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Help! Separating from husband with 2 young children


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#1 LouLou86

Posted 05 June 2019 - 07:22 AM

My husband and I have been together for 10+ years and married for 5. I’ve been pregnant/breastfeeding for the last 4 years and we have gotten into a downward spiral of fighting/bickering, not communicating or spending time together. It’s come to a head this week and my husband has said he doesn’t know if he wants to try and make it work anymore. I’ve suggested counselling but he is unsure if it’ll help now. Looking back I know I have caused a lot of this being moody and tired.i do love him and he is an amazing father but we have fallen out of love with each other and this has come through with me not treating him with love and respect.
We have 2 young children (under the ages of 3). Although I think we’ll be fairly amicable with the split etc wondering how other mums have gotten through this. I know I’ll be able to cope day to day looking after them but it’s ripping me apart that they won’t grow up having their mum and dad together and I’ll have to be apart from them at times. I don’t think I’d cope seeing him with another woman let alone her becoming a part of our children’s lives. I am in my early 30s too and feel like I will end up on my own now single parenting 2 very young children. All of my friends are in solid marriages with young children. Feeling sick and scared of the future.
Hoping to hear from some mums x

#2 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 05 June 2019 - 07:59 AM

Sorry to hear things are hard right now OP.

Firstly, I think you need to find out if you want to work on the relationship. Your husband has said he's not sure that he wants to and that may well be true, but it can also be true that a part of him does want to work on it, it's just very hard right now.

I've felt like that many times in the past, sometimes it's not as simple as 100% wanting out, or 100% being committed. Sometimes you just feel like things are overwhelming, it seems like there's no way forward and you feel trapped. In those cases, some serious conversations between the two of you, where you're both allowed to be honest (even if it hurts) could be helpful. I'd also think counselling could held the two of you move past this.

However, if it ends up eventuating that you do separate, I have experience with that too. I'm about the same age as you have a 6 year old and have been separated from my ex for 4.5 years. The first 6 months were the worst. For me, it took seeing the bigger picture, not biting back when he said mean things and relinquishing control that I was quite desperate to hold onto (EB was an excellent help with that in the early days) to get things to the place they are now. Eventually he realised I had no interest in fighting with him and we both just wanted the best for my daughter.

My ex and I each have 50/50 care of my daughter. In our case, it's very amicable and we've worked very hard to get there. He can still be frustrating and annoying sometimes, but it's very good most of the time. It's not always this easy, but it sounds like your husband and you still care for each other, so if you end up separating, it would hopefully be possible to remain amicable.

I have many friends who are single parents. They are mostly doing very well. Some haven't been able to find good relationships, but that happens to people without kids too! But they're happy with their lives and in some cases, are even better off financially and time wise (that was definitely the case for me).

It's hard and sad at times, but it's not the end of the world and if the relationship isn't able to be saved, then for your children, the best thing is probably for them to have two happy(er) homes, rather than one where their parents aren't happy together. As many people here can tell you, kids pick up on that, even when you think they couldn't possibly know.

#3 justbreath

Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:03 AM

I’m in a somewhat similar situation (3 kids) and husband unsure whether he wants to work at it/doesn’t love me any more etc. It’s scary and I feel your pain. I don’t have anything useful to add but I hope we both get a happy outcome, whatever that might be x

#4 HippyDippyBaloney

Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:13 AM

Counselling can also help separating couples, so maybe it would still be a good idea?

I agree that you should work out what you want from this as well. It does sound like he is attempting to lay all the blame at your feet, which is both unfair and unrealistic.

I was in a similar position to you. I had two under 3 (plus a 7 yr old) when we separated. The first 18 months were so so difficult. It was so scary and I felt like I failed my kids.

But I love my life now. My kids are doing great. I’m also generally not phased if I ever find another partner, I like to go on dates and so on (which btw, being a single mum isn’t an issue for many guys!) but I also don’t really want another relationship and definitely don’t want to cohabit with another man again.

#5 LouLou86

Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:50 AM

Thank you for all of your replies. I am scared. You have hit the nail on the head too - I feel like I have failed my children. My daughter is 2. At her age parent should be together and I ache to think what will happen at preschool when they talk who who is in her family? Only one with no mummy or daddy together. I do love my husband, but also know I have treated him well for awhile and have put him last after the kids..but maybe there has been a reason behind that? He feels like this has almost been inevitable but I don’t feel like we’ve ever sat down and talked about it like this before...he says he has tried but I just get cross.
I just want/need to hear from other experiences and that it gets better. A part of me almost even feels embarrassed if that makes sense...
:( :( :(

#6 ButterflyNow

Posted 05 June 2019 - 08:57 AM

View PostLouLou86, on 05 June 2019 - 08:50 AM, said:

Thank you for all of your replies. I am scared. You have hit the nail on the head too - I feel like I have failed my children. My daughter is 2. At her age parent should be together and I ache to think what will happen at preschool when they talk who who is in her family? Only one with no mummy or daddy together. I do love my husband, but also know I have treated him well for awhile and have put him last after the kids..but maybe there has been a reason behind that? He feels like this has almost been inevitable but I don’t feel like we’ve ever sat down and talked about it like this before...he says he has tried but I just get cross.
I just want/need to hear from other experiences and that it gets better. A part of me almost even feels embarrassed if that makes sense...
:( :( :(
Hi OP - I am sorry you are going through this. I separated from my ex when when my boy was 2.5. I found many other single mum friends with kids of similar ages. And the feelings you have - I went through them all.
I can tell you it gets better , and if you have an amicable split it can be pretty awesome tbh.
On your note above about your kids' family - I stress with my boy that his mum and dad are still his family, even though we live separately. We read the book 'just the way we are' (kids book which covers all different families, including two homes) lots. He still has one family in my view.

#7 StoneFoxArrow

Posted 05 June 2019 - 09:11 AM

View PostLouLou86, on 05 June 2019 - 08:50 AM, said:

Thank you for all of your replies. I am scared. You have hit the nail on the head too - I feel like I have failed my children. My daughter is 2. At her age parent should be together and I ache to think what will happen at preschool when they talk who who is in her family? Only one with no mummy or daddy together. I do love my husband, but also know I have treated him well for awhile and have put him last after the kids..but maybe there has been a reason behind that? He feels like this has almost been inevitable but I don’t feel like we’ve ever sat down and talked about it like this before...he says he has tried but I just get cross.
I just want/need to hear from other experiences and that it gets better. A part of me almost even feels embarrassed if that makes sense...
Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

I would think it unlikely that your DD will be the only one with separated parents. It's very normal for many children in my DD's school and she goes to school in quite a high SES area - so I kind of feel a bit like the odd one out in that regard, but that definitely isn't reality.

I agree that there is probably a reason behind you not prioritising your relationship with your husband. If you've not talked about this kind of thing before, that's a huge sign that you've both just been coasting, hoping things would work out. I know my relationship with my DP wouldn't survive if we didn't talk about our relationship on a regular basis.

But also, even if there are other reasons behind why it got to this point, it is quite normal to be exhausted with two young kids. Your hormones could be playing a big role, exhaustion/sleep deprivation is huge - that alone would be making things so much harder.

I would suggest you (and your husband, if he's open to it) have a read of John Gottman's "The seven principles for making marriage work", it's also available on audio book if that would be easier for either of you. I really like his approach to relationships.

#8 Drat

Posted 05 June 2019 - 09:57 AM

I would really suggest counselling. You don't really have anything further to 'lose'. Most of my friends with young kids have seen huge cracks in their marriages and quite a few break down because of it. Just every day stuff is so difficult with small kids, it leaves very little room for love and care of each other.

I thought my husband and I would divorce when our 1st was born. It was like the two of us were on a completely different planet to each other. We did a year of counselling and now have a second child and things are so much smoother than before. We have a newborn and a 2 year old so things are pretty much in 'survival' mode at the moment, but trying to give each other a bit of love and appreciation in there too.

The five love languages book is really good too.

If you do seperate, it's not uncommon. There's plenty of different types of families now and your kids won't know any different.

#9 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 05 June 2019 - 10:29 AM

I wish you all the best, OP.

I just wanted to add my two cents.  My kids are teenagers now, but I remember those days, with 2 under 2, and they were tough.

I get that your DH might feel left out and sidelined, but I also think that is the 'plight of the father'.  Your priority during those years IS your babies.  It has to be.

His priority should be to support you through that, not turn it around on you and say that it's your fault for not treating him well.  

I may be totally wrong and I don't know your exact relationship.  I would encourage counseling too - either to work out whether you can reconnect, or to establish an amicable spit - either way it will probably help you both communicate.

But I do feel sad (and cross) at some of the relationships I see where the  woman is still expected to be all things to all people, including their husbands.  This is the time when the woman needs the support of her partner to be able to give the children all that they need.  His needs have to come second, for a while at least.   Like several years at least.  

I really do wish you all the best.  As others have said, you will come through this, and it can work out, as scary as it must be right now.

#10 RichardParker

Posted 05 June 2019 - 10:34 AM

Two kids under three is probably the hardest time in any marriage.  If there's still love there and no fundamental issues like abuse then I'd try and stick it out and work on it - it sounds like you want to.  You can always get some therapy just for yourself - often individual therapy is the best form of couples therapy.

Is there any way you can leave the kids with someone and spend a night or weekend away together?  The hard slog with kids can be so draining.

#11 CallMeFeral

Posted 05 June 2019 - 10:52 AM

View PostRuf~Feral~es, on 05 June 2019 - 10:29 AM, said:

I get that your DH might feel left out and sidelined, but I also think that is the 'plight of the father'.  Your priority during those years IS your babies.  It has to be.

His priority should be to support you through that, not turn it around on you and say that it's your fault for not treating him well.  

I may be totally wrong and I don't know your exact relationship.  I would encourage counseling too - either to work out whether you can reconnect, or to establish an amicable spit - either way it will probably help you both communicate.

But I do feel sad (and cross) at some of the relationships I see where the  woman is still expected to be all things to all people, including their husbands.  This is the time when the woman needs the support of her partner to be able to give the children all that they need.  His needs have to come second, for a while at least.   Like several years at least.  

I just want to second all this, it really nails how I felt when I read your post. I hear so much self blame in your posts and I don't think it's warranted. It's great that you can see where you've been cranky and short tempered, because you know what you can work on. But that's not equivalent to you being at fault. Two under 3 is bloody hard and makes most people short tempered. I'd heard somewhere that no big decisions should be made within 18 months of a child being born (I'd take that to 3 years) because it's such a time of upheaval. It's a time of just surviving and getting through - not really of nurturing the marriage relationship and so on. I'm not saying there's no joy in it, but it's just bloody hard and generally everyone is at full capacity.

TBH he sounds a bit petulant/self absorbed putting this at your feet. Like he's another child and you've ignored him. As opposed to him being part of the team that works together to survive early childhood. Perhaps if he were more focused on the kids than himself, or focused on supporting you, he'd have less time to fret about whether his own needs are being met. You are under stress and you needed support too.

But regardless of whether it's fair or not, if he's firmly decided, there is not much you can do. Hopefully he's not that firm, and will agree to counselling, and best case scenario you can work together to improve the relationship, worst case you can nut out an amicable separation. And if you separate, you haven't failed your children - HE'S the one exiting the marriage, not you. If he's not willing to at least try - then that's on his shoulders, not yours. Don't blame yourself for it. What you guys are going through is extremely common for a family with two small children, and if both parties are willing to work on it, you can likely get through it. And if one isn't... you don't own that, they do.

#12 Octopodes

Posted 05 June 2019 - 12:30 PM

I am not separated, but I do remember just how hard those early years of childrearing were on our relationship. We nearly chucked it in several times, I don't think that is uncommon. Those baby/toddler/preschool years are tough.

If you are both open to it, counselling can help reopen the lines of communication and heal the relationship. It's probably not a popular view, but I think men in particular can be a bit quick to throw away a relationship just because it gets hard and they are not the centre of attention any more.

As I mentioned, we were just about where you are now and managed to turn it around. It took a lot of honesty and difficult conversations and just plain hanging in there, sometimes by the skin of our teeth. It wasn't until DS (only child) started school that it really felt like the relationship was able to get back on solid ground.

You both have to want to make it work though, if he isn't prepared to put in the hard yards, then it's probably best just to let him go.

I am sorry you are in this situation.

#13 CuriousMe

Posted 06 June 2019 - 07:29 AM

My husband and I (with two young children) separated two months ago and have been doing “separation counselling” with a psychologist. It made me wish that we had seen a marriage counsellor years ago.

I would strongly recommend counselling.

#14 opethmum

Posted 06 June 2019 - 11:21 AM

I don't think all is lost at this stage.

Having 2 kids under the age of 3 is tough and is hard work and I had that too and the communication and time spent together is poor and sometimes you are lucky enough to spend the night in bed together for one reason or another. This is the trenches of marriage and this is meaning for better or worse comes to mind and parenthood even though your kids are wanted and loved they can sap the joy and you wonder whether it is worth it.

If you have trusted family and friends around you sound the alarm and say things are not ok and that you and your DH are drowning and are on your last rope and that you need help and support to help you through. Marriage yes two become one but it does not say that you can't be helped through it.

Perhaps your DH may need a mentor to help get him through the tough parts of being a father to two active little ones and that he needs some male input to help support his wife and perhaps needs some time away to decompress.

Likewise you need help and support, you may need time away and a mentor to help get you through the tough edge of marriage and helping support your DH and how to communicate effectively your needs and wants to him.

I think that counseling is in order for you and ask your DH too. I think that a lot of individual counseling needs to happen before doing couples therapy.

If you both are willing to work through it then you have a high degree of success and that you can save your marriage and work through whatever you need to work through.

If it is all one sided then you have your answer and you need to work out an amicable separation and parenting plan you both want that puts the children's needs first above each of your own needs and wants.

If you think separation is in order then you aren't a failure, you're modelling that when someone doesn't want you in their life in that way, don't lower yourself and be desperate and have courage to stand on your own two feet and head into the next chapter with your held high.

#15 Claudia Jean

Posted 06 June 2019 - 11:36 AM

I split from my XH when my children were 2yo and 11 weeks old.  It was (and still can be) really tough doing it alone but like you've recognised the day-to-day physicality of managing both children is tough, the real challenge goes far beyond that.

My marriage would have never worked, so I don't regret our breakup but if you still love each other I would encourage you to really fight hard for it and hope he's willing to come along the journey with you.

#16 Kallie88

Posted 06 June 2019 - 12:08 PM

2 under 2yo is a tough time, we've got 3 under 3yo and it's hard to put the time/ effort into our relationship. I think it's easy to feel out of love and disconnected with such young children. We really are in the trenches. If there's no violence/ betrayal/ broken trust etc. I'd suggest talking about it frankly and acknowledging that this is a stressful time for any relationship (trust me, many of your friends solid relationships will or have been through tough times with young kids too). If it was me I'd want to give it time to get out of the trenches and put some more effort into the relationship before I called it quits, but you've both got to be in it together. Maybe nut out a timeline, 6 months of counselling then reassess for example. Good luck op xx

#17 LouLou86

Posted 07 June 2019 - 06:25 AM

Thank you all for taking the time to reply, I have been reading them all and coming back to them for strength. Husband has said he does love me but feels numb after the last 2 yrs and wants to try but can’t promise he is going to get that feeling back and that it will be hard.
I am so scared. I feel like I am jumping off a cliff and gambling if my parachute will work or not. I am so scred deep down he has made up his mind. I’ve asked him what properly trying looks like but he said he isn’t 100% sure yet. He is not completely opposed to counsclling but think it may be hard to get him there. I am going to go and get a referral to see one regardless of what happens.
I know it’s not 100% my fault but I have shut him out in many way while also being so moody and grumpy. It’s easy to comfortable after all of these years and forget why you love your partner. I probably haven’t been the most respectful wife also not considering his needs/wants (not just sexually - he’s never pressured me about that).
Time will tell. I am just not sure how I will get through each day having ijnthr back of my mind that he might turn around tomorrow and say he can’t do this.

#18 IamzFeralz

Posted 07 June 2019 - 07:07 AM

I would start the counselling on your own to beginwith and then he can he invited along after a few sessions?  It will show him that you are serious about wanting to see changes put into place.

However, just a note.  There is nothing wrong with being human when you are a tired mother of little children.  Hopefully the counselling won’t be all able making your DH happy but also about how you can be helped too.  The happiness of both parents Is infectious and strengthens the relationship as a whole.

#19 CallMeFeral

Posted 07 June 2019 - 09:49 AM

View PostLouLou86, on 07 June 2019 - 06:25 AM, said:

Time will tell. I am just not sure how I will get through each day having ijnthr back of my mind that he might turn around tomorrow and say he can’t do this.

It's great that you'll be getting your own counselling then, you can work on this. It's easier I think to work on a relationship when you're not in a state of anxiety about the other person leaving because you know you can cope without them. Hopefully this is something your counsellor can work on with you.

#20 Hypnic Jerk

Posted 07 June 2019 - 11:46 AM

I could have left my husband a dozen times when my kids were that age.  He wont admit it, but I reckon he’s the same.  What stopped it from happening is that he’d already been divorced with 2 kids and didn’t want a second round of that.

Kids are now 10 and 12.  Things are good with us.  Very good.  If you know you love him (which I didn’t at the time), perhaps it’s worth hanging on longer.

#21 Apageintime

Posted 07 June 2019 - 07:01 PM

View PostWTFJerk, on 07 June 2019 - 11:46 AM, said:

I could have left my husband a dozen times when my kids were that age.  He wont admit it, but I reckon he’s the same.  What stopped it from happening is that he’d already been divorced with 2 kids and didn’t want a second round of that.

Kids are now 10 and 12.  Things are good with us.  Very good.  If you know you love him (which I didn’t at the time), perhaps it’s worth hanging on longer.

I saw someone who had been married many many years say the only reason their marriage had lasted so long was that neither of them wanted to get divorced at the same time.

That is very true for my husband and I too, only 10 years in.

#22 petal71

Posted 07 June 2019 - 08:00 PM

I can see a lot of hope in your posts. Perhaps this could be a wake up all for you both? But don't underestimate or push aside your needs and don't forget toexamine his role in this. You are probably (naturally ) v absorbed in the kids that it may not be apparent what in him is triggering you and vice versa. Counselling could really help with this.
You sound like you are both being honest and do care about each other, so that is a good basis to try from.

I know it's natural to think the worst, but try to balance that natural inclination with working out with him what exactly is going wrong in your interactions and what's behind that? I remember at that stage of parenting (and I only have one), resentment was key for me - I felt all-consumed and like he got to do things for himself (even if only a coffee or lunch alone) and I would have killed for that, plus the repetitiveness and challenges of tantrums, lack of sleep, food issues (I feel a bit nauseous just remembering it all).

Edited by petal71, 07 June 2019 - 08:01 PM.


#23 petal71

Posted 07 June 2019 - 08:18 PM

And if it does end up in separation, although it will be hard with kids so young , the positive side would be they likely won't really remember the actual separation. One of the many things I am kicking myself about as I go through separation with a mid-primary kid is that I wish I had done it when he was 2 or 3...

#24 LouLou86

Posted 07 June 2019 - 08:21 PM

View Postpetal71, on 07 June 2019 - 08:00 PM, said:

I can see a lot of hope in your posts. Perhaps this could be a wake up all for you both? But don't underestimate or push aside your needs and don't forget toexamine his role in this. You are probably (naturally ) v absorbed in the kids that it may not be apparent what in him is triggering you and vice versa. Counselling could really help with this.
You sound like you are both being honest and do care about each other, so that is a good basis to try from.

I know it's natural to think the worst, but try to balance that natural inclination with working out with him what exactly is going wrong in your interactions and what's behind that? I remember at that stage of parenting (and I only have one), resentment was key for me - I felt all-consumed and like he got to do things for himself (even if only a coffee or lunch alone) and I would have killed for that, plus the repetitiveness and challenges of tantrums, lack of sleep, food issues (I feel a bit nauseous just remembering it all).

You arw probably probably spot on here. Even just hearing him snoring while I am up at night can bring on rage! I have also has a small prolapse since the birth of our baby, and this has been difficult as I am usually very active so it’s been getting me down (not to mention affect on other areas). He goes to the gym a few mornings a week which I know I’ve been resentful of. I even think he’s lucky getting the bus to work each day.
I have booked in to see my Dr next week for a referral so I can start speaking to someone. I just hope it’s not too late for both of us. We’ve been through a lot over the years and I know this is a really tough phase where we have neglected each other. Just hoping we can use this to make things great, rather than closing the chapter.
Thank you for your input, I’ve really appreciated all of the responses and like reading about the different experiences. Am sure I’ll keep coming back to read/post more

#25 CallMeFeral

Posted 07 June 2019 - 10:06 PM

View PostLouLou86, on 07 June 2019 - 08:21 PM, said:

I have booked in to see my Dr next week for a referral so I can start speaking to someone.

You might want to start calling psychs in the area to see who has an appointment soon. That way you can make your appointment with them now and ask for them to be on the referral. There can be a lot more running around if the Dr refers you to one with a long waitlist, and then although you can technically I think use the referral anywhere some places don't do that, etc etc - if you'd like it to be soon then this would speed it up.




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