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Trying to decide whether to separate.. how do you know if it's right?

(19 Posts)
ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 11:35:55

Not sure what I want to get out of posting really, validation? To be told I'm stupid? DP and I have had a fairly good relationship - ups and downs like everyone but nothing major - he is a good partner, we seem to work well as a team with the house and DC, the home is fairly harmonious. But something is missing, I think we have just fallen out of love - I don't know if I love him at all anymore. Is this a good enough reason to separate, to make our lives harder, to disrupt the DCs lives? There is no abuse, though we can get into silly rows that start from nothing at all - and go nowhere. I just feel fed up really and is this it for me? I don't suppose we enjoy each others company very much. Like a lot of people, there isn't much time for just the two of us but when there is, we seem to enjoy the setting and being away from the children, but not each other. We had a day out this weekend but I wouldn't have enjoyed it less on my own or with a friend, or my mum... there was nothing special about being with him.

I'm trying to imagine him not being here and I feel sad about that but sort of relieved too - the idea that I'm completely in charge and not compromising on things (minor things - what to eat, how to spend a weekend, nothing amazing) - peace and being alone seem very attractive. Should we stick it out, is this a blip, or have we just run our course? How on earth do you tell the difference?

We have been here before and I asked him to leave - the escalation of a weekend of petty rows and bickering - sometimes he looks at me with hatred - like he is just sick of me. I've asked him to go, I guess he didn't take me seriously. He says he will not leave as he has nowhere to go. I challenged him on this, says he could go to his parents (he absolutely refuses) or a friend from work (no way). He did finally say he'd move out 'when he could afford it'.. which is ridiculous, money is tight so I think this was to shut me up - it worked, and within a few days things soften, we began to talk a bit more nicely to one another and then the anger feels distant and you think you should keep trying... and now here we are.

juneau Mon 12-Nov-12 11:39:37

Okay, so he's refusing to move out and that sounds like a temporary separation isn't likely to test the waters. Have you tried marriage counselling - either together or separately? It might help you both to get to the bottom of what exactly is going wrong and whether it can be remedied.

juneau Mon 12-Nov-12 11:42:11

P.S. I can kind of see why he doesn't want to move out and why you want him to. You seem to be assuming that you'll get to stay in the house with the kids and he'll have to move in with his parents or to a bedsit or something - that's not very attractive is it?

Spero Mon 12-Nov-12 11:47:44

You need to communicate with one another. That is only way if you find out it is a blip or something more serious. If you can't manage that by yourselves - and I don't think many can - you need to consider professional help.

Set a time limit - 6 months should be long enough. If by the end of that period you don't feel committed to making a life together I think you should split up. But make sure you have openly and honestly considered every angle. Sngle parenting is hard work.

All I can say is don't spend the next couple of years going round in circles and never making a decision one way or the other. I think that is the worst case scenario for everyone.

ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 11:53:59

I did suggest his parents as a temporary thing to give us both some space, not as a permanent answer. We rent our home and it is close to DS's school, and the place I hope to work/the potential nursery for DD. There are no houses to rent in this area. DP gets two trains from here to work - so yes, due to all of this I am assuming that I stay here with the children. Not just out of stubbornness.

I have suggested counselling before and he said he wouldn't go - I would go alone but I don't think we can afford it and I am at home all week with DD.

I think some of this stems back to having a rough time of it after DC1 was born 5 years ago - I got lots of support on MN at the time, but ultimately DP checked out emotionally for a v long time. I loved him very much then and was heartbroken. Things got a bit better after a couple of years, then I became pregnant with DD (unplanned). I feel a lot of it is down to me, of course - I feel quite consumed by motherhood lately and like I don't have very much left to give at the end of the day - part of the reason I am looking for work. I am happy, and love being with the children, but juggling this and a relationship seems to be harder for me than a lot of my friends who seem to switch off more easily. I know I can be a bit cold, I'm not always very tactile so I might seem quite distant. DP is very much introverted and sometimes this frustrates me - I want to scream grow up sometimes - he has some issues with other people socially, ordering food/drinks when out, that sort of thing. I used to feel for him and now I just think, fgs all the stuff I've had to get on with since having DC, it's not always easy or what you'd choose but you just adapt. I think he can be selfish in this regard. He complaints endlessly about work but then makes decisions that don't seem to make any sense to me - he takes things so personally - he is very sensitive. E.g. he applied for a job at place A and they liked him but didn't feel he was right the role - they offered him something else and he refused on principle because he was embarrassed/offended that they didn't think he was quite enough for the role he wanted. What they offered was v good...better than what he is doing...that frustrates me. Oh are we just incompatible? We have obviously both changed a lot since having children - perhaps in too different directions?

ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 11:58:31

Spero I think you're right - we just seem to have been here before though I'm quite private and haven't felt ready to seek advice on MN until now - previously I'd just try and keep it all in and figure it out but clearly that's not working.

We've just had a 7 year anniversary and I remember thinking earlier in the year, I wonder if we'll make it - well we have but not consciously, just bumbled along really.

I think DP is complacent. Happy to just carry on as we are. So addressing things isn't always easy...sometimes it's like he's nodding along but not listening really.

Spero Mon 12-Nov-12 11:58:35

The danger is you can over think this stuff when I think it is simple.

Neither of you are happy with each other. You don't know if this is going to get better. You won't know unless you can communicate. He won't go to counselling.

So either you go on your own and see if that helps or you split up. Would be my view. I appreciate that sounds harsh but I have seen too many situations like this drag on for years and its so painful and unnecessary.

MorrisZapp Mon 12-Nov-12 12:03:11

This is a very tough one. I've been where you are quite a few times, and I tend to err on the side of caution, ie stay together becuase breaking up doesn't look fun.

Nobody can tell you if you should stay with your DP. Some of what you have said here makes him sound annoying, but then maybe he could say similar about you - who knows if you are incompatible, or just tired, skint and bored.

I'd say look after number one. Picture your life as a single parent. Think about how you'd live, what you'd live on, how you'd move forward etc. Does that life look better than the life you have just now?

If he turned round today and said 'I don't think I love you any more, I'm leaving', and actually left you - how would you feel?

ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 12:05:07

Yes, Spero. And I think the older the DC get the harder it will be. They are 5 and 2. I don't want to end up with nothing but years of resentment behind us.

Whenever we have had a rough patch before, DP has always just said he feels things will get better - I suppose that always lifted me, that he is never pessimistic about being with me. But really it just puts a barrier up and means things aren't really dealt with.

So a separation is only going to happen if I push and push - hard not to feel cruel doing that - or we talk and agree that this is IT - last push - and agree that if after X time we are not happier then we DO separate, rather than it being me now IYSWIM?

Sometimes I can't help but feel that as long as there is food in the cupboards and the washing is done, DP isn't too fussed about how close we are or anything else at all. Just keep on keeping on without any thought for how happy anyone is.

And I can see why - when there's no major issue it is hard to rock the boat. Hard not to feel so selfish and cruel. Partic when a friend's H is leaving her for seemingly no reason at all, seeing how broken she is, seeing her poor DC. I don't want to do this... I'd much rather be happy, looking forward to him coming home each day, etc.

ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 12:12:18

Good question Morris. I'd be hurt, probably angry actually, but I think some relief too. A clean break sounds nice. Well not nice... you know.

I don't doubt being a single parent is hard - having the weight of everything solely on me. DP does his fair share in the house, with the DC and obviously that would fall to me. Money would be tight.... it is now. I'm looking for work but that's not going to mean more money until DD has funded hours anyway.

I don't doubt I am hard to live with. I can be v particular about things, I'm not wiping the floor behind people when they come in exactly but I do keep the house to a high standard, higher than perhaps DP would like - but IMO this makes the upkeep of it all easier. I think I expect a lot but give a lot too. I try to make DP's life as easy as possible and things run smoothly. I'm not stepfordsy but I sort of quietly get on with it and enjoy making sure everyone is well fed and looked after etc - as sad as that may sound.

Spero Mon 12-Nov-12 12:12:33

I do think it is a male trait to let situations drift on. That was certainly what happened to me. I had to push for the separation as even though he clearly wasn't happy and didn't even seem to like me, he would have done nothing about it because he actually had a reasonably comfy home life.

I think you have to give it serious thought now because as you recognise, the ages of your children make it important. The older the get, the harder it will be for them to come to terms with it.

If you have suggested counselling and he just says 'no', I think that is a bad sign.

ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 12:22:21

I think he says no because it puts a barrier up and enables the status quo - also is painfully shy and very proud - the reason he wouldn't go and stay at his parents is because he would be mortified at having to tell then we've separated. I am willing to be that if he did move out, they wouldn't find out for as long as possible. They don't tend to visit us at home so that could be a while.

Spero Mon 12-Nov-12 12:32:10

There might be all manner of understandable reasons why he doesn't want to engage, you might feel lots of sympathy etc but you are still stuck in the same situation. So if he can't or won't meet you half way, I don't think it does you much good to speculate as to why.

I knew it was right to separate as I was crying nearly every day, I got no affection or respect and I asked myself the question - if it was a choice between this or being alone for the rest of my life, which would I chose?

Doesn't sound like things are quite that bad for you now, but I still think you need to push for something to happen or it might drift into something worse.

ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 13:45:52

Hmm. Thanks Spero, you've given me a bit of perspective. Sorry things were so bad for you.

So we - or I - need to figure out why now, after all this time, separation is on my mind when we fall out rather than just dealing with it and moving on. He asked if I love him - I wasn't sure how to answer... I don't suppose I ever really think about whether I love him - maybe I am still in a bit of a honeymoon period with the children? I really struggled with my DD for her first year - felt she hated me etc - then after her first birthday it was like I woke up from a horrible dream and everything was in full colour again and every day I feel so lucky to have her, feel like I can't believe she's mine, love every minute with her. My DS is very affectionate and always wants to cuddle, hold hands. Maybe I have detached, both due to problems with DP and feeling overwhelmed (in a good way) with the DC? And meanwhile he's just getting on with things quietly... perhaps anything better than the family setup he grew up with is enough for him? Distant father never around, sounds like he was a bit of a crap husband at times, forgetting birthdays etc, these are the times DP goes out of his way.

AboutToSelfDestruct Mon 12-Nov-12 14:06:29

Spero, I totally agree with you. I feel like I'm in a similar situation to OP. Its not that bad but not good either. And now it is getting worse and I have fallen for someone else. No affair but my heart has been taken and I have absolutely no idea what to do about it. We did try to fix things but it keeps coming back to this point. I think I've hit crunch time. Time to make that decision, but I'm so scared.

juneau Mon 12-Nov-12 15:25:30

The way you describe feeling about your DD for the first year of her life sounds like PND to me. Were you ever assessed for it?

I stand by what I said earlier. It seems like there are a lot of posts on relationships from women who just want their DH to leave and they don't really care where they go, but they fully intend (for whatever reason or expectation), to stay living in the same place with the DC. So they're the ones driving the separation, but they have the least to lose and I can understand why these DHs are reluctant to go. Move back in with his DPs, who he isn't close to? I'm assuming we're talking about a 30-something or 40-something man here? Why the hell would he want to move back in with his DPs, just because you're pissed off with him? I'm sorry if that sounds unsupportive - but I'm just trying to look at it from the other side. Yes, you seem to be unhappy, but if he isn't as unhappy or perhaps doesn't need the same level of intimacy as you he's not going to see any good reason to leave and he's certainly not going to jump at the chance to leave his home and his DC in order to move back in with his parents to give you the space you seem to crave.

You guys need to talk and if he's not willing to talk or to attend counselling (which it sounds like you would both really benefit from), you might need to involve a friend of his, a sibling, or someone else he's close to in order to get through to him.

Spero Mon 12-Nov-12 18:05:47

I agree it might help you clarify your thoughts if you assumed you would have to move out and find somewhere else. Like I said, I think you have to have a very honest internal audit of all your motivations. If he doesn't want t get on board with this, you will have to do it alone.

I just hope you are not still having this conversation or a version of it a year from now.

startlife Mon 12-Nov-12 18:50:25

I did wonder if there is resentment for your dp as that can lead to how you are feeling. If you are feeling resentful, explore the main causes.

I would also ensure you focus on your life - what would make you happy (outside of the relationship). Is it a job? more income? social life?

I'm in a similar position with my H, I'm not sure if we will make it but I am using the time to work on myself. Getting myself to a position where I feel happier - for me that's working, having my own income, getting to the gym on a regular basis and seeing my friends and family. Once I'm feeling happier I think more clearly and can see the issues.

ladyintheradiator Mon 12-Nov-12 20:02:03

juneau I'm certain I had PND and I look back and think a) why didn't I talk to someone more and b) how the hell did I manage for so long? Actually, I did tell my HV early on how low I felt. She was lovely and I felt I could confide in her. Then abruptly she transferred elsewhere and a v young inexperienced staff nurse was sent in her place and I did all the usual things - smiling, saying I am feeling much better blah blah - I look back and it's like watching someone else IYSWIM, can't believe that was me hiding away and thinking I could cope.

Regarding our living situation - I am a SAHM. DP is self employed. If I left the children and him, then there is no income and they all become homeless. If I took the children and left then DP would leave the house anyway. Perhaps I wouldn't be considering inconveniencing him so much if he had invested a little bit more in the relationship over the last few years. If we had no DC I'd go to my mum's like a shot.

I do focus on my life and have changed so much in the last few years. I lost a lot of weight last year, have battled my own shyness and made some friends, I have a great voluntary role that takes up some of my time, and now I feel ready to look for work (I worked between the DC but left after a year, long story).

I feel a bit softer towards DP since my first post. Part of the trouble perhaps is that all of this can be so up and down. Or am I just tired, the end of a long day..?

I think putting some kind of deadline on things is the way forward... it's clear enough that now isn't the time to separate, things are not that bad...

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