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  • Separation advice
  • Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Full Member

    So deep breath…

    My life has pretty much come grinding to a halt these last few months.

    My wife has pretty much turned her back on me and sixteen years of our relationship (that’ll be the anniversary today passing us by…).

    We’ve had a tough eighteen months with problems with my son by suicidal and struggling massively with the transition from primary to secondary.  We battled our way through and we’re thankfully on top of this for the time being, although an international pandemic hasn’t made life any easier in dealing with this, support pretty much up sticks and **** off in March last year, though things are slowly coming back.

    Anyway, I thought my wife and I worked as a good team, I’m pretty handy in a crisis and she’s bloody ace at knocking on the right doors to get support.

    However, just before her birthday her (our) cat passed away at the grand old age of 18 after overcoming cat cancer five years ago, miss you Harv…  Anyway, I think this was the straw that broke the wife’s back.  She’s decided this isn’t the life she wants.  Or at the very least I’m no longer the husband she wants.   Since mid-October she’s brought the shutters down and has stopped communicating with me, physical interactions and all.

    I feel like a stranger in my own home, I can’t let my emotions show because I have three kids to worry about.  I’m presently squirreled away in our loft where I spend all week working from home and most evenings steering clear of confrontation.

    We’re undergoing counselling, but apart from me making myself look a tit by telling her and the counsellor that I want to make things right and try to work for a future together, all I get back in return is silence or snide remarks.

    All I’ve gotten out of her is that I’ve taken her for granted in the past, and I suspect this is true, however it does cut both ways but I don’t want to make things worse by pointing this out.  I’ve supported her in career changes, setting up a business, going back to uni….

    Our last counselling session she was meant to decide between separation and reconciliation.    She eventually decided on reconciliation, but has since then pretty much avoided me.  The last few weeks haven’t been helped that I’ve watched my dad be put in an ambulance on oxygen after getting covid and I spent a week with my mum to ensure she was okay.  Dad’s back at home now and appears to be doing well.   The week with my mum brought home how much love there is between my parents and how little there is in my marriage at the moment.

    So, after 16 years it looks like separation is on the cards, I’m tired of not knowing if I’m coming or going so I feel like I need to at least have some say in my own future…

    I know a few folk on here have been through this and hopefully this is where the STW font of all knowledge helps me out.  I’m scared, I have three kids that are my world, and the obligatory mortgage and emotion baggage of forging a life with someone.   Oh yeah, she’s not working at the moment which was a joint decision to look after my son and his transition from primary to secondary (see we’re good at spotting problems normally!) and she’s now doing a part time masters.

    I don’t see how I can afford to move out and keep a roof over everyone’s head.  I love the house we’ve lived in and I don’t want the kids to lose it.

    If I end up in a one bedroom flat, I can’t have the kids and I give up everything that I’ve worked for.

    It’s so bloody daunting.  I love her but I’ve lost her I fear.

    I feel I need to escape for my own sanity. The counsellor thinks I’m depressed, well yes I am, but the reasons are bleeding obvious.

    Sorry, not really a Friday night thread.

    And apologies to those that know me and I’ve not confided in, I’m normally better at dealing with this crap in my own head.


    Premier Icon oldnick
    Full Member

    Nothing useful to say but a virtual man-hug from me.

    Premier Icon granny_ring
    Full Member

    Jeez that’s a lot going on for you OP….Sorry to hear. I can’t offer anything to help apart from saying keep getting help councelling etc and hopefully your wife can open up and start comunicating more?

    Premier Icon i_like_food
    Free Member

    That’s really hard and echos my situation of a while ago.

    It’s good you’re going to counselling but also important that you say how you feel (you say you don’t want to say about being taken for granted as you don’t want to make things worse). If you don’t things won’t improve IMO as your feelings, expressed or otherwise, are a massive factor in how the two of you interact. The half of my breakup that’s my ‘fault’ is down to my inability to communicate how I was feeling (which is a whole thread in itself).

    Having said that it’s so important you look after yourself as that’s crucial for everyone, including your kids. Go see your GP and, if you can, a counsellor of your own. I know this from experience too, whatever the future holds you’ll be better equipped to deal with it.

    Lots more I guess I could say but those are the two key things.

    The last bit of advice is talk to a friend, just talk. You said you’re better off at dealing with things in your own head… from my experience that reads as ‘its easier not to talk to someone and have to overcome the feeling of being a burden/looser on someone else’. Realising I could do that made an enormous difference and probably saved me from serious harm.

    Premier Icon JollyGreenGiant
    Free Member

    Been through similar myself 10 years ago.
    We had been together for 14 years, had 3 kids together but things hadn’t been right for 5 years prior to us separating.
    Suggested counselling but it was obvious my ex wasn’t interested in saving our relationship and actually once I realised this I too it was like a massive weight had been lifted.
    All the stuff about finances and where to live falls into insignificance when you know you can be happy again.
    10 years on I’m divorced and have been in a new relationship for 8 years.
    Everything felt insurmountable at the time and I had the same thoughts about children and somewhere to live.
    We divorced amicably, sold the family house she downsized , I found a cheap place 5 miles away which the kids can come to and everyone is happy.
    Far better for both parents to be happy than to stay together in a negative, love less relationship.
    Kids will be happy if you are happy.
    They get on great with my new partner , her 2 kids and with their mum’s new partner.
    I think for my kids it wasn’t too traumatic as they were fairly young at the time so not so fearful of change.
    Time passes so quickly , if it’s time for you to both move on , do so and look to the future not the past.

    Premier Icon keefezza
    Free Member

    I feel your pain.
    Been through it myself 5 years ago after an 11 year relationship and 3 kids.
    Last few years were crap, she had zero love but it was the easier for her to pretend otherwise and keep the family unit together, mainly because she didn’t know what else to do. Her words.
    It eventually ended and we had a lot of trouble caused by one fella she started seeing before we even split, turned out he wasn’t safe to be around kids.

    Very difficult times and I sacrificed a lot to keep the kids and her as safe as possible. He went eventually after some police and social services input and she moved immediately onto somebody else, they are still together.

    At the time I felt exactly as you describe. Suddenly your life and future as you know it grinds to a halt. I left home with a suitcase and a toolbox. Nothing else. It took 6 months living in a 2bed terrace with my mother and 3 kids coming every weekend until I could own place rented.
    I worked hard on making me initially content and eventually happy. Made sure the kids didn’t go without. Not easy but every hurdle you pass becomes rewarding.

    Separation is sometimes a necessary evil.
    As jollygreengiant says, both parents being happy means kids are happy.
    Focus on yourself, and your kids, do not let self care pass by you. I believe that’s the single most important aspect of a separation.

    Premier Icon stwhannah
    Full Member

    Having been the wife and having got through a divorce I can see different sides to this and appreciate how tough it is in the middle of it all. Keep looking after yourself.

    On the one hand, all that daunting stuff about setting up new lives can be resolved if you both focus on making sure you set things up for a new life ahead that will be good for the kids rather than trying to punish one another. That stuff is daunting whatever your starting point (and if she’s not earning it might be even more scary and maybe she feels like she doesn’t have choices?).

    On the other hand, I would suggest that you shutting away your feelings isn’t helping. Not arguing is one thing, but what about discussing feelings, expressing love, just listening to how you make each other feeling without trying to defend yourselves? I would have benefited from seeing that my ex had feelings and thought about mine too – I felt like I was in a successful office or administration, not a marriage with emotions. Perhaps you’ve been so wrapped up in surviving all the struggles that you’ve lost the affection that brought you together? Her cat just died, maybe that highlighted the absence of someone and something to snuggle? The death of someone close to me certainly highlighted all that my ex was not and started the road to our split. If you’re still going to counselling, perhaps there is still a chance to re-find each other at an emotional level rather than a practical team one.

    I do think there’s a point at which you can’t learn to love again, but there are also points where emotional honesty, connection and really seeing each other and remembering to listen to and celebrate the other rather than blame or dismiss them can save a relationship. I don’t know which point you’re at. But either way you can make it ok if you focus on future outcomes rather than defending past actions or punishing each other.

    Some resources I have found helpful in thinking about how interactions could be better and where the dynamics are breaking down:

    Four horsemen:

    love languages (both doing this quiz and discussing the results can be really helpful in understanding the other’s emotional needs)

    non violent communication

    Premier Icon onehundredthidiot
    Full Member

    It’s no comfort just now but the fact there’s no animosity is positive. If you do split be sensible and business like. There’s folk giving money to solicitors hand over fist because they can’t agree who gets the spider plant.

    Premier Icon stwhannah
    Full Member

    Oh, another thing- perhaps she is shutting down because she wants to see that you care enough to notice and try and do something about it? There’s a bunch of stuff about ‘the chase’ in a relationship, where in the early days your partner tries to win you and you feel really ‘seen’. Later in a relationship people can miss that feeling and want to feel sought after again.

    I’d really recommend reading the four horseman piece then saying something like ‘hey, it was our anniversary yesterday and I’m sad that we let it pass by. Why don’t we plant the kids infront of a movie and go and do this love language quiz and then talk about the results. We’ve said in counselling that we’re going to work at this and I want to. Maybe this will help us understand each other better’.

    Premier Icon properbikeco
    Free Member

    Firstly I’m sorry to hear that. I went through similar with a pretty vindictive ex, would do things slightly differently if had time again. As others say it doesn’t matter if you want to fix it if she doesn’t, she has to clearly step up and make an effort or it will just grind you down until you breakdown.

    Secondly go and get advice so you don’t do anything that puts you in a weaker position.
    Don’t move out – if the house is unaffordable it has to be sold.
    Ensure you get plenty of time with your kids (starting point 50/50, don’t accept less with the promise you will get more as the kids get older – these promises vanish)
    Get your finances in order, if you are now “separate” what you earn from now on isn’t hers.
    Start doing things for you and the kids, days out etc but also get back exercising or on your bike.

    My final bit of advice is don’t worry at all about a new relationship, it’s a massive adjustment. It’ll happen when you are happy. Biggest improvement to my happiness was to get a dog!

    Good luck

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    I don’t see how I can afford to move out

    Do not move out. I repeat, DO NOT MOVE OUT.

    She’s decided it’s not the life she wants. Ask her if she wants help packing.

    Premier Icon BillMC
    Full Member

    ^^ don’t move out. I did and paid the mortgage for a year on top of my own expenses, no recognition of that and I still got well wellied in the settlement.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Full Member

    You say she did not opt for the ‘separation’ option at counselling, and chose ‘reconciliation” instead. Obviously, I can’t see what your day-to-day is like, and her actions after that may suggest that she wants separation, has she explicitly said so?

    Playing devil’s advocate, this pandemic and all the other shit you’ve been going through could be the lowest of lowest ebbs for both of you. You are both under the maximum pressure, you say you are depressed, it’s more than possible that much of her behaviour is driven by something similar too.

    While a lot of the other posts have made sense, and you are to be praised to taking the steps you have to try to improve things, are things so intolerable that there is no chance to try to get to spring/summer and see if the lifting of restrictions starts to make things better?

    Oh, and what @stwhannah said.

    Good luck either way.

    Premier Icon Dickyboy
    Full Member

    +1 for not moving out if it’s her choice to separate she can move out, sounds harsh but there can be a lot of resentment if you are the breadwinner and living in a crap place to finance another house. What ages are your children & are they all both yours or from previous relationships – only asking as you mention “my son”
    Lastly a massive plus ➕ 1 for biting your lip and always putting the kids first no matter what.
    Divorced some 25yrs ago and it’s great to see our kids always happy to have both their parents involved in all those big family occasions 👍
    Best wishes however it works out for you.

    Premier Icon i_like_food
    Free Member

    @stwhannah’s advice is great. Wish I’d done this more.

    Premier Icon twistedpencil
    Full Member

    Thanks all for the responses, as thoughtful as ever. The sun is shining, I’ve spun the legs for a bit and I’m off out on the mountain bike tomorrow to help clear my head some more, I haven’t ridden it for the best part of a month due to one calamity or other, my riding buddy is acting as my therapist and I’m ever so grateful for this.

    Lots to digest from above. One day at a time I guess.

    Premier Icon handybar
    Free Member

    Sorry to hear this. Sounds like there has been a lot going on, people can tend to shut down if they can no longer emotionally handle things, and also take out their anger on one person. Perhaps that is what’s going on.
    I think Martinhutch makes some good points – don’t get divorced if this is just a (major) bump in the road; what you’ve been going through is a lot to handle. Also it sounds like your wife likes to keep busy and do lots of things and lockdown is particularly hard for people who like variety. I had a friend like this who ended up changing partners every seven years, until he worked out that he was just bored in his working life; once he found a line of work with more variety, his relationship status finally settled down.

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