responsible, independent, individuals, unlike her? I have never said a bad word to them about their mother but I don’t want them to buy into her nonsense either.
Your letter indicates you are consumed with disdain and hatred for your ex-wife. This anger sounds consuming and I wonder if you can do something about this for yourself.
You ask if there is anything you can do to ensure your daughters grow up with good principles and indeed there is a lot you can do as a major role model in their lives. Even though you have the restraint not to bad-mouth your wife to your children, it is highly likely your resentment is obvious and this will mean your children will learn not to speak openly of their mother to you – or they will learn to play one off against the other. You feel duped into marrying someone due to pregnancy but you were in your 30s at the time and I wonder if you can accept you made a free choice under difficult circumstances. The danger is that you currently feel victimised by a woman whose values you despise and the outcome of victimisation is to feel powerless and angry. You agreed to an apparently unfair settlement in the separation but again this was something you engaged with as an adult and perhaps it is time to accept you did this and begin to let go of the resentment. You have left your ex-wife in a physical sense but it seems you are still engaged emotionally and are suffering endlessly from this. In order to feel powerful again, you need to engage with what you have control over and focus on expanding and developing those qualities. You want your daughters to learn to take responsibility for their actions and have qualities you admire in your current partner: honesty, fairness and a work ethic.
Behave like this yourself and demonstrate these qualities in your life. Indeed, it seems you are already doing this to a large extent, but the consuming resentment is probably soaking into everything. The antidote to resentment is acceptance and this needs to be full in order to receive the full benefit. You need to accept your part in your marriage and separation and if you can accept your ex-wife as the mother of your children who deserves respect, you might begin to experience some freedom.
Be the good adult in your children’s lives and be determined to stop suffering from resentment and anger.