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....Estranged Couples are All Estranged in Their Own Ways

August 23rd, 2011 at 01:33 pm

.... to paraphrase Tolstoy.

My wife and I have been separated but living in the same place for a long time. We did it for the kids, as so many people say, but as our kids become adults (they are 17, 19 and 23, with the 17-year old in many ways being the most mature) I wonder if what we did was the best for them.

When we were in our 30s and 40s we had a lot of friends with kids our age who divorced, starting a many year process of kids shuffling from place to place. But I see those kids and ex-couples now and they have for the most part entered into a new normal with a good level of contenment that my wife and I can't get to as long as we are together.

We have been homeowners, i.e., mortgage payers, for almost 20 years. Most of that time, we have kept separate checking and savings accounts. For the first 10 years or so I paid the mortgage out of my income and we bascially split the property taxes. For the last five to seven years, we flipped and my wife has paid the mortage and half to more of the property taxes.

During this last period, I paid for most of the kids' expenses -- school costs (for a time private school but in the last five years only public high school costs), braces, summer activities, music lessons, etc.

I posted a summary of my budget a couple of posts ago because at some point -- next month, next year, in five years -- my wife will move on. Or, if the kids are all out of the house then -- I will move on. so I needed a realistic view of what I could afford---which isn't much.

In the short term, my wife is around, contributing to the groceries and the property taxes. but that will and should change and I need to be prepared.

4 Responses to “....Estranged Couples are All Estranged in Their Own Ways”

  1. MonkeyMama Says:

    It's so tough. I have a co-worker who was quite open about how miserable he was in his marriage the past decade (& before I started working there I am sure). The second their youngest went to college, they split. I now see that they were just waiting it out for the kids, but I could not imagine waiting until my kids picked up and moved across the country as freshman in college to say, "BTW, we split and we now live in different states." Seems like that would be awfully hard on a child - all that CHANGE at once. BUT, I could also not imagine splitting earlier and shuttling them back and forth. I think there is really no good time. Just, tough decisions to be made all around.

    I wish you both the best, however you work it out.

  2. Petunia 100 Says:

    When I decided to end my marriage, one of my greatest concerns was that my children were seeing a bad marriage modeled for them. As soon as we split, my ex-husband and I both became much happier people. My daughter, at age 16, commented as much.

    Like you, I had known for years that it was only a matter of time. I had thought that the time would be when both children were grown. But the bad marriage model weighed heavily on my mind. I did not want my children to go out and make bad marriages.

    It's good that you are trying to make financial plans. I hope that you are also making personal plans. You're a person too, and you deserve more out of a relationship than you have now. You might consider counselling, to help you come to terms and move forward.

    Please be aware that divorce is hard even when you know it is the best thing for you. But you can heal and go on to have a happier life.







  3. baselle Says:

    Loyalty and unselfishness are one thing, but you also want to model to your children problem-solving, happiness and kindness. If something is not working, you want to solve the problem, and do it in a high-class way that demonstrates kindness and respect. I don't think that divorce is an absolute awful thing ... I think the adversarial process of getting the divorce is the bad thing.

  4. Jerry Says:

    I think that the main thing, as pointed out above, is avoiding ugliness and anger in the process. At the point when the relationship leads to its end, if you can do it in a respectful manner it will speak volumes... both for you and your kids. There is no insurance how things will turn out in your kids relationships, anyway. I know plenty of people who came from rough home environs and have great marriages, and vice versa. I really do wish you well.
    Jerry

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