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Diary of a Separation

(66 Posts)
abbeyroad Fri 11-Mar-11 13:44:36

Has anyone else been reading this in The Guardian on a saturday?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/series/diary-of-a-separation

I fnd it compelling reading. She is admitting that she is not in an abusive relationship, not with someone who is a bad dad etc but is leaving for herself, because she's not happy in the relationship.

I have a personal reason for finding this so interesting, it could be me writing it, but I have decided to stay and make my relationship work.

Did other mumsnetters decide to leave home for 'selfish' reasons ie they thought they could poitentially be happier elsewhere and were willing to break up the family unit to do so?

loves2cycle Fri 11-Mar-11 15:05:33

I am going to try and find that series of articles - it is interesting for me for similar reason as you abbeyroad. However I think after 10 months of couple counselling I am coming round to the idea that I can't 'make it work' myself and that DH's steps and improvements are maybe not big enough, or maybe too late, to actually make me want to stay sad

We'll see, early days still for me in this new phase of thinking about ending it

Why are you thinking of staying to make it work abbeyroad?

Aislingorla Fri 11-Mar-11 18:18:03

I thought there was a mention of a potential love interest on her side (in the article)? James ? I could well be wrong....

lostinthejungle Fri 11-Mar-11 19:08:00

Haven't read it, will look it up. What do you mean by "family unit"? Do you have kids? If so, read on.

I have been thinking about this TONS since discovering my husband's affair last week. He and I are absolutely devoted to our 5 year old. Neither can imagine inflicting the kind of pain on him that our separation would entail. Really, really sensitive only kid (wanted more, couldn't), no extended family. Even worse - father from one continent, mother from another. Daddy ain't going to be living around the corner, in other words.

I really believe after thinking and reading about this a lot that it can - often - be worth sticking together for the kids. Sounds so passe, and you would never have heard me saying this before I had my son. But I saw this study and even though studies can reach a multitude of different conclusions, this one clicked with my gut feeling now: http://www.utexas.edu/features/2006/divorce/index.html

Obviously, like the study says it is pointless for everyone to stick together if either parent is so unhappy that they can not be a good parent or if there is persistent conflict in front of the children (and I don't yet know if that is something I can avoid in my marriage). But barring those (many) cases, I think that at a VERY MINIMUM while a low conflict marriage is not ideal for kids, it can often be better than the alternative and the total loss of mental security that it implies. My own parents' marriage has been far from ideal, for example, but there it is, after 43 years, and even though we don't get on fantastically the mental security it provides for me is really significant. My home is still there, whatever happens. I don't know HOW I would be feeling now if it wasn't.

Once you accept, as I sort of do, that it's worth staying together for the kids, then it also gives you the incentive/motivation to work on making it so much more than that. Of course I don't WANT to be in a so-so marriage (though I could do it for my son's long term well-being). So I am going to try and work on it being a great marriage, too. Wish me luck because I am going to need it - I am very hurt and bitter right now. And good luck to yourself, too.

Gawd, I don't arf go on!

lostinthejungle Fri 11-Mar-11 19:30:06

Just read the Guardian series. I'm sorry, I normally pride myself on seeing and respecting different points of view, but well-written and "funny" as it is, it's heartbreaking. I hope her children never, ever find out that she felt like laughing at their grief when told their parents were splitting up forever. Jesus.

abbeyroad Sat 12-Mar-11 07:09:55

Agree lostinthejungle that her desire for laughter was an odd and cruel reaction but I think it was panic/ not knowing how to react that was the trigger. The rest resonated with me more though.

In response to other posts, we have trust issues (my dp's non-sexual but continual contact with his ex, his depression, my being tempted by an affair, lack of closeness) yet for all that, we get on well, make each other laugh and are very good co-parents. I just sometimes feel that I personally need more.

Lostinthejungle - I really admire your reasons fir staying and hope you can make your marriage great again but I do find the concept of staying together for the children a somewhat depressing and unfulfilling concept.
Not all kids are fkd up bt their parents separation, I think it's how parents handle it that really counts. A lot of kids are also messed up by their patents staying together in a low conflict but also low loving/affectionate relationship.

Mymblesson Sat 12-Mar-11 12:47:38

An interesting but sad read.

I really feel for her poor husband, who seems to have done nothing wrong at all.

abbeyroad Sat 12-Mar-11 13:08:33

I think that's the point. He hasn't done anything wrong but she's not in love with him and is unwilling to sacrifice her own life and happiness for the sake of her kids.

It's a massive generalisation but I think that women do this far far less than men who tend to be the ones who actually leave home (usually for OW).

Mymblesson Sat 12-Mar-11 14:25:41

Not too sure about that - both my sisters left their husbands because they dodn't love them any more. No kids involved for one of them, though.

As for me I think I'm in the 'work at it' camp. I was unhappy a couple of years into our marriage and thought I didn't love my wife, but I didn't leave. My reason for staying wasn't children, it was that she was from a non-EU (at that time) country and if we'd divorced she would have had to go back to her native country. This didn't seem fair as she loved England and although I told her it was over, I said I'd stay with her living as friends until she got her citizenship. She was very very upset but agreed, so we spent a couple of years living together as friends. Both of us saw other people in that period, but nothing serious.

In being friends, we actually ended up doing lots of things together, going on holiday etc. I took her out, bought flowers and presents for her birthday and generally took care of her. When she finally got her citizenship, I realised that I was horrified at the idea of divorce and losing her and that by being with her and caring for her I'd fallen back in love. In effect, I'd been 'working at it' without knowing it.

Fortunately she's never stopped loving me, had taken heart from the way I was with her and had been hoping I'd changed my mind. We stopped seeing the other people and got on with being a couple. And here we still are.

Long post, but what I'm saying is that I think you can get back feelings for a partner even if you think there's nothing left.

elephantsaregreen Sat 12-Mar-11 19:03:47

I've read it too and I wish there was more in there about her deciding that this was best. more about the unhappiness.

I'm considering splitting with my partner. It will be messy and he'll be devastated.

But I agree with one of the previous posters, I admire this writer for her courage. I've spent years being unhappy and have tried lots of different ways to create more happiness in my relationship. We are now in counseling after I wanted to split up.

I am still struggling because I feel a HUGE sense of pressure, obligation and responsibility to my family and my partner, BUT I've had a couple of moments where I've realised MY happiness is equally important than my partners and my kids. Effectively I would be keeping myself unhappy for the sake of other people's happiness. And that's being a martyr imo.

I've had my dad staying with me for a few days and he has confirmed all those little things which have been bothering me. He has even pointed out other things which I've just been accepting as 'normal' for our relationship. Now I know I'm not crazy for feeling unloved.

And ultimately I want to be with someone who loves me back the way I want to be loved back. My partner is not a bad person, but he is the way he is, and that's not what I need. So if he's wrong for me then I'm also wrong for him right?

(Can you tell I'm trying to convince myself here?)

The guilt I feel is enourmous.

abbeyroad Sat 12-Mar-11 19:38:44

Elephant it's incredibly hard isn't it. When I think about leaving its mainly about how the kids and me and dp could bear shared custody but it's not just that. You realise how much of (my middle class life and circles at least) about how the family unit is all, it's ok to moan about your partner, it's ok if your sex life is crap but no/one (apart from me it seems) actually thinks of leaving. Maybe it's cos my kids are stl small and parents tend to break up more as their kids are older. and then if course you read the research about 'broken' families and behavioural problems, trust issues etc and then I think how can I do it to them fir selfish reasons of more personal fulfilment.

This is why this diary is fascinating, it's about the path I'm pretty sure I won't now take.

cashmeregoat Sat 12-Mar-11 20:53:04

She's a middle class Guardian reading mum of two with relationship problems. I bet she posts on here!

elephantsaregreen Sun 13-Mar-11 03:56:31

I know what you mean re: trust issue etc, but I can't help but think that if the process is done carefully that two people can parent just as well, if not better apart then together.

Just because a relationship 'ends' doesn't mean it 'failed'.

We always think of the worst possible outcome, but the best possible outcome is also possible. Good new relationships, additional adults (and children) in the childrens lives....

LittleHouseByTheRiver Sun 13-Mar-11 06:18:56

I read the articles and I could have written them, except I only took a mattress and chair and a small sofa. This week I celebrated six months on my own.

My exH has already started seeing somebody despite all his protestations of undying love. The DC are well adjusted and coping with occasional venting at me for messing up family life.

I am myself again and loving it. I laugh, I have fun, I have friends who love me and care about me. Nobody makes me feel bad about myself and I am not the irritable unkind person I had become.

Elephants I like your phrase:
Just because a relationship 'ends' doesn't mean it 'failed'.
I was in a relationship for 28 years but it went wrong. I should have addressed that ten years ago but I stuck my head in the sand and made myself and my H miserable.

Now I am free. It can be done!

Youllskimmer Sun 13-Mar-11 07:11:44

I think the articles are very honest which makes them a good incite into separation.

I'm surprised that she is moving out and the children are living a week at each house, I'd have thought that would have been more unpopular than the diary as that is not the usual scenario at the moment. And challenges normal perceptions of motherhood.

I'll be interested to read what happens when it comes to holidays and Christmas.

abbeyroad Sun 13-Mar-11 07:45:30

Agree that shared care 50/50 is still unusual, I don't know anyone who does it in real life. I'd have to do 3.5 days though, I'm sure the author will find a week apart from children even harder than anticipated.

I agree that children can be ultimately fine after a separation so long as they feel they gave not been abandoned and don't see their parents warring.

But at the end of the day, children want both parents around as often as possible and with a separation that rarely occurs. Plus the media, films, even school books focus on the conventional family structure that I think it would be difficult to grow up without feeling a bit apart from that. And of course a Step parent would never live your children as much as you do. Those moments that you share minor delights about something one of your kids has done, with your partner would forever be lost.

This is what stops me leaving anyway amongst other things but then my relationship is not intolerable. If I sound even vaguely judgemental I'm not btw.

LawrieMarlow Sun 13-Mar-11 08:28:27

Reading this resonates with me. Except it is (D?)H who wants to go. And I am trying to stop him whilst seeing it seems to be the right thing for him. Not so sure about me.

gettingeasier Sun 13-Mar-11 08:45:26

Havent read the article.

Am with Littlehouse mostly.

XH left our 17 year relationship because he was unhappy, all MLC stuff. I was devastated for a while but soon realised he was right our marriage had long since run its course.

He has our now 11 and 14 yo dc one night a week and every other weekend and extra for holidays etc. He lives nearby and is very reliable , the dc (and me I suppose)know he is on hand for any dire emergency.

We are respectful about each other and they talk freely about their time with him (there is an ow so that was hard for a while). We both make sure there are Mothers Day/Fathers Day presents etc and generally display an amicable relationship.

Both of us have been 100% committed to the dc wellbeing throughout and 15 months on I think they are well balanced and happy. Yes if they could tick the we live with Mum and Dad and they hold hands and are madly in love box they would prefer that but they know that wasnt how it was.

As there is no exact scientific method to gauge these things then its hard to say how affected they are. However they have a far happier more relaxed and ready to laugh Mum and there is never an atmosphere in our house.

Clearly I have a vested interest in believing you can split without long term negative impact on your dc. All these studies done on dc of divorces do any get done on dc of lifelong unhappy tense joyless marriages ?

bingethinker Sun 13-Mar-11 09:00:33

I am in this situation as well: thinking of leaving that is, not successfully split. Ultimately the problem is that we can read all the books and articles we like: there is no way of knowing what will happen to our individual children and it is a huge risk. No set of statistics can tell us that.
In my case the best case scenario is massive upheaval and a lot of emotional pain for all four of us followed by resolution after some time to functional two-family life for the children and two more fulfilled parents. Worst case scenario is massive emotional cataclysm, lifelong resentment and bitterness from my spouse, his possible descent into uncompensated alcoholism and permanently damaged children who hold me responsible for it all. If I look at it objectively and think of the probability of those outcomes then the latter is more likely. Sorry to sound so cool about it: I have chosen my new username for a reason!
Current situation is that after a couple of rows his behaviour within the home and the atmosphere have improved very considerably and the drinking appears to be under better control, for over four months now. So this is not a static situation in which leaving is the only option, and we can make a happy home for the children. Unfortunately I don't think I will come back round to happiness in this home and I carry this alone. It's hard.
It is lovely to find a thread with other people on it who are treading a similar path without people saying just leave, you are being abused, what are you getting from this relationship, here's a book to read about codependency etc. I am not a victim: I choose this for reasons that make sense.
Bt it is nice to have company.....

abbeyroad Sun 13-Mar-11 18:06:54

Agree bingethinker it's good not to have the stock responses.

I think any mother or indeed most parents find it hard to make the 'selfish' decision. Especially when their children are so young.

elephantsaregreen Sun 13-Mar-11 19:16:21

I feel really angry at myself sometimes but also at society for making it so black and white. I don't have handy grandparents or other people to help out, it's just me and him. If we end up splitting, I will always feel like it was my 'fault' because I took that final step. But I have been unhappy for a long time (ignored, untouched, big differences between us) and I am angry alot of the time. I don't want to be around him half the time now and I worry that our kids are starting to learn that this is how a 'loving relationship' should be, which is of course, bollocks.

We've been in joint counseling and the counselour told me I have to forgive myself for thinking these thoughts and wanting a separation.

I think we all do.

(I think it was SGB or one of the other regular wise posters who said that words to the effect of: there is nothing wrong with a woman deciding she doesn't want to be a man for her own reasons)

I get points that bingethinker makes, but again we are shouldering all the responsibilities. and often our dps get to shift the blame/responsibilities to us, and sometimes we even do it for them.

sigh

sorry, that was a bit of a rant.

abbeyroad Sun 13-Mar-11 19:54:52

Elephant - it can be liberating not to have your parents around in such times of decision making. When I mentioned to my mum I was not happy and thinking about leaving she said 'you can't, it's not possible, you're children (3 & 5) are too young etc'. It really upset me and def made me feel like a selfish cow for considering it. Sigh.

elephantsaregreen Sun 13-Mar-11 21:31:52

Hi Abbey
Gosh, that would be hard to deal with.

I'm finding that I'm my own worst enemy. I'm really hard on myself and not very good at cutting me any slack for this.

I wish he and I could just shake and hands and say: 'wow, we made it to x years, good for us, it's been good, let go our separate ways now'.

My DP and I got pregnant only 3 months into courtship. Not a great start really.

My DCs are similar ages, hard isn't it.

What's your biggest fear?

CaptainBarnacles Sun 13-Mar-11 21:43:26

'Those moments that you share minor delights about something one of your kids has done, with your partner would forever be lost.'

Not necessarily true - XP and I still share this sort of thing.

My experience is similar to that of Littlehouse and Gettingeasier. Huge relief at being able to be myself again - which I think makes me a much better parent. XP is also a much more involved and hands-on dad than he was when we were together.

Obviously it's not all sunshine and roses, but although my reasons for ending the relationship were 'selfish', I think we are are better off for it.

abbeyroad Sun 13-Mar-11 21:47:25

Biggest fear: messing up the children!

2) not seeing them every day/them not growing up as close to me as they would if I was there 'on tap' for advice (though I work anyway).

3) realising that this was a mistake and I was perfectly content after all!

4) all the other things: upsetting the family, bewildering/ostracised by our 'couple' friends etc.

1and2 are what actually stops me. Also My partner is a great dad and a kind, patient man. I am a good mum. We still have fun as a family. I just need something/someone else on a personal level.

Do you think you will really go for it elephant? What's your biggest incentive?

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