Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Ended my marriage; it's the right thing but I'm still heartbroken - and have to tell the children

(15 Posts)
squishy Fri 01-Apr-16 13:34:04

Hubby and I have been together for 19 years; he's not worked for about 14-15 of those (he's been self employed for much of it but rarely contributed anything the house or child raising); battled with depression and anxiety which he's not really tried to address. For much of that, he's also depended on marijuana (over recent years, usually at my expense and often without my knowledge).

We have 2 beautiful daughters age 9 and almost 5 and, for the last 4 (ish) years, I've just accepted that he's not going to be an engaged husband and Dad and got on with our life. Silly stuff like always going to bed between 2am and 4am - not getting up in the mornings - when I've not been at work, often he will lie in until 12-1pm); then when he does get up, feeling grumpy, not wanting to talk/be fun until he's had a few coffees and caught up on the internet etc. And then, even if I could drag him out for a 'family day', being such a misery that I would have a horrible time myself. So I just get up and get on with having a good life with our children.

Before DD2 was born, I used to beg for a lie in, it was rarely given and when it was, it was with such bad grace that it felt hollow. Since DD2, he has been unable to engage with both of them without there being a riot and me getting up anyway to step in.

So he's been a stay at home Dad for 9 years (I had to go back to work when both children were 3 months old to pay the bills) and I can see he's still been depressed - he's not cherished or valued this time with them, which I found so sad as I would have loved to do it. He's also never got on with any housework - so my weekends are spent either stressing with the mess or getting on and doing it.

For around 18 months (maybe longer), after my 40th birthday present to myself, a trip for all of us to Florida, which he ruined (for me) with a lot of his behaviour - insisting on sleeping during the day; ranting at me to leave a park etc (again, it feels so silly, but I had just a handful of things I wanted to do for me on that holiday and didn't get to do any of them - I also felt the girls' fun was cut short on occasions, too), I began to realise that I wasn't in love with him.

At the end of last summer, I started to entertain the idea of us not being together (I've had many ultimatum type conversations about how I couldn't cope with the mess; how important doing stuff together was for me; how even when he did work for an 18 month period before DD2 came along, that he spent every penny he earned (and it was 5 figures) on himself and I still paid for the childcare - more recently how I just wanted some more commitment from him with regards to the things that matter to me. And I reminded him that I've asked many times for him to go to counselling with me and he's refused and that one day he may ask me and I may not want to - I alerted him to the fact that I was detaching.

Then in the Autumn, I became depressed and couldn't get myself out of it; didn't want to go onto meds so went to counselling and faced the elephant in my mind - I don't love him anymore, I don't want a future with him.

Fast forward through lots of soul searching and workings out and I discover I can afford to buy him out of the house - so tell him I'd like to talk about separating and then we agree to separate. I 'owned' it all - said I've changed (didn't want to blame him, throw mud - partly because I thought he'd be hurt enough and partly because I didn't want yet another half hearted "I'll try to change" which I've had a gut full of)

So far, so amicable - he suggests I should stay in the house with the girls; I tell him I will give him lump sum (he still earns no money but has just started another business). After a couple of days of extreme sadness (for me), I started to feel just optimism about my future. He said he needed to leave ASAP because it was too sad for him; could I support him financially and I said I couldn't - can't keep up bills and debt payments AND support him, could do one or the other and if I stopped the debt payments, it'd impact on my ability to remortgage and find a long term solution. So I fasttracked the remortgage, with application meeting just this week - which I think was a trigger.

Now, 3 weeks after our agreement to split and his anger has hit. Suddenly he's raging at me for everything (I know he's gutted and heartbroken); how come the first conversation I had was about separation; how all the other conversations I tried to have with him were only 'background noise'; did I ever love him; how convenient it is of me to find a way to remortgage now, when he's asked me to do it before, I've not wanted the extra debt; how nothing changes for him apart from more overheads (because I need him to still help with some childcare); how I've ruined the start of his business which should have been a happy time; how he can't explain it to himself, let alone find the words to tell someone else....and on.

He said he wanted to see me upset rather than 'cool' - so I let him, but explained that I didn't feel I had the right to cry in front of him because it's me upsetting the status quo.

I know I don't want to be with him - he's flipping from 'it's too late, the damage is done' to 'if this is the road we're going down', my friends just start bashing him (verbally) because they're exasperated with how they feel he's let me down over the last 10 years; my Dad feels I should have left him some time ago (but isn't judging me over it) - previous 'friends' have called me a mug for putting up with it for so long... I still feel the decision I've made is right, but I just feel so bad - guilty for breaking his heart; heartbroken about separating him from his children - and he's raised doubts in my own mind about my ability (which I think are just because I'm feeling pretty broken, really).

I feel so alone and isolated. I want to tell the children while they're off from school so they have time to adjust; sooner is better so they can adjust. He agrees 'if this is the road we're going down' but doesn't want to tell them, would rather keep up the charade. We know this isn't right for them (or me), so I have to tell them and he wants to be there.

I have no idea what to say - we talked about telling 9 year old first and then almost 5 year old (different ages, different levels of understanding/need for info) but now I think we should tell them together and give the older the opportunity to ask questions later. Given that he doesn't want us to split, I'm struggling with the words - do I own it and say 'Mummy has been really sad and has asked Daddy for us to live apart'?

SORRY - just realised how long this is; I think writing it has been a little cathartic, I am not to blame for the relationship ending; I'm astonished and gutted at how he can't see his part in it - I'm wondering if at some point I need to tell him because he could turn this around and become a GREAT dad when he sees them rather than a grumpy babysitter....

If you've made it to the end of this, thank you - if you've any experience or thoughts you'd like to share, I will read with interest, thank you

8angle Fri 01-Apr-16 13:44:06

Firstly i think you have been telling him his part in this ... for about the last 15 years!

Has he moved out of the house - you definitely both need your own space.

I would tell the children together, don't blame either side. Just that it is a decision you have both taken and the best for the whole family. You both still love your children very much and will always be there mum and dad - that will never change. It will be pretty horrible for everyone at the time. But over time your home will be a happier place for everyone and the children will respond to this.

Of course he is angry - probably scared you have been carrying his "dead weight" for 15 years and he is now going to have to stand on his own feet

InternationalHouseofToast Fri 01-Apr-16 13:44:15

I don't have experience to add to this but reading your OP has struck me, because of how much it favours your DH (ex?). Why should you not tell the children at a time which is sensible, because he doesn't want to?

Tell the children the truth - daddy has been poorly for many years and that is impacting on your family. You, as their parent and daddy's wife, have decided that it's not good for anyone to live like this, so daddy will be starting his own home and we will carry on living here. Be as factual as you can with the children so they are clear what is happening and who they will live with.

squishy Fri 01-Apr-16 13:51:41

Thank you, both. He is still living here because he can't afford to move out and whilst I could give him a month's rent, I can't give him the deposit and all the other things he would need to pay (which I've been paying all along).

That's why I was trying to get the mortgage sorted ASAP so I can pay him his half (I'm giving him 50% or almost 50% (depending on valuation) of the equity, it sucks a bit especially as I know he won't pay child care or maintenance, but is the 'right' thing to do and I can afford it at the moment); this sudden burst of anger makes me worry that we won't be able to get it all signed and agreed with deed of separation (no way am I handing over £45-50k without that).

InternationalHouseofToast (great name, btw!) - do you mean I'm describing it in a favourable way or apparently letting him call all the shots? I do feel like the bad guy.

FluffyPersian Fri 01-Apr-16 13:54:58

I wonder if he doesn't want to tell the children as when you do, that's it... it's actually happening, whereas when you're 'pretending', it's almost as if it's not happening and maybe he thinks there's still hope in your relationship?

When I split with my ex, he was so shocked - I had written him letters, emails, sat him down and told him I was unhappy with his lack of effort, his lack of engagement etc - Nothing ever changed. Yet when I actually made actions to leave him, he cried hysterically and when I said I had told him .. he said 'Oh yes you TOLD me.. but you didn't SHOW me'.. as if it was somehow my fault he didn't listen to what I was saying.

I wonder if you're currently feeling so guilty about splitting, you are trying to apportion more blame to yourself than is genuinely fair? It doesn't sound like your Husband has been supportive or pleasant to you and if that's how you feel, why not be honest about that? 'Mummy and Daddy can't live with each other any more but we still love you lots' - I don't think this is all your 'fault' as your Husband doesn't sound a very pleasant person to live with.

8angle Fri 01-Apr-16 13:59:07

I would tell the children soon as well - firstly they will sense something isn't right and this can be more unsettling than the truth and secondly this will make it real to your husband, who is probably still in a state of denial.

I would also talk to your friends and family in real life, you will need some support and again this enforces the reality of the situation.

RNBrie Fri 01-Apr-16 14:02:54

Are you getting legal advice about your finances? I'd worry that you're about to give him a big lump sum and he could come after you for maintenance (if he does childcare etc). Please don't sign anything without having a solicitor look over your plan.

And I think you've been more than accommodating with him. Work out what suits you best in terms of telling the children and just do it. I know you feel guilty but you can't keep deferring to his whims for all of your decisions. It's time to be free.

Artistic Fri 01-Apr-16 14:10:03

Please don't take the blame for this. You know it's his fault, you've merely run out of patience! Children hang on to these simple pieces of information for life. After raising them so painstakingly you don't want them to grow up and blame you! Also if he does become a 'great' dad for the few minutes he has them each week, they might actually believe that it was your fault. Don't give yourself this battle. Just stick to facts and say you couldn't live together anymore and it's a joint decision to separate. Kids are smart, surely they've seen what you've seen of your DH.

Potterwolfie Fri 01-Apr-16 14:18:48

You're doing absolutely the right thing, for you sake and for your DCs, and even for him too, though he won't see it that way at the moment, if ever.

You sound very kind and level - headed, but it feels like you're so conscious of not upsetting him that you're bending over backwards to keep him happy, whereas really, you've done SO much for him throughout your marriage, I honestly think it's time you put yourself and DCs firmly first and just crack on with separating as quickly as possible.

Of course he's terrified as he's going to have to step up and provide for himself, so that's where his anger is coming from. He'll get over it, and that's not your responsibility.

Think about what you'd say to a good friend in the same situation, and give yourself the same kindness and support. Don't let your chance at peace and stability be derailed by guilt or misguided loyalty.

Your priority has to be yourself and your DCs, who will be just fine, I'm certain of that. Be unwavering in your approach to your DH, it'll be easier for you all in the long run if you're consistent and firm. Good luck.

squishy Fri 01-Apr-16 14:38:32

Thank you, all, so much for your kindness. It's really touched me.

You're right, I'm feeling terribly guilty and sad - at the what if's he can't get his life on track and the what if's he never makes a shot at life, but you're right, it's not my responsibility.

One of the chats I had with him last summer was that I understood his depression (and his failure to do want to do anything about it) but that our whole environment was making me unhappy and whilst I wasn't going to hold him to account for making me unhappy, I had to hold myself responsible for my own happiness.

And that's what I'm doing - putting myself first to give myself a chance of happiness.

I need to try not to let his anger and fear make me feel really unhappy. But maybe I do need to remind him that I'm choosing not to sling mud and accusations about what things may have led to me changing and feeling so different - at the moment, he genuinely seems to think he is blameless in this sad grin

8angle Fri 01-Apr-16 14:44:34

I doubt you will ever change his mind. It sounds like he feels either nothing is his fault, or he shouldn't have to do anything about it - the house, his depression etc.

Unfortunately whilst living in the same space he will always be able to bring you down, you just have to focus on the destination and put one foot in front of the other and think about the weight off your shoulders once you have your own space.

You have made the first step which is always the hardest bit

goddessofsmallthings Fri 01-Apr-16 15:12:54

I agree with Brie and you should most certainly hang on the money you've raised through remortgaging until you have spoken to a solicitor who specialises in divorce and family law.

As you'll be the primary carer for your dc, given their ages you should be looking to negotiate a 75/25 split of the equity in your favour. It would not be in your interest in the longer term to forego or reduce the sum he should paying for child maintenance to reflect the amount of childcare he will be providing, but being flexible in negotiation may serve to persuade him that he's not being as hard done by as he no doubt believes, or wishes to believe.

You would be ill-advised to hand over a penny of your hard-earned money to this cocklodging waste of space until you are certain that whatever documents are drawn up are watertight, fireproof, and bombproof, as I have no doubt he'll come back for more if he finds a way to keep you as the goose that lays golden eggs for him. While idle in every other respect, men like him can be surprisingly energetic when it comes to bleeding their present and former spouses dry as, in essence, they're cunning little fuckers who don't scruple to live off others.

At the very least, I sincerely hope you will make sure that whatever sum you eventually cede to him leaves you with sufficient moolah to treat yourself and your dc to the Florida holiday you should have had, and will have without his toxic presence ruining your plans and your fun, and that it will be a slap up first class all the way trip

I strongly urge you not to rush to tell your dc that he's leaving as it will cause needless upset and be confusing for them to be told he's going until he's got another place to live and, from what you've said, it seems to me he has no intention of living elsewhere and will spin his departure out to the last possible moment.

Take consolatiion from the fact that you haven't "broken his heart". That's merely the usual hackneyed posturing on his part as men like him are far too tight self-absorbed to put their hearts into anything, let alone their dws and their dc.

Start channelling your anger, honey, and when the lion roars, roar back louder and put him in his place. How DARE he think that contributing so little over the years gives him the right to be handed so much of the proceeds of your sweat and toil on a plate?

Forget legal separation; go straight to divorce. Beat him down in negotiation and go for a clean break so that he has no comeback whatsoever after he's squandered whatever lump sum he ends up with and, unless he finds another sucker to leech off, I'll put good money on him trying it on after the ink is dry on the Absolute.

squishy Fri 01-Apr-16 15:27:00

Wow, goddessofsmallthings, what a way you have with words!!

The legal advice I had been given was that we had to wait for 2 years for divorce but that it would be better for me to get deed of separation to tie things up financially in the meantime so he can't try to screw me once I've given him the money.

Don't worry, holiday to Florida is on the cards next summer (on Wednesday, I was planning my new bathroom and improvements to the living room - do you think he sensed this and rained on my parade?!).

The advice I was given is that the starting point for division of equity is 50/50, but that I might edge it in my favour as I will pay capital repayments etc etc. There will be no discussion of payment of maintenance.

Ultimately, I don't want to screw him over; I am lucky in that the mortgage will still be paid off within 10 years (yes, I've almost doubled the monthly payments but got rid of the debt and only added 18 months to the term) ; I do want him to be able to achieve a nice enough standard of life for when the girls go to visit him - I don't want the visits always to be at my house. The fact that I will not be paying him maintenance is another reason I want to be 'fair' in division of equity.

Plus, I'm a big hearted soul and want to ensure I can sleep at night - whilst I don't want to live with him any longer and don't love him, rightly or wrongly I still care for him and he is still my children's father.

It is a good point you make, though, about not rushing to tell the children. I want to tell them because I'm pretty sure the oldest is aware of something and is feeling edgy and not knowing why. But agree, it could be confusing for him to then not move out for a few weeks. That said, I do want them to have 'away from school time' to ingest and process and can't leave it until the end of May.

goddessofsmallthings Fri 01-Apr-16 16:07:38

Are you in England/Wales? Were you given a reason why you had to wait for 2 years to,, presumably, divorce with consent which means that he would have to consent to divorce at that time, otherwise you may have to wait for 5 years to divorce without his consent?

Unless you're a devout member of a religion which doesn't recognise or approve of divorce, I can't the see the logic of shelling for a court approved deed of separation only to have to shell out again 2 years later for a divorce.

Chlobee87 Fri 01-Apr-16 16:26:52

I've not been through a divorce or separation so I can't help with the legal/money side of things, but I would say that you really shouldn't feel bad or responsible for the situation he is now finding himself in. I mean, I'm sure there were times that you did the wrong thing and made mistakes too (nobody's perfect) but he has behaved very passive aggressively in some ways. He ignored your attempts to make things better and he didn't engage with you to improve things. That's on him. It wasn't your responsibility to "make" him do anything. He neglected the relationship and your family of his own accord.

The only thing that I do have personal experience of is the untreated mental health issues that you say your husband is dealing with. If somebody knows that they are suffering from mental illness, they know that it is impacting their family, they have the support of their family and they have been asked to get help for the sake of their family, you should NOT feel shackled to them out of duty if they refuse to get help. You have to protect yourself and your children at the end of the day. You have given him decades to sort himself out and you were there to support him. You cannot drown with somebody if they won't help themselves at all.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now