Beyond painful – a break up but trying to remain friends

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  • #10899 Report


    Hi, I’m new to these parts so treat me gently as I feel like I’m made of glass at the moment.

    After 25 years of being with my university sweetheart I found out a few weeks ago that she had formed a romantic/non-physical/emotional attachment to some she knows through work. Since then I have moved out of the family home, we have attended counselling twice which was a complete disaster and we are now both agreed that the only way forward is to divorce. She has since said that the relationship with the other party is dead in the water and it was just a manifestation of an underlying deeper sense of disconnection between us.

    Our focus is our children and their emotional well being and helping them to get through this. We are also trying to help each other, we are trying to be kind, generous and compassionate to one another. We are both in so much pain but understand that we can not put things back together again, too many things said and ultimately a complete loss of trust.

    We do however want to remain friends maybe not best friends but definitely friends. We’ve got as far as discussing an uncontested divorce but this is a work in progress and is fraught with emotions, we’ve discussed co parenting and wanting to help each other get set up in our new lives. Sounds great doesn’t it, grown up and very mature. The problem is the anger that I feel and often it is a real blocker to any rational and sensible decision making. I want to believe and deliver on everything I’ve detailed above but it is so damned hard being in her company knowing she does not want me and I’m desperate for any sign of softening in her stance. I am still struggling in her company to keep my emotions in check and even tonight I have broken down in front of her.

    So is it possible to achieve this utopian split or is it just a pipe dream?

    Does anyone have any experience of this? I’d love to chat or exchange her ideas or views on this.

    Many thanks


    #10901 Report


    Hi. First off, I’m very sorry to read about what you are going through.  Not pleasant.

    My story is similar. Together for 17 years, married for last 12. She cheated on me 3 years ago. I forgave her for the sake of our children (now 7 and 10). Then I caught her red handed committing adultery last November: pocket phone call, her having sex with our son’s football coach.

    Roll forward to now: agreed to divorce, fighting over pretty much everything, still living in same house, keeping status quo for children, but behind the scenes we are at war.  I am livid, she shows no remorse, and I hope she rots.

    I probably need more counselling, but for moment I have too much going on at work and with kids to re-start.

    Seems the only difference between me and you is that I hate my wife: she has changed a lot from the person I once loved.

    Happy to PM if you wish, or swap war stories on here! I have a fair bit of advice that I’d happily share.

    #10902 Report


    Hats off to you for making an effort to separate and deal with this in such a mature and thoughtful way to limit the damage to the kids and each other. However, I worry your expecting too much of yourself when you need time to deal with your own needs to come to terms with things too. It seems like she knew she wanted out of the relationship a while before she instigated it therefore you were less prepared and seem to be going along with it at her pace. Your bound to feel angry as your not in control of the situation and emotions will be running high, bitterness and hurt can affect rational and in my experience continuing to be in each other’s lives as a support to one another when these feelings are still so strong for you are just going to hinder you coming to terms with your situation and moving on.  Maybe further down the line this can be possible. The kids will also pick up on any underlying tension they really don’t miss a trick! I’m sure you will both manage to find a way to do things as best as you can but allow yourself to be angry, upset etc your genuinely going thru a tough time you can’t just switch off how your feeling. Take one day at a time and try not to beat yourself up if you struggle sometimes to handle things as you wish it sounds like your doing the best you can right now

    #10903 Report


    Hi, thanks for your response and your situation sounds familiar but without the discoveries you made. I only had to discover and deal with flirty texts.

    I am receiving therapy at the moment in an effort to work through some of the pain and I am finding it useful in terms of allowing myself to feeel want I want to feel.

    You’re right in terms of trying to have a cleaner break with some distance but this is very difficult as I want to see my kids every day or as much as I can. So there are inevitably times every day where we see each other. I’m going round for breakfast 3 out 5 mornings to see the kids before work and to allow her to go to work, I’m also seeing them nearly every evening and at weekends so there are still lots of contact times with her. But I have wondered if a cleaner, lesss friendly and more distant break would be more helpful. My fear would be that I’d see less of the kids and end up still being unhappy but also really full of hate and resentment.

    Ultimately I want to forgive and let her go.

    #10904 Report


    Hi Stj,

    Expectation is a killer in all of this. The person I want to be through all of this is often quite different to the one that manifests itself. But you’re right, that’s ok, it’s ok to be angry and upset, trying to to keep it all in is not healthy. You’ve got to travel through the pain rather than try edge round it.

    Bizzarley things are moving at my pace. I’ve started the discussions on divorce as I feel the only way I can move on is to get things moving. My life is in limbo until I’m able to get a settlement and then find my own, new home and life.

    As you’ve said being in each other’s lives so much still may hinder moving on but on the flip side she is the one that is able to help me when I’m feeling really low. It’s double edged, I seem to spend days building myself up and feeling strong and then in one fail swoop I fall to pieces again. The anger galvanises me but I don’t like who I am. But when I’m true to myself it’s just so unbearably painful.

    Thank you for sharing and your support.


    #10906 Report


    I completely understand that I’ve still had my ex in my life most days to see the children too for similar reasons and I couldn’t have the clean break which would truly help me get out of the feeling of limbo, the benefits my kids get to see both parents very much still but the flip side is the emotions linked to that person can hold you back from moving past the pain. However, time is a great help sorry it sounds so cliche! My ex is a completely different situation though he’s unable to be honest for example he rented a flat nearby (which he never actually stayed in after all) and got a new job to fake his affair had ended so to be fair has been playing mind games so you’ve a much better chance of getting through this amicably longer term. There is times you will feel weaker than others and really miss the other person but it does pass, you may find a new pattern of contact over time that works better for everyone just be adaptable and honest with yourself and take care of yourself as trying to keep everyone happy when your struggling is a challenge in itself.  I really wish you well

    #10907 Report


    You write very eloquently about your situation.  Mine is in the same ballpark (although no-one else involved as far as I know) but I’m burying my head in the sand with regards to accepting whats happened and moving forward with divorce.  How do we balance our need to see our children as much as we can with our need to let our partners go?  After four months, I’m still not at the “let them go” stage.  I like to hear that time will help – I’m really counting heavily on that!

    #10921 Report


    It’s a cliche but time does help, even in this short period of time I am able to build myself up again after a major dip but increasingly I can do this quicker. I’m hurting and I miss my best friend but I am starting to allow myself to think about meeting other people, possibly not yet but then I’m not setting any hard rules for anything.

    Dadof2, letting go is tough and I seesaw between feeling optimistic even excited about a new future and then feeling devastated that I’ve lost everything, there does not seem to be any middle ground, either massive even manic highs or desperate lows.

    I also miss certain points in the week like early Saturday evenings where we would have normally come together as a family for tea in front of the TV and enjoying the generic rubbish of XFactor, Strictly etc.

    Not putting my kids to bed every night, missing out on bath times or those unprompted cuddles or mad little conversations that give you an insight to a 9 year old, all of these things I miss. The unplanned, candid moments you have that light up your day have diminished.

    STJ, I feel for you and it sounds like you’ve been out through the wringer, hopefully you may be starting to come out the other side, I hope you are.

    The only thing I’m trying to do at the moment is to continue living my life by the values I’ve always had.




    I truly believe that staying true to oneself through these tough times in our lives is the only way to get through.

    Thank you everyone.



    #10943 Report


    Couldn’t agree more being true to yourself is so important knowing who you are keeps you strong even when you don’t feel it. Your Saturday family nights sound very similar to how mine were, I still have that but just with my boys and me, I’m sure you will start to create new memories.  I know how it feels to miss family life as you know it but you still have a family it will just take a different form. First holiday on my own and days out felt strange and filled me with fear but at the same time were exciting and a bit of an adventure,  although at times being totally honest I thought never again!! You seem a decent man with strong morals and values, I hope you stay positive and keep looking forward.

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