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Can a trial separation repair a marriage?

(42 Posts)
Annem1 Sun 26-Feb-12 07:56:21

I have been with my husband 22 years we have two children aged six and eleven. We have been going to counselling but my husband stopped it saying it made him realise how Different we are and that there is nothing between us.

My husband is going to move out he said he may consider us dating each other and first to see if this reignites anything does anyone have any advice re this.

I am devastated and struggling to cope. I have no family nearby or close friends and am terrified of how I am going to cope.

Punkatheart Sun 26-Feb-12 08:05:54

There is hope because he wants to try and rekindle things. I am separated from my OH but we are very far from your situation.

You have to turn this around and make it something exciting. Keep yourself very busy...you have to really push yourself to join things, sink into a hobby etc. Make your life important, special and learn to love yourself. Treat yourself well and hold your head up.

Then when you do date, he will value your independence and you can try and find that interest that after all, attracted you to him in the first place.

Also, what about counselling? They could certainly guide the process...

Punkatheart Sun 26-Feb-12 08:07:01

When I say far from your situation I mean that we have not reached the 'wanting to date' stage.

carlywurly Sun 26-Feb-12 08:31:21

It sounds to me Iike he wants to have his cake and eat it. I wouldn't cling on to this at all. Act as though you are properly separated, move on with your life and I'd you're going to date, do it with someone new. if he realises he's made a big mistake and wants you back, let him do the running.
I'm sorry, but is it possible there is someone else on the scene already for him?

solidgoldbrass Sun 26-Feb-12 09:02:39

It sounds like he wants to keep you on the back burner while he goes off and looks for other women. He may not be seeing anyone else or even have anyone specific in mind, but he wants the opportunity to look around. At the same time, though, he doesn't want you moving on, he wants to be the one in charge of the process of deciding whether or not you split.
Remember that you matter and you have a say. And if you feel that a temporary separation might help, be very clear with him that any rules on dating other people apply to both of you.

Punkatheart Sun 26-Feb-12 09:17:42

Really? You both see it that way? I see it as a man sad about the spark going and trying to find a solution. But our OP will know him best.

chocoraisin Sun 26-Feb-12 09:28:43

my friend did this and it did work, they just got married (they had 2 DC already). If you're going to 'date' try to break the mould though. Don't bother with romantic candle-lit dinners or restaurants where you have to sit there and talk... try something totally new to you both that has the potential to stimulate humour and teamwork, that will get you both thinking of and seeing each other differently. Be brave and make sure you're both really committed to the idea. I agree that asking him to book the 'dates' is important, that way you'll quickly know if he means it or is just saying it to soften the blow.

Some things my friend suggested trying when I was in this situation were going to a climbing wall together, or go-karting, or ice-skating - physical, funny, competative activities that you could just have a giggle doing. In my case although I suggested these things STBXH didn't actually follow through. But I do think it can work if you both want it to. The key is not to see the dates as another opportunity to re-hash old ground. They have to be fresh and fun for you both, to break the cycle of feeling miserable and focusing on 'what went wrong'. STBXH went on one 'date' with me (to a restaurant) and spent the majority of the time telling me how much happier his parents were when they divorced hmm which was one more nail in the coffin instead.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 26-Feb-12 10:04:09

I agree it sounds very much like he probably thinking of shagging someone else, if not already having an affair - why move out? why stop counselling?

If he was really committed to trying to save the marriage he would have continued the counselling and he would not say that he "may" consider dating, the latter shows he is stringing you along in case things do not work out with the other woman.

MadAboutHotChoc Sun 26-Feb-12 10:05:34

And sadly there is no chance of reigniting that spark if his mind (and bits) are already elsewhere....

Xales Sun 26-Feb-12 10:09:44

He may consider dating you hmm Doesn't sound like he wants to make a go of it to me. I agree with carly and solid. He wants out, a place of his own, to be able to date other women without feeling guilty because you two are 'separated' but for you to sit around and wait for him to make up his mind if dating other women is better/more fun than the wife and creature comforts he has. So he throws you that bone to keep you in line.

Sit with him and put a time on it. How long does he want you to remain in limbo while he decides if you still have a marriage, 3 months, 6, a year? Will you both be considering dating others also while you are living apart? ? A good question to ask as he may suddenly stop and realise that you could also have other partners while apart.

You don't have to cope alone he is still their dad. Make sure that as this is a 'trial split' he gets to do 50% of the parenting. That may be hard on you to not have your children around however it will give you a chance to have some free time to unwind and turn off mentally or develop and rediscover yourself.

Use this time to go out yourself, develop new friends, hobbies and outside interests. Don't just sit around and wait for him to make the decision. Marriage should be an equal relationship. You may decide you don't want him back...

Seek some time with a solicitor so you know where you stand if it becomes permanent. Hopefully you will not have to use this knowledge it does no harm to have it though.

I hope I am just cynical and he really does want to try again and work it all out. Treat it as a separation and be happy if it isn't. Hopefully it will not be quite as devastating if it is.

Good luck.

sternface Sun 26-Feb-12 10:11:19

I should think he's been having an affair and only went to counselling to 'tick the box' and pretend he'd tried to save the marriage. But he realises that this affair might not prove to be the real deal and wants you on the back-burner if it doesn't work out, either when he gets fed up of the other woman or she dumps him first.

In effect he's putting you on notice too that if you 'raise your game' a bit then he might deign to fancy you again.

My advice is to find out about the affair and take your control back, pointing out that you won't be the 'safe option' for any man.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 26-Feb-12 16:36:23

If SGB's wrong on this I'll eat my best Sunday hat with a light French dressing. And I don't even like French dressing.

LadyMedea Sun 26-Feb-12 16:46:12

How very sad for you....<<hugs>> who knows what is really going on in his head? He probably doesn't even know. There could be an affair, it is worth snooping.

The only thing you can do is work out what you want for yourself and go about getting it. If you want some advice on how to fight for your marriage try Michele Weiner Davis' 'Divorce Remedy'.... it focuses on how you can get through this and be proud of yourself, no matter what the outcome. I found it very positive and helpful to keep me on track no matter what my DH (now reconciled) was up to... including an affair!

I'd recommend you continue with individual counselling so you have a support network and place to work on yourself.

If your DH wants to separate and date then there is no point fighting it. I'd go along with it calmly, try and agree some rules - about seeing other people, about seeing each other. And then try and make any time you do have with him positive rather than getting upset or angry. It won't help you or your marriage.

VanderElsken Sun 26-Feb-12 16:54:40

You poor poor thing. What prompted the counselling?

This sounds very much like he is having or was having an affair and the counselling has been part of a journey to get to a point where he can say to you he is leaving. Either the 'dating' each other part is a kind lie or, more probably, he isn't totally sure about the other woman yet so wants the option of seeing which lifestyle he prefers and keeping you on the back burner, as said above, so he can come back. In my experience, men very very rarely leave the family home unless there is someone else. Even if he was seriously rethinking your relationship and wanting to reignite it, why leave the house to be somewhere smaller and less comfortable and further away? To be able to sleep with someone, I'm afraid.

I know it's really horrible and impossible to think about but try and take some strength from the fact that YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. He is trying to blame you or your marriage for his bad behaviour or mid life crisis and you are the one who is perfectly lovely.

If I were you I'd do some phone and email snooping. Or rack your brains, you know that person you sort of suspected maybe six months ago? Or someone he talked about a lot now never mentions? The person from work? That's who it is.

Definitely see a solicitor, definitely tell friends and your family if you can what you suspect, some of them may know something. You will cope. You'll be okay. You are alright. the best thing you could possibly do right now is to detach and cool off from him. It will freak him right out. He is depending on having you there as an option. Without that the tables are completely turned and all there is is a guy in a bedsit not knowing when he will have access to his kids again and trying desperately to remember why he thought a new relationship with some young, nutty bint would work out. He will beg to come back eventually. Right now, you should be angry. Very angry.

TheEpilator Sun 26-Feb-12 17:23:02

Afraid I tend to agree with the majority of posters that his intentions don't really sound very focussed on improving your relationship, but on opening up his options.

IIWY I would agree to the separation and (as I did) really overstate the part about you being free to date other people - this is not just some quirky living arrangement where you are still committed to each other but have separate houses, separation means you each live your own life in order to make you happier than you are now - this part seems to focus their mind!

sternface Sun 26-Feb-12 22:49:24

I've been thinking of this thread some more and how often I've seen this situation play out on these threads and in RL. I think what the departing husband always wants in these situations is the time and space to enjoy the second relationship without having to admit it even exists. So he'll pretend that the 'spark's gone' and the relationship is on its last legs and because he's infatuated with someone else, he might even believe that to be the case. But he's too much of a pragmatist to be certain the new woman's going to meet his needs so he 'road-tests' her while keeping his old partner in the dark and in reserve.

If she never finds out about the affair, it burns out and he deigns to return to the marriage, he's treated as a returning hero and 'rewarded' for seeing sense and wanting to make a go of things. So a honeymoon period ensues until he finds yet another opportunity, which is even more likely now that he's 'got away' with it before.

So in these situations it's always best to short-circuit all those months of longing and hoping and find out if it's the usual cause of a man wanting out of his marriage. Once found out, some men do snap out of the fantasy and end the affair - and with some honesty on both sides, the marriage can often be repaired. That will never happen though while the alternative relationship remains a secret, either while it's going on or after it has ended.

Annem1 Sat 21-Apr-12 20:50:03

Since I last posted my husband moved out just over a week ago. I am finding it hard to cope when I see him I get upset. I cried the other day and he said I am immature. It's fair to say our children don't cry when he leaves them but he will always be their dad and they've see him every other day.

Next weekend they are staying at his house for the first time I am dreading being on my own.

My husband says he may come back if I change but I can't make myself into another person. I feel it would almost be easier if I didn't have to see him but that isn't possible.

I feel so confused things got better in the couple of weeks before he left we even went away for a weekend as a family at his suggestion for our anniversary. He moved out two days after my birthday.

amillionyears Sat 21-Apr-12 20:57:40

So he didnt have an OW? good.
I did read somewhere, that people go with other people whose qualities they admire, so you may well be different to each other. What made you go with him, and what made him go with you?Hope this helps.

Annem1 Sat 21-Apr-12 21:14:52

I have suspicions there has been another woman but that is a long story which he denies. We have been together since we were sixteen. He seemed to have a bit of a meltdown when we went to marriage counselling. Earlier this year and said we have nothing in common we are too different and he'd wasted his life with me. He said last week that if I don't make a go of making it work between us when he moves out he will tell the children it's my fault

amillionyears Sat 21-Apr-12 21:34:19

He actually sounds like he wants to stay with you imo.Could be wrong. Did you two make any headway at the counselling?

Sunflower6 Sat 21-Apr-12 22:11:19

No sadly the Counselling wasn't very helpful and was very stressful. We went to a private counsellor and I feel it didn't address the issues. We had seven sessions and my husband said that is all most people have but I've read on here of people who've had more than that. The last session was when the counsellor asked what I needed to feel loved my husband refused to go after that.

He said him moving out would stop the arguing but it won't solve the issues will it.

Bogeyface Sat 21-Apr-12 22:26:08

I disagree that he wants to make a go of it.

He wants to split up but he wants it to be your fault, when it isnt.

He wants you to change, he wants you to make all the effort and emotionally blackmails you by threatening to tell the kids it was all your fault.

Do you see just how low and shitty that is? What a bastard!

I know you are feeling low but look at this from a purely subjective pov. Write a list of the things he is expecting from you and the things he is possibly going to give back (but with no guarantees). Add in the worry of him cheating, his lack of respect of you since the split and his blackmail.

Then ask yourself, would you be happy if your daughter or best friend announced they were marrying a man like that? I rather suspect that he is already looking around but doesnt want to be the bad guy so is doing everything he can to make it your fault. "I left because she wouldnt....." "I had an affair because she was......" "I started seeing someone else because she......"
not
"I left/had an affair/got a GF because I felt that our marriage was over but was too much of a cowardly shit to tell her"

The "trial seperation" is often used by cowards, and I suggest that you take it as your opportunity to think about what you really want. Dont communicate with him other than about the children. Dont invite him in when he collects them, dont talk, contact only via email (not text!) and keep it all business. that will give your head time to clear and think abotu what you want. Relate offer counselling to people in your situation and I think that that would be a good idea for you. you have been so used to being married to him that you cant imagine any other life, and Relate may help you to see the wood instead of the trees, as it where.

Good luck xxx

sternface Sat 21-Apr-12 22:35:11

Unfortunately you didn't take the advice from your last thread and what posters predicted has come to pass. Trying to get someone to love you again when their mind and body are elsewhere is a hopeless exercise and only ends up making you feel worse. Stop trying to compete now and get on with your own life. Your husband is cruel and thinks that wives should prove their 'worthiness' but in truth you are better off without this nasty controlling man. Follow your children's example. They see him more clearly than you.

And yes, of course there's another woman. She must be quite bonkers.

Bogeyface Sat 21-Apr-12 22:36:40

Oh I forgot to say that insisting that the other partner needs to change/try harder whilst at the same time making it impossible for them to do so or never being happy with what they do, is an old old trick. My ex best friend did it to her husband, she would tell everyone (including me) that she was trying but he wasnt when in fact he was tying himself in knots trying to keep her happy.

So when she finally went off with someone else, who it turned out she had been seeing for a long time, it was ok because she had tried and her husband hadnt. Karma got her, her BF cheated on her and left and her exDh married an amazing woman and they are still happily together smile

amillionyears Sun 22-Apr-12 10:17:07

Dear Annem 1.Im sorry about your situation. Again, I could be wrong, but are you saying that you think he wants to stay married to you, but doesnt like arguing, so that is why he says he has moved out?
I would suggest you try and read a copy of the book "Why Women talk and Men Walk".How to Improve Your Relationship without Discussing it.
Basically it says that women discuss their problems to help them feel better, but men do not like to discuss their problems because it makes them feel worse. They feel guilt and shame.
The book helps couples to reengage in a way that suits both sexes.

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