My divorce set-up looks perfect to you.

He changed his career to something with fewer office hours and more availability. Now he works from home on the days he has her which is 50% of the year.

girl smiling at her dad on his lap on a swing.
They mean the world to each other

I met my husband through mutual friends. Nothing exciting, no lightning bolt, just a nice afternoon with friends. I was setting up a small yoga business and he was the guy who couldn't touch his toes. We didn't date for quite a while as I was busy with retreats and adventures abroad. He was working 8-9 in corporate.

We were forced to get to know each other slowly

From the beginning there were parts of me he didn't get. I was into meditating at sunrise and I like to touch the earth. He liked to touch the Sunday papers. We battled here and there, but not enough to shout 'red flag' or that he was trying to control me. We disagreed on things. I was into organic, healthy eating, and he liked red wine and steak. He wanted a large family of 5 and I wanted no more than 2. He was close to his family, I wasn't. Opposites attract. Either way, we liked each other. We had a good time when we were together and though we weren't similar we were comfortable hanging out. He was also very sexy.
After one of my month-long health retreats, I returned home to find him raging that I had left him. We had a major blowout and he said he was done and left. A month later he came back with a ring and assured me he would never behave like this again. He had missed me too much and never wanted me to leave him again. I found it endearing and romantic, and I made excuses for him in my mind.

This was the red flag I should have paid attention to.

We had a simple ceremony with close friends and family. At first I liked the closeness of his family and their continuous gatherings, but it was an obligation we could never say no to. He refused to give up one meal, including when I was pregnant, struggling with nausea and exhaustion. They didn't want to accommodate me in any way, and it was as if they paved the way to show him how to disrespect me. As my body grew and I could no longer sleep, he lashed out that he couldn't tolerate me. He didn't care that I was tired or swollen, it was a 'me' problem and I needed to be there for him.

His needs trumped his pregnant wife.

Towards the end of the final trimester, he stayed at work later and later, coming home smelling of alcohol and snoring loudly when he passed out. Livid and sleep deprived, I told him to go home to his mother until he got his act together. He left without an apology.

He left me alone, pregnant.

I was scared to be alone, so my sister moved in and took care of me until I gave birth. He came home with me from the hospital, but his behaviour towards me stayed the same. Meanwhile, he had fallen in love with our baby and would move heaven and earth to ensure sleep wasn't disturbed and her environment was perfect. He was and still is a hands-on father. Night feeds, playing, cooing, our baby's needs were met. I was ignored and neglected. Tired and healing from the pregnancy, I bided my time knowing I had to leave. We fought all the time, never in front of the baby, but I am sure she heard everything.

No child of mine was going to be raised in this high-conflict environment.

A year later I asked for a divorce. He left without complaint and moved into a flat nearby. He would turn up every single day, ignoring the beginning of the end of the marriage. It was impossible to set boundaries. Our daughter caught every virus and cold under the sun, and it took me a while to trust him to be there for the sick times without me. I believe we caused her weak immune system during the pregnancy. He laughs at this. It took him time to come to terms with the divorce. He didn't think we needed one and refused to agree to anything. Eventually, we agreed on a visitation schedule, stopping him from popping in every single day. He changed his career to something with fewer office hours and more availability. Now he works from home on the days he has her which is 50% of the year.
He still has his weekly family gatherings where our daughter is the princess. They adore her and say yes to everything.

So what am I complaining about? It seems pretty perfect. I get 50% of the time off to work, have a social life, and not worry because she is loved and cared for. It's a perception others have, but I am exhausted, always waiting for the next controlling decision he will throw at me. I believe he goes out of his way to disagree with just about every decision I make about anything. His family is always in the background supporting him.

I am sure he complains about me, that I am controlling and he is the victim in our relationship. I would believe him too.

All of this affects the way our daughter is parented, even though she doesn't hear or read our battles. Every decision he makes affects her and affects me. From letting her wear a summer princess dress in the winter, to going to bed super late every time they are together. She comes home to me with the colds, infections, and fevers and I am left with the child who is too tired for school on Monday.
My phone stays on 24/7 when she isn't home, and I always sleep with one ear open just in case. We never bad-mouth each other in front of her, but I am sure she feels the tension and sees my micro-responses.

I have pushed for therapy to help us do better, but he believes he is fine as he is. Why wouldn't he with a family that assures him I am the problem?

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