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Separated from my French husband, joint custody of kids and I want to move back to the UK.

(64 Posts)
AnxiousinFrance Mon 13-Jan-14 20:15:23

Hi everyone, I am new to mumsnet and I am hoping to hear from anyone who can advise me, give there point of view or just symphathise with me (in a similar situation) on a very difficult decision I have been contemplating for a while. But I am scared it might not be the right one?

So here goes, I have lived in France 7 years, I am 40yrs old and have 2 children 9 and 7. I was a stay at home mum keeping myself busy with raising the children and learning the language. My husband helped create a confortable lifestyle for us working as a structural engineer and has set up his own company working from home. We were tenants and did not own our own home. Gradually with the move, raising the children and feeling increasingly isolated with the language barrier, I started to have problems with my health, sufferering from bouts of depression and anxiety etc. Which eventually took its toll on our marriage, communication became difficult and my husband could no longer cope with my unhappiness. In desparation I tried to convince him we needed counselling but after one appointment it ended in disaster.

It all came to an end Jan 2013 when I filed for divorce out of anger and hurt. I didn't want to divorce but I felt my hand was being forced, as my husband did not want to save our marriage. Its been 9 months now since we have separated legally with joint custody of our kids, but as time has passed, I have become more isolated and now suffer badly with anxiety worrying about the future. I can no longer cope with day to day life and looking after my kids. I have no friends or support here and yet I am supposed to be actively seeking work in order to maintain social security benefits etc on top of the pension alimentaire (maintenance). This is just stresses me out even more and I am locked in a viscious cycle. I feel incapable of doing anything right now and I think the best thing for me is to limp home back to my parents so I can sort out my life. But want pains me so much is how it will affect my children? I can't take them with me but I feel like I will be abandoning them. I have made my feelings clear wih my husband but he doesn't want me to go for the sake of the kids. He is a good dad and has proved he can do the parenting by himself and he is in a better position than me to care for them. I am utterly lost and so anxious I don't know what to do?! I hope this post is coherent and I look forward to any helpful replies! Thanks in ernest!

somersethouse Mon 13-Jan-14 20:28:04

Dear Anxious I am so sorry to hear your news.

I can UTTERLY empathise. I am in Spain, unable to leave with DD but will not leave her behind, but unable to work and also I am really depressed. Separated from H. I have not been to a doctor about this though. Too scared of H using this against me.

Unless you have been there, living in a foreign country and being responsible for DC's, it is imposible to understand the pressure and anxiety involved at every stage, without emotional support. The isolation is crippling, it really, really is. The self doubt at every interaction, worse.

I couldn't leave my DD, but, I DO understand how you feel. Any chance of a month away in the UK, to see an English speaking GP and to be looked after a bit by your parents.
Go back stronger?

Sending you love and thoughts, at this stage you need to look after yourself and then you can come back a stronger person.

somersethouse Mon 13-Jan-14 20:41:08

In short Anxious you need, and deserve, a break.
In my opinión, this is what you must do asap, with no guilt.

No big deal, a month in the UK with people who love you.
You have been through a lot. You simply need to sleep, eat English food, be looked after a bit and have some 'Englishness', not doublé think every sentance you say. Then reasess. It is not fair on you to make ANY decisión at this point in time, without a bit of perspective.

Any reason why you could not do this, say, tomorrow, next week? You say your French ex H is capable of looking after the children, so what is the issue of maman having a proper break? No need for all or nothing, just a bloody break!

Sorry for my Spanish autocorrect.

Bonsoir Mon 13-Jan-14 20:46:13

I agree with somersethouse - try to go home to your parents for a while to gain some strength. You will not get better in your current position.

Good luck.

AnxiousinFrance Mon 13-Jan-14 21:24:52

Thank you for your comments, I felt very emotional and wanted to cry! I know its my anxiety that is clouding my judgment. I just need to feel stronger so I can cope with making the right decisions for my future and my kids. I have already tried spending a month back home and although it was great, I missed my husband and kids. I still came back to the same problems of unhappiness. This time its different because I know my marriage is effectively over and I can't see a way of supporting myself in France at the moment. Also I can't bare the thought of watching my husband move on with his life when I feel so alone. I feel very bitter for a life I have lost. I am still living in the family home with two cats and fish to look after and I am worrying about the practicalities of it all if I take off for a month or indefinitely?!!

somersethouse Mon 13-Jan-14 21:37:05

Believe me, right now, your priorities are not the cats and the fish.
You NEED to go home, a month, more, no matter, I truly know how you feel.

The situation is that you have a husband from the country you are residing in, therefore, no right to take your DC's home... to your home. You have gone through the upheaval of divorce and it sounds very much as if you are not over it, and why should you be?

It is stress piled upon stress and you owe it to yourself and your children to get away and look over your options, you really do and there is no shame it this. None. It is a necessity.

It is very hard to find a job, I understand this too. I speak three languages fluently but it means nothing at the moment, plus you have young children to look after, all in France and newly divorced.

Get on a flight, seriously. Of course you will miss your children, of course the problems will still be there but, your children will be fine and you need serious breathing space.

You sound lovely, really lovely and deserve more than this. Please get said breathing space. After a month, a proper months rest, sit down and think of a plan.

You are doing better than you believe. Promise x

somersethouse Mon 13-Jan-14 21:46:52

Some days I struggle to do the school run with a smile on my face and then to go to the supermarket where everyone knows me.

It is bloody hard to wake up with the horrors and then be a lovely mother and do the day to day but on your own in a foreign country with uncertainty hanging over you. It is a bloody nightmare.

Only when I go back for a week once a year on my own to see family, do I properly recharge my batteries. I don't feel tired, I can eat, I am hungry and properly remember who I am. I come back better. I appreciate my new, adopted, country and all the wonderful things it has to offer, I appreciate the fact my DD is bilingual, I love it again. I realise it is not the life I would have had in the UK with an English man with my English rights, but, I feel better.

You need a serious month of this! No guilt, no worry. Do it!

franglomama Tue 14-Jan-14 08:45:33

Dear all,

Just wanted to say that the kindness of the posters replying to someone's distress really touched me. It is so nice to see people looking out for each other and it helps to know that we are not alone in how we feel.

Good luck to all who are in this difficult situation between 2 countries.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Tue 14-Jan-14 08:53:50

When you went home before, things were unresolved, you weren't divorced etc. Now things are, you need another chance to reset. If a month feels too long, take a fortnight or three weeks. I'm sure your ex and the kids could look after the cats and fish between them.

scottswede Tue 14-Jan-14 10:26:12

If I could give you a big hug I would.......
I feel your pain Anxious. I am in a very similar situation, SAHM in a country where I'm not coping well. I think WTF happened to our beautiful new life we planned??????
I agree with everyone about needing to get away and breathe.....
It is impossible to think rationally or clearly about what to do next when every day is a struggle to get through.
Go somewhere, anywhere but get away from the environment your in, even if it's just a long weekend.
I go back to the UK, but I book myself into a hotel, use the spa, walk around the shops,the seafront, countryside, have coffees and just be by myself.
I have not told family/friends sometimes because I don't want to explain why I'm there alone, pretending I have a wonderful life waiting for me...... I re-charge and come back and do it again when I get to breaking point.
I feel for you, and wish you all the strength you need to move forward...

AnxiousinFrance Tue 14-Jan-14 10:39:35

I hope you kind people can help me with another dilemma? I feel hopeless in any decision I need to make and this one affects when to leave? My daughter is scheduled to have her tonsils removed and drains put in her ears (ouch I know) on the 30th Jan. She will need all the support she can get plus she will be off school for a week convalesing. So there you have it, do I endure another 2 weeks and support my daugther in her hour of need or do I go immediately? My conscience is telling to do the right thing and be there for her depsite my problems. But at the same tiime I am not looking after myself properly being alone and it would mean the kids staying with their papa. As you can see I am creating mountains out of molehills, and thats why my life has always been so hard. The ifs and the buts drive me crazy!

Timetoask Tue 14-Jan-14 10:46:03

Can your parents come to stay with you in France while you settle a bit more? What sort of job were you doing in the UK? Can you maybe start working in some way in France?

I am so sorry you are feeling this way, I think it would be good for you to have a break in the UK for a short time, but personally my priority would be my children and there is no way I would leave them behind. Is your ex reasonable? Could he help you in some way so that you can find a way to earn an income?

scottswede Tue 14-Jan-14 10:52:44

Plan and book you time away, after your little one is back on her feet. Knowing you ARE going helps and you don't want to regret NOT being there for your daughter.

AnxiousinFrance Tue 14-Jan-14 10:56:58

Hi Timetoask, I had my parents for 2 weeks over Christmas and Newyear! And it was very hard playing host and having the kids with me without the support of my husband (we're not divorced yet). I secretly wanted it to be the other way round, to be waited on etc. Selfish I know. I still wanted my husband back but I can see now its not likely. He has been very helpful financially but emotionally he is not there. And won't help me to find a job or help me with my CV stuff. So I feel very much alone in that respect.

TheDoctrineOf2014 Tue 14-Jan-14 10:58:12

Could a friend come out for a weekend before then?

Your ex h is just as capable as you of caring for her; however, if you are worrying whilst you are away, it won't help.

AnxiousinFrance Tue 14-Jan-14 10:59:52

Thankyou Scottswede, it is the right thing to do.

AnxiousinFrance Tue 14-Jan-14 11:04:41

Sad but I don't have any close friends. My husband was pretty much my only best friend, which makes it all the more harder because I can't turn to him for emotional support.

bebespain Tue 14-Jan-14 12:26:56

I´m another one who would love to give you a big hug.

Living in another country when you are not happy is soul-destroying, and I speak from experience. Going through a break-up and divorce on foreign soil without any support must be agony. You deserve some time away for you

I agree that it´s best to stay until your DD has had the op, but try and get something booked soon as. It is very true that knowing you are going, being able to visualise it will be a source of strength.

On a different note my DS1 had the same op and it did him the world of good grin

Keep posting, there´s lots of good advice and hand-holding on here thanks

AnxiousinFrance Tue 14-Jan-14 13:25:05

Thanks bebespain

I could do with a big hug. Its ironic but I just realised I was in exactly the same circonstances last January!? I had just filed for divorce and my daughter had her adenoids done before I flew back home for some timeout! I then came back because my husband thought it would be a good idea to go skiing as a family (where his friends were booked) NOT, it was a disaster. He has booked the same holiday but I don't think I will be going this time!

jenpetronus Tue 14-Jan-14 15:14:26

Anxious roughly where are you in France? Big place, obviously, but there are quite a lot of us over here, if someone is not too far from you & can help you out a little bit on a practical level somehow?

FreshCucumber Tue 14-Jan-14 15:20:46

I am in a similar situation than you but the other wY around, French living in the UK.

You have a lot on your

FreshCucumber Tue 14-Jan-14 15:30:48

You have a lot on your plate atm and you might want to cut it into little bits. You have the issue of the divorce and then the issue of where you want to live.
It will take time to 'get over' the divorce but in some wYs having had the divorce in France is probably more to your (financial) advantage than in the uk. You will have to deal with the feeling coming with the end if your marriage and if course your ex will be able to get on with his life more easily. It's his country, he us happy there whereas you weren't (the whole reason for the divorce in the first place).

But you will also need to take a decision in where you want to live. In the uk and how it in France, and then you will need to deal with the language issue so you can start socialising, finding work etc...
I would also look at whether you can move back to the uk with the dcs. Maybe ask a knowledgeable lawyer. My understanding us that this should be ok if your ex agrees with it??? I know the French laws can be vet strict and if it has been agreed in court that you have shared residency, it will have to go to court again. But if you think your ex might be ok, it might be another choice to look at.

Re travelling back, wait until your dd has the OP and then go. She will need you, esp at that age. And them some time away could help you take Avery difficult decision.
I know I decided to stay in the uk but I didn't have an issue with language. I still find it hard re feeling really integrated and getting friends. I would love to be able to go back home with the dcs, at least for a couple of years.... Maybe later but not now....

AnxiousinFrance Tue 14-Jan-14 16:59:42

Thankyou freshCucumber,

I realise I am still coming to terms with it all, I am just not able to make a decision about my future yet. I kept holding on to the hope my husband would come round and want to save our marriage, foolish really. I need to get my head right first as I feel utterly lost at the moment. I am supposed to be doing all these things like Pole Emploi, french classes etc but I can't focus on any of it. There is no question of the kids coming to England, their home is in France. My lawyer said the courts always rule in favour of the kids best interests. And my husband wanted joint custody, so I agreed to it. We don't hate each other (although I am carrying alot of bitterness), we just kept fighting and were at logerheads alot of the time. Mostly it was my unhappiness that caused the breakdown and my husband just wanted out rather than fix it! But enough of the gory details.....I do sympathise with you, it is hard to be yourself and feel intergrated.

AnxiousinFrance Tue 14-Jan-14 17:03:38

Hi jenpetronus,

I live north of Nimes (Gard 30), in the south.

FreshCucumber Tue 14-Jan-14 17:28:48

Have you gone to see a GP and check if you aren't depressed? Maybe medication could be helpful at this moment in time so you can start making decisions.
And maybe counselling too, for yourself.

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