Love Lose Live published 4 February 2016

The dangers of demonisation

Something rather peculiar happens when you start to think that other people are doing you down and scheming to do better for themselves at your expense. It may not matter that you are or were very good friends, once that suspicion is there it won't let you, or them, go. It can happen at work if you’re competing for a promotion, a coveted role or just the first two weeks of the summer holiday off with your family.

This feeling can become very intense if you find one day that you’re competing with your ex partner or nearly ex spouse for financial resources you once shared, or even worse, for the time, love and relationships you have with your children. Then the gloves can come off very quickly. Fighting may become ferocious, and reality and the plot may lost in the demonisation of the other parent, who has what you believe you can’t have and who, not unsurprisingly, wants exactly what you want. If you believe your ex to be an evil manipulator, viciously scheming to do you down, try to remember:

  • They almost certainly see you in the same light as you see them.
  • Fighting, blaming and feeling angry are symptoms of the grief you are both because an important relationship has been lost. Once you have recovered you will both feel differently.
  • Children aren’t a cake to be shared between you as you decide. They are far more important than cake and their needs are more important than yours. Do everything you can to avoid harming your children’s development and emotional and psychological health.
  • If you really love your children, show them you love them by loving them more than you think you hate each other, and stop fighting.
  • Most working parents can’t individually cover all their children's school holidays. If you cooperate, your children can have all the parental time and attention they need.
  • Remember, it's the grief. It makes you angry and argumentative, but it will pass.

Mary Banham-Hall, mediator and family lawyer, author of Love Lose Live: Divorce is a Rollercoaster, published 4 February 2016.