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Is it time for a separation/divorce? And does that always f+@ck up the children?

(47 Posts)
JandLandG Wed 05-Aug-15 00:42:41

I've posted in the divorce/separation Topic, ( but here's a similar one with a slightly different emphasis.

We're both fairly socially conservative people, but - as I mention in the other thread- my wife just no longer seems to want me, and I'm at a point where I'm finally fed up with it so much that it seems like it might be the time to put us out of our misery.

I'm a decent, honest, educated, civilised, roll-sleeves-up-and-get-stuck-in type of fella, and she's become so insular and paranoid that everything's my fault. All the time.

Things have happened that mean I can no longer trust her judgement.

Well, (and before you say it!) perhaps she made the wrong judgement all those years ago; I took her away from a very nice working class background to all over the world and all sorts of people and new and exciting things for both of us and I thought we'd grown together to be adults who could share life in its prime with our wonderful children, but sadly it's not turned out like that.

So my question is, does divorce always fuck up the kids?

They're healthy and happy and confident now.

The last thing I'd ever want to do was to damage them. They're my only priority in all of this.

We've all read posts where people have said that they were delighted their parents split up because they would have lived in an unhappy marriage otherwise.

But is that just so much self-valedictory clap-trap?

Dunno...any thoughts/ideas/experience?

mathanxiety Wed 05-Aug-15 06:35:36

Divorce always fucks up the kids if the parents can't move on and remain stuck in blaming mode, hating each other, sniping at and about each other, questioning each other's sanity, presenting themselves as saints, martyrs, etc.

In other words, if you are not ready to just shrug off all the pain and stop doing battle, then you are not ready for divorce. Divorce is not the opening of another chapter in the relationship between you and your spouse, where you get to be bitter and blame her for ruining your golden years. If you find yourself doing that, slap yourself hard.

Divorce is about becoming a new you, drawing a line under the previous 'Relationship You', and retaining only the decent parent persona from the experience that has now past. Being a decent parent post divorce involves always respecting the fact that the children love their other parent.

The only exception to this is if the other parent is a genuine threat to the children's well-being. Again, if you find yourself trying to make mountains out of molehills and fighting over this, give yourself another slap and try to establish a solid sense of perspective. If the other party is not genuinely abusive, just a flawed individual who turned out not to be suited to you after all, then you must resist the temptation to cast yourself as some sort of hero. Everyone has flaws. It is always a good idea to remember that that means you too.

Divorce means the old relationship is over but you are still the DCs' parent and you absolutely must give the parent/child relationship the best part of you that you are able to summon up, no matter how you feel about your ex wife. The DCs deserve nothing less.

Are you mature enough to move on and become New Dad Getting On With His Life As A Good Enough Parent?

autumnleaves123 Wed 05-Aug-15 10:27:50

I don't think it's divorce as such that "fucks up" the kids, but how it's done, what kind of relationship model you set up for your children.

There's no black or white formula such as "marriage always better, divorce always bad".

My parents divorced in the 70's when I was around 3 years old. It was a nasty, fucked up mess from the start, that culminated with my father emigrating and me not having contact with him until the age of 12.

My parents never stayed in the same room without arguing, and the hostility between them was always unbearable. They always spoke badly of each other in front of me, told me the other one didn't love me... well, it cannot get worse than that really. They didn't think of me emotionally at all. They just thought about themselves.

But I'm glad overall that they divorced because the only worst scenario would have been for them to stay together. That would have sent me to a psychiatric hospital by the age of 15.

It was the less worse solution to an existential nightmare. I'm OK overall, but have suffered from depression, anxiety and low self esteem all my life. It's my plight in life and I'm dealing with it. It has me made a survivor.

HPsauciness Wed 05-Aug-15 10:34:00

I am fine with my parents being divorced, I think my mum has benefited enormously by my dad leaving her as he is a difficult person and it's allowed her to move on to being single and happy and now with someone and happy. It is difficult if there is hostility, but I would rather my parents be happy than be together and not so happy.

Nolim Wed 05-Aug-15 10:42:46

My parents divorced. It was the right thing to do.

happymummyone Wed 05-Aug-15 10:50:23

As long as your children see you getting along while living apart it can be better than seeing you both unhappily living together. My parents divorced when I was three, my real dad bad mouthed my mum at any given opportunity until we finally got bored of his nastiness and gave up on him ten years later. My mum always tried to be the bigger person, which helped.i'm no longer with my daughters dad but we're so friendly I genuinely don't think she minds. She has two sets of everything and is loved wherever she goes.

Jan45 Wed 05-Aug-15 10:58:55

I don't think so but that depends how you manage it all, as has been said, if it's amicable and respectful then children will be fine, they are naturally robust and surprisingly adaptable at their ages.

QforCucumber Wed 05-Aug-15 11:07:37

All dp remembers from being between the ages of about 5 to 12 is his parents arguing, not sharing a room, not agreeing on anything. He wholly believes this messed his head up more than if they'd made the split instead of trying to stay together 'for the kids'

JandLandG Wed 05-Aug-15 11:15:28

Wow...all these responses.

These are incredibly helpful; thank you all so much.

As you can possibly tell, this is a subject I've not broached with others, so its good to get a new perspective.

Autumn, i'm so sorry to hear about you...that really is a nightmare scenario and I can't imagine how shit that must have been (still is?).

I think we're both sensible enough to manage things; I'd never ever descend forgetting about the kids' feelings and I'm sure she wouldn't.

They are my only priority in all of this.

They would be loved wherever they went...but there's all the practicalities of finance etc etc.

We live in a nice house in a lovely community; there's no way I'm walking out on them and there's no way I'd want them to live anywhere else at the moment.

The other thread I started (mentioned above) has a few details if anyone's interested.

Blimey, I just wonder why my wife rejects me and blames me for every little thing. There are no big things; we ostensibly lead a healthy, happy life...the children are great, brilliant, perfect (well, I would say that, wouldn't I?!). But she's got it in for me and rants and raves about how she's a martyr and she's always here for them etc etc.

Well, I have to go to work. It's fucking shit a lot of the time, and I dont' go for the good of my health, but it pays.

I've tried everything to encourage her to relax and enjoy life in our family prime.

I might have had enough of all this after years of it.

But every time I think of it, it very quickly comes back to the children; I couldn't forgive myself if it sent them into a tailspin just when they should be carefree and happy.

Jenna333 Wed 05-Aug-15 20:59:47

I do think after years of a situation like this it's difficult to get things back. Life is too short to spend it unhappy and children do adapt. It's better for them to have happy separate parents.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Aug-15 05:56:58

Are you there for them?
I mean physically?
Or are you there for them theoretically?
Do you have good intentions but fall short on practicalities?

JandLandG Thu 06-Aug-15 10:32:15

Thanks again for these; really very much appreciated.

it would be difficult to get things back...and then again, it would be difficult to throw it all away when in reality, I can just really ignore it all and drift around vaguely the family life that's lovely, but just semi-detached, if you know what I mean.

and yep, I am here.

I work freelance and only for anout 150/160 days a year. Some of that is in chunks away from home but most isn't. I do do unsociable hours a fair amount including weekends, but I'm around for lots of school drop offs and pick ups that other working mums and dads can't do.

its not ideal, but the money's ok, and a career change would be virtually impossible at my stage.

Although I have thought about it...transferable skills and all that. Have I got any?

No, math...I'm definitely there physically, emotionally, practically, intellectually, showing them the way to a healthy, happy life where they can carve out an interesting way for themselves.

I'm alright, I'm pretty good fella, a pretty good dad, a pretty good husband, lover, confidant, friend....but unfortunately my wife can't/won't/doesn't see that.

pocketsaviour Thu 06-Aug-15 11:43:23

I thought we'd grown together to be adults who could share life in its prime with our wonderful children, but sadly it's not turned out like that.

It sounds like both of you have grown, but not in the same direction, which isn't surprising or unusual when you think about it.

I suspect that your wife feels trapped, which is making her angry with you. I think you will both be happier apart, and your DC will as well, rather than having to listen to you two getting progressively unhappier with each other.

I desperately wish my mum had divorced my dad. It's better to be from a broken home than in one.

JandLandG Thu 06-Aug-15 15:12:49

Thanks, pocket....i'm pretty sure my wife doesn't feel trapped.

i'm certain of it.

au contraire, in fact....but she's too unsure of herself to want away from the status quo...that's the vicious circle for her.

well, looking at it, maybe that's the definition of trapped.

I feel like if I ended it, I might be doing exactly what she would/should do if she had the bottle.

she's pushed me so far away over the years...I feel so remote.

yet when I've broached this on during previous similar episodes, she's immediately all teary, and sweetness and light, and i'll change, and we can fix it etc etc.

i'd love it if that were all true, but the same old same old just happens again the next time something raises her ire or stresses her..

she's too scared to want out, but a fix seems impossible. its involuntary behaviour for her she says, and a bit of sub-conscious deliberate self-sabotage too, I've observed.

it comes back to the kids though...maybe I just need to knuckle down and put up with it or they'll suffer, I reckon. or maybe not....some people of have indicated not necessarily..i shall give that some thought.

Insideoutsideinside Thu 06-Aug-15 16:41:47

Your situation sounds exactly like that of a friend of mine, almost to the word except for the work. They are grinning and bearing but having an affair. Getting out and being properly happy is a better option in your one precious life.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Aug-15 16:54:49

Is there any abuse of any kind?
And screeching fights?

mathanxiety Thu 06-Aug-15 18:26:21

'And' should be 'any'

PoundingTheStreets Thu 06-Aug-15 19:23:26

Read the other thread and I have to say I'm rather "Okaaaay" about this, but FWIW I'll chuck in my twopennethworth.

Have you read this book OP? I think you may be vastly underestimating the long-term effect on your wife of being the default parent/house manager. It doesn't matter how much the other parent is willing to 'help', it's the fact that it's considered 'help' (as opposed to 50% their automatic responsibility) in the first place that's the problem. Particularly if on top of that they're supposed to be 'grateful' for the opportunity to be taken for granted because they have a nice home and don't worry for money.

It's possible your wife has other issues of course, or just doesn't want to be with you any more, but I think I'd consider the above first if I were you.

Keepithidden Thu 06-Aug-15 20:08:47

It's a good book OP, read it and digested it myself. FWIW I'm in a similar situation to you. No answers though. I don't know if DW has been beaten down by being a SAHP, or what the problem is if any from her perspective. But I learnt am awful lot from that book and others similar to it.

mathanxiety Thu 06-Aug-15 20:39:30

That is my thought too, Pounding.

There is a huge amount of mental space required to keep things ticking over on the part of the spouse who is the chief parent, housekeeper, cook and bottle washer.

The tasks themselves individually are often routine and individually they often don't look like a big deal, in the bigger scheme of things. Not like building a garden shed or paving a driveway. But they involve mental work and they take up time. The mental work involved is invisible but it occupies your life and squeezes out so much else that you feel you have lost yourself most of the time. When the burden of the mental aspect of it is not shared, that gets women's goats.

It is not enough to do what you have been told or asked to do --
'here's the list, can you go out and pick up all of this from the shop. If they only have shop brand mayonnaise, can you please go to XYZ shop and find the proper stuff there' ...
'here's the calendar, can you pick up DS from football on Wednesday at 4.15 and make sure he has his shorts with him when he comes out of the changing room this time' ...
'here's the calendar, can you manage to drop off DD to ballet on Saturday at 9.20. All her stuff is in the green bag in the closet under the stairs, on the left side, You will need to leave no later than 9.00 and go on the same route as the number 22 bus because they have closed ABC road to work on the sewers'.

As you can see, someone else has kept track of the fact that the family needs more mayo and what brand everyone likes, someone else has organised the family calendar, perhaps booked the football and ballet participation, someone else has learned from previous experience what to keep a sharp eye out for in the kit department, someone else has had the foresight to put the ballet stuff in the green bag and make sure it is all ready and tidied away in the closet, again perhaps working from a previous experience of a frantic search, and this person knows how long it takes to get to the class because s/he has kept track of roadwork development. All the other person has to do is follow the instructions, with none of the prep falling on his or her shoulders.

These are all stupid little details and many women resent that this is what their lives are reduced to while they see a spouse proceeding blithely through life with room in his head for thoughts on football, politics, Led Zepplin, the nice shade of the autumn leaves...

StrumpersPlunkett Thu 06-Aug-15 20:47:52

Totally agree with Math
Would like to say though that I know friends who are damaged by the relationship model their parents demonstrated whether they are together or not.
A dysfunctional relationship together is just as damaging as a dysfunctional divorce
Best seems to be happily together or happily apart

Doodlebug300 Thu 06-Aug-15 22:20:41

Have you considered counselling?

MagersfonteinLugg Thu 06-Aug-15 22:37:56

I noticed in your other thread that you berated her for doing the ironing instead of chatting with the neighbours.
Who else is going to do the

JandLandG Fri 07-Aug-15 02:37:38

Berated? And why wouldn't I do the ironing?

That's a curious assertion.

So, good shout, I've had a look at the Wifework book and its reviews/blurb etc, and Math, you've put it very well there in your last post. Of course all that stuff is extremely mentally draining, but I've tried so hard to support and take the strain, and cut out what's unimportant and concentrate on what is.

Ironing versus a glass of wine in the garden, for example. One of them's a rare chance to enjoy a summer's evening and one of them's something that can be done anytime.

Do you know what, though? I bought that Kaitlin Moran book not long ago, and a couple of other ones featuring strong, fearless, couldn't-give-a-fuck women/mums, and they've been ignored/sneered at.

So what can I possibly do/say/show to get this woman to come all-in on our marriage? She's not perfect (but she is pretty good), I'm not perfect, but we're reasonably ok; lets just muck in and enjoy it before we get old.

I want to show the children the way; they're very good kids and I wouldn't want them to be exposed to anything negative that might later be replicated in their own lives and relationships. They've seen a little tiny bit - there's no ranting and raving and we're civilised people - and they'll get a taste that life's not all sweetness and light from various places but lets just live in a happy, warm, open and relaxed and confident home.

mathanxiety Fri 07-Aug-15 04:06:18

But - but - but -- who is going to do the ironing when your wife is having the glass of wine?

Wrt the glass of wine in the garden --
You would like her company when you are having your glass of wine, and there is nothing wrong with that. It was a nice thought. But you ended up upset about it because you did not really see things from her pov.

Your day of work was over and you wanted to sit down and relax. But her day was not over. Ironing can't necessarily be done any time. Other stuff has to be done at the other times. There is a certain amount of disrespect towards her work there, and a disregard for the planning that went into deciding when the ironing should be done (the mental aspect of chores involves planning the order in which they need to be done, with due regard for the next day's schedule, among other aspects).

Maybe there had been a spell of bad weather and the washing had piled up, meaning that unless those clothes that finally got washed and dried were ironed, someone might not have had a stitch of clothing to wear the following day?

Are you available to drop everything and do whatever she wants you to do at ten o'clock in the morning just because she has an hour between peeling tonight's spuds and the arrival of the plumber?

You say you've tried to cut out what isn't important and concentrate on what is -- I assume this is in relations to your own time so that you are free to contribute more around the home, or have you been telling your wife what is important for her to do and what is not?

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