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How to cohabit for 20 years with somebody who treats you like a doormat?

  • 27-06-2022 8:46pm
    Posts: 0

    Has anybody successfully managed this? I've been told today that because of the Family Home Protection Act 1976, I have two immediate options now that I've finally had the courage/stupidity to say the marriage is over. First, leave the family home but continue to pay 50% of its mortgage, and rent a flat in Dublin for three times the mortgage on this large house, or, second, share the house for another 20 years with the greatest anxiety-strewn control freak on the planet (until the youngest of my children is 23), when our world-class legislators in Dáil Éireann will permit me to separate my finances from that person. Bless them.

    The downside of the bedsit is, aside from the obvious, that I'd never be able to provide a home for my beautiful little children to stay in with me, their male parent, with the same dignity, and for the same amount of time, as they have a right to live in a comparative castle with their female parent. And that would destroy me, but apparently the kids will be resilient and survive the loss of their father to bedsit poverty but not resilient enough to survive the loss of their large, current, family home. Irish family law 101 on "children's resilience", it appears. In all the talk of children's rights, nobody in the Oireachtas seems to have noted that their law gives children a greater right to a physical building than to a loving father (who could easily provide that building in a cheaper area if his name were removed from the mortgage on the so-called "family home".)

    In contrast, staying here in the "family home" will allow me to spend each day with my children and ensure they're OK and not emotionally neglected by what one might charitably term an emotionally detached mother with a hectic career.... It's going to continue to be among the most toxic homes in Ireland, and the expression "walking on eggshells" will continue to be the guiding principle in how to navigate each day here. Apparently, loads of decent people abnegate their dreams, their desires to love and be loved and sacrifice their short lives to cohabitate in these conditions. For me, it's nothing but a continuation of the same control power dynamics in this relationship that have been ongoing for many years now (This was one of my posts here over the years, before I got the courage to say no more: In short, cohabitation is resigning myself to this trauma - and that is precisely the word - until my retirement. It is a life sentence and as somebody who used to believe in the concept of justice I'm really struggling to deal with so many of my years being imprisoned in this.

    My family law solicitor told me a third, less immediate, option and that is to bring this to the Circuit Court at the cost of at least €30,000 (including a Section 47 'Voice of the Child' report). But that will take years to get before a judge (roll on "family law reform"!), and the combination of delays and anxiety will be an enormous drain on energy and life and God knows what the poor little kids will be like at the end of all this State-sanctiioned toxicity designed to protect women's control of the "family home" no matter what. And all these years are not coming back! And the judge could still say that the (now complete joke) "family home" cannot be sold so that each parent can buy two equally good homes in a cheaper area (as, financially, they could but it would lead to a "decline in the living standard" of the wife, allegedly). So the toxicity continues, and the (now very much gloating) bully is rewarded once again. And worse: this is the end of the legal line so I've no hope of the Irish legal system ever protecting me. And I'm heavily in debt, and probably in that bedsit anyway as the usual allegations were successfully made to get me out (apparently, false allegations are a strong feature across most/all contested divorces).

    How are separated/divorced people managing to cohabit in these conditions? No, it's not possible to divide this house into two discrete homes, and it's not possible for either of us to buy out the other. So, unless she agrees to sell the family home, these are the only options. Talk about Irish law giving the abuser a veto on the freedom of the abused. The very thought of spending the next 20 years with somebody who has nothing but contempt and derision for me is beyond me. I've lived in this Hell for so many years now and I can't even get the help I need because she'll use that to take the children off me (the children absolutely love me, as I do them, and spend more time with me than they do with their mother, who earns more than I do and works far, far longer hours). I can't say anything because she'll say I'm "controlling" so I never say anything but "OK" or words to that effect and go along with it. I don't want to give her any cause. The solicitor says to document everything but keep the head down for now and that this will all take a long time to run through the family law system, and not to leave the family home. She also said (twice!) that the best thing that could happen for my ex is if I died as there's a large life insurance policy that would also clear the mortgage. And, to top it off, that no matter what I do right, at the end of the day she's almost certainly going to make up something and convince a judge about it. So, yes, that was an ineffably bleak consultation about how Irish family law operates in reality against guys - even when they are the ones who do most of the parenting and who earn less, as is my case.

    How are other separated/divorced people with young children getting on with their lives in these circumstances? How can you make peace with being condemned to cohabitation, and for so many years? How on earth can the children be raised healthily in this environment? Surely they are not blind to the tension and disparity in power? How can a man give his son pride and confidence in him in this environment? How can the cycle ever be broken in this environment? I would love to meet somebody new after all these years of isolation, just to have little kindnesses and softnesses that I once took as normal but I'm afraid - actually, I'm pretty certain - if I ever do the ex will use it to consoliidate her control over the family home, and thus over my poverty and my connection with my children. So, I stay home and rarely go out as she'll use everything to portray me badly. Once she controls the family home, she controls my ability to ever provide an alternative home for my children and create a happy post-divorce life free from her control for the first time ever, which is the long and the short of this. Aside from legally using all resources to fight it, how do all the other people who face this fate triumph over it? What practical advice can you give to survive this period?


  • Administrators Posts: 13,416 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Moved to Separation and Divorce. You might get better advice and support here.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19 Two Hill

    It is a tough one mate.... I've had similar myself..... Your sanity and doing the right thing is paramount. How old are your kids? Is there child care costs? Are you currently in an arrangement whereby you are both paying half the mortgage and bills?

    If it is toxic it no good for anyone..... And your likely to become sick / depressed and if that's what your faced with doing nothing may not be an option.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,703 ✭✭✭Xterminator

    Hi Op

    it is a dilemma.

    2 people living togther pooling incme and sharing expeneses can clearly afford better living conditions than if they maintain 2 seperate residences. thats simple maths. and then if you add support for the child/children you both brought into the world to the mix you will have even less income than a single person in a bedsit. some other people earn enought to make it work. others have a scond property, others move back in with family or go into a houseshare arrangement etc. there is no 1 solution fits all, thats for sure.

    nor do the state have primary responsibility to helping you - getting married is a solemn choice that requires both partners consent and create legal responsibilites, and thats even before you have children!

    Staying in the same property and maintaing access to and custody of your children has its benefits, as does sharing of finances and getting the benefit of the house you boought together. But the trade off is you need to make it work, so you can both stand it, and so the children are not adversly afected by seeing parents not getting along.

    if creating a granny flat is practical in your house thats a good idea. But if its not practical you could try to make it work, if there is seperate bedrooms available. Or something like a shed in the back that is adapted could work. where there is a will on both sides, there is a way. such a solution would seem to preclude you from having new partners live with you, which may be not on your mind right now, but could be a future concern.

    when you call your co parent " the greatest anxiety-strewn control freak on the planet" i have very limited sympathy. Because you picked them. you lived with them, you had children with them. Venting on boards is understandble but i wanted to say , your children had no say in who their parents are, but you had complete control over it. if you going to get along till your children grow up, you may have to learn not to say negative things about your partner and mother of your children.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    First, I think some people simply haven't read the op: he explicitly says "No, it's not possible to divide this house into two discrete homes, and it's not possible for either of us to buy out the other."

    Second, with regard to "nor do the state have primary responsibility to helping you" is completely and comprehensively getting the wrong end of the stick: the State, via its judges, is *actively* undermining people who want to move on while maintaining their responsibilities to raising their children. It is not a situation where the State is standing aside impartially, or indeed being asked for help.

    Rather, the State's intervention by refusing to allow the home to be sold rewards the abuser and condemns the abused to continue in that status. Why? Because the abuser is female and has a whole range of rights to the family home which negate his rights to be free of her abuse. Most extraordinarily, this is being done despite sufficient equity in the home to buy two separate homes: the Irish State's agents, in the form of judges, choose to invest the mother with a "comparative castle" and sacrifice the father's rights to his own home, peace, and protection from abuse. Two smaller homes are not acceptable.

    The State's judges are directly impeding that man's rights so claiming the State does not have "primary responsibility to helping" him is deeply ironic given its direct role in perpetuating abuse by refusing to allow that man be free from his abuser, to whom Irish judges have vested control of the more-than-adequate family home.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,292 ✭✭✭daithi7

    This is an awful situation op & my heart goes out to you.

    I woke heartedly agree re the Irish family law system , it is an unaccountable beacon of blatant inequality, unfairness & misandry imho.

    The fact that no politician has made it their business to properly reform it is bad , and the fact that they do not publish their rulings anonymously (like they do in the UK) ,or even in aggregate , makes it a broken, biased, unaccountable arm of the state that ruins (mostly) men's lives on a daily basis.

    That having been said, you're going to have to accept & live with this reality & make the best of a bad lot imho. As otherwise the bitterness will burn you up & seriously affect your relationship with your kids.

    A few things struck me though: you say you can't make the house into 2 homes, but can you at least make it far more isolating from your OH as possible. E.g. a separate entrance, den, maybe kitchenette & bedroom could go a long way to preserving your sanity imho.

    Secondly, what age are your kids? If they're of a decent enough age and are upset regularly by the behaviour of your wife & their mother to such an extent, perhaps they might take an action against her to force her hand to sell the family home & maybe some of them will go live with you.

    Think long & hard before even hinting at this possibility, and even then. It will likely be very divisive and have to be 'exclusively' their idea I'd imagine.

    Record everything, particularly any incidents of verbal, mental, emotional or physical abuse of you or any of your children by either your wife , and/or any of her friends or family, and especially of anyone she might bring into contact with them.

    Get very good legal advice, lean into your support network, mind your health & your kids and prepare for a long haul. Also remember that even if you can only improve your lot by 5-10%say in the medium term, that this may go a long way to salvaging your (life & the rest of your kid's upbringing, which is so, so important.

  • Registered Users Posts: 436 ✭✭Girl Geraldine

    You could get him out if you played your cards right and said the right things.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 436 ✭✭Girl Geraldine

    I think it has changed nowadays, but up until recently if you could convince a judge that you were "in fear" then it was almost certainly a barring order would be got. Unfortuately it is no longer as easy as stating that you are in fear.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,309 ✭✭✭lawrencesummers

    How big is your back garden?

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,273 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,729 ✭✭✭C3PO

    Probably, but his post was in response to an outrageous suggestion from Girl Geraldine!

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,273 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    @C3PO I was referring to Girl Geraldine.