Struggling with separation – but I instigated it.

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  • #40545 Report


    Hi everyone,

    hoping for some advice and tips.
    A year ago I separated from my wife. We have one child who is now 3.

    I made the decision after years where I felt I did not feel the way in which I feel you should towards your wife. I just think she deserved better and I felt I was going to mess things up further down the line.
    At first I felt a huge sense of relief, probably due to bottling things up for a long time.

    I don’t miss my wife – on her own. But I miss my son like mad, I see him 40% of the week – Increased more during lockdown. And coparenting is going well.

    However, I can’t shed this guilt to him. He is absolutely fine, happy and settled, very very rarely gets upset during drop offs. He is doing really well in all aspects of his life. Yet why can’t I shed the guilt?
    Now recently it has become more apparent to me that I would be probably happier if I was with him all the time. But that won’t happen.

    So – how do I manage the guilt? I think I probably am a little depressed and have spoken to friends/family about this.
    I come from a split family and I honestly don’t hold any resentment and enjoyed my childhood hugely. And my parents didn’t coparent well but we’re both good parents…yet every article on google talks about the issues children of divorce face. Has anyone got any positive stories about their children after divorce? How is it done well?


    #40554 Report


    Hi. It does sound like you’re a bit depressed and guilt is often a part of that. I separated from my partner over 2years ago and my children are all happy and feel loved (they are all teenagers). I think children can cope with most situations as long as they have people around them who care for them and love them, it doesn’t matter if these people live in different houses. Your son is obviously happy. I think a little bit of guilt comes with being a parent (not just if you’re separated parents). Guilt and worry that you can’t do your best for them, or you make a wrong decision somewhere down the line, but that’s ok because it just means that you care. Try to look at things logically, if he’s happy then you can be happy too, try not to let guilt get in the way of that.

    #40555 Report


    Thanks Lorraine, that’s so helpful!

    #40581 Report


    Hi Rob, you sound like a great dad who wants the best for his son. I could be completely wrong here but I wonder if you subconsciously ended the relationship because you were afraid of it eventually ending one day like your parents did? Maybe that could be where the guilt is coming from, knowing that your son is going through the same scenario as you did. But you’re making a conscious decision to be there for him and co-parent which is all he really needs. Maybe you could find something that makes you happy and occupies some of your time and then the  guilt will pass.

    #40605 Report


    Hi – thanks for your response. I don’t think I ended it due to that subconscious – I just don’t think I  really felt the way I think you should about your partner and hadn’t for a while. She is an amazing mum, and I can see us being friends as coparenting is going well. But there were things missing I felt were important and without having them I felt it was only going to end up in splitting further down the line. I do question myself a bit about it – but that is more because I miss him like mad! And the family stuff a bit.
    I will w always do the best thing for my son, but now am prob harsh on myself because I worry about him due to the split.

    he is happy though, I make up a lot of it in my head!

    #41072 Report


    Hi Robsheffield

    Just wanted you to know you’re not alone. I feel exactly the same and it’s eating me up. I have to say I am not coping well emotionally with the guilt and am constantly questioning my decision. It doesn’t help that he is being nice and easy going all of a sudden and is finally having therapy for his anger issues. He’s making a huge effort to rectify his past angry and controlling behaviour. It wasn’t as bad as what some people are going through but it still destroyed my confidence and mental health. Also I think the upshot for me, is like you say, there were just things missing in our relationship that you just need and sometimes they are really hard to define. You have made the right decision.

    But its the children and missing family togetherness that is so, so hard. I have 3 boys aged 11,9 and 7 and they are full on. Especially as my 9 year old is high functioning autistic with sensory processing disorder and struggling with self care. But he too gets very angry and my ex can’t handle him too well. I had to reduce the stress in the house. But we do still get together still for meals (had no choice but to see only each other during lockdown) and he is supportive and agreeable about childcare, although once he did tell me he wouldn’t look after the boys so I could see any friends, I can only do that when he has them on his day as he’s not being a babysitter. Which means I can’t as they won’t leave me for more than 24 hours and he can’t cope with them for longer than that, and, as I am working in a primary school 5 days a week all I do is sleep when they’re at his!! Anyway he’s apologised for that comment. Although i still see no friends (most don’t bother now or my closest ones live too far away), yet his is seeing friends for golf, walks and social distanced evenings. He gets to go running etc. I literally can’t leave the house, but thats my choice apparently. He said he’s rather be with us than do all those things but he doesn’t have a choice so he’s making the most of life. Good for him, I don’t blame him but I’m lonely and so tired and run down. I would love to do some things for myself but I can’t. Definitely feel like I’m being punished for my decision.

    So I get annoyed but then I feel guilt again as I know he’d rather be with us. Seeing him with his children and watching him leave to go back to his house at the end of the day is absolutely breaking my heart. The guilt that I am tearing him away from his beloved children is harrowing. Even watching the dog sulk when he leaves is awful. And my 11 year old is struggling so much. He was in tears the other morning as he had a dream we were all on holiday together and then woke up and remembered Daddy doesn’t live with us anymore and realised how much he misses him being here. It just makes me cry even after 3 months.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are many days where I feel immense relief and am reminded how far we’ve come, but its still all so raw and painful.

    I am having therapy but some days and I am sorting therapy out for the boys, but I am so floored and I am not looking after myself at all.

    Just no-where to go for real support in our rural community.

    take care

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