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.
Newton abbot, s. devon.