I am in isolation with my husband. I know the marriage is over. It has been for a few years. He doesn’t seem to be aware. Life has just continued on our parallel paths and now we are stuck. The kids are soon going to be leaving home for university when life gets back to normal. The thought of just the two of us when we are on our own scares me. I can’t leave now but I want to leave.
Perhaps the most compelling part of your letter is that you knew before you were in isolation with your husband that the marriage was over. This isn’t something that the stress in our world has brought on but has been on your mind for some time.
However, we are living very strange times right now and all our emotions are being tested. Given those terms, it is not the best time to make major life decisions.
Your family is no doubt feeling the stress in the world and everything is quite confusing because there are so many unknowns. We don’t know what will happen as restrictions are lifted. Your children need a least some semblance of stability. Ending a marriage affects everyone in the family.
With so many restrictions in place, even trying to sort through a separation and work out an arrangement for your children would add more stress. You’ve made it this far, so maybe it is best to take this time to plan.
What you can be doing is considering how life will look for your family when you do separate. Your children are older so would you share custody or have a less restrictive and more fluid arrangement. Would you do family times together or do you see life as being a clear split from your husband with relatively little contact.
You have the advantage of considering this future for awhile so some of the emotion has already been invested in the idea. However, your husband, as you say, is really carrying on like there is no problem. He could be oblivious, or he could not want to see reality. You will only know when you open a conversation with him.
My guess would be it is a bit of both on his part. Many partners cling to a hope it is a marital phase and you will get to the other side of it if they sense a distancing or change in the relationship.
When do you see the right time to open the conversation? How will you begin to say what needs to be said? Do you have the reasons for your feelings well sorted in your own mind? Can you say to him exactly why you feel the marriage is over? Can you give examples? A clear explanation will be very helpful in what will be a very emotional conversation.
Even with all of your thoughts in place, he may be very reluctant to see your side. If you are met with resentment how will you proceed?
Do you have a living arrangement that will work for you if you move out? Or do you want him to move out? If he moves out, consider that this will be a whole new idea in his life and he will need some time to consider his options.
I offer all of these questions because separating and leaving a marriage is not easy. It requires many decisions and some of them will not be agreeable.
The better organized you are will increase your chances of a smoother transition from marriage to separation. As difficult as it may seem, separating the emotion out of it whenever possible and just using practical decision -making will be very helpful.
Even older children find it very difficult to see their parent’s marriage end so your children will need time to consider the new family. Be patient with them because they are in an emotional time with their age and stage of life and with the world in its present turmoil.
You seem to be quite committed to your decision. It is very important to believe in yourself and your plan for your future. Other will try to discourage you, probably blaming it on the state of the world. Even though it is your right to make a decision like this, be prepared for reactions from family and friends that may surprise you.
You can begin by answering the previous questions which should help you clarify your thoughts and reasons for leaving. The next step is to decide on a leaving plan.
You will know when the time is right or when you have reached the point of no return. Keep a journal and believe in yourself.
If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to firstname.lastname@example.org – Reaching out is the first step.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.