Reality for those considering
Considering separation? I hope my story helps in some way. I have kids and am 6 months into separation. I've learned a lot.
I am about to share information that I believe will help some of you. I’ve made some bold decisions over the past 18 months and I’d like to share with you so, beyond theory, it may help you make decisions.
18 months ago I caught my wife (married 15 years) romantically texting another man. She lied about it and continued to lie to me for months as she continued to contact him. When caught in her lies, she would either apologize or she would go on the attack against me, but either way, It was never resolved. She refused to renew our vows, go to counseling, or show empathy.
We have three children, ages 7, 10 and 15.
I struggled with my wife’s behavior. I thought she wanted out of the marriage. I thought I was losing my family. I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t work effectively and was prescribed anti-anxiety medication. I began to self-harm, hitting myself in the face sometimes because it made me “feel”. These were all signs of CPTSD, because over the course of many year and ramping up over the past few months, my wife was taking advantage of the fact that I was an empath. I believe I was a co-dependent. Her behavior rocked my foundation.
My wife showed all the signs of narcissism. Good chance she has a disorder. I read all of the books and watched all the YouTube videos. I became an expert. It’s helpful to understand what you are dealing with but I will tell you, I never found the solution outside of me. I only made progress when I looked inside. Why did I fall in love with someone like this? All of the answers came through meditation, sleep, and doing less, not doing more. Remove the distractions in life. Eat well. Be kind to yourself. Let me repeat, be KIND TO YOURSELF. Show compassion for yourself.
After a year of no progress with my wife and climbing out of the darkness through much counseling, I told my wife we were separating.
For those of you wondering what it would be like to tell your children, I can tell you first hand it is utterly heartbreaking. To see the look in their eyes, of hurt, knowing your words are hurting them, is something you must understand is going to happen. They don’t care if mommy or daddy was naughty, they just want their mommy and daddy.
I moved out and my wife and I each took the kids for a week. At first, I felt great. I healed. The kids actually didn’t mind it and thought it was fun at first. But, the newness goes away and then…
The kids have a lot of questions about why. I followed the rule of not talking bad about your spouse. I told them what I could but never spoke ill of mommy.
Then, the relationship with the children changed. I grew closer to my middle child (son) who always argued with mom anyway, but I grew more distant from my other two kids. My 7 year daughter began to get more snarky with me, stopped being the sweet princess she was and became a little more jaded. She became a little resentful of me. My oldest son kept his distance. I was concerned about all of it. My middle child shouldn’t be happy that we divorced and my other two children were obviously affected.
I don’t care what the books or the counselors say. Children aren’t that resilient. They are deeply affected by separation even if you are separating for what you think are the right reasons.
I began to get really bothered when my attorney started trying to dictate my life. Telling me I had to get my daughter to counseling because it will be important for the courts to have an independent person taking note of behavioral changes and how the parents are behaving with the children. Basically, if I wanted to put myself in the best position legally, I would need to do things with my children I didn’t want to do.
The separation agreement was a very long and detailed document. Everything from who gets the kids on the holidays to who gets grandma’s bookshelf. It was daunting to develop and absorb that this is what we had to agree to. As if we were losing control of our lives.
Any thought about future relationships and any excitement I had about a fresh start with new love, I began to realize, was just a dream. In reality, I have three kids, and all of my thoughts floated back to doing what is best for them. What is best for the children who love their mom?
Throughout all of this, my wife wanted us to be married again. After the initial shock and anger from her, she softened. She agreed to go to counseling. She began to try.
And here I am, convinced that there are two options and either option means I have to give up control.
Option 1: Stay separated and continue to position myself the best way legally, taking my kids to counseling but surely making my wife mad in the process, and seeing the negative impact this has on the children. Getting approval on the separation agreement from a judge.
Option 2: As long as my wife shows some effort, even if it’s a sliver of light, accept it and bring the family back together. Ditch the lawyer, the separation agreement, the suitcases, the apartment, the explanations, the building resentment of the kids.
I’m choosing Option 2. If my wife didn’t care or didn’t try, I would not have been able to choose Option 2. I do believe she still has narcissist traits and we will need to discuss those in counseling.
Here is my strongest recommendation for you, if you have children ---- if your spouse is willing to try, accept it and try to create something with them. Something different but that can last. Please do NOT tell your children you want a separation unless you truly believe it’s over. Unfortunately, I do think the advice that children are resilient is bogus – I know first hand it will impact them negatively. That’s reality.
If I hadn’t changed, become stronger, more independent, and deal with my co-dependancy then I would not be ready to try again. I’m different now. I’ve learned a lot. I would do some things differently. I hope this helps someone. I’m very sorry for what you are going through. You don’t deserve it, but your decisions are bigger than you, so take your time and be kind to yourself.
9 comments posted: Tuesday, May 18th, 2021