Bob and Jane were married for 8 years and it had its ups and downs, as does most marriages.
There would be arguments about this or that, voices were raised and doors slammed shut to retreat to their own quiet corner to get some respite from the shouting.
Soon after, both would go about their daily routine as though nothing was amiss; Bob would go and mow the lawn or Jane would start making dinner in the kitchen and look out through the window into the garden. Bob could sense he was being watched and would look up. Part of him would want to smile or wave like he normally would but he still felt rattled by their previous argument. Jane would look away as soon as Bob would look up at her as she didn’t want to even look at him as he made her so mad.
Both would busy themselves with other activities until they had calmed down and everything would go back to normal, well their normal anyway.
Jane was brushing her hair in front of the mirror and started to reminisce about the good old days when Bob would get home from work and she was so excited to hear his car pull up on the drive and welcome him with a big smile at the front door. Bob would wrap his arms around Jane and give her a big bear hug as though he hadn’t seen her in years. Jane thought to herself, she wished she could go back to those days when the man she loved would be so happy to see her, and she him.
A week goes by and Bob comes home, bursts through the front door, face flushed with rage, holding up a letter, shouting how the hell did you rack up $5,000 on the credit card this month. Jane jumped out of her skin as she was miles away watching the news on the sofa. Jane never got use to Bob’s outbursts and immediately started to defend herself from the onslaught of accusations from Bob that she spends more money than he makes.
Jane felt trapped, controlled and belittled questioning herself on why she feels so bad. Jane knows Bob is the provider for them all as a family but she feels she contributes equally reminding herself that she is a good wife and mother taking care of the house, the kids and always makes sure Bob doesn’t need to do anything when he gets home from a hard day at work, so he can relax and unwind.
Bob feels he busts a gut to provide for his family and yet it never seems to be enough to stay on top of the bills. He feels inadequate, frustrated and unappreciated.
Bob and Jane often fight, especially over money, both feel their contribution to the family goes unappreciated.
As time goes by their ability to communicate during conflict deteriorates and they say some very hurtful things to each other which erodes respect, love and self-worth for both of them.
One day, Bob comes home to find Jane and the kids aren’t there. It has an eery feeling. It doesn’t feel like they are just out shopping, it seems different. He rushes to the bedroom and flings open the wardrobe to find all of Jane's clothes are gone. He runs into the kids rooms and flings open the wardrobe doors to discover their belongings are gone too. Bob feels himself panic; his heart is beating a hundred miles an hour. His mind is racing, ‘where could they have gone?’, ‘why did they leave?’, ‘what do I do now?’. Bob is in shock, feels helpless, full of anger, sadness and tries to call Jane’s mobile to be answered by a request to leave a voicemail. Bob feels cut adrift, unable to make contact to get answers, unable to persuade them to come home. He blurts with rage down the phone “Jane, what the f**k is going on? Where are my damn kids? You bitch, I can’t believe you would do this to me after all I have done for you and the kids.”
Hours go by, he hears nothing. He tries to call again and yep you guessed it, voicemail again. Bob delivers another tirade of insults and demands. It’s almost as though he thinks that will make Jane realise what she has done and she will come home. He feels out of control, he doesn’t know what to do to get his family back and the only way he knows how, is to demand their return.
Jane hears her mobile ring; her stomach flips as soon as she sees Bob’s name flashing on the screen. She knows how mad he must be and her hands start to shake. The ringing is deafening, she feels as though she is being hunted down to be recaptured to be taken back to the house that is no longer a home for her and her kids. Although Bob has never hit her, his overpowering demeanour, booming voice and glaring eyes make her frightened of him.
Bob is going out of his mind, he can’t control his temper, his feelings of betrayal that Jane could leave him taking the kids. He thinks she must have been planning this all along, how deceitful to sneak out whilst he wasn’t looking. Where could she be? He thinks maybe at her parents’ place. “She won’t talk to me, so my only option is to go and find her, stupid bitch”. So, he decides to jump in the car and speeds off screeching the tyres.
Jane hears a car come speeding down the street, slamming on the breaks outside and the car door slamming shut. She knows it’s Bob! Jane is trembling, she feels sick, what will he do, she knows he is mad, but she has never seen him this mad. Jane tells the kids to go into one of the bedrooms and stay there and looks to her parents saying she can handle this and walks to the front door. Jane keeps the screen door locked knowing Bob will try to burst through in anger and not knowing what he is capable of chooses to have the security screen to shield her from him.
Bob marches up to the front door shouting and screaming insults, threats and demands for Jane & the kids to come home. Jane says she can’t do that, she can’t be there anymore. Bob starts to kick the front screen door and grasps at the handle to rip it open but it stays locked. Jane’s mum squeals from the kitchen and reaches for the phone calling the police. Jane’s Dad Brian comes to the front door putting a protective arm around his daughter advising Bob to go home, saying Jane has left him. Bob starts punching the door shouting at Jane’s Dad “get out here, you coward, I’ll kick your f***ing head in”. Brian continues talking to Bob calmly, advising that his daughter isn’t going anywhere and requests Bob to calm down and leave. Bob continues lashing out at the door pouring out his anger, frustration and grief until his knuckles start to bleed. Just as Bob puts his hands on his knees panting for breath, the police arrive and arrest Bob, charging him which results in an AVO (apprehended violence order) to stay away from his family and in-laws.
Bob can’t believe he can no longer see his kids, why can’t he see his kids. This is between me and my missus. Bob feels he was always a good Dad, gave them everything, so why can’t he see the kids.
The hatred grows and the bitterness sets in. Bob wants to see his kids but isn’t allowed to. Bob gets a lawyer but the court date isn’t for 6 months.
Bob is devastated, Jane is relieved.
At The Divorce Centre we help clients create a successful co-parenting relationship. They gain an understanding of the emotional turmoil of separation, who they are as their best self, being good role models, putting the children's needs above their own, new relationships & blended families, improving communication and managing conflict and developing a parenting plan to set the agreed foundation for ongoing shared parenting. See more here Parenting after Separation | The Divorce Centre
Author - Cheryl Duffy
Cheryl Duffy, Mediator, Divorce Coach & Author of The Divorce Tango