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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

triathlonmum Mon 23-Sep-13 16:10:02

Cog, would you suggest separation prior to counselling then? I couldn't decide what was best. It all seems a bit chicken and egg.....

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 23-Sep-13 16:21:32

There's no hard and fast rule. What I'm seeing here is that he's saying he wants space. So give him space. But use the space to find some calm and do some thinking of your own rather than going into counselling sessions in your current emotionally exhausted state. If you're going to reconcile you have to do so from a position of strength, not desperation or loneliness. If you're going to split you also need to do so from a position of strength.

Was it you that pushed for the counselling or him?

ThePinkOcelot Mon 23-Sep-13 20:36:39

When my dh said he wanted to split, 2 years ago, I said no to his suggestion of a trial separation. I told him if he left that was it, no trial. To me, a trial separation would have left me hanging on a string not knowing what was happening. A bit like being in limbo. He left anyway.x

We were separated for about 4 months during which I and dds went to visit my sister in Australia. To cut a long story short, we did eventually get back together and are doing well now.

Trial separation just wasn't on the cards for me.

Tonandfeather Mon 23-Sep-13 20:53:20

Who is it suggesting that this separation is a 'trial'?

If it's him, I'd interpret that as 'enough time for me to get this affair out of my system or to see if the other woman is worth leaving for permanently.'

Tell everyone it's over. Including the children. To everyone else, say that he was the one who wanted to leave.

triathlonmum Mon 23-Sep-13 20:59:45

Pink, I wish I had a sister in Australia to visit ! Sounds like you were very strong, I don't feel that strong at the moment....

Cog he suggested counselling as a last ditch attempt to resolve what he refers to as the 'underlying issues' .....

On top of it all our cat died today and the DCs are distraught...

Tonandfeather Mon 23-Sep-13 21:06:07

Don't you think the counselling is a bit of a sop to say 'I tried everything'?

If he's having an affair, he won't admit that to a counsellor in front of you and it will be a waste of money. Counselling's expensive and I think you'll find it will just be a 'blaming you' exercise to justify leaving you for someone else. So you'll be poorer and you'll feel worse, but he will be able to tick a box to say he tried everything.

Really sorry about your cat. It never rains but it pours.

ThePinkOcelot Mon 23-Sep-13 21:23:51

So sorry about your cat triathlon.

I think he realised how much he actually missed us when we were away as we had left him that time rather than the other way round. It was a month over Christmas so it really hit him hard!

How do you think you will cope with a trial though? Will you be hanging on just willing the allotted time to go by? How will you feel if after the allotted time is up, he turns around and says he isn't coming back? You see to me, that would have felt like him leaving all over again and I just couldn't be in limbo for his given length of time. When I said no to the trial, he actually said that he couldn't (if he were me) go through a trial and understood why I said no.

In still look at him now sometimes, 2 years later, and think twat!

triathlonmum Mon 23-Sep-13 22:08:06

I think one session of counselling might give us an opportunity to decide exactly what is needed next (space? trial or not? how long? what is it we want to find out/resolve?) and might well put off any further until down the line.

I do agree about 'trial' being rather useless. For my own sake and also the DCs don't want two lots of upset. Also stops you getting on with your life....

Pink your final comment made me laugh. I'm looking at mine and thinking the same right now!

ThePinkOcelot Tue 24-Sep-13 17:05:13

Hi Triathlon, how are you doing today?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 24-Sep-13 17:19:48

"Cog he suggested counselling as a last ditch attempt to resolve what he refers to as the 'underlying issues' ....."

Does 'underlying issues' mean he thinks it's your fault?

ThePinkOcelot Tue 24-Sep-13 17:58:45

Hi Triathlon, how are you doing today? I'm

triathlonmum Tue 24-Sep-13 23:01:49

Cog...he thinks everything is my fault basically! He is also definitely a 'glass 1/10th full type, not really a happy positive sort. Not sure how much more dourness I can take tbh.

Pink thanks for asking. Am still very very tired but have been at work so distracted.
The DCs are bit more cheery today and taking cat trauma well. I think it hit DH last night when they were sobbing that his announcement of moving out is likely to be met with a similar reaction.

I'm not looking forward to the counselling one little bit... It feels like there is so much history to this after 14 years together and 10 married...how can we possibly begin to address it in an hour appointment. I wouldn't be surprised if he used it as opportunity to air a long list of complaints....

Letsadmitit Wed 25-Sep-13 01:34:03

Hey, I know you dread the counselingbut it would be good for you if you are feeling so low. You can go on your own and focus it all on how to deal with your feelings.

I know what lies ahead sounds unsurmountable at the moment, but I can assure you you will cope. Accept all help is offered to you that msy end up the base of some very good friendships that will stay with you for tears to come.

This will pass, honest. One day you will look back on your life and will see that actually it was for the best. Life with an unhappy individual is well, at best difficult at worse sheer misery.

I wouldn't try to push for shorter trial separations as this may backfire, let him go and carry in with your life. People don't move out without thinking long and deeply about it, so I would say he has moved on already.

Wellwobbly Wed 25-Sep-13 05:34:06

Cat, I think counselling is never a waste of time.

It sounds as though your H is depressed, and it is a pattern of male depression that they externalise rather than face the stuff within themselves. So, he takes true (that is what is so awful about this) issues about you / the marriage and pins all his unhappiness on those.

(the reality being that there is no such thing as a perfect person/perfect marriage and true intimacy is to accept and love a person flaws and all, and work within that context to sort things out, with respect, humour etc).

One of the dangerous urges depressed men have, is to FLEE. So somewhere 'out there' away from you is where happiness lies. And they normally start vocalising their crazy when 'she' is in place.

I think you should look hard for OW. Know that there is only one person you can look after right now, and that is you. Living with a depressed person is, literally, hell, and I have found out they need firm boundaries. A grown man having a toddler's temper tantrum is dangerous to a family, because of the [economic and other] power they wield.

triathlonmum Wed 25-Sep-13 08:30:29

Thanks lets, my friends are marvellous and to be honest having such great friends is the only way I've been able to survive the 'relationship' so far as I get all my support, laughter, fun, good times outside of the home with them.

Wellwobbly...your post really really strikes a chord with me. I identify completely with everything you say. Have you had similar issues?

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