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Do you stay in an unhappy marriage for your children?

(29 Posts)
Iconfess Fri 26-Apr-13 17:21:40

I'm dying inside - my marriage has never been right for me and I'm desperate to find some happiness before its too late (I'm 50). But my kids are young - 12, 9 and 6, and my husband is not a bad man, it's just that I've never loved him and I crave companionship and understanding that he just can't give me. We married because of my first pregnancy and I think it was right to give it a go, but for me it just never worked. I did try - organised weekends away for us etc, tried to discuss where things were not working, but our issues never got resolved and now it's too late for me. But my babies... I don't know if I can do it to them.... But I don't think I can live like this much longer either... Has anyone else faced this?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 26-Apr-13 17:25:43

Plenty of people face it and deal with it. Done maturely and amicably there's no reason why children shouldn't actively benefit from being co-parented at two locations by happy individuals rather than at one location by two people living under strain. I'm sure you'd remain friends with your what would be xH

aliciaflorrick Fri 26-Apr-13 17:38:03

I did, I was very unhappy for years, when I asked my DH to separate about three years ago when the DCs were 7 and 5 he begged me to change my mind, it would kill him if me and the children left him etc he loved us so much, so I stayed and tried to make the marriage work. I felt so lonely and he just did my head in, we had nothing in common, and he left me to do everything with the DCs and the house.

August last year found out he'd been having an affair and he left me and the DCs (very abruptly too, three minute phone call followed by email, no sitting down and chatting sensibly), he's seen them about five weekends since and I'm very, very bitter and angry for my many wasted years of unhappiness and loneliness while married.

My advice would be that if you're unhappy then end it now before you too have resentment for your lost life. If I had my time again, I wish I'd been brave enough to have followed through the day I sat my ExH down and tried to explain to him how unhappy I was. I feel like I've wasted years when I could have been trying to get my life back. Our split and divorce is absolutely not amicable whatsoever. I always say to EXH it could have been so different if we'd ended it that day when I'd tried to explain to him how I felt.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 26-Apr-13 17:40:35

What do you want to teach your children about relationships?. Staying together solely for their benefit is an extremely bad idea as it teaches them a lot of damaging lessons on relationships, lessons they can carry over into their own adult relationships. You are in a loveless marriage; do not think they do not see this because they do. Also they won't thank you for remaining with their Dad if you are so unhappy; they could well ask you as adults why on earth you did not leave sooner and if you reply "well I stayed because of you" they will likely call you daft for doing so.

One day your children will leave home, what then for you?.

Children are very perceptive and pick up on ongoing misery within the home all too easily and perhaps even blame themselves for their parents marital woes. I say better to be apart and happier than to be together and miserable. You are also stopping your own self from potentially meeting someone new.

ParmaViolette Fri 26-Apr-13 18:03:06

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ParmaViolette Fri 26-Apr-13 18:05:51

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hollyisalovelyname Fri 26-Apr-13 19:14:34

Parma did he abuse you ? Or your mother or both of you. You sound very sad. You do not have to have him at your wedding. Can you talk to anyone in RL?

Iconfess Fri 26-Apr-13 20:40:45

I'm kind of surprised that people are so supportive - I expected a bit more "put your own needs aside for the sake if your children" - and this is the battle I am fighting inside - how can I break up their home? Will they feel torn between us? How can I make fair child care arrangements that mean they see both parents but don't have to move between homes? I don't know how to do it. All the options seem to be bad for them. Has anyone been through with this and found a good way?

ParmaViolette Fri 26-Apr-13 21:49:40

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catkin14 Fri 26-Apr-13 23:36:57

Hi I just wanted to add my support to all the others. I left my H about 7 weeks ago, we had been married 27 years. I have 3 DC's older than yours but youngest is 14.
It took me many years to pluck up courage to do it, H is controlling and cleverly manipulative so I have spent many years believing everything would be happy if i made it so or changed enough to make him happy and then everyone would be happy! But he is not a bad man either.
I too believed DC would be better off having 2 parents together, but I do not now believe this to be true.
At 50 you know we only get one life (as far as we know!) and time is slipping away?
I too felt as if i was dying and its awful to feel like that, like walking in porridge!
You too have a right to be happy?

tiredofwaitingforitalltochange Sat 27-Apr-13 00:14:14

I'm kind of surprised that people are so supportive - I expected a bit more "put your own needs aside for the sake if your children"

This was what I expected when I posted about my unhappy marriage on MN. It was a real eye opener that the Daily Mail view is no longer current.

MN really helped me get more clear eyed about things. Without the support and advice I found on here I would still be living with my husband. We were terribly unhappy.

The catalyst for me was one of my kids saying she thought I didn't like her because I was always unhappy when she was around. It was a huge wake up call.

Last year was horrendous, sorting out the practicalities and some very stressful property transactions. Now we are both settled in separate homes. The children are adjusting pretty well. I am happier. My friends were supportive of my decision, I didn't feel judged, they all thought I was doing the right thing.

It hasn't been easy, emotionally. I was so focused on escape I didn't realise how much grief I would have to go through. I've felt very lonely at times. I'm only now starting to make the most of my time without the kids (we are sharing custody nearly 50:50) and not feel utterly bereft when they are not with me.

If you marry the wrong person it's a no-win. I do feel stigmatised by separating and a bit isolated. I'm learning to be proactive about social life after hibernating all winter. People do care but are wrapped up in their own lives.

There's lots of guilt about dh, too. But I felt I was wasting my life and knew that it was inevitable that we would split in the end and I wanted it to be sooner rather than later. I'm in my early forties, not looking for another relationship.

Apart from MN another thing that made me jump was doing a uni course. I saw lots of happy, well balanced young people from 'broken homes'. All were philosophical and sanguine about their parents splitting - accepting that it was right for them. I also saw young people traumatised by their parents splitting as soon as they left for Uni, having done the staying together bit. An awful responsibility to realise that their parents had struggled on for their sakes.

Sorry this is so long, I'm not good at being succinct. I don't regret my decision and nor will you if you leave. But it is a journey and you can't leave until you are ready, and the business of splitting is horrible, though worth it in the end.

I'm finding a lot of pleasure in running my own house, gradually realising I am a free agent who is solely in charge of my own life. I'm also closer to my kids - the unhappiness had been a huge distraction and I'd lost so much confidence that I'd become almost afraid to parent them.

Good luck x

Iconfess Sat 27-Apr-13 10:32:25

Wow, thank you so much everyone. I really hope I can achieve a separation that works for us all. I have been mulling over how it could work. I wonder how long teenage kids would be ok with shuffling between two homes. Would they get sick of it in the end? I have been wondering whether we could buy a second house nearby and use it like two flats - so we each have our own space and privacy. Then we would leave the kids in the family home and we would be the ones moving between homes - perhaps a week at a time with the kids then in our own flat. I know it means no 'closure' or proper 'moving on' and perhaps in real life it would prove too difficult. But I keep coming back to the idea. Has anybody considered something like this?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 27-Apr-13 12:24:22

Everyone manages it differently. What's most important (and I'll admit this probably goes against the grain a little) is you first and foremost. You have to be comfortable with yourself, your present and your future... top priority. Once you've decided to be independent, you're in charge of your own life with all the responsibility that entails. No-one else is going to look out for you the way you can look out for yourself.

A very close second comes the children i.e. their happiness & wellbeing is extremely important but not if it means you're compromising your values or making too many sacrifices. There will be some disruption to your children's lives because it can't be avoided, but provided you are operating from a sound base - you personally - you will be able to carry them with you.

MortifiedAdams Sat 27-Apr-13 12:29:16

I would be devastated as an adult to learn that my parents stayed together for me, and lived in sadness. I would feel incredibly guilty.

I wouldnt staywith DH if we fell out of love / hated each other. I wouldnt want ny DD to ever think she would have to stay in an unhappy marriage and that she should be with her OH because she wants not needs to.

Iconfess Sat 27-Apr-13 22:20:37

Thank you again for the encouraging words. My DH is struggling as he doesn't want to separate and has said I am selfish not to put the kids happiness before my own. I know it's just not that simple. I know also that if he and I work together we can achieve an arrangement that causes the kids the least hurt. Trouble is that he doesn't want to cooperate and wants to hang in there. I can't condem that - if he really thinks we can somehow stay together then who wouldn't fight for it? But I know I will never be happy and have told him. He's in denial though I think.

Also, I don't think there's been any divorce in his family and I think it scares him and humiliates him. My own parents divorced when I was 13 and I know it can be ok.

At times since I opened up this can of worms, my DH has turned nasty - viscous texts and emails - but then apologises and is desperate to stay together. In many ways our relationship has had a parent-child dynamic - with him being the child - less confident and sociable, happily relying on me to take the lead and sort things out. Not what I have wanted. Just left me feeling unsupported and alone. His swinging from visciousness to needy desperation is just more child behaviour to my parent I think.

Anyway, it is really useful to me to know I am not selfish to dare to place importance on my own happiness smile

delilahlilah Sat 27-Apr-13 22:53:47

No! Absolutely not! We were the children who lived through our Mother doing that. We would have loved for her to leave. Children notice things. They are aware when one or both parents are unhappy. It is much better to have 2 happy parents apart than miserable ones together.

Lozislovely Sat 27-Apr-13 23:10:40

I'm going through it right now with DS's of 16 and 14. Been with H for 20 years under the same circumstances as yours - got pregnant and I wanted it to work so we married and I played happy families. The cracks have always been there and the light bulb finally came on after a stressful Xmas day.

No 2 son appeared more upset than no 1 son in the beginning but is doing fine.

We're all living under the same roof but luckily have received an offer on the house.

With no 1 son slap bang in the middle of GCSE's I thought long and hard about whether I was doing the right thing and have been amazed by the maturity and level headed ness DS's in their acceptance of the situation. No 1 son even said that I needed to think about my happiness and that I deserved a break!

I wish I'd had the courage to leave years ago as life is too short and as someone who grew up from a very young age in a single parent family (back when it was more of a stigma) I can tell you that my life was no worse off for it.

Top tip - stay neutral and honest to your children and they will understand in the long run.

Iconfess Sat 27-Apr-13 23:19:02

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement. Taking it all in.

Ikeameatballs Sat 27-Apr-13 23:31:08

10 weeks ago I told dp I wanted to split up after 12 years together and 2 dc.

It has been hard emotionally but the dc have been great, a bit upset at first but much, much better than I imagined.

I had to end it as my feelings of anger and resentment were seeping into other areas of my life. I think overall I am a happier person and a better parent now.

Googleit Sat 27-Apr-13 23:39:43

This will totally go against the grain but I know many other women who have totally regretted their decison to divorce and you you should think this through properly. You should not base your experience on others as each relationship is different.

Besides what makes you think you will be any happier separated and do you think love can be find elsewhere..if so do you really want another man around your children. Your reasons have to be really strong.
Something must have drawn you to DH in the first place maybe focus ing and giving energy to make it work and to find happiness in yourself is a more positive step.
No marriage is perfect it goes through phases and living through the good as well as the bad is all part of it. You may realise you did really love him once it is too late.
I would never separate for this reason.

TheFunStopsHere Sat 27-Apr-13 23:59:32

I always thought I would never separate for this reason. Until I did.
And I have no regrets.
I always thought I could never deprive my children the chance to grow up in a happy 2-parent family. Until I realized we had already done that by marrying.. And fixing that was the better option. Our marriage counselor summed it up as two shit options - staying or leaving. But the staying option doesn't stay the same. It can only erode and leaves everyone worse off.
Remember too that divorce doesn't have to look a particular way. It doesn't have to be animosity, the father mainly out of the picture, alternate weekends etc. You can do it differently. For example, my XH spends a lot of time at my house, because it's his children's home. He respects my privacy but I am very happy for him to be here with them in their space because it's good for them. We go together to school events, we cooperate with birthday and Christmas presents, we make joint financial decisions about them. The fact that he is incapable of being a loving husband took me time to reconcile with, but we've created a new normal for our children which I think is positive for all of us.
Think about how you'd like it to work.

Diagonally Sun 28-Apr-13 00:16:16

I did it 3 years ago. I have absolutely no regrets.

I knew I would be happier living an honest life than one built on an increasingly fragile pile of pretence.

mumandlawyer Sun 28-Apr-13 00:34:36

My parents divorced when I was 19. It was only very recently that my mother told me that she had been very unhappy when I was a child but she stayed with my father because of my brother and I. I only really got to know my 'real' mum after the divorce. She was very unhappy for years. It is obviously your choice but staying in a relationship that makes you unhappy could impact on your children. I am a divorce lawyer and I see so many women in your situation. Some take the plunge, some don't. Of the women that do I can honestly say that they are like different people. They like themselves again and they like life.

I'm a child of parents who stayed together for too long because of me. My dad was always the other child , and my Mum tried for many years to make the relationship work for my sake.
But even as a younger child I sensed that my parents were not really happy, and when they finally divorced in my teens, my Mum feeling sad, I was able to say to her 'you deserve to be happy' and when they finally spilt life was much better. Confusing for a while, yes, but simply better..no tension, no underlying discontent.
Children are perceptive..and adaptable and if you are happier, they will be too.. ultimately, even if it feels hard at first.

SlumberingDormouse Sun 28-Apr-13 01:15:50

My parents stayed together for me and my siblings and it was awful. They had a trial separation when I was two and I wish they'd stayed separated then! They never had a good relationship and I knew it. They were both very unhappy and ended up having multiple affairs and catching me in the middle of it all. Don't think you're doing your children a favour by staying together, because you're really not.

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