Hoping for advice on setting boundaries within a co-parenting relationship following a marital separation.
So, this was me
a couple of months back.
In a nutshell, my husband of 10 years turned into a cultish nut, decided he didn't believe in marriage, and made the decision to set an "end date" for our own marriage. I decided I wasn't going to wait around for the eventual desertion, took an apartment for myself and my two young children, and basically started a new life for us.
Fast forward: it's been financially devastating and emotionally exhausting, but somehow the kids and I are getting by. I'm dating, which is going well, and have received a fair amount of emotional support from family and close friends. My ex moved in with his "spiritual partners" (a married couple who do marriage counseling and perform marriage ceremonies). I learned yesterday that my ex is now, for all intents and purposes, sharing the wife in that couple -- he's madly in love with her, is having a sexual relationship with her, wants to be with both of them long-term, etc. He withheld this from me (and actively lied, as I asked him about it directly) for about six weeks. So did she, when she emailed me to extend an olive branch and offer her compassion and "support" to me.
So that's all background. (Sorry!) My issue now is this: I realize I've been allowing my ex to manipulate me emotionally, and part of the reason I've let him walk on me is because I desperately need his help with the kids. (I definitely have issues with this whole single-parent thing, and I need him to visit them and spend time with them if I am going to have a life and/or get anything done.)
The problem is that he has not respected any boundaries I have tried to set. (Example: I told him I did not want him bringing our children to his home, and I didn't want them around the couple he lives with. I didn't know he had a sexual and emotional relationship with them at the time. First time he was out with my kids and one of them had to pee, he took them right to this couple's house and introduced them.) He also is not, in my opinion, generally trustworthy. (Example: just last week, I asked him point-blank if he had any kind of relationship with this couple beyond being friends, and he adamantly denied it.) Finally, he does not respect my privacy. I am a deeply private person (AskMe questions notwithstanding, haha) and he shared my personal thoughts and struggles with this couple even before he and I were separated, even after promising he wouldn't. He has also said he has no secrets from them and will share with them anything he feels compelled to share, period.
He says he wants to form a deep friendship with me, that he wants to change the horrible patterns we've had for the duration of our relationship so we can both have better relationships going forward, etc. He says he wants to "heal" me and believes he can do so.
This is not healthy for me, obviously, and I want to draw the line.
Please know that I am not in a position to hire an attorney right now. While I am dead broke (I literally put $5000 on a personal credit card to help cover payroll for my staff this past week), on paper I appear to make way more than any sliding scale would cover. I have every intention of retaining the best attorney I can find come January, when my finances turn around. In the interim, though, what I want to do is to excise as much of the emotional turmoil of my relationship with my ex as possible, and to try to establish some boundaries. Basically, to create a "business" relationship insofar as our kids and our shared work. I believe this will reduce my pain, will demonstrate to me over the long term whether there is any hope for me to trust him, and will make clear his intentions.
The boundaries I would like to communicate are: the kids do not go to his home; the kids are not exposed to his partners or any members of their "spiritual family"; he does not discuss spirituality with our kids; he does not discuss our private communications with his partners; he sets a regular schedule for visitation and sticks with it, so that I can enjoy some time for myself and get more work done; he does the work he's agreed to do for our (still, for now) shared business.
Sounds pretty simple, but I am looking for a clear, emotionless-yet-not-so-cold-as-to-totally-alienate-him way to communicate this to him, as well as a way to remove myself from this weird codependent emotional tangle I have with him. I'm tired of feeling used, manipulated and patronized simply because I am not spiritual and I am not *her*. I want to regain some power in my life and I want to look out for my kids' best interest (as well as my own, for once). Again, I absolutely cannot afford legal counsel right now, so I'm hoping someone might have some general advice to either help me present this information to him, or some perspective to help me get through this tough situation. Thanks in advance.