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Neglected relationship - now want to leave(36 Posts)
Hello everyone, I am at a crossroads and need advice! I have seen some great advice on these threads and I know mumsnetters will be supportive but also won't hold back from telling me if I'm being a complete arse...
Married 25 years, 2 children, DD left home and DS teenager, I have been unhappy in relationship for many years. It's a case of longterm neglect, poor communication, and low self-esteem. DH quick-witted, sharp-tongued, a devoted father, sometimes gregarious, but now depressed (not clinically) and really in a mid-life crisis, losing his function as a father as our DS grows up and becomes more independent. There were many arguments which used to cut me to the quick, as I can't stand conflict, until I started to distance myself from what DH said. I put up a wall around myself to protect me from the rows... I neglected the relationship too... I thought I could stick it out until the kids left home.
Then I distanced myself emotionally from him. I started to go out more, although keeping all the kids stuff on track. I met someone and -really unexpectedly - developed an emotional rapport (not a physical affair).
There was a crisis point, big rows with DH for a month, now simmered down.
OM has stepped back, NC with him now.
DH and I now going to couple counselling, and I am trying to work out what happens next. Shall I leave, or stay and try to make a go of it??? I don't love him, I don't particularly enjoy spending time with him, the rows have stopped (he finally understood how much they hurt me - while he thought they were just normal). I could manage to stay, I think, but would have to really commit to trying to mend the relationship. DH extremely hurt and sad and needs to rebuild his own life too. But I must decide soon - because I can't stand much more of trying to be positive about a future together when my heart's not in it.
Any thoughts or questions welcome.
"I don't love him, I don't particularly enjoy spending time with him"
Do you see this changing at any point? Honestly, it sounds as if it's been bad for so long that it's killed all the love and even all the like.
How good was the relationship when it was at its best? If it was ever good, can you get back to there or have you changed so much it's just not possible?
If your heart's not in it, I don't think joint counselling is advisable. If you think you'd have to seriously compromise yourself in order to 'really commit' it's probably not going to bring you peace of mind. If he needs to rebuild his life and he's lost your support with repeated arguments, that's not actually your fault. Perhaps individual counselling would let you sort your thoughts safely?
One of your children has moved out and the other is in their teens - is there any particular advantage to staying together?
THANK YOU for the speedy replies! Your points are exactly what I am struggling with. Purple, we have both changed over the long period of years.
Cogito, the joint counselling has helped to clarify some things, but I am holding back from saying what I really think and feel, because I don't want (yet) to say I am ready to leave.
It is very sad. so some more questions:
Do you think a 13 yr old DS could cope with a separation? I think that we could reasonably amicably co-parent - this is something that has never been in doubt.
And what do you think about me telling DH I want to separate when he is at a very low point emotionally himself? Is that a really shitty thing to do - or would it be worse to try and keep it going when really he probably knows how I feel.
Thank you all so much
Hmmm I'm almost a year on from nearly leaving my dh following a bad few years. I committed to giving "us" 2 years to sort our relationship out and see if it was salvageable.
It is only just now that I'm getting to a place where I'm ready to face the fear and let myself trust him emotionally again. I am petrified, his emotional rejection of me devastated me to the core and I had a near breakdown.
There are aspects of dh personality I will never like but at one time I adored him enough to be able to accept him and his imperfections.
Not sure if that helps you at all? The road to recovering something worthwhile is very long and slow IME.
How well a 13yo copes with a big change in family circumstances depends on a lot of things. A lot of it will be down to how you and your DH handle the separation and lot of it will depend on his personality and resilience. My personal view is that, whether you are together or apart doesn't affect children so much as the environment you create. If it's a tense, unhappy, antagonistic atmosphere, that's not good for children
There is never a good time to tell someone you want to separate. However, I don't think it helps anything to keep up a pretence either. Just delays the pain.
Random, I had been wondering why I was struggling so much to "be nice" to him (his words) and feeling so guilty about not being able to be open honest and vulnerable. But your post made me realise that actually I would need to rebuild emotional trust in him, as well as vice versa, I'm not really the bad guy.
Cogito..."never a good time"... so true. Very scary.
I hope to be able to report some progress soon. Thank you for advice.
"the joint counselling has helped to clarify some things, but I am holding back from saying what I really think and feel"
If youre hiding such a big part of yourself away, im not sure how really effective the councilling can be - everything you work towards will be missing this huge piece of your feelings.
Don't do what I did. I stayed with my wife too many years beyond sensible. I knew if I didn't get out I would spend whatever short time I had left regretting it, miserable and lonely.
No way to lead your life. As the saying goes, you only get one life.
I have to say although our time in therapy together was brief and dh was rubbish at sharing the responsibility for the homework we were both honest with each other during the sessions which was incredibly painful.
We both have issues and we both behaved in damaging ways during our time together. I just wanted to show the other side that it's not a quick fix. Only you can decide if your relationship was ever fulfilling and happy enough to have something to work towards.
Perhaps it never was for you, or perhaps not once the initial flush of the relationship had passed?
Ours is a 3 pronged approach. At the moment we are each dealing with our issues with professional help whilst being kind and supportive of each other so worst case scenario we would walk away with knowing ourselves better.
Random, Thanks for yr insight about the huge time and effort to rebuild a relationship. Your 3 pronged approach seems very sound and worthwhile, no matter how things end up for you. Good luck.
I need to face up to saying how I feel - BIG issue for me - but you are right that it needs to happen or nothing will change.
DH is in a terrible state, crying lots, although still managing day-to-day stuff around the house, indecisive over small things, constantly worrying and obsessing about our relationship. I'm trying to get him to seek help from doctor. Our roles are strangely reversed - I used to always think of him as the decisive leader, the planner, the one with ideas. No longer!
I am worried about how he would be affected if I say I want a separation. But also leaving it in limbo is not an option for much longer. The pressure is growing, he wants to talk incessantly about 'us', it feels like an attack on me. I try to set boundaries - just an hour of talk - but he can't stick to it. It's making me feel very anxious.
Can someone tell me to get a grip and decide?!
To keep the guy hanging on much longer is cruelty, I'm sorry. The counselling is going badly, he knows he's on borrowed time and he's already affected. It's difficult to imagine how he could be more miserable than he already is. Ending it may be the most compassionate move at this stage.
Honestly, even though youre not saying these things, I doubt youre managing to hide completely the fact that things have changed for you a lot, in that situation no wonder he is stressing, wanting to talk about "us", etc etc. He knows something is very very wrong but you wont tell him what it is.
Be genuine in councilling, its the safest space to say what you need to say, and do it for him as well as for you, the kindest thing you can do for him right now is to let him stop the constant fear of wondering whats going on or whether he will wake up one day to find youve left...
Yep start being honest, if the truth as you see it now is that you can't imagine things ever be worth staying for than say it. If you know what changes he would need make for you to commit for a few more years than tell him what those are.
Thanks for your comments about being honest - very much needed.
I told him yesterday that my feelings have not changed, that I still want to separate. He did not really believe me, does not think I will do anything about it, "you're not going to fight me for it". We're back to the old pattern of him telling me that I haven't thought things through, this will mean years of pain, I owe it to him to try harder, I haven't been trying hard enough.... and me listening, nodding and saying yes.
He says will try to improve communication. I've put things off AGAIN!
But I will contact solicitor next week to talk things over.
Can someone change?
Is it possible to have an amicable separation?
What are the steps he would need to take in order to change?
It took dh over a week to breakdown and ask me to stay and that he would try and change etc. and that he really did love me etc.
My dh agreed that he needed to deal with his fears/depression/self worth so he then did something about it. He went back to see a therapist (he'd been before for a few sessions then quit because "it was too upsetting"). He followed through and went for months and he immediately put the work in being different and achieving it 75% of the time.
If there is no proof of them doing something to change AND being different then they're not keeping their end of the deal.
We have discussed how come all of a sudden he's been able to change and keep it up (it's not perfect but overall it's in a different league) - he's not sure how but he knew I meant it, he would lose me and I would move on with my life without him. Bearing in mind it was going to mean me moving out and leaving my dc behind because he was the primary carer he knew it was a decision I'd taken lightly.
Your H can talk all the talk he wants but unless he has done something to help him change and changed his behaviour then is he really going to bother or will he continue stringing you along?
Have you had the conversation about your feelings not having changed at couples therapy or just at home?
It is me (indigo), had a NC and can't work out how to change back! Thank you all so much for your help and kindness.
Well we stuck at it for a few weeks... looking back at these posts they seem a very long time ago. Still with H, it's all a bit painful.
I've had some individual counselling - which has raised all sorts of issues and thoughts and feelings about the past, which is kind of good, but I'm still not sure if that gets me much further along the road of deciding what to do. H is not picking fights so much as before, but can't stop himself being critical and negative. I am trying to communicate more fully, but still the barriers are there stopping a natural exchange
Have spent much time thinking / fantasising about another life - in my head I am so far down the road of moving out, I am choosing the paint colours for a new house!!
Spent last week at mum's for a break and to have someone else make all the decisions for a few days. Came back determined that now is the time to take action, make the break, but having last minute wobbles.
I want to have the talk this evening. Give me courage!
If what you want, deep down, is to separate then do it. That doesn't make you the bad guy -telling him if he does X/Y/Z maybe it'll be enough to make you stay makes you the bad guy, when you know it's not true.
Wanting to tell him in a way that makes it 'OK' for him so you don't feel guilty is understandable but unrealistic. It's going to hurt but there are wise things for both of you (being in an unhappy marriage for you, constantly worrying your partner is going to leave for him).
Tell him kindly and clearly but tell him.
Good luck OP. Remember - you can leave a relationship just because you want to. You're under no obligation to keep trying and trying and trying until you've rinsed every last drop of human kindness out of yourself.
"I don't love him, I don't particularly enjoy spending time with him"
That's enough to separate.
Seriously, it's never a good time or even a nice time, it's awful but by the sounds of it, you really need to get out.
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