When I asked my wife for a divorce 2 years ago after 17 years of marriage, it wasn’t because I had met someone else.  We had just grown apart….the passion, the conversation, our interests where just not aligned anymore.  My wife was aware of my feelings but didn’t feel the same way ….we tried therapy, but after a year our relationship was still the same.   Our 2 daughters were then 13 and 15,  and I felt like they were at an age to accept our divorce.

After separating, and buying a new house with rooms for my girls, I was excited to have them share my new home with me.  I expected the girls to live with me every other weekend, as well as two nights during the week (as set out in our separation agreement) . After a few weeks,  each time it was my turn to have the children, they seemed very hesitant to come and not very engaging when were all together.  At first, I truly believed they were just exhibiting normal “teenage” behaviour, and that they were just getting used to the separation and change in their lives.

However, that was not the case. My relationship with the girls seemed strained every time they slept over, and I began to wonder what was going on.  My oldest began to  make comments like “I don’t want to stay with you”, “you don’t know how to look after us properly”, “mom does a better job making food, and helping with homework”, “your selfish”.  One day my younger daughter finally broke down and said Mom says that you don’t care about any of us, that you’re not a good father, and that you don’t really love any of us.  I told them that was not true at all, that they were the most important people in my life.  I  did my best to explain to them how hard it was for me not to see them every day, and how much both their mom and I loved and cared about them.

My ex-wife denied bad mouthing me to the girls.  I could barely get through a conversation with her, without her blaming me for leaving the marriage and for all her problems. I tried to explain to her that her constant commentary and undermining me to the girls, whether she was aware of it or not, has resulted in them not wanting to stay with me,  not wanting to have dinner with me, not wanting me at their dance recitals, not wanting to spend any time with me.  She told me that was my doing, not hers , and that I broke up the family and should accept the consequences.   Parental alienation was underway  in my life.

That was two years ago, and the alienation remains.  I am heartbroken and not sure what to do.  After a lot of therapy and legal advice, I am giving the girls space right now, not because I want to, but because I have to.  I still phone and text to let them know how much I love and miss them.  Their mother is the only influence in their lives right now, and I hope one day she will move past her anger and her selfish need to manipulate and emotionally control  the girls.  I am holding on to the hope that one day the girls will be released from their mother’s grip and realize how much I love them and want to be present in their lives.

Steven, 44

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