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If you have left a marriage, how did you get over causing hurt?

(23 Posts)
whenisittimetogo Tue 12-Jul-11 21:54:16

I have been thinking of leaving my H for a long time, and waiting until my DCs were adults. That's now.

I don't want to go into loads of details over why etc., but what I do want to know is how do you deal with causing so much pain?

My DH and I have had lots of frank talks lately and he knows how I feel. He doesn't want us to part, but doesn't want me to stay out of pity either.

He's a lovely man, but in many ways we are not compatible, and never have been.

I am not desperately unhappy most of the time, but neither am I fully committed to staying with him.

The main reasons I have stayed are financial but also I really don't want to hurt him. Does this mean that I really do love him or does it mean I just care, and don't want to hurt him?

Has anyone left a long relationship feeling they cared, and it was agony to leave knowing the other person was going to be incredibly sad? How do you do it? Is it normal to have very mixed emotions or does that mean it's not bad enough to go, and that's what most marriages are like?

pickgo Tue 12-Jul-11 22:00:34

You've only got one life.

He'll get over it and meet someone else! grin

wileycoyote Tue 12-Jul-11 22:02:43

This should be interesting, I hope you get some answers whenisitmetogo.
What is it that make you want to leave if it is 'not that bad'?

whenisittimetogo Tue 12-Jul-11 22:03:37

I'm sure he'd be a good catch- but it's hard when someone cries and says they will do anything to keep you, and can't imagine life without you.

whenisittimetogo Tue 12-Jul-11 22:06:52

wiley he's not very communicative, doesn't express emotions ( is very closed up) and we don't have a huge amount in common- A few things, but they are pretty much what most people enjoy doing. When he is away with work, or I am away doing things, I don't miss him at all. In fact what I do" miss" is the strain of having a non-communicative person in the house!

EllieG Tue 12-Jul-11 22:07:03

I left my first husband, who was a lovely, kind man who I didn't love at all. We had no children, which I was thankful for. TBh, the worst thing for me was the amount of hurt I caused. It's not as simple as saying - you've got one life, get over it, he'll be fine, when you know that they might not be, and you care about them hugely.

Things that helped me were having counselling - I spent a lot of time discussing my guilt and grief over the hurt I had caused. Also I had to force myself to leave him alone. He wanted me to help him through it, and because I cared and felt bad, I tried to help. This just muddied the water and gave him hope. I left him alone, and coped with my feelings about it. Eventually we both moved on (me quicker than him, it should be said) and now I feel fine. Causing someone I cared for that much pain will never be something that sits comfortably with me, but you do let it go after a while. Good luck, be happy.

wileycoyote Tue 12-Jul-11 22:17:16

Hmm, I think I know what you mean - if you can't have emotional intimacy, communication and shared interests, it can be pretty lonely.

Having him there stops you seeking out more stimulating, connected and interesting company though.

Has he always been not communicative ?

whenisittimetogo Tue 12-Jul-11 22:19:28

That's very helpful Ellie.

Can I ask, how did you differentiate between the feelings you describe as "caring" for your ex, who was a good man, and "love"?
How did you know that what you felt was not love?

I do care very much and wonder if that is in fact love.

I married because he wanted me, and after being badly hurt a few times, I settled for this being 99.999% certain I'd not be hurt again.

I cared for him, but he didn't make me sparkle, and I don't feel those romantic thoughts like he's the "one".

I did start counselling a year back for a few sessions, and she pointed out that maybe I married him because he wanted me and no one else had. sad

whenisittimetogo Tue 12-Jul-11 22:24:49

wiley- it's got worse. He has become more of a loner- he has no friends and does nothing socially except with me. We have no social life as a couple-never have friends round or anything. I need company and stimulation- I have some good girl friends who I see but many are single/divorced, or their DPs are just not the type to make up a 4-some.

We have gradually stopped talking, and I know this is my fault partly, as he is not very articulate and I get impatient/anooyed when he can't express himself- so he has stopped trying. I do take the blame for that.

wileycoyote Tue 12-Jul-11 22:53:18

Well, it sounds from your original post like you have already decided to go, and only you can know if that's the right thing in your situation. I can imagine it would be hard if you are not angry with the person, or hurt by them , as I guess that that is what provides the impetus in most cases. However, maybe you are stopping him from finding happyness with someone more compatible, and it is certainly stopping you...
Maybe you just have to accept that sometimes you can't avoid causing hurt, as long as you get it over with and don't give him any false hope by fudging it..

EllieG Thu 14-Jul-11 22:25:06

I think the difference between caring and love is that when you love someone the idea of being without them would be just all wrong, however they may sometimes annoy you or whatever, life is still better and whole with them than without them. I cared for my ex, but I didn't really care if he was there or not. In fact, I preferred to be on my own, it was easier. He was not essential to me. We were not best friends.

DH now - he irritates me, marriage is far from perfect, but he is my best friend, I couldn't imagine making a life without him in it. That's the difference.

I think you know it though - you don't need or want him, but care about him and don't want to hurt him. But you can't stay with someone just because you are sad for them, it's not fair on either of you.

Jackstini Thu 14-Jul-11 22:30:43

wiittlg - i found the difference being whether or not I could live without him. When I really thought about it, I knew I could.
A few years after we parted we bumbed into each other and both got a whole lot off our chests, but it confirmed it had been the right decision.
If you feel you cannot possibly live without him - he's the one.
If not..... you are probably right that it's time to let go.
Even so, don't be surprised that you grieve a little - that is for the relationship you wanted in your heart that never really happened.
Good luck x

sunshineandbooks Thu 14-Jul-11 22:44:38

It's impossible to live life being true to yourself without hurting someone at some point.

You should never hurt anyone intentionally, willingly and uncaringly, but if you have to hurt someone because the alternative is betraying yourself in a big way, it's a no brainer.

I left my XH, who was a nice, decent guy, and I felt bad about it. I had very good reasons and I think many people would have left long before I did, but I still felt bad because despite his failings he was a nice man who loved me.

But it wasn't just about how I felt. Even though he was hurt and angry, ultimately he realised that he didn't want a wife who was him out of fear of hurting him. He wanted - and deserved - a partner who was with him because she loved him for who he was and genuinely wanted to be with him. If you cannot feel like that about your DH then it is actually kinder for you to leave him rather than hang on in there.

If you know in your heart that leaving is the right thing to do, then you simply have to do it. You will probably find that the reality isn't as bad as the anticipation. smile

whenisittimetogo Fri 15-Jul-11 08:46:36


I don't know if the "Can you live without him" is really right. Someone once said the question you need to ask when you marry is "Can I live with him?"!

I don't think anyone should get so dependent they can't live without someone. But yes, they should enhance your life. He enhances mine because he really cares for me and loves me- but I feel I don't love him as much back. I can get as much support etc from my girlfriends.

In many ways, I can't imagine life without him as known him for 30 years- married 25+. he is completely reliable dependable, would never hurt me, and we have 2 kids, so will always need to be in touch. And he does all the DIY!

When he is away with work, which is usually a day or more each week, I feel liberated. I don't have to sit with someone who doesn't give me the communication I crave, I can leave TV off- he puts it on automatically after dinner and channel hops until he finds some crap B movie, and no matter how busy I have been with work when he is around I always cook as he can't boil an egg.

Friends who know us say I'd be giving up a lot- a man who pretty much dotes on me and will never let me down ( as far as anyone can judge.)

I worry about old age, who would hold my hand when I am dying, and all that crap. It also cuts me up a bit to think of him being old and ill, though like most men I expect he would replace me sharpish.

He's never done anything worng he's just been him- but I have changed and I know if I met him now what he is would not be my "type".

glasscompletelybroken Fri 15-Jul-11 09:11:14

To be honest you don't sound at all sure that you want to live without him. Is it possible you are just going through a "Is this all there is mid-life re-think" kind of thing?

Is there anything you can do to improve the relationship because it does sound as though there are quite a lot of positive things going on.

You can change within a relationship and it still work. If he is happy for you to do some of your own things, see your own friends etc then do more of that. If he is basically bad at communicating that doesn't make him a bad person - it's just him. If you have freinds who can give you the emotional support you need then don't look for it so much from him when you know he isn't capable of it.

I just think that it's not all rosy when you have been in a relationship for so long - things change and you fall into patterns and ways of doing things that you may get dissatisfied with but that doesn't mean it's over. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

There are probably things about you that he would change if he could, but that's partly what long term relationships are about - loving and accepting the other person.

Sorry if this wasn't what you wanted to hear - it's just another view point that may help you decide.

fiorentina Fri 15-Jul-11 09:20:07

I was in a similar situation to Ellie. It was very hard, I also had no children, but knew the relationship definitely wasn't right, even though I really cared for my ex. Seeing how much I'd hurt him was very hard, not helped by the fact that we hadn't been able to sell our house at the height of the recession and we had to live together in separate rooms for almost a year after 'separating' before we could move on.

However, long term, I know I made the right decision, we've both moved on, and are now in touch and still speak/meet up on a fairly regular basis.

allegrageller Fri 15-Jul-11 09:20:19

I had this issue and neglected it for far too long. I had a 'friend' not a lover in my H. Not really his fault. We grew apart.

He did not want to let go of me and his 'normal life'

Post-divorce and some shocking behaviour from us both, I think he holds me in hatred and contempt now. It would have been far better to leave earlier and certainly before the conception of ds2 (whom I adore btw but who was born into a loveless marriage).

I wish you luck with your escape....

BertieBotts Fri 15-Jul-11 09:33:13

I think everyone feels this. My ex was horrible, emotionally abusive, caused me a lot of (mental) pain throughout our relationship and I STILL felt devestated about hurting him when I left.

I can rationalise it to an extent but I still feel bad if I really think about it. The thing that has helped the most is time and seeing him move on.

In a way, I guess if you don't feel you are right for him, you can think of it as being cruel to be kind. It's likely he will meet someone else, at some point, and likely they will be more suited than you were. Whereas staying together you would have been trapped in a mediocre marriage for years.

whenisittimetogo Fri 15-Jul-11 09:47:51

Thanks. Things are complicated further in my head, by an ex boyfriend who was at the time the love of my life. He ended it then as he felt he was too yung- and says it is a lifelong regret. He has become free - divorced- and we have kept in touch for years and years. He has made it very clear that he does not want to be implicated in my decision in any way. He says I need to separate out the two things, and if I do leave, have some time on my own , and he will wait then we can see if we still get on as well as we used to.

I am trying very very hard not to think the grass is greener- I could spend a week with him and he might drive me insane- but mentally we click in ways that DH and I don't.

It's really tough.

Landedgentry Fri 15-Jul-11 09:56:10

What does that mean though? Are you having an affair with the ex and are you meeting up with him?

And does your husband know the ex's significance and that you've kept in touch with him all these years?

heleninahandcart Fri 15-Jul-11 15:25:07

whoa! an ex has turned up and OP this is a drip feed. You are already either having or almost in an emotional affair with your ex. How can you possibly see your dh in a good light against the dashing ex who let you down before?

The ex didn't want the responsibility of you before, and he doesn't want the responsibility of you now. If he really wanted you he would make this clear.

Further, how would you feel if you left DH, spent a few delicious months with the ex and he left you again. Meanwhile, DH has a new gf and is getting the happiness he deserves. How content would you be with that? Serious question.

You asked about the hurt in your OP. You do realise your DH is probably devastated already, just read the posts here from women who have had the same from their now exPs. Ask yourself if you are behaving much differently from the callousness with which their husbands behaved. Again, serious question to focus the mind.

If my response seems hard, it is meant to be. Your post is dressed up as concern. Its self serving guilt. If not, you wouldn't be asking about how YOU deal with the hurt but would instead ask 'what can I do to make my leaving him least painful'.

Wisedupwoman Sat 16-Jul-11 08:29:58

You can't avoid hurting someone if you no longer love them and want to leave. You can't avoid your own hurt either, unless you are devoid of emotional intelligence, which clearly you have.

What strikes me is the pattern of the story you tell. The first love left you with alot of unresolved and unfulfilled expectations. Did you then project these on to your DH who, by virtue of not being your first love, couldn't/can't possibly step into someone else's shoes? He is who he is and he must have many qualities that your first love didn't/couldn't offer, since you went on to have DC's with him.

Now, it seems, the disappointment you feel for the unfulfulled expectations you had of your DH is being transformed into hope for the first love, who is waiting in the wings, also with his own expectations of what a future relationship with you could look like.

From what you say he is sending a very clear message about his relationship with responsibility - he doesn't want you bringing the vestiges of your marriage break-down to any potential relationship with him. You will need to have disconnected one part of your history from the next. Except you can't because you have DC's and a lifetime of memories, experiences and events which will have shaped the person you are now. What could that tell you about how much he is carrying about what he will bring and want, into a future with you?

I think if you continue to include the potential OM in your struggle to make a decision you will end up carrying the can for everything which follows - a DH who will most certainly communicate in ways you may not have seen before and an OM who won't want to be there to support you in that in case he is implicated, and who finds himself in a similar position to you somewhere down the line - having got into something which doesn't meet his expectations.

TBH I think it's not a good idea to be discussing your situation with this man. It is a form of betrayal. Your DH knows only part of the picture by the sounds of it and so he can't communicate with you fully, can he?

Feel free to dump these thoughts by the way, they're just ideas, not meant to define your truth, and FWIW I'm sorry you have such a difficult predicament.

ToothbrushThief Sat 16-Jul-11 08:38:43

I'll answer the question of how did you get over causing hurt:
Try to make sure the financial split is as painless and fair as possible

The ex boyf is right that he should not be part of this decision because he cannot offer a guarantee of a better alternative. You are building up a 'might be' about this non relationship

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