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Thinking of separating but still living together because of children - can this work?

(40 Posts)
isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 13:39:44

I've decided my marriage can't go on...fundamentally we despise each other and have very little in common.

But neither of us want to risk screwing up our teenage children by divorcing now.

I've taken legal advice and it is possible to separate while still living together. We would then divorce when they are grown up. Apparently we can separate without taking any legal steps - to gain a divorce, it would be enough to prove we had slept apart, had separate finances etc.

We haven't slept together for ages, so it won't make much difference there!

Does anyone have any experience of this? Can it work out in practice?

I actually think the children would find the atmosphere calmer if we can make a grown-up decision about it - we're either not talking to each other or constantly bickering.

I had a weekend break with just the children recently, and the three of us realised how much calmer and happier we were without him around.

Many thanks in advance for your thoughts.

DanJARMouse Tue 09-Sep-08 13:41:31

Has to be your decision, but my concern would be what happens if there is a new partner on the scene.

Surely 2 happy parents living apart, is better than 2 living together, although seperated?!

isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 13:43:24

Danjarmouse - I don't know, I admit haven't thought this through properly. There's no-one else involved now though, and I can't imagine at this stage I'd ever be interested again..of course he might though.

Lauriefairycake Tue 09-Sep-08 13:43:38

it is very hard to live with someone you 'despise' - indifference yes, warm feelings where you wish for the best for them, yes.

Why were you and the children talking about being happier with your dh not around?

TheFallenMadonna Tue 09-Sep-08 13:45:53

My parents did this for a while. They didn't despise each other though.

BecauseImWorthIt Tue 09-Sep-08 13:47:57

I think it can work from a perspective of having two involved parents around, but I'd be worried about them growing up in a 'family' where they are not involved in/don't see a loving relationship between their two parents. It's not really a healthy role model for them in terms of developing emotionally as mature adults.

Sorry if this isn't what you wanted to hear, and sad for your situation.

TeaDr1nker Tue 09-Sep-08 13:49:25

So sorry to hear this, i don't know what you should do for the best however i used to know a woman whose parents had divorced but lived in the same house and it did create issues with her as she came into adulthood. Her parents couldn't afford to sell the house and split the proceeds and buy two separate houses IYSWIM.

Just something for you to think about. Also consider how things would be if/when you both found new partners.

Just a thought.

MarlaSinger Tue 09-Sep-08 13:49:32

How old are your children?

DwayneDibbley Tue 09-Sep-08 13:49:43

Message withdrawn

isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 13:49:52

Me and the children weren't talking about being happier without him around. I was thinking it, both of them separately, said it to me.

He's very wound up with them these days, on their backs and nagging them over small things all the time...they're both girls and he finds it hard to cope with three women fundamentally.

DwayneDibbley Tue 09-Sep-08 13:51:18

Message withdrawn

isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 13:53:21

The children are 13 and 16 by the way - thanks for all your comments so far, it's giving me more to think about - as you might have gathered, I need to think this all through.

Strangely, me and my husband can work very well as a team, it's the part of the relationship which should be exclusive to marriage - sex and affection - which is seriously amiss.

I do think if we made some honest decisions we'd be happier and we might be able to separate but live together...the children are not seeing a very healthy situation at the moment tbh.

isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 13:56:01

And I think we might actually stop despising each other if we just decided the marriage was over and move on in some ways, if not totally.

He offered to move out this morning, but told me I'd have to explain it to the children.

Cybs Tue 09-Sep-08 14:09:13

I don't see how it could work, long term.

I think if you are going to be separate then you both need to move on. I'm getting divorced at the moment and circumstances are forcing us to remain living together, we have 2 children, they are much young than yours and know nothing of the situation.

Even though we both know the marriage is over neither of us can move on. We're on our way to be totally separated but we both see that we are still married until we stop living together, which causes huge problems as we aren't emotionally involved anymore.

Believe me I know it's hard, we've lived like this for a couple of years now, a year trying to work it out and a year knowing it was over, but imo, you have to do it all or nothing. Being in a limbo of being together but not only causes more problems and stains.

I know it could be an option and sometimes an easier one, but I think it's like trying not to make the full break.

Good luck!

isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 14:14:26

Thanks Cybs - the thing is though, I can't see any advantages in being divorced now, only disadvantages - upheaval for the children, expense etc.

But hubby and I have been so detached for such a long time, actually admitting it's over would be a relief to be honest.

Of course, what I can't envisage is what it would be like then - would we tell the children, what happens if one of us does find another partner?

I guess the difference with your situation is that we wouldn't put any effort into working it out - I have tried that, but I get no response from him so I do think it's time to throw the towel in.

missingtheaction Tue 09-Sep-08 14:26:20

not in a pussyfooting 'consider this' mood, sorry

You are nuts.

It will be foul for both you and him. You despise him, presumably he doesn't think much of you either. Would you choose him as a flatmate? Can you imagine how grating all those nasty habits are going to be when you no longer have to pretent that you are commtited to him? and one of you WILL find someone else (or go through a phase of Putting It About or whatever) and that's going to be difficult to handle.

In what way exactly and to what extent is it going to benefit the children for you to carry on living together? Or why would it screw them up so badly if you divorce? It may not - in fact, it may make them happier to live in two happy households and maybe witness successful relationships than to live in one with a 'business arrangement' at the helm. And at 13 and 16 presumably they are not stupid and have noticed the way the wind is shifting.

Give yourself a few days to think about this. Then take him up on his offer to move out.

ps on the legal front, when you eventually come to divorce you will need to state that you have been living separately for 2 years (if you are going that route). you can do this in the same household but technically you shouldn't be sharing meals/laundry/watching tv together. But i don't think anyone's going to be checking.

missingtheaction Tue 09-Sep-08 14:28:20

when you say 'can't see any advantages in being divorced' don't you want to get away from him? just interested now. wouldn't it be lovely not to hear his key in the lock? smell his socks in the laundry basket?

HappyWoman Tue 09-Sep-08 14:56:25

Of course you need to divorce - suppose one of you becomes ill - and say needs caring at home - the state will assume you are married and will not provide a carer.
I say this as my parents pretty much lived together with seperate lives now my father is 'trapped' as a carer full time.

If they had both been mature enough to make the break they would have both been a better position now.

Imagine if you needed looking after - would you really want him to be the one to do it?

isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 15:39:22

I've been away from the PC, so couldn't answer all your questions straight goes..

Missingtheaction - actually, yes, I could imagine him as a flatmate. Thinking back, my statement that we despise each other is probably too strong - sometimes we do, but mostly it's just we irritate each other and have lost respect. He's actually very kind at times just not to me very often. and hasn't been for some time. We do lead very separate lives now.

And I may well be nuts!

My biggest concern about divorce/full separation is the effect on my 16-yr-old who'll be doing GCSEs this year. She has slight special needs and that causes her some physical difficulties.

When we did once discuss divorce, she threatened suicide, so I think you can see why I'm so worried about the effect on her and her sister.

I was hoping we could find an alternative, at least until the children are adults - I am quite prepared to put their needs first for some years.

He does most of the laundry, so his socks in the laundry basket isn't an issue and because we live so separately, the key in the lock doesn't make my heart sink - he's not cruel but neither is he affectionate, and he's always been rubbish in bed.

HW - the caring issue is a really serious one, that I hadn't thought about. But we're still in our 40s and I would hope we would divorced before it became a guarantees of that of course.

magentadreamer Tue 09-Sep-08 17:02:01

My Ex's parents stayed together for his sake and divorced when he was 18. His parents had seperate lives etc. My Ex wishes they'd split up, then perhaps he could have had a balanced relationship with both his parents. He realised from 14 onwards that they were only together for his sakes and it was a hellva lot of pressure on him all he wanted was for his parents to be happy.

You have to make your own decisions but i personally wouldn't want to live with someone just for the sake of the children. That might be selfish of me but I think my DD has a good relatonship with both her parents because she's not living in a household that is only together for her sake.

ShinyHappyPeopleHoldingHands Tue 09-Sep-08 17:03:41

I suppose if it despise each other it's do0able although not ideal. Would be hell if one of you still have feelings of love for the other but had to live with the fact that the other one didn't.

kama Tue 09-Sep-08 17:07:28

Message withdrawn

isitover Tue 09-Sep-08 18:43:33

Ok, suppose we do move on and divorce.

How did those of you who've had experience of this, either as a child yourself, or as a divorced/separated adult cope with the children's needs and feelings?

That's my biggest concern as I know they'll be devastated - possibly it's harder as they are older too.

MindingMum Wed 10-Sep-08 06:27:05

just wanted to say that we have lived like this for two years and it's suits us both fine. I am not saying it is easy but it's definately easier than rowing all the time.

My Dh wouldn't move out of the family home when things started to go wrong for us and I would have happily gone but we have 5 DC's and my work is home based so it was extremely impractical for us to leave. We also would not be able to afford two homes if our house was sold.

I think the reason it works for us is because we don't despise each other and do work well as a team. He is a good Dad, meaning I get breaks from the children - he recently returned from taking them on a cruise. A couple of weeks earlier, I took them camping.

I still do his laundry and plate up for him if I cook as I don't mind doing so and he will often take care of practicalities for me eg my car insurance etc.

I don't know how this would work if either of us met someone new but for now it is a good short term solution for us.

I understand about your children OP but your children could reach their twenties and still make you feel guilty about leaving their Dad. A lot of people have told you that you would be better apart but that is a decision only you can make.


hopefully Wed 10-Sep-08 09:41:37

I know someone has said this, but my DP's parents tried to do this, and he always says he wishes that they had 'properly' split up and lived seperately. He thinks that among the problems were:
1) he didn't quite know how to explain it to school friends etc, as it was embarrassing to explain that his parents had separated but lived together
2) the resentment didn't entirely go away, so there was still bickering
3) the entire household was on tenterhooks if there was any danger of a new relationship developing - his mother ended up not even dating anyone until my DP moved out to go to uni
4) even though he knew his parents had split up, the fact that they lived together meant that he always hoped they would miraculously sort things out and get back together, so he never really got 'closure' on their breakup until his dad moved out.

All of this despite the fact that DP was a bit older than your youngest - I think it ran from when he was about 15-18 - and I can only imagine a 13 year old finding it even harder to get their head around.

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