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Thoughts on this pleaae(26 Posts)
I am feeling confused right now and would like other perspectives
I have been with DP for many years and we have two children. It hasn't been easy since having children but feel good about a solid family unit.
Meeting up with an old friend has really made me question everything.
Basically, she split up with her ex husband 2 years ago and she said their lives are much better. The reasons she gives are:
1. She has a really good relationship with her ex - much better than when they lived together and considers him one of her closest friends. They do lots of favours for each other and talk daily about the children. They do family outings a couple times a month which she says are so much more enjoyable for everyone now they are not together. They never have any tension or arguments.
2. Her ex is now an involved and excellent father - when they were living as a family they were always fighting for a break with the bulk of child /house being my friends responsibility. Now my friend has 4 days and her ex 3 days a week. As well as him being a much better father, she says she feels like she is a better mother now as she has time to re-charge and do her own thing rather than constantly feeling under pressure.
3. Whilst together she worked part time in a dead end job. Following their split she went back to work full time, got promoted within 6 months and loves her job. She says if they'd stayed together she never would have had a satisfying career as she was the primary carer for children. Also she says that she would have been far too tired to work full time effectively if the kids were with her all week.
4. A year after they split he moved in with his new girlfriend who is lovely to their DC and my friend likes. The ex's girlfriend is career driven and not interested in having her own children so everything can go on as it does now. They go away for weekends and holidays together and they have had her DC when she has gone away for weekends.
5. Their DC are happy as they get lots of fun and attention in both houses.
6. She hasn't got a boyfriend right now but is quite focused on her career, and says he will come along when the time is right. She is looking forward to the idea of having family life with her DC, and couple time when DC with ex (she's not interested in having more children)
Why am I feeling so confused / unsettled after hearing this?
I think hearing this would only make you question everything if you had doubts about your own relationship. The grass sometimes seems greener on the other side but you can be guaranteed that there are times when your friend misses being a 'solid family unit' as you put it.
What is important is how you feel in your relationship. Long-term relationships have their ups and downs but if you are having problems you need to address them.
In my experience this is an 'ideal' split scenario that very rarely happens. Your friend is lucky but please don't assume this is the norm!
I guess it's making uou question uour own situation?
Remember sometimes people sugar coat stuff, and a marriage split is seldom a bed of roses as is being portrayed to uou here.
I think if your relationship was fine you would not feel unsettled. Do you love your DH?
Because she is making divorce sound awesome!
Maybe it is for her and she is obviously making the best of her situation but I don't know anybody who would choose this.
I know people (myself included) who think divorce has been the best thing, whose lives are happier now, but even for the most amicable of splits it hasn't been completely plain sailing.
If I was talking to someone I hadn't seen for a while, I might be able to make mine sound a bit like that too.
My DD is with her dad 2.5 days a week - I get lots of me time yes, I see friends and spend time with my current partner but it actually took a lot of getting used to and I hate the fact she isn't with me all the time.
I used the extra time to advance my career too - mainly because I had to because the financial situation suddenly changed massively. But still, it's been rewarding in a way. I'd rather it had been when DD is a bit older though so I could reap the rewards of being with her while she is little too.
My Ex could perhaps tell friends that he is single at the moment because he is concentrating on himself and his career, I know he is lonely though. He hates the fact DD spends time with my new partner.
DD loves spending time with her dad and loves coming home to me. She does lots of fun things with both of us - more so than before because we are both wracked with guilt that we are not with her all the time.
She loves both her rooms and is very happy but she would rather stay in one place. She always says she doesn't want to go when it's time to go back to the other parents' and is always withdrawn slightly when she arrives as she needs a bit of time to settle in. She's back to normal after a short while but it's still a bit of a shame for her.
No situation is ideal, you make the best of it obviously, but don't decide to do this based on what your friend has said.
Your friend was pretty much me after I split from my first H. And yes, in parts it was great. Both first H and I went on to remarry and I had more DCs - so there are no regrets. We're still good friends. But at the time? The kids weren't unaffected by the split and the shared residence, I missed them like hell when they were with him, I felt like I'd failed at the marriage. If she's really as straightforwardly happy as you describe I'd be surprised.
There is actually such a thing as a divorce domino effect. This is how it starts. It is contagious. One friend gets out of a bad marriage and finds all this new confidence and her life changes. In turn this makes the next friend question everything, and possibly end their marriage, and so on.
I actually experienced this for myself, when I made some new school mum friends and I was the single one who was having fun. Within 2 years we were all single but neither of them ended up happy (I am) because life just doesn't work that way.
Just because that happened for your friend doesn't mean it would be the same for you, and usually with divorce comes a whole new host of problems.
You can get a new job and career whilst in a marriage, you can improve your quality family time while married.
Children staying with their father isn't this big lovely freedom you might think it is, children don't always like it, step parents can be a difficult navigation
Don't do anything rash based on the grass being greener
The only thing that concerns me about your op is that you've been together 'many years' and aren't married. You do know you'd be stuffed financially if you split? Unless you've put a whole raft of stuff in place to protect yourself should that happen.
Assuming he's the greater earner, that is. Sorry
It's maybe highlighting some of the things that you are feeling a bit dissatisfied about already. Do you feel that your career has been damaged by motherhood, that he is an uninvolved father, that you do the bulk of childcare and housework (etc)?
These are things than can be changed without ditching the relationship.
You aren't married, I think. You have put yourself into a financially vulnerable position if you have stepped off your career path to have children. It's different for her as she was married so she would have been legally entitled to at least half of the financial assets of the marriage when they split.
I would look at getting yourself back to fulfilling work which earns enough to ensure your financial independence, make sure the house is in both your names, make sure your partner pulls his weight at home, address anything else that is bothering you.
After all that, if you still think you'd be happier apart, you are allowed to do that but don't assume everything will work out as rosily as it has for your friend and don't underestimate how difficult a split will be for the children.
I think pp are right when they say that the grass will always seem greener if you are in any way dissatisfied. However like Springy I would be greatly concerned to have been with a 'dp' many years with children and not a 'dh'. You friends fantastic set up would have been greatly enhanced by having been married. The rights for a divorced women far out weigh those of a cohabitee if you are the lower earner and do majority of childcare.
These things go a long way to enable a more amicable split.
All said and done an amicable divorce is better than a bitter one but no divorce is best of all.
Whilst a good set up between separated parents is to be encouraged, how many people out there would really enjoy having to move house 3 days a week , I know i would hate the constant changing.
Then you have the wretched EOW set up , which quite frankly is a pain in the arse for most kids when they get to 12/13 and start having a social life at weekends .
( I am a divorcee remarried to a divorcee with Dcs for 11 yrs so know this issue well)
They have to either negotiate arrangements with the NRP who guilt trip them that they should spend time with that parent because they haven't seen them for 2 weeks , or the poor kids guilt trip themselves that they 'should' be with them and opt out of their peer group activities every fortnight. Either way it's not the way kids should be living if there is any choice.
Ultimately your friends set up is great for her because she didn't want to be with her ex. and now she isn't . So result for her ... less so for the kids. The rest is dressing up to convince you she has done the right thing.
If you are miserable in your relationship OP then change it if you have the desire to do so- or leave because YOU want to NOT because someone else seems to have had a particular experience.
People also like to brag and boast about there brilliant life choices. Is this friend selling you a dream ? How many people having made this choice are honestly going to turn around and say 'I made a stupid mistake , I left a man who was mildly irritating but whom I realise I actually loved. He now has a new gf for whom I am consumed with jealousy and I miss living with my kids ever day'
It's like the wretched FB. Everyone is having such a fucking fantastic life because that's the stuff they post. They never post pics of 'me, DH and dcs having a row in Sainsbury's ' !
Don't always believe the hype OP.
I know a few people with the amicable set up you describe and it would have worked for me.
But what if you get an ex who loses contact with the dc and pays £6 pw out of his benefits? (My actual scenario.) Then you are doing everything but you are also broke.
Her situation is not the same as yours, so unless you are having serious relationship problems, why would you want to split with your partner?
It's not always that amicable and the going away as a family may be fine for some, but in reality when other partners are on the scene it doesn't work.
My DB and Ex SIL, said they'd be going on family hols with the DCs once they split, but once he met someone else that wasn't going to happen. I wouldn't be impressed if my DP was off on holidays with his Ex wife.
All the things she did to improve her life, like studying and getting a new career she could have done while still being married. Many have done and will continue.
Hmm. To the outside world my sister presents her divorce like this. They are very amicable, 50/50 care, her career has come on in leaps and bounds, they spend time together and he does odd jobs around the house. She's out on dates most weekends and generallly living it up.
The reality is she had a very messy affair, with a huge fallout. Her dc are very unsettled about having two homes, his new gf is a bit of a bunny boiler stepping in to the mum role after six months, my sister calls me some evenings
after too much gin crying about the mess she's made and worrying that she'll be single forever. She's lonely and scared, despite the cheery and happy outside face.
I totally agree with Grab.
In fact many husbands don't like their wives being too close with divorced women because of this. Trying to tell you it's the best thing ever.
This is all stuff I'm terrified about. I'm certain I want to leave my marriage but the aftermath is scaring the hell out of me.
I would echo the PPs in that, if you're going to leave, you need to explore how you're feeling and your situation in great, great detail. i.e. Can it be fixed? Are you really that unhappy or do you just fancy being single again (who doesn't sometimes!?)? Can you see yourself being happy with your DP in the very long term - after the DCs have gone?
Sorry haven't responded earlier - haven't had time!
Just to clarify my friend and her ex don't take the kids on holiday, they both do separately and they have adult holidays too (her with friends, him with girlfriend). They do have family outings e.g. to Zoo.
Also my situation is that I own the house I inherited it- it's in my name only so actually better being DP than DH, but financially I would have to work full time if we split to maintain lifestyle.
I think the way she described her life pre-split sounds like mine, every day the same routine of kids, work, kids with very little me time and no real couple time. She said the drudgery of every day life wore them both down so the love they had pre kids just eroded away. They still care about each other but in a platonic way now. I can see this happening with my DP. The only time we get to ourselves we have to go out wirhout each other with friends, sometimes I just want to slob at home, watch tv and just chill. The nearest we get to a date is a meal for 2 from M&S.
My friend didn't make out it was all plain sailing, he initiated the separation as he said they were starting to hate each other and she begged him to reconsider. She loved being home with the children and hated putting them into after school club. But she said they both love after school club, they do lots there and she is so much happier work wise. I can relate to this too as I work part time around the children but not in my field and the longer I do this then I will unlikely get back in. She said you will have a life to live when they leave home, nobody wants to be in an unrewarding crappy job then. But because financially she didn't have to work full time when together she couldn't justify working full time. I am in that position - I don't need to work full time and am here for kids. Also I am so tired all the time I don't think I could manage the demands of a full time job especially the field I was in, with having the kids to look after every day too. Yes the childcare and housework does tend to fall on me but I don't think that's uncommon in families. I could ask my dp to do more but realistically will he maintain that when he doesn't have to?
She also said she had a wobble when he moved in with gf as she could have caused problems but she didn't so I guess she was lucky there.
I don't know, it's considered that the 'best' way to raise a family is by all living in same house as a family unit but is it? Are my kids suffering because my DP and I are always tired and running low on energy?
Maybe raising kids like my friend as long as it's amicable is actually better for all?
The grass isn't always greener on the other side.
Divorce /separation can be really hard on everbody, particularly the kids. And despite the hype we don't always land on our feet, tho people keep quiet about that bcs it's letting the side down.
I very much wish I hadn't had to divorce (no choice, sadly) and I look wistfully at couples who've managed - somehow! - to keep their marriages going for the long haul.
How about at least putting effort into pulling out all the stops to see if you can make what you already have work? I don't mean trying harder, I mean methodically researching ways to address your difficulties eg courses, couples therapy, books etc. Turn over every stone and see what you end up with. It will probably mean seismic shifts - but frankly you'll get that if you split.
Eg all relationships get stale, dull, boring, at some point but it doesn't necessarily mean it's curtains for the relationship. We're all encouraged to go bigger better brighter but ditching what you have doesn't necessarily mean you'll get it.
After a pretty stressful divorce, I do pretty much have your friends set up now and I know my life is infinitely better in every way.
I actually think I am just not good in live-in relationships as I just give up too much of myself and then become resentful (text book people pleaser)
I now put myself equal with others, whereas I used to put everyone else first - and I blame myself for this. This is, imho, seen as selfish I know, and terribly unfeminine, but I often wonder why women have to compromise so much.
My ex now does a decent amount of childcare, pays his way and that was something I could never have achieved while married to him.
I know, not for all, but I feel alive.
Your friend's situation sounds just like mine, only I'm the one with the new partner (living separately). I'm very good friends with my ex, but I wouldn't go back for all the tea in China.
I don't see any reason to suspect she's lying?
I'm also divorced with 50/50 residency and my life is much like your friends. I like exh's partner, the kids are happy, life is good 😊
I actually agree that this set up (if you get it right) can work better than the traditional nuclear family set up, for kids as well as parents. You do have to be very reasonable and always put the kids first though, which some people seem incapable of doing.
It sounds to me like a 'grass is greener' situation. If you're unhappy, take action.
If you were to split, it could be idyllic or acrimonious, and you won't know in advance. You can hope, but never be sure. I'd not rely on her situation as being the same as yours.
Maybe part of the reason your friend is painting such a positive picture is that she was expecting it to be awful and is delighted that actually it is working out OK and there are even some benefits. That's how I feel: I thought it would be much worse, so now I am telling people about all the positive things because I am so surprised about them. I haven't told most people about the nights spent lying awake, the therapy and antidepressants, the money worries etc. as I don't want to moan, and as those things did not come as a surprise.
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