Style Sex & Relationships

Thursday 18 July 2019

Dear Mary: Bullying, abusive ex-wife is intent on making my partner's life hell

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Mary O’Conor

My partner left his wife some months ago, after suffering a life of hell. He was verbally and physically abused while living there -and it still continues, mostly verbally now. My partner has adult children, who have all accepted their parents have separated, but his wife is still trying to "get him to see sense" or says he is going through his "mid-life crisis".

She threatens self-harm all the time - and has left notes - but has never carried anything out. When she phones him, it starts with her begging him to try again, then she gets angry and shouts abuse at him and starts threatening him.

He has tried not to completely abandon his family and since he left, he has gone to the family home while his children are there for a meal, or to spend time with them. He still carries out the maintenance jobs like grass-cutting but I believe this is giving her hope that he will come back. It usually ends up with her shouting and screaming at him.

Our relationship is amazing and we have been friends for a long time and we think we could have a real chance of happiness. We travel, far and wide, to dances but there is always drama from the ex-wife.

He goes from feeling sorry for her, and causing her this pain, to absolutely hating her. She will always do the 'pity me' story like 'I spent all day in bed because I had nothing to get up for'. So if we meet and decide to go anywhere, he is constantly feeling guilty as she might be in bed in pain while he is off with me.

A few months ago, she heard he had been seen at a dance with me. She told him she forgives him for the "affair" and that I am just a slut. She keeps asking him to try again, and demands that they meet and talk which always ends in disaster. I think she is a bully and won't give up until she gets her own way.

He went to counselling sessions after he left, in the hope that if she heard from a third party that the marriage was over, she would accept it. Now she says they were no good, because he was seeing me at the time. He will not contact Amen, or anyone else, but I am so worried about him because he is at crisis point and almost broken. What can be done?

Mary replies: I agree with you - that your partner is being bullied by his wife. She will not accept that their marriage is over and, in a way, he is colluding with this by continuing to enter into a dialogue with her.

He has absolutely no chance of moving on with his life, and with you, while at the same time being made to feel guilty by her allegations and threats.

His children are adults, so there is no need for him to go to the family home to see them. Why not have them visit him, or meet them somewhere neutral for a coffee and catch-up - or get into the habit of Skyping them?

Anything is preferable to them witnessing the continuing degradation of their father by their mother.

He will also have to be stronger in not taking her calls. You don't mention anything about a legal separation, so I assume nothing has been done. It is highly unlikely that his wife will agree to a separation and it may be necessary to go through the courts to get a judicial separation, but to begin with, he should have a meeting with his solicitor to explore his options.

This will also show his wife that he fully intends going through with this.

It is a pity that he won't seek help from Amen, the dedicated support service for male victims of domestic abuse, but there is nothing to stop you, as his partner, from contacting them.

Amen's confidential support line is 046 9023718.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

Sunday Independent

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