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We've agreed to divorce

(20 Posts)
Moana034 Mon 30-Jan-17 22:53:29

So, today my husband and I agreed that it's best if we split up. We've been together for 15 years, married for 10, have DD (6) and DS (4). Things have been bad between us for a long time - 3 or 4 years at least. We've not had sex for 4 years. It's a miracle it lasted this long, right? We've had a very tough time financially for a very long time and that's taken its toll, but also we're just such different people to who we were 15 years ago. And I know everyone changes, but people don't always grow in the same direction. All of this I could handle if it wasn't for our tiny, innocent, beautiful children. The only way I can describe how I feel is that it's like my heart is about to turn into stone from so much pain. I honestly am not feeling sorry for myself, although it's not an ideal situation: this is not my home country, although I've been here a long time but have no family here. We've lived in this town since 2011 but all my best friends are in other places. Support on the ground is exceptionally thin. I work part time. I think, practically, I can probably, with time and effort, make it work. But my children. Does anyone have any words of support or anything wise or helpful they could say? If you do, please tell me because this is going to be a long night.

ImperialBlether Mon 30-Jan-17 23:00:05

It's a really tough time - I've been there. You will feel great after a while, though. All that tension will go - I felt like I was on holiday and I hadn't realised I'd been so stressed.

My children were older (11 and 8) when I had to tell them and yes, it was awful, but I planned it so that they had something they wanted to do not long after I told them (half an hour or so) and they calmed down. It was horrible. It might be easier if they're younger. Mine didn't want to know why - specifically said they didn't want to know why.

A few months later we were driving and my son (8) said, "Mum, has dad left yet?" He'd been gone for six months, I think. I mentioned it to my daughter later and she said, "Actually it made me realise I didn't know whether he'd gone or not, either."

I think he'd withdrawn from everything so much - I was the one who did everything with them. They have had a good relationship with him since and see him regularly, but this is their home. I'm the one they go to if they're struggling. (They're adult now.)

ImperialBlether Mon 30-Jan-17 23:00:41

One thing - could you think of moving nearer to your friends? A fresh start might be just what you need.

Moana034 Mon 30-Jan-17 23:03:39

Unfortunately can't move. My work really ties me to this place and also I need the children to be close to their dad. They love him so much. Thank you for your kind words. The thing is I know the women are so strong - and I can be strong - it's just that this feels so much worse than I expected it, and I've been expecting it for a long time.
Thank you for writing.

LellyMcKelly Mon 30-Jan-17 23:30:11

The worry about what you are going to say, and how you will do it, is 10 times worse than the reality if you plan it right. Mine were 7 and 10 and we'd put off telling them for a year. In the meantime I'd worked myself up into a right old state. When you tell them, let them know what's going to remain the same - school, clubs, home, etc. Tell them how often they'll still see their dad and how little things will actually change in their day to day lives (only if this is true, obviously - don't lie to them). After the initial shock and tears (which lasted about half an hour in our case) we went out and did a family thing together in a place we'd never been and wouldn't be going back to (so it was an activity, but there'd be no bad memories attached to our usual haunts). If you and your ex can be civilised and friendly it's reassuring that even though your relationship has changed, they will always be at the centre of it. And that's what's important. I don't know what your relationship with your ex is like but if you've just grown apart and there's little animosity where the kids are concerned, then this might work for you.

crunched Mon 30-Jan-17 23:35:58

That short sentence But my children makes my heart break for you op.
Stay strong for them and yourself flowers.

ImperialBlether Mon 30-Jan-17 23:47:08

Could introduce the idea of their dad working away for a bit, rather than telling them outright that he's gone? Get them used to him not being there all the time?

garlicandsapphire Mon 30-Jan-17 23:50:47

Dear OP. My heart goes out to you. My DCs were the same ages when we split. I felt so awful for them but we lived through it - each day at a time. And then one morning I woke up and it wasn't the first thing that hit me, the sun was shining and I had new things to think about. 10 years on we are all grand, we've had so many adventures, they have a great relationship with their Dad, its civilised and I'm free.

The most important thing is to ensure you don't use the kids as weapons between you. Because that's the thing that fucks them up. Behave well, with grace (even if its through gritted teeth) and one day they will know what you did for them and will be impressed and proud. In the meantime, hold them close and give them love and everyday fun and pleasures. You will survive this.

Moana034 Tue 31-Jan-17 00:22:00

For the moment, I have every faith that our break up will be friendly. My husband is not a bad man and he's been a terrific father. We've already spoken about how the children have to remain a priority. (The irony is that, if they really were a priority, we wouldn't be splitting up). Our only justification is that we have been so unhappy - SO unhappy - that for everyone to remain physically and mentally healthy, or even just in one piece, this simply had to happen. I don't know how to explain it in any other way. I honestly feel like if we hadn't decided to stop it now, and try to stay friends, in another year we would have started to hate each other.
To answer your comment, ImperialBlether, yes I think we will not just tell the children outright, as I really believe they're too young to understand what it means to separate - they don't know that parents are together out of any sort of choice, to them it's just the way the world is, like the sun comes out in the morning and moon at night. So we do intend to do some protracted story and yes, it will involve work somehow. I don't know if it counts as lying. I honestly don't think that just telling them will be the right thing at this stage. Our DD is very bright and very sensitive (age 6). Our little boy has no clue, he's just a bundle of cuddles. But our DD is very attached, very tuned in. It would devastate her.
Thank you all for writing. No sign of sleep yet.

Seeingadistance Tue 31-Jan-17 00:53:50

My son was 5 years old when his father and I separated. He's 15 now, and over the years we've spoken about it, and how he feels about it all. He has said to me recently that it's not a big deal to him, as he can't really remember us being together, and so for him this is simply his life. He just shrugs when I ask him about it - it's not a big deal for him.

For the first 4 years my ex and I lived about 10 minutes walk away from each other, and our son split his time between us - spending most of his time with me, but still seeing much more of his father then he ever did when we were together. There were times when things got pretty nasty with my ex, but overall we have a civil relationship, and we always made sure that our son came first.

My approach with my son was to be honest and straightforward with him, but keeping things simple and appropriate to his age. Over the years, we had chats about things as they came up in conversation.

I understand your fears, and I shared them, but my fears and my son's reality were two different things, if you see what I mean. Honesty and open communication, and making sure they know they are loved and valued and listened to.

I wish you all the very best - things will get better, and will work out, for all of you.

TheNaze73 Tue 31-Jan-17 00:55:34

I think the children are your priority that doesn't change. You long stopped being each other's priority & any outsider would see you've made the right decision. 4 years without sex, isn't fair on either of you.

Moana034 Tue 31-Jan-17 12:13:59

Thank you. I woke up this morning feeling like I've murdered someone, or like I'm being taken to an execution. No joke. It feels that heavy. Unfortunately, the post about a 5-year old not remembering the family being together has possibly been the single hardest thought I've had in these 24 hours :-( Sorry, Seeingadistance it is not your fault and you were not wrong to say it, it's just that it never occurred to me at all. My little boy will have no memory of whatever happy family times or moment we might have had. I mean, we're not people who smash plates when unhappy (although plenty of times I wanted to). So to a very large degree the children have lived a totally normal life. Occasionally, a conversation in the kitchen where we tell them 'to go and play in the living room', from time to time seeing me crying. But nothing that to such small children would be obvious. In other words, if they could keep their memories, they would be ones of Sunday morning cups of tea together, holidays, days out with friends. They are too little to notice that we only ever spoke to each other if it was to do with the chlidren, or to know that when they're not around we don't even bother to sit in the same room. But there was something so crushing in that knowledge - that my little man will grow up not knowing what a normal family is (sorry - apologies to all variations of other families out there - I don't mean to imply that any of those are not normal - I'm just struggling to find the best words here). That he won't remember at all any moments where the four of us were together, and happy - honestly, that's almost breaking me. Ladies I don't even know if I can do this.

crunched Tue 31-Jan-17 13:50:57

So if you are unhappy/ unsure about the decision to split, is it to late to try Relate or another counselling organisation?
Sorry if things have disintegrated beyond that, but you point out your DH is not a bad man.

Adora10 Tue 31-Jan-17 14:26:23

It wont be as bad as you are imaging, if you are both friendly and amicable; it's not the end of the world OP and you should NEVER stay together just for the children; that does not reap happiness all round, it' s living a lie and pretending you're something you are no longer.

Good luck, it's happening every day; you will both do great as you are good parents by the sounds of it.

Blobby10 Tue 31-Jan-17 14:34:46

Moana my 'children' were 18. 16 and 14 when their dad and I separated. But there was no one else involved for either of us and hes still very involved in their lives and when they are home from work/uni/college they spend lots of time with him. Doing the fun stuff that he can afford to do with them while I'm left maintaining a way too big house for them to call home and dealing with two elderly dogs. Bitter? Me?? Naaahhh!!!

In my experience, so long as you can both be kind to each other and still friends then it will help to limit the devastation. So long as the children know they arent going to lose out and that they will actually benefit as mummy and daddy will be happy again and not miserable and shouty.

Wishing you the very best of luck and sending love n hugs

Hermonie2016 Tue 31-Jan-17 14:44:14

Telling my dc was the hardest thing I have ever done but even within a short period of time (3 months) life is feeling "normal".

I have more fun with dc now than but if I had a choice to work on the marriage or divorce I would chose to work on the marriage.It doesn't apply however as my stbxh is an anger man and I'm not sure it's safe for me to stay with him.

The younger the children the easier it is and in that way you are fortunate.
Children do badly when there is conflict, together or separated parents.If you can keep hostility out of this then your children will be fine.

Divorce is so stressful and you will go through stages of bereavement but it does get better.I have literally been floored at times, unable to function but now I am doing very much better.Each day takes you a step closer to healing.

Seeingadistance Wed 01-Feb-17 00:03:50

Moana, I'm so sorry for adding to your pain. That wasn't my intention at all, but I can see how my words have hurt.

My situation was very different from yours - my husband was emotionally abusive, and a very angry man. Also, he didn't spend much time at home with us, which no doubt contributes to my son not remembering us together. He remembers things he did with me, but that will be because his father was either out, or didn't want to spend any time with him. Your situation sounds very different - you and your husband are able to be friends and he is a good father with a strong bond with his children. When my son was a toddler I worked out that his father spent only 2 - 3 hours per week with him/us during my son's waking hours.

What I was trying to say, and not succeeding, was that I understand your terrible pain and heartache for your children. Really I do, and your posts have reminded me of that. When I was going through that someone said something to me that I can now understand much better now than I did then. My heartache for my son was an adult's heartache, with an adult's knowledge of the world which is so much more comprehensive than a child's. As adults we have so much more life behind us to draw on, and we have an idea of how our future, and that of our children would be, and now that's all changed, and that loss of a potential future hurts. And in our heartache we project all of that loss onto our children. But a child's worldview is very different from an adult's, and in many ways that can let them cope much better, with less pain than we feel for them. If that makes sense. It's hard to explain. Our pain is for a loss that they're not even fully aware of.

Talking to my son over the years, I've come to realise that pretty much all of the things I broke my heart about over my divorce haven't even really entered his head, or if they have, then they've simply been to him the way his world is - a matter of fact, not pain.

Your pain is very real - physical, burdening. I'm so sorry about that, but it will ease over time.

You, and your children, and your husband will find a new "normal", and that can be a very good and positive normal for you all. And you can all make new memories going forwards - some new memories with you all together. You say that part of the reason for splitting now is so that you can remain friends instead of getting bitter. You can be friends, go out together for fun days with the children - the four of you together. Have meals together, go to the park together. Better your children have good memories of time spent together with divorced parents who are friends, than bitter and resentful parents who are married.

Stay strong.

Teaholic Wed 01-Feb-17 00:10:30

I think you're being really hard on yourself.

Maybe others will think it's flippant of me, or delusional, but I don't think my children have suffered as a result of being from a single parent family.

There's a kind of script that any kind of difficulty or unhappiness your kids ever demonstrate will be because of the fact that their parents aren't together, but I don't buy in to that cliché

Kids get used to parents living apart... Half of their friends' parents will be in the same boat.

It is sad, it can be sad but it is not always automatically sad so don't berate yourself for divorcing.

Change is the hardest part for anybody. Kids too. Once the adjustment has been made, the future seems much brighter and lighter.

Teaholic Wed 01-Feb-17 00:16:11

seeingadistance I think that is very true what you say about projecting an adult's level of comprehension on to a young child.

My youngest doesn't remember a traditional nuclear happy family. But because he never had it, he doesn't miss it. He's closer to my side of the family than he would have been if I hadn't left. At one point I felt guilty that he'd lived in four houses by the time he was 7 but recently he said to me that this house (the one we're in now) is the best. So he does remember different places but also has a sense of things beinng better than they were before although I'm sure he wasn't unhappy at the time.

WontLetThoseRobotsDefeatMe Wed 01-Feb-17 00:24:28

Seeing has put that so eloquently and supportively.

Also, memories are not ones that we consciously make - and, as a child, loads of my most cherished memories are in fact "memories". When you're told about something so many times it gains substance in your memory and sort of morphs into your own. So I "remember" drinking whisky from my dads finger and seeing Maradona score. But I don't. It happened; my parents told me; it was part of my story. But I was far too young for it to be a possible memory I created.

But to me, it's real. It's my past. So....as close to being a memory as can be.

Don't worry that your kids may not remember the fab times - that worry is there, divorced or not. Your narrative, your family narrative, creates the memories of so much. Carry on the narrative. And the strongest types of memory are the feelings - your kids sound like they've been loved and cared for. That'll stick with them, even unknowingly. And what a gift that is.

And OP, how brave and caring you both are to make th is decision. You're caring for your family, and most of all yourself. An unhappy place is terrible to be in for the person there and those around them. You've chosen to fix that. So you can be the best you, you can be.

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