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Cautiously building a future after separation

Community Member

Hi All,

I have posted here before. After a lot of difficulty and heartache, my partner has finally been able to cut the ties to his ex-wife and she is now, once and for all, moved out and in another state. He did not love her and did not want to be with her but needed to go through the counselling process to make her understand that it isn't working and hasn't for many years.

She finally packed up and left for another state on Tuesday and although he wanted to be separated from her, I think the delayed feelings of loss have hit him. Not loss of her as a person but the fact that he never wanted to be divorced and standing before a broken marriage. He is in love with me and we have been in an on-off relationship for 14 months, never losing sight of our intense bond. But right now, because his feelings are raw, he seems to be overwhelmed. It is like a sensory and emotional overload at the moment and that results in him dialling everything back to zero again. At the moment, he seems unable to feel how he usually feels for me and we need to take it slowly the coming weeks and months because he may otherwise be overwhelmed wanting to run away. His safe space in such situations is with him alone, that stems from childhood issues which he is currently exploring very deeply with a psychologist. He is definitely on the right path but it appears as if he is emotionally unavailable and easily overwhelmed. I was wondering whether he should just be alone for now but he does not want that. He wants a future with me and he wants us to build that, however, he wants to do that very slowly and in small portions. I am ok with taking it slow, although it hurts me to think that he is currently not sure what he is feeling for me although only one week ago, he dreamed of all those things with me and said he does not want to lose me. I am very confused, most of all about whether this is normal or not. I think it is considering he only just said goodbye to his old life and although he had originally separated from his ex 14 months ago, he allowed her to move back for the counselling and this time it is the definitive 100% end. He definitely does not want a life with her but after 15 years, it is understandable that the end is something that makes you sad.

Can I assume it is normal he is currently emotionally void or overwhelmed and will that dissipate soon considering he wanted the separation? And what should I do to help / support / not overwhelm him?

3 Replies 3

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Good Morning AussieGal, and welcome to the forums.

Your partner has come out of a marriage, one that he has been apart of for a few months, never the less, there will still be moments when a situation happens that remind him of previous occasions, but that will fade away so it means nothing.

He seems adamant that he wants to be with you and that's good and there maybe some financials to finalise and not until these are done is he able to fully able to be with you.

A lawyer could settle everything rather than him having to deal with it, that's only if he agrees, and remember you too must look after yourself while this is happening.

This is important because there are times when we throw all our support behind someone, but forget about ourselves.

Take care and please ask any question you'd like.


Community Member

Hi Geoff,

thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate your kind words and they gave me some reassurance. My partner and I had a nice weekend together, always ensuring that he could go and take some time for himself in the afternoons and evenings to go home and deal with his feelings of delayed grief now that everything is final. He has, again, said that his decision was right but that it has hit him harder than expected that everything he had once dreamed of (i.e. functioning marriage etc.) is now truly over.

When we spend time together, it is very lovely and beautiful but I can sense and see whenever there is a shadow spreading over him. It is painful to experience because I feel he is never with me 100%. I have full understanding for his situation and I want to stay hopeful but after an exhausting 14 months, I am starting to feel sadness and hopelessness seeping in. The main reason for that is that I do not know how long his grief will last. Considering he has been the one that has wanted the marriage to end because it was not good and him saying now that he still stands by that decision, do you think it will take a long time before he feels better? Is the current pain more of an acute pain considering he only just farewelled his ex for good last Tuesday? Or would I have to believe that this may take a lot of months before he feels emotionally steady and less overwhelmed. I love him very much but I am currently unsure how long I can take the pain of him being half there and half emotionally withdrawn. One week ago, he dreamed of our future and all the plans we have made, but right now he is so buried by all the negative and painful emotions (including failure, guilt etc.) that I feel we are back at zero. Is this just temporary?

He says he has very strong feelings for me but that he is currently trying to deal with his "crazy head" and emotional overwhelm so he can "find his way back" to his feelings for me and to us. This is all so confusing and it hurts a fair bit. I don't know what to expect. I feel I do not have it in me to wait another few months until he is better, considering the worst is actually behind us now and he has finally been able to get her to leave after being an incredible emotional burden on him. What do you think, might this get better fairly soon once the acute stage is overcome? Thank you!

Hello AussieGal

When I left my partner it took a year for the realisation to hit me that I was on my own. No regrets, it was my choice, but I did not expect such a huge reaction or that it would take a year to happen. It truly was horrible.

You have a partner, or rather you have each other which I suspect may have made things easier for me instead of coping on my own. However I left because the marriage it was not good and have not found another partner. Actually I don't want one but that's not the point. Times are different for everyone. Now your BF partner has finally left you may expect to start a new life together and as the saying goes, live happily ever after. Clearly this is not happening and I suggest it is similar to my situation. Talking about leaving and leaving are very different to finally to finding yourself alone, even though there is a partner waiting.

We are complicated beings and rarely do what seems obvious and natural. I am not surprised your BF is confused and I imagine it has rubbed off on you. May I suggest you make an appointment with your GP to talk about seeing a psychologist yourself. Your situation is not in the normal range of events and certainly not something that happens often so it's bound to be worrying, frustrating, painful and any other word you find appropriate. Tell your GP what's happening and ask for a referral via a mental health plan. The doctor will be able to explain it all to you.

It doesn't mean there is something wrong with you, simply that you do not understand how to manage and help your BF. A decent psychologist should be able to help you with this and help you to decide the best way to cope. Give it a go. Book a long appointment with your GP and if you wish, let us know how it went.