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Trial separation - useful 'space' to sort issues...or inevitably 'the end'? Also what to tell DC.

(40 Posts)
triathlonmum Sun 22-Sep-13 20:26:22

So after some unhappy times and seemingly unable to sort out our issues (which stem from a very difficult time when we had small kids, my DF was very ill and I was I'll too) my DH has said the only option now is for him to move out and get some space to sort his head out. This probably involves a 6 mth rental commitment (he won't consider staying with family/friends as says this will not give him the space he needs). I don't see I've much choice but to go with this, he has agreed to simultaneous counselling. However this will rip apart our children's worlds ..they are age 9 and 7. What do I tell them? I don't want to give them false hope. And would be really interested to hear other experiences of using a trial separation to see whether things can be mended. Should we see each other and still spend time as a family? Or is it best to behave as we would sharing child care if permanently separated? I'm very hurt and upset but also confused about how to handle this. Thank you..

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 22-Sep-13 20:33:01

You tell them (together) that you and Dad have decided to live apart but that you love them both and will do your best to make sure their lives carry on as normal. Leave the 'trial' aspect out of it because, kids being what they are, they will see that as an opportunity to try to persuade you out of it. So fait accompli and a consistent message.

I tend to think when one party volunteers to 'get some space' then they're not being entirely honest and to them it's a permanent arrangement. It would be different if you were the one taking the initiative and you'd asked him to leave so that you could do some thinking. Don't spend time as a family because that really will confuse the children and give them false hopes. And if he is the one taking the initiative, any reconciliation should originate from him as well. Don't chase after him, in other words.... it's demeaning.

PTFO Sun 22-Sep-13 20:37:09

Im sorry you are going through this. I cant offer any advice but from what you have written I suspect you DH has mentally moved on more than you have and to sign a 6 month agreement says that to me. Could he not find a b&b and agree a rate for 2/3 weeks?

As for the childcare you both need a conversation about that.

I hate to ask but are you sure no one else is involved?

Jagdkuh Sun 22-Sep-13 20:39:46

cognito, no need to gaslight her about d.h. there is no evidence to support that claim (evidence to be taken from o.p only)

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 22-Sep-13 20:41:37

Gaslight?... hmm... He's volunteering to move out and he's booked a six-month lease. That's not a temporary head-fix, that's a man making a fresh start as a bachelor.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 22-Sep-13 20:43:52

And a pound to a penny says he doesn't want to stay with friends, not because of the amount of space they'll give him, but because he knows they'll squeal about the girlfriend.... Very sorry

triathlonmum Sun 22-Sep-13 20:49:50

I have suspected someone else, he says not but I know I can't necessarily take him at his word (have been reading a lot of threads on here). Yes I think he has moved on mentally even without an OW. I will speak to him again about alternatives to a 6 mth lease. Also I don't want to waste my time going to counselling if he's done with the marriage anyway...

That's what I had thought to tell DCs, not mention the 'trial' aspect. He's been treating me badly for some time (whilst I try to cheerfully 'make things better) so in some ways it is a relief but also so very painful... Ugh

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 22-Sep-13 20:55:20

The more you write, the more I think he has moved on. If you suspect you've been replaced, there must be reasons for that. You've kept trying, I don't think he's being straight about his reasons for moving out and I suspect the offer of counselling and the 'trial' separation part is because he hasn't the courage to say it's over. I'm sorry because I've been where you are and I know how miserable it is but you won't change his mind whereas you can walk away with some dignity if you just let him get on with whatever it is he's really doing.

Shapechanger Sun 22-Sep-13 20:58:45

I think you've had good advice from Cogito. You need to not give your kids false hope and not hang on to it yourself either. It's painful and horrible to say but it sounds over.

There may not be an OW but it's probably more likely than not, especially if he's been treating you badly recently. Without actually articulating it to him, I would assume there is and act accordingly. He has obviously checked out emotionally as you say.

Be clear about things and don't leave the door open. There won't be a happy ending and if you accept that then you can move on more quickly and cleanly.

It won't be easy and will probably get worse before it gets better (speaking from my own experience); separation is horrible and grief can often blindside you. But you will be OK and so will your children.

Very sorry you are going through this and hope things work out as well as they can. Just reading the tone of your posts you seem like a great person.

Shapechanger Sun 22-Sep-13 20:59:30

x-posted with some more great advice from Cog

mammadiggingdeep Sun 22-Sep-13 21:05:34

What cog said. Sorry you're going through this x

triathlonmum Sun 22-Sep-13 21:07:07

Thanks Cog and Shape.. I think I am feeling the grief already to some extent (he told me a month ago, while on holiday, that he wanted to move out) I just feel emotionally exhausted all the time and filled with dread at what is to come: telling the DCs, carving up their time between us, sorting finances etc etc. it's all so awful.

ToughestDecisionEver Sun 22-Sep-13 21:09:05

I'm just about to suggest a month's trial for DH and I so am watching your thread with interest. For what it's worth, I'm suggesting it to see whether we're both happier apart, not because I have someone else to go to or because I've already made a final decision.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 22-Sep-13 21:13:29

It is awful and I feel so sorry for you because I remember that exhaustion. One minute your life seems mapped out heading in a particular direction on a slightly rocky path but finishing with you and DH, white-haired, holding hands on a bench somewhere.... the next you get the 'I need some space' speech and you feel like you've bungee jumped into a void. (BTW.. how shitty to do it on your holiday)

Do you have some friends or family that you can tell about all of this and get some RL support? Does anyone else know he's leaving?

honeybunny14 Sun 22-Sep-13 21:15:33

What cog said great advice id leave him to it tbh and just be civil for the kids

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 22-Sep-13 21:18:07

@Toughest... the difference is that you have taken the initiative and you also have an objective for the exercise that is more specific than 'needing space'.

triathlonmum Sun 22-Sep-13 21:20:14

Cog, I have fantastic friends and have told a couple of my closest. I don't want to tell too many in case it should get out to DC. They have been very supportive but none of them have been through it themselves (thank goodness) also my DM and DB have been great, especially when I called in a state from the holiday. Friends are offering to do whatever they can to help but not really sure there is much that can be done apart from lending an ear and providing tea and cake... I totally recognise your change in life assumptions comment,,, how far down the line are you?

Toughest, if you are initiating perhaps that can work - in my case it is him initiating and me just trying to limit the impact on our DCs as far as humanly possible.....

Shapechanger Sun 22-Sep-13 21:29:19

The shift in assumptions is difficult. I feel pangs seeing little white haired couples, even my own parents who happily potter about together all the time. I don't think I'll ever be like that with anyone. It's been a year and dh and I are becoming friends again, tentatively, not in a getting back together way but in a way that means the pain is receding a bit and we are adjusting to the shifted landscape.

Dividing posessions, property, children's time is also tough, but it's a kind of relief when it's done.

Toughest your situation is, I think, as other posters have said, very different; wish you luck with it.

MMcanny Sun 22-Sep-13 21:31:30

We had a separation for TWO YEARS and still got back together, have been back for nearly three years now, so it does happen. I think it's rare though. Kids were gutted. I didn't realise how gutted I was but had a nervous breakdown a few months later. He told the kids before he told me that he was leaving so there was no going back. The thing I found hardest was that you're supposed to tell the kids together that you've decided together but I really didn't want him to go. The kids asked constantly why he'd left and I really didn't know what to tell them. You muddle through, do the best you can with the situation. Be as honest as you can. I do wonder if it's had a lasting effect on our eldest who was 6/7 at the time. I try not to dwell on it and just live in the present. Good luck.

ToughestDecisionEver Sun 22-Sep-13 21:33:25

Hm, except I've just started another thread about LingTB. Maybe I'm even deluding myself! Sorry for the derail. I feel for you OP. There was an interesting article in the Guardian today about the importance of being honest with DC about big things like this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 22-Sep-13 21:38:26

I'm nearly 20 years on from my bungee jump into the void. Whilst I don't give the exH very much thought and whilst I'm reasonably OK with my life, it's not at all what I envisaged... certainly not the traditional trajectory it was on pre break-up. <shrugs> I found the best friends were the ones that kept life normal, busy and knew when to pitch in with the corkscrew and a shoulder to cry on smile

Your DCs will be fine as long as you and your ex work as a team, don't over-compensate and make any changes out to be 'a good thing'. DCs IME buy the version of the world you present to them.

Wellwobbly Mon 23-Sep-13 11:24:22

You must have a clause that OW means instant proceedings. This is NOT a 'let's pretend I am single' exercise. So start hunting.

Sounds like he has moved on emotionally though.

triathlonmum Mon 23-Sep-13 15:50:39

Thanks all. Really helping me get some perspective on this. Just about managing to crawl through the day, feeling so wiped out. We have a first counselling appt booked for next weekend and he also volunteered that a 6 mth lease was not ideal and is 'thinking' about alternative ways to get the thinking space eg a room in a house or something. I think the refusal to go to family is more about the judgement they will make on him leaving his family than seeing and OW but of course I could be wrong....

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Sep-13 15:53:55

Don't rush to counselling will you? You're clearly struggling emotionally and, in this frame of mind, you're going to find it difficult to concentrate let alone make important decisions about your relationship. You could agree to things that, a few months from now, you regret. Give yourself some time and space just to be yourself, think clearly and get on an even keel. When you feel stronger and less emotional, think about counselling then...

EroticTebbit Mon 23-Sep-13 16:10:00

Hope you're okay triathlon. DH and I decided at the beginning of this Summer (early July) that we wanted a trial separation. I was the one that suggested it, and he acted as if it was a huge shock, though I had said several times over the years that unless he would work through our problems, I would need out.
We told DC that our love had become a lot like brother and sister love and not husband and wife, and that we were splitting up to see how we felt but that we weren't sure how things were going to be. About 3 weeks in, we both realized that we are not meant to be together.
DC seem to be coping very well with our honesty.

Good luck x

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