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Trial separation?

(8 Posts)
Biscuitsneeded Tue 30-Dec-14 21:51:31

I am looking for advice/experience/ideas. I am miserable with my DP, I think. (Sometimes it's all OK, and then I doubt myself). He is miserable with me. We are both fundamentally decent people but we are making each other wretched, and I think our unhappiness is not only being picked up on by our DC (9 and 7) but also making us both grumpy and snappy and impatient with them. I fantasise about being just me and my boys in a little house with none of DP's bad moods and mess and chaos. We were both brought up by parents who probably should have left each other but never did. We have both on some level internalised the idea that you make your bed and you lie on it, no matter how uncomfortable it is. We have had crises before and he has basically said "I'm not a quitter, you're not a quitter, so we struggle on". I am fond of him in lots of ways and he is mostly a good Dad (although increasingly less so because he is just so grumpy all the time)... but I don't feel that he is my best friend, or my advocate, or that he really cares about me. And sadly I don't really feel that way about him either. He can be very, very hurtful and bullying, and I can be a cow too, so he isn't the only one at fault. I have always resisted the idea of a split because I can't bear to hurt my DCs. Apart from the emotional impact, a split would mean all kinds of other significant losses, such as the funds for much-loved activities (Ds 1 is very serious about performing and we currently pay for lots of lessons) and actually I would struggle to be able to do my job as I leave early and rely on DP for the early morning childcare shift. Our lives are very hectic and everything relies on him doing his bit and me doing mine. I can't bear to undo all of that and for my boys to suffer. So those are all the reasons why I haven't called time on our relationship even though I probably should. I feel trapped.
However, it came to me today as I was on what could have been a lovely family walk, feeling utterly wretched, that I could maybe suggest a trial separation. If he could move out for a few weeks and give us both the space to see whether it is being forced to live together that is making us both so unhappy, maybe we would have a clearer idea of the right way to go. But I think this would be possibly even more upsetting and bewildering for the DC - how on earth do you explain that Daddy is moving out and he might come back and he might not? It would then be so crushing for them if he didn't, or they might feel they had a part to play in trying to persuade him to come home. I wouldn't want to destabilise them even more than I would do by making a permanent and irrevocable decision. But at the same time I need to know if things really would be better if we weren't having to pretend all the time to the outside world that we are happy. I honestly feel like it is taking a huge toll on both of us and the DC are suffering as a result. I am comfort eating, he is never off the computer or TV, we sleep in separate rooms which I claim is because of his snoring but is actually because most of the time I can't bear to be near him. I whinge occasionally about him to friends but it's always in a kind of jokey 'guess what he's done now' kind of way - only one friend knows the truth and I am appalled by the idea that she may have to spend the next 30 years listening to my catalogue of woes while I do nothing about it. She says she doesn't mind, because she's lovely, but then when I think how lost I would be without her and how not so lost I would be without him I know that's not right!! Oh, I don't know what I want or what to do for the best. Has anyone with DC ever done a trial separation? How did you explain it? How did it go? How did your DC react? Would you recommend it as an alternative to a full-blown and irrevocable split or does it do more damage than just getting it over and done with?

CogitOIOIO Tue 30-Dec-14 23:14:35

If the main obstacle is what you tell the children then perhaps you simply tell them that Dad's going to live somewhere else for a while. People can live away from home for all kinds of reasons, mostly to do with work. I wouldn't explain it any further than that.

Two households are always more expensive to run than one so there will have to be sacrifices. But a harmonious house is arguably a fair swap for nice-to-have hobbies.

Biscuitsneeded Wed 31-Dec-14 16:59:00

I totally see what you're saying about the hobbies. If it were ordinary after-school hobbies I'd agree. But DS lives for his performing - if he lost those opportunities it would be a huge blow and would make him feel even more negatively about any potential split. Also they are very perceptive little people and would not just accept Dad living elsewhere without asking why. DP would still want to see them during any separation, so we couldn't really act as if it was work-related. Thank you for replying though.

Bogeyface Wed 31-Dec-14 17:18:38

Bit confused as to what you are asking tbh.

You want a trial seperation but you dont want to split up? So what do you hope to achieve by the seperation?

Because as I see it, the best case scenario is that you realise you cant live without each other and skip off into the sunset. The worst, and I have to say more likely outcome, is that you realise you are better off apart and split up.

I am not saying you should stay together or split up but I am worried that by kicking the hornets nest you will be stirring up trouble that may end up with the exact opposite result to the one you want.

Rather than heading straight into a seperation, why not try counselling together first?

Biscuitsneeded Wed 31-Dec-14 19:54:33

I want to be sure that separation IS the right thing. I don't want to put my sons through that if it isn't. Maybe I'm just a nasty, grumpy person anyway and it has nothing to do with the state of my relationship! I'm sorry to be confusing, I am so confused myself and I know the very long post didn't really help me ask anything clearly. I just know I'm unhappy, but I don't know if I would be less unhappy if we split up, and I most certainly don't want to put my own happiness before my children's. But if my/our unhappiness is actually making their life worse then I need to do something about it. But I just don't know...

Bogeyface Wed 31-Dec-14 20:43:28

Unhappiness is difficult to deal with when you dont know why you are unhappy.

I left my marriage because I was unhappy, and it was the worst thing I ever did. I wasnt unhappy because of the marriage, I was unhappy because of me and I took me with me when I left! I ended up having a breakdown, not because of ending the marriage but it didnt help.

I do think that perhaps you could both use some counselling to work out why you both feel so grumpy and unfulfilled and see if you can deal with whatever issues come up. As he said, neither of you are quitters and that is a good thing, as long as you are working together.

I wonder if you are questioning whether seperating is the right thing to do is because you suspect it isnt but these days it is almost expected if a marriage hits bad times, rather than just riding it out and working it through until the good times come back.

Biscuitsneeded Wed 31-Dec-14 22:49:05

I think you are absolutely right. I do often think that people give up too easily and end up no happier but having made their children equally unhappy in the process. At the same time I also know that a rotten relationship can eat away at you until you just can't sustain the falsehood any more, however much you may want to for the sake of all around you. The thing is I don't know where we sit on that spectrum. When all is OK it is really fine and can be fun and companionable. But when it's bad it is truly bad - we're not talking normal marital rows but real, harmful antipathy and loathing, unforgivable things said etc. Today happens to have been reasonable, so I am inclined to think we should stick with it. Tomorrow could be very different. I think you are right that some counselling would be very useful.

heyday Thu 01-Jan-15 05:35:37

An awful lot of relationships have the huge ups and downs that you are describing especially in the fast paced frantic world in which we live.
It sounds as if you are both stressed and this is making you both tired and miserable and snappy with each other.
How would you cope with your work if you need to have childcare in place? You would have to find a solution to that problem before you even consider a split. I am not saying whether splitting up is right for you or not but your life may possibly become even more stressful as a single parent, on considerably less money, and having to possibly be solely responsible for running home, childcare and children who may resent you for the upheaval in their lives.
I think you and OH need to sit down and have an honest discussion about what us going wrong in your relationship and what you can try to do to make it better or how you could amicably split up.
The grass isn't always greener on the other side and we sometimes resolve one problem only to be faced with another equally damaging, stressfulone.
I would suggest that if you do both decide that splitting up is best then you work together to make it as pain less (financially and emotionally) for all of you but particularly for your children.
However, with some adjustments and honestly in your lives you may just be able to salvage something. Relationships take a lot of hard work to make them successful and sustainable.

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