Separating after 20 years

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  • #18375 Report


    My husband and i are talking about separating after 20 years together. I’ve been with him since my late teens. We have two children under 10.

    I have been unhappy for a lot of this time, but for many years swept my concerns under the carpet because i didn’t have the emotionally awareness, maturity or strength to deal with it. In the past few years i’ve been seriously considering spitting up, and have voiced this on several occasions but never seen it through as continued giving things a chance to change. We have tried couples counselling – it helped while we were going – but no long term change.

    I have realised that my husband does not make me happy, i do not make him happy, and despite our best intentions and efforts we probably never will. For a long time i thought this was surmountable – we made vows, we have kids, no relationship is perfect, we’ll make the best of it. But after a recent bout of depression and subsequent therapy, i am learning that burying my emotional needs in order to ‘make do’ is making me physically and emotionally ill, affecting my self esteem and therefore all aspects of my life – which will inevitably affect the quality of my parenting.

    And this is the thing that has given me the push to finally do something – my fear about the impact our marriage will have on our kids. We are not role modelling a healthy relationship, and i am just learning myself that that will probably mean my kids won’t have a blueprint for their own healthy relationships in later life and the cycle will repeat.  Equally, we use up so much energy battling each other – that could and should be directed at parenting our children to the best of our ability.

    And so whilst a part of me really wishes that we could make it work, we have tried and failed for many years, so i believe that separation is the best thing for all of us in the long run.

    I am sad – and scared. Whilst i would like to do this amicably, my husband is not going to deal with this well – he will be verbally and emotionally abusive, vindictive, he won’t be able to control his behaviour in front of the kids to minimise the damage this is going to have on them, he will lash out and cause lots of scenes (some of the types of behaviour that have helped me decide to end this marriage). We also have the added issue of an extended family on his side who will add fuel to the fire and compromise the children by encouraging them to take sides.

    I am therefore focusing on learning how to steel and protect myself so i can support the kids as much as is possible during what i know will inevitably be a horrible and difficult experience.

    And so i have signed up here – to learn from you all, and have a network of advice, insight and support to help me get through what lies ahead.

    Thanks in advance everyone. As i go through this, i hope to be able to return the favour with some learnings and advice that may help others too. Xxx





    #18376 Report


    Hi DB,

    I am also divorcing after 20 years. I am totally financially dependent and it’s really scary. He behaves as you have described your husband.

    I don’t know what the future holds, but in 10 years I don’t want to be wishing that I’d done it years ago…

    If you feel like you want to PM me, let me know, I think it helps to have someone to talk to. You can also self refer to the NHS counselling service if that would help.

    Take care x

    #18377 Report



    im separating with my husband of 13 years. It is fairly amincable but it’s hard work.

    Also feeling sad and scared.  I’m finding reading other people’s post about their situations is certianly helping with coming to terms with my own.

    Knowing there are other people out there t chat to helps


    C x

    #18388 Report


    Thanks for the reply Betty162 – i’m sorry to hear you’re going thrugh the same thing too – you hear of people splitting up all the time but its so much harder than i ever realised. I think there’s a song to that effect….

    PM’ing sounds good – altho i’m new to this site (social in general) and not sure how it works?

    and thanks for thr NHS advice. I have been lucky enough to get some workplace support with a counsellor who is helping me understand myself and cut through the mess that has been my mind chatter for years. Quite an emotional rollercoaster…i’m completely drained!

    The financial side of things is a worry too – i’m currently trying to ignore this and take one step at a time. Still very early days this end.

    Are you getting support and advice?

    Completely get your point about not wanting to regret staying – i’m already wondering if i’ll look back and wonder why i didn’t do this sooner once i’m throuh the other side.  But there’s no point regretting – just gettig on with things now. We all do the best we can at any point in time.


    #18389 Report


    Hi peeriepop – nice to hear your split is amicable, as you say its hard enough without extra anomosity! I’m hoping my husband will see the light 🤞

    stay strong, as they say, this too shall pass. Someone has told me to visualise where i want to be eventually to keep positive – and to eat healthy, and get plenty of rest.


    #19466 Report


    I wish all the best and be positive things will be better. I have divorced after 19 years but it was sadly his decision and it hit me like a lighting thunder. After 3 years of being in a bad place I finally found a courage to try online dating and met someone but now after 3 years seeing him I have concluded that I need to come out of this abusive relationship. He claims all is in my head and I always start the argument and he verbally get abusive within seconds if I say something he does not like. So I just thought using this forum to pour out my pain and hurt to move forward. Thank you everyone and power of chatting I guess.

    #19603 Report


    I haven’t read any of the other replies yet but I wanted to say that I totally relate to how you feel. I have been with my partner for 7 years and I have had my doubts about our relationship for the majority of that time but have tried over and over again and tried to forget these thoughts.

    I feel like I’ve been through years of emotional torment when trying to end things although he has never become abusive. I feel like I’ve been broken as a person and I have never felt so low. I am on this site tonight as I finally plucked up the courage to leave the house that we jointly own and take my son to live with my Mum this evening.

    I know I’m not helping you much, I just wanted you to know that you’re not on your own.

    I hope everything works out for you.

    #19624 Report


    I have just separated after 15 years and I know how you all feel. You feel so guilty for the children but you get to a point where you can’t take anymore and you have to do what’s right for you too.

    You can’t let them drag you down you have to look forward and keep going!

    #19641 Report


    We have just decided to separate too – nearly 12 yrs married, nearly 14 together. My oh came out with the final decision a week ago and I was devastated but like alot of you we have been trying to improve our relationship for about 3 years! I am now in total agreement having time process and accept it all, we know it is better for our daughter and us as individuals as scary as it all is.

    Totally panicking about the financial side as I only work part-time but we are very amicable so hoping it will stay that way.  Dreading all the solicitors appointments and starting again. Anyone I have spoken to that has been through this has said it does get easier and expect highs and lows (Valentine’s day next month – eek!!), not to talk about the other parent to the child and do not rush into a new relationship.

    It is a very sad and scary time for all of us and am sure this forum will help us all move forward to more positive places.

    #19652 Report


    I’ve been separated since September last year after 17 years together and 10 years of marriage, I have been very unhappy for many years and it has been an abusive relationship as far as I can recall even 8 years ago, though I never recognised the signs initially, I stood it out for the kids and I tried very hard to make it work, but as a person, you can only take so much abuse before something has to give. I was so scared of him and how he would respond (similar to what you post) that I went to my parents who live 3 hours away to be able to do this safely.

    Unfortunately, due to financial reasons, we are living under the same roof because we own the house jointly – Though I will hopefully have my new job in a matter of 5-6 weeks now and then finances wont be an issue. We are like passing ships in the night and have nothing to do with each other other than having to communicate to arrange childcare etc. We are going through mediation but each one seems to be worse and it is difficult because more anger comes out from his side and I hear the BS excuses he makes up for his abuse towards me and the kids. I have made the decision that I don’t want to fight for the house, there are too many bad memories in there, I just want to move out, share custody of the kids and move on with my life and find someone who is more suited to me once I have had the chance to heal.

    My advice is, be safe please, of you are at risk of abuse/violence. Contact places like women’s aid who will be able to guide you on your individual situation. It is not an easy process and there is a lot of heartache but, I’m sure things will get easier.

    #19655 Report


    Hello DB,

    I’ve been separated now divorced over 5 years now.  After a 21 year relationship, 3 children. It was the most hardest bravest thing I have ever done. At first it wasn’t amicable he tried everything to get back with me. I didn’t have a clue how I would manage financially, I couldn’t have afforded the mortgage. Shared a business with my ex. It was rather complicated.  But now I am in a very good position, own my house, great job I enjoy. And me and my ex get along great now. Only for the kids sake as we’re both adults.  This wasn’t always the case. My children were used as punching bags.  BUT!  They make their own minds up.  I didn’t bad mouth him I have even consoled him because at the end of the day my kids have to put up with him hahah.   Things will be ok, just accept it is going to be hard for a while but you will only grow even stronger 💪🏻  All the very best. claire x

    #34377 Report


    Some months on and its been a rollercoaster! We held on in for another six months from my original post trying to fix things, but 6 months ago we finally agreed to split. We have been living under the same roof ever since while we sort out finances.

    Everything I feared about his reaction – despite us both initially agreeing to split – has come true. He has been extremely emotionally and verbally abusive, he has taken the victim role and bad mouthed me as his oppressor to all and sundry, he has emotionally blackmailed me into a financial settlement that is weighted completely in his favour (I am only just realising this). He has refused to take any personal responsibility for his part in the breakdown of our marriage, or for moving on. It came to a head recently when he caused a scene in front of the children and I realised that despite my efforts to be fair and reasonable for the last 6 months – letting him stay in the house until he has his new home sorted (imminent), a more than generous financial settlement – he wasn’t going to go quietly or amicably. So I asked for some family support to get him to leave – and fortunately he did – although mentally he still regards this as his home and pops in for belongings when he feels like it.

    Right now I can’t stand to be anywhere near him, I feel like I’m drowning when he’s around because he looks for argument and reasons to take offence constantly.

    unfortunately it’s xmas and we will have to be in the same space over the next few days for the sake of the kids. For most of it wider family will be there and he (probably) won’t make a scene in front of them. It’s xmas eve/morning that’s the problem as he wants to be here with the kids, which I understand, but I am tense that he’ll start on me, and and annoyed that I can’t just relax with my kids in my own home. He’s not physical – but he is very emotionally abusive and oppressive.

    I’m trying to be fair to the kids and him, so have told him he can come round if he can promise not to start any arguments. I’m doing this against my better judgement but I’m just steeling myself to get through it.

    After Xmas I’m going to woman up, take my key back, and set some clear boundaries!

    I am sure many of you are facing different difficult festive challenges – so I wish you all strength to get through them.


    #42021 Report


    I am 49 and I was married for almost twenty years. I have two teenage sons. I was unhappy like you and burying it because I didn’t want to admit that nothing was going to fix this. When I met my husband i was crazy about him and loved him so very much. I guess I was hoping that he would somehow change back to the man I married but life gets in the way. He was married to a very demanding job, I suffered with depression which i think was the result of my own needs not being met. He became verbally abusive, belittling me in front of the children. It was his way or the highway and I felt like I had no say in anything.

    I am scared and currently feeling pretty depressed as he has now moved in with my friend and seems to have taken all the friends that i had. I have very few friends who weren’t in this clique which he now ‘owns’.

    So I do understand. So when the boys go to him he is having BBQs, meals and get togethers which I am not invited to. And I don’t want to be become bitter. I have met a new bloke who makes me happy but everything else in my life is so hard at the moment.


    #43132 Report


    Hi All

    As I read through most of these posts my life is very similar.

    Split in October my choice as couldn’t go on I’ve known things not right for years.  Husband was either at work, or doing own thing, he was disjointed from me and children.

    He’sControlled all money, I work part-time from home and her earns 4 times mine.  He’s turned out teenage son against me, especially on money, cars, house etc.

    Teenager daughter 18 gaining independent and ex husband to be is managing to use her as taxi driver etc, stand in parent when I’m not with our kids .

    He doesn’t communicate with me on spending time with kids,. Keeps taking them to his girlfriend’s, out the area.

    It took him a week to sign up to a dating agency, several dates, weeks later n he’s with girlfriend 9 months.  Girlfriend has a young daughter n they do everything together.

    I’m struggling with my son 16, as he’s angry with me.  Hes struggling with adjustments and nearly everything I say causes an argument.

    Daughter 18,  easier as she has her own life, boyfriend, car, starting uni.

    But their dads idea now he has almost moved out but not quite is to set them life skills tasks eg cut grass n cook for selves.  Basically the cooking is what I normally do so I feel it’s his way if saying they don’t need you!  His job cutting grass is a job he would normally do but he’s hardly been here (,even through lockdown) so he’s just getting them to do parental jobs.

    Has anyone use relate or mind or other online body for support for their teenagers?  I’m worried about my two especially son and think some type of therapy would be better for them at this stage?

    Sorry maybe should have put some info into different posts, new to this.

    Can anyone recommend any other forums or website of use please on divorce and co patenting?

    I’m really struggling feeling so low.  I should be happy as going on holiday but having to sort house before go as ex husband having house valued while we are away.


    #43136 Report



    we have had a bumpy ride as well and our eldest son was 13 when we moved out four years ago and the youngest one is 10 now. He moved in more recently. My ex makes a lot more money as well and is on her third “boyfriend” now since and each of them has been introduced as much better than their dad and she tried to buy the boys out. Every time we had to do things together, parent evening etc., she managed to make a scene. Both of the boys had anger issues and I got the little one into therapie but eldest one refused blankly. I know how dire and downtrodding it is. But all she did over the years backfired in the end. They don’t take money from her any more as they have seen through the purpose, I managed to get the eldest one into athletics and weightlifting as means of anger management. She doesn’t control our life any longer and when she falls back into her old behavior I show her the door. Key is, I have build a life which is completely independent from hers. My own friends, activities I do with the boys and on my own. If she doesn’t like my cooking, I do not care. If she doesn’t like the way I do the laundry, I do not care. If she thinks the boys have to do this and that because I am a rubbish parent. which I probably am, I talk it over with them and see what they think about it. If she takes little one out with her boyfriend on activities I can’t afford that is fine if he has a good time. Her constant bickering and belittling me is so out of tune with the boys as they know, who the constant is in their lifes. They don’t take it serious any more. So being me and mostly living my life, setting the bounderies and trying to keep calm in all those self doubts and unfortunate events has made all the difference. She also has a tendency to see my home as hers, walking in like she owns the place. I treat her as a guest, what she is and if she goes through my mail, I remind her, it’s not hers. It will never be perfect but given where we came from it is heaven. All this, what if and fears of rejection and the children being infuencend against me didn’t come true as they make up their own mind from a certain age. Be true to yourself, try to do the best for your children regardless of what happens on the other side of the fence, build up your own life step by step, be independent. Love is a present and if you love your children they will appreceate it. It is something they long for and they will recognize it for what it is. I know it is freeking hard but who has said it will be easy. It isn’t, it is hard work but it worth every efford to get your own life back. It was in my case anyway.

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