Daily Mail

Warring parents do pass on their pain


I sYMPaTHIse greatly with Kate spicer (Femail), who wondered if the trauma of her parents divorcing when she was six affected her relationsh­ips. I was seven when, one afternoon,

— I was waiting at the school gates to be collected and no one arrived. after what seemed like an age, a lady I didn’t know pulled up in a car and said: ‘Don’t worry Philip, your mummy will be here soon.’ I was expecting to be collected by my father, who was going to take me to buy a scooter. My mother arrived soon afterwards and took me and my older sister off to live in a flat, in a house full of people I didn’t know. It was the start of years of being piggy-in-the-middle of their rows and hearing each of my parents blame the other; they seemed so wrapped up in hatred, they had forgotten they were supposed to be bringing up a little boy. I saw my father once a fortnight but he was often preoccupie­d and we did nothing more exciting than his grocery shopping. He could never really talk to me about what I enjoyed or wanted. For as long as I could remember, there had been problems between my parents: tears, shouting, slammed doors. when I was younger, I had been partly brought up by an elderly aunt; my parents didn’t seem quite able to cope with both my sister and me. at 11, I was sent to boarding school. I suspect my mother had been told by interferin­g people at the church that it would be good for me, but it just made matters worse. I lost touch with the friends I’d had from primary school, and only communicat­ed with my father by letter. I pleaded to go to a ‘normal’ school but to no avail. There was something about the place that wasn’t right; it was another 45 years before my former house tutor was convicted of assaults on boys. I’d avoided his attentions but there was plenty of unpleasant­ness around. when I reached the age I wanted to start relationsh­ips, I was not in a good place. I had no experience of seeing others happy; my father seemed to encourage me to show off, so that was what I did. I was never relaxed.

I ended up in a disastrous marriage that, from the outset, I knew was unlikely to work. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I met someone who was clearly pleased to be with me and I had a three-year affair, followed by another short fling before meeting someone for whom I decided to leave my wife. I have no regrets. we have had 14 very happy years together.

People base their approach to relationsh­ips on those they have seen. If the only relationsh­ips you encounter are difficult, you will struggle to settle into a happy one. You may not even know what happiness is — and if that’s the case, you won’t know you haven’t got it. That’s a sure formula for not being able to settle down with someone. admitting you have had problems in relationsh­ips is nothing to be ashamed of; your family’s failings are not your fault. and people who say you shouldn’t have affairs are missing the point. If I hadn’t had that first affair, I would still be in an unhappy, abusive marriage. I might well not even have coped enough to survive to now.

P. ButtoN, Biggleswad­e, Beds. KaTe sPICer’s article had me on the verge of tears, as it resonated so much with the problems my stepdaught­ers have had to go through. Very, very thought-provoking and sad.

Mary lloyd-WilliaMs,

Newton abbot, s. devon.

 ?? ?? Caught in the crossfire: Children absorb lessons about adult relationsh­ips
Caught in the crossfire: Children absorb lessons about adult relationsh­ips

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