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Separating - Advice appreciated

(27 Posts)
confusedinparadise Thu 25-Aug-16 11:22:56

My lovely husband and I moved abroad with our 7 year old son 2 years ago. We had a horrible time during our first year, despised our house - but were unable to leave due to the company policy, and overall it was a nightmare. He was strong throughout it all, and got us through. Recently we are loving our new house/job/school...Everything should be good, right? Wrong, we have decided to separate.

We no longer make eachother happy, after 8 (married 5) years together being around him makes me anxious, he doesn't make me feel wanted/appreciated/loved etc. This is in no way his fault, I constantly put him down and in general he can do no right. We are both so unhappy together... Yet neither of us want to let go.

Of course we have a 7 year old son to consider - who is 8 hours flight away from all his family and little friends. He's loving being here and has a fantastic group of friends, we do not want to rock the boat.

Our plan is to live together (we can't really afford to live apart atm) and co- parent with rules. We love and respect each other dearly, we're just not meant to be - even the attraction has gone. So I hope this can work? It will be short term-ish, 9 months.

So my question is - What do we do? I really do not want to be with him any longer (he kind of wants to give it another go, but I know this would not work)
Is this co- parenting idea ridiculous?
Am I being selfish in wanting our unit to remain the same-ish for now but not have the commitments and demands of a relationship?
He is the most wonderful and amazing person I have ever met. We got pregnant when we were both 20 and he's looked after me and our son so well - so the guilt of this decision is breaking my heart. A cliche description would be 'i love him but i'm not in love with him'.

Please bear in mind that we are both only 27 and my message might seem naive or selfish or many other things, but we're just trying to find our way in the world, with minimal confusion to our little pride and joy. Any advise would be appreciated very much

p.s I forgot to add that he is an amazing father who worships our son.

FlounderingWildly Thu 25-Aug-16 12:11:11

Hello, I'm also an expat with 2 kids, one a similar age to yours and about to go through separation.

I'm really not sure how this could work. It really depends on whether he is likely to pursue giving it another go if you don't want to and how you decide on mutual boundaries. You would also need to be very clear on who looks after your son and when, I guess a bit like you would if living apart. I think you would also need to be crystal clear on an end date and what happens then.

I really feel for you as I think I may have to do something similar very very soon. We are only 2 hours flight away so not quite so far but it is still a really difficult situation, especially when you need to decide what is the best future plan for all of you.

rememberthetime Thu 25-Aug-16 12:40:44

Could you afford to get a small rental (bedsit) close by and each of you stay there for half a week each. Then your son gets to stay in his own home and Mum and Dad are nearby at all times - but you each get your own space away from each other.

The thing is that the longer you stay with him the more you will start to hate each other and that would be a shame as you each seem to be friends right now.

or set down some very clear rules - can you have your own space within the house. ie your own bedroom, TV watching room etc.

RealityCheque Thu 25-Aug-16 12:53:34

How desperately sad for both of you. I guess sometimes it can be 'easier' to hate / dislike someone....

Everyone is different - noone can tell you that this arrangement, unconventional as it is, cannot (or can) work for you both. Try it and see, but have a plan B ready would be my advice.

FlounderingWildly Thu 25-Aug-16 13:28:23

I think rememberthetime has a good idea there. A bedsit could be a good idea. At the very least you need to make sure you have a bedroom/ your own space each and I don't mean one of you sleeping on the couch. You each need private space if this is to work. And firm ground rules.

confusedinparadise Thu 25-Aug-16 16:02:27

Thank you all so much. It's been such a relief actually writing it down and getting a response, I don't feel like I can worry my family at home with this... Especially as it's so new to the both of us as well.

Getting a bedsit is possible, but A) I feel it would rock the boat with our son B) I feel it would give us extra strain (financially) C) I don't want to kick him out/move out of our home.

Like I have already mentioned, he is an amazing person and i do love him and respect him very much, but when we're ' a married couple' we don't show it. We have been 'seperated' a week now - after months of strain emotionally, for the both of us. And we seen to be gettin on just fine... This may not last.

I will take your advice and we need to sit down and discuss it further. Set rules, timetables etc.

Thank you all so very much

FlounderingWildly - I really hope that your outcome is better than mine, but feel free to get in touch should you need advice based on my experience in the future.

Summerlovinf Thu 25-Aug-16 18:34:47

Is there someone else involved?

confusedinparadise Fri 26-Aug-16 14:11:41

Hi summerlovinf. No there is no one else involved.

RedMapleLeaf Fri 26-Aug-16 15:01:50

My first thought is what would you have to lose from trying counselling?

My second thought is that these arrangements are perhaps more of a mental stepping stone rather than a concrete plan.

Summerlovinf Fri 26-Aug-16 15:53:25

Ah I was just wondering...it kind of sounded to me like you were effectively keeping going as if married, but with rules...it struck me that maybe if you could both express your boundaries and rules you could stay together? I'm not a marriage advocate generally - I'm happily divorced - I'm sure you can work it out either together or apart. I find co-parenting extremely effective and much more pleasurable than living with my ex.

overthehillandroundthemountain Fri 26-Aug-16 16:03:13

I saw this article recently:

Modern divorce: the new rules of splitting up
www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/23/divorce-new-rules-splitting-up-amicable-marriage-breakup?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

and it echoes some of your vision of this separation. I may be doing similar. We don't get on any more, I don't want to be married to him, but I acknowledge that there will be a partnership of sorts because of the DCs.

Try counselling first. They can help with separating, as well as the other stuff.

Then: acknowledge that there are different modes of separation. It took me a long time to understand this. As long as you are singing from the same hymn sheet, it could be ok, but the complication is if one of you wants to meet someone else or if you have to involve lawyers.

I have found this book really helpful, as it discusses separation via the eyes of the DC:

It's No Big Deal Really - A Parent's Guide to Making Divorce Easy for Children by Anne Cantelo

www.amazon.co.uk/Its-No-Big-Deal-Really-ebook/dp/B004INHE54

and this one discusses 'amicable' separation:

How to Split Up and Stay in One Piece: Surviving Divorce and Relationship Breakdown by Rosie Staal

www.amazon.com/How-Split-Stay-One-Piece/dp/images/1905410298

I also found that the book 'Conscious Uncoupling' describes this sort of separation. I have yet to find anyone for whom it has worked, though. In fact, I was hoping to ask on here - I hope you get some posters replying for whom this has been successful. Good luck!

confusedinparadise Fri 26-Aug-16 16:22:00

Thank you all so much. I really don't feel so alone anymore.

He has suggested counselling numerous times - I can be erratic and have said 3 times this year alone that i no longer want to be with him. So when I said it this time he kind of brushed it off. However being around him with the 'relationship' part just gets me down. The way he speaks to me isn't nice and vise versa. I've found (although premature to predict the future) that this way we are more than pleasant to each other.

I feel that i cannot expect anything from him, so he doesn't let me down. And if he is in a mood, I can just ignore it... Almost as if 'it's not my problem anymore'.

What springs to mind is 'if i don't let go of him, i'm letting go of what I could be'. Which is extremely selfish and unfair as he has given us everything that he could. Financially we're not wealthy, but we don't go without and it's mostly down to him.

When we met, we were very young and he totally stepped up to the mark and was the best partner and father - I'm just riddled with guilt, but desperately unhappy with him. He is the most wonderful man, but i have fallen out of love with him and I no longer believe that we can 'work it out'.

confusedinparadise Fri 26-Aug-16 16:26:50

I would like to just say a big thank you again to all of you who have taken your time to respond to me. I sometimes forget how many wonderful people there are in this world. You're all helping me through such a difficult time in my life, and I appreciate it so much.

overthehillandroundthemountain Fri 26-Aug-16 16:27:13

Please try counselling in order to discuss and ensure that you both have the same picture of the separation.

It is still very early days for you. I am in a very similar position. You will grow to hate him! Honest. Once you are in 'detached' mindset, all those little niggly things become magnified.

I have had exactly the same feelings, ranging from the feeling you can't rely/expect anything, to the mental separation and distance, to the letting go of what-could-be. You have to uncover every single stone first, and to analyse every single grain of sand. Then you will get to a stage where you decide properly - no point in worrying about what-could-have-been.

Also, consider your son. When he grows up and you are divorced, doesn't it sound better to tell him that you did go to counselling, but that by that stage the marriage was a goner, rather than say 'I made my decision without trying that'.

Don't be riddled with guilt. Make informed choices so there is no guilt. You have not failed the marriage, the marriage has failed you - for whatever reason.

LellyMcKelly Fri 26-Aug-16 16:31:15

We sort of do it. We live under the same roof and co-parent. I have a boyfriend. He has a number of boyfriends. It's working-ish, but I've been with my boyfriend for over a year now. I'm mad about him, and I want to move on. We can't do this forever.

confusedinparadise Fri 26-Aug-16 16:53:48

overthehillandroundthemountain - I think that's pretty good advice, and advice that I would give to someone in my shoes. However how would we bring up stuff and not hurt each other, like I'm no longer attracted to you. I know marriage isnt about attraction but there is so much water under the bridge that i can no longer see him as anything more than a friend.

I accept that we married too you - it seemed like the right thing to do. He waited years before proposing and made it so special. I was truly blessed! I know down the line i may regret this decision, so as you said one last push would be to attend counselling. I have a lot of work to do on myslef counselling wise, could i do separate sessions 'me/marriage' at the same time?

confusedinparadise Fri 26-Aug-16 16:59:24

too young**

overthehillandroundthemountain Fri 26-Aug-16 17:00:51

Hi confused If you are having counselling for separation, you would be discussing what the separation looks like: i.e. how to maintain amity, how you might tell your friends and family, the sort of script you would employ.

My guess, though, is that he is going to have to learn to develop a tough skin to hear "I am no longer attracted to you". I can't see how else you could separate without saying stuff like that, too.

I've noticed that 'separating' is a kind of growth, too - you start with a tiny seed that grows into 'the story of how we will separate'. It's early days - you will learn how to tell him that you no longer love him, etc. Whichever way you do it, separating is a process of hurting.

Yes, it would be an excellent idea to do separate 'you' sessions at the same time as the marriage ones. We started with couples counselling, got kicked off for not having the energy to save it, pretty much like you describe. I decided to go for singles counselling (with the same therapist for continuity), and it has given me the strength to tackle the separation issues. It has been more beneficial for me to do this indirectly, than to tackle it directly. I found that my husb kept stalling the sessions, rather than learning from them.

Try those books! I found them a breath of fresh air - they went beyond the hatred, and described some very unusual circumstances.

overthehillandroundthemountain Fri 26-Aug-16 17:02:29

Also, have a look at the Relate website, on the section on Separating and Divorce. I have found it useful as we make this transition:
www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-separation-and-divorce

saraanner Fri 26-Aug-16 17:10:17

I am in a similar position to your husband, my stbxh told me the same thing pretty much. Loves but not in love, thinks I'm a great mum, was never miserable with me etc I think it makes it all the more difficult to accept when there is nothing to hand the decision on so to speak. Is there anything your husband could change to make you happier? Is it definitely him that is making you unhappy or is it the situation you are both in?
I would definitely try counselling, as you do sound like you think a lot of your husband and there might be something there to rekindle if you are both totally honest with each other

confusedinparadise Fri 26-Aug-16 17:11:56

Thank you so much. Such good advice, that has been very well received. I've got the courage to tell one friend today and she wasn't really supportive. I might book myself a flight home to get some 'me' time before the counseling process. Thank you.

FlounderingWildly Sat 27-Aug-16 07:14:46

Me and h are having counselling and I am also having personal life coaching / counselling at the same time which has been hugely beneficial for me.
Our joint counselling was initially to see if we could find enough common ground to stay together. After some behaviour from H it is now turning into help re separation. But what is does throw up is that on a day to day level we get on and we need to remain as amicable as possible as we have 2 children who need to be the priority especially if it will involve at least 3 out of 4 of us coming back to the UK. A good counsellor can help you understand why you feel how you feel and can help you deal with things in a healthy way and get them out without the pain and hurt of what might be said in an argument.

FlounderingWildly Sat 27-Aug-16 07:17:15

And for me, the whole expat thing has magnified our problems x1000. But actually that might be a good thing as it has forced a point which was bubbling away underneath it all for years and years.

confusedinparadise Sat 27-Aug-16 11:47:44

I completely get what you are saying. The isolation being an expat makes everything seem worse. My husband and I had our issues at home, but being here has made it worse for sure.

Thank you so much for the advice on counselling, i'll need one that is UK/USA trained as they just aren't good here - tried counselling for me here last year.

I have to say that i'm considering giving it another go now after expressing myself on here and having that weight lifted. But he's just so annoying and awkward, I know it's because he's hurting. But he makes it easier for me to walk away with his behaviour.

How would you be financially, emotionally, support wise if you moved home?

FlounderingWildly Sat 27-Aug-16 21:09:19

I can hope you can find some good counsellors, I think it can make a big difference.
You asked how I would be financially, emotionally and support wise if I moved home. Financially I stand to be better off in some ways. It is the financial aspect that is one of the reasons I want out. We have very differing views on finances. He refuses to have shared finances. He may be about to find out that it would have been cheaper than a divorce settlement! Emotionally I checked out a fair while back. Sex less marriage, in fact no physical contact of any kind at all for a very very long time. He's a workaholic. He's very unemotional. I just want to go back and be near my family and put down roots. I have no wish to screw him over, I just want what I'm entitled to, having made a lot of sacrifices for his career and the sake of our relationship.

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