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Marriage breakup + kids

Community Member


So my wife and I met in high school and have been together for 24 years, married for 14 years. Over the past 8 years or so (after second child, now 😎 was born, we have had some ups and downs. I would just sometimes have a go at her about random stuff; money, clothes or food. Then she would try and talk to me and I was too pigheaded and wouldn't really listen.

Now the time has come where she has had enough and wants to sell our new and amazing house, separate into smaller houses/units and rent. We share the custody of our two kids. I am really scared about telling the kids and don't think I can be there for that process. They will be devastated.

I have been trying to say sorry to my wife via emails, text, chatting, video montages and poems but she tells me to stop and that she doesn't love me anymore. She said as I keep hassling her about getting back together, she doesn't even like me and the thought of talking to me or seeing me makes her physically ill. She also said that because I am making her angry, the shared custody will be so much harder.

I have been trying to show her over the past few weeks the new me. I have been calm, positive (as best I can in this situation) and more composed. I would sometimes shout at the kids for being silly but now I use a calm voice always (even when they test my patience).

I haven't been sleeping much and not eating hardly at all for 5 days (lost 4.5kg), due to being nauseous and anxious.

We have just communicated over email and she doesn't even want me to talk to her anymore or make dinner or hot drinks. I responded with I would like to keep doing it. I told her I still love her and apologise a lot for making her angry, when that is not my intention.

I am really scared of not being with her anymore and not living her. I love her so much, even when she verbally attacks me and says she doesn't love me anymore.

I can't rely on my parents as they are away and my wife and my parents never really got along. They kind of caused a lot of the tension and some of the reasons we fought.

How am I going to get through this?

927 Replies 927

Community Member
Hi Ecomama

Thank you very much for the wealthy advice, especially about the readings which I will read and the legal actions.

It is greatly appreciated.

Community Member

"I don't want to lose my wife completely, as a friend, and having to share custody. Is it a safe or very risky move to ask her to slow down the house situation?"

In your desire to save the marriage, don't lose sight of what you want. You have a say in the separation and your wants are just as valid your wife's. I understand that you want to support her, but selling the house without the benefit of legal advice is just plain reckless; something that you may regret further down the track.

You seem to like the new house you are in; have you considered keeping it as part of the agreed property settlement? You are better off servicing a home loan than paying rent on a "dog box" that you don't like. Who knows, a year or two down the track you may get back together; anything could happen.

You have options, take your time and think about what you want. Your wife has made up her mind; you have to consider what is best for you and the children.

On another side issue; there is no automatic 50/50 split in property in family law. This is another reason why legal advice is so important.

Wishing you all the best!

Community Member
I think the best for myself and my children is to stay here. They are happy and don't know what's going on. I kind of know I wasn't paying enough attention to my wife or I would have a go at her about nothing every now and then. She kind of blindsided me with the separation thing. I was reading other threads and other partners in relationships have talked about 'it' not working and given an ultimatum of seeking counselling help or it ends. If this conversation was had with wife and I, then I would be doing counselling weekly. I know it's in hindsight. Would this be something I could bring up with her, that I was a little shocked and blindsided and I will get regular counselling to show I am very serious about us? I already know in my mind what I need to do and change, which I admitted to her. I told her I have changed over the last month or so.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear dl23

I say a big yes to asking her to attend Couples Counselling. I believe the best ones, as mentioned before, are the ones who do see each of you 1:1 also, maybe between each couples session.

From what you've expressed, this all comes as a huge shock, you mentioned "being blindsided". I'm sorry this is how you're feeling. It can be a reeling experience.

Do you think there's more to the story from wife's side? Something seems amiss.

If wife feels despondent about attending Counselling with you, then you could mention that it could really help with the shared care of the children scenario moving forward, because you have major concerns about the children - which you clearly do. And it can help a lot with this before the awful wrangling between lawyers and / or Courts etc.

I echo again Mr Paul's firm suggestion to seek legal advice. This feels like a bit of a runaway train scenario and you will really benefit from some strong legal advice.

Ofcourse it's not always a straight 50/50 split (exH from here got about between 10% - 22% -house jumped in value between Valuation and Settlement. This didn't cover his legal fees in Courts but I DID MY HOMEWORK). Yours being a long relationship ie in excess of 10y and with the view of equally shared care of the children there may not be much % adjustment from 50% in your specific case.

After you seek legal advice, you could contact your bank to see if you qualify to wholly take over the mortgage.

Anyway until you're Divorced - if this ever happens - your are married. So everything is still joint assets.


Community Member

I should've gone and spoken to her in person instead of constant emailing, coz she did say if I can control my aggression and grumpiness forever we can stay together. I kept emailing about stupid stuff but I guess if she said 'change or we are completely over' I would've responded better. My fault for not listening.

She did say she changed her mind when I asked her about staying together forever. So not sure how blindsided I was but I didn't expect it at all.

Do I kind of say we need to go to counselling for us and the kids moving forward so it's not so awkward and there are more answers? I am hoping maybe something good will come out of it.

She won't talk to me about it anymore. I think I kept annoying her too much by trying everything to make up. I don't think she will agree to counselling and she will tell me to get my own counselling for the benefit of the kids.

I don't want to have to say we need to go before I sign the house off for selling. Sounds like blackmail. I just want to be sure we tried everything before going head and that she's 100% sure that she doesn't love me.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear dl23

You have shown you'd DO ANYTHING to keep the family together! I'm in awe of your commitment!

Please know we can all see you've worked so hard for the family and your marriage. I'm so sorry she is behaving this way. HUGS.

You've twisted yourself in knots over this.

OK clear head. Rational thinking.
All the things we've said about seeking legal advice seems counter-intuitive to your emotional side.
BUT this is what is SO important right now so W cannot manipulate you any more.
ABSOLUTELY no, it's not a tit for tat. Don't sign off the sale of the house if you don't want to. You don't have to!

You can even CALL a Community Lawyer or Legal Aid and have the free talk over the phone.

I'm sorry to say this but W has probably already gotten her own legal advice - you may find out soon if you try to make an appt and they "Sorry there's a conflict of interest". W has seen them.

If I were you I'd book Counselling for myself. You can choose a couple's Counsellor in the hopes that maybe W will attend at some point. Tell W or don't tell her - up to you.

You could take some control back - after all it's YOUR family too and you DO have a say - and book a Couple's Counsellor, let her know the date and time and if she doesn't turn up then there's one answer. You can have the session alone.

The 180 all the way brother. Counter-intuitive again but this strategy EMPOWERS you and that's what you need whichever way this goes.

You must feel exhausted. Take a breath. BEGIN to look after yourself! You are these kid's dad for the long haul and THEY need you to model how to "live well" even in the worst times of our lives.

YOU'VE GOT THIS. We've got you and you will succeed in having a wonderful life - with or without your W.
THIS is what the 180 prepares you for. LIFE either way. It's freaking AWESOME.

What do you think?

Love EM

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear dl23

I was remiss in not responding to your concerns about the children. I'm sorry.

IF things look like separation / divorce then:

In high population areas there are lots of programs for children to attend that really help them cope.
The Anchor program through Uniting is wonderful. It also involves giving feedback to both parents which is lovely. Sometimes children don't want to bring things up with their parents, afraid of upsetting them. The Counsellors there share the children's concerns so that you can caringly validate their feelings and gently brings things up with them if appropriate.

Also letting the schools know is very important. There are SO MANY wonderful programs for kids to attend at school when they've experienced such.
The Seasons for Growth program is EXCELLENT. I highly recommend this one.
If the schools don't run it the some Community Centres and Churches do - churches must run it without a religious slant.

I have no idea the best way to 'tell the children'. You can phone a Helpline and ask them perhaps?
Maybe the kids already 'know'.

Please let the children know that you BOTH still love them exactly the same as before and always will.
Also that NONE of this is their fault and never will be. No matter what.
Lastly that so many children go through their mum and dad breaking up but you are STILL a family.

A great POSITIVE is that they can have mum and / or dad all to themselves for some fun times, if you manage it this way.

I hope this helps. Big hugs again. You will get through this and you may be amazed at how well you come out.


Community Member

Thank you for the very kind posts to help me in this really tough time in my life. You don't know how much I appreciate it and look forward to ghe amazing peoples positive and encouraging replies.

I did think about taking over the mortgage for our current house. It is such a nice house and we had some many frustrating experiences with the builder and legal processes with horrible contractors. If feels like such a waste. I would have to sell my nice prado to kill the 30k loan and buy something in the 10k range with some of the difference. I would also have to pay off the 40k pool. I can release my lump sump HECS (uni fees that finished years ago) that I get every tax time and get it paid out fortnightly to cover the car loan. Or sell the car and use the money to cover most of the pool.

I can pick up some extra work outside of my full time job to try and make a couple of hundred extra each week.

The kids like the house with the pool and nice flooring and my oldest son liking his own space upstairs. I'm not sure if it's healthy for them to come here if we are separated and their mum isn't here.

I would be a little tight on money as opposed to maybe making money off the new house to get rid of the mortgage and hopefully pool loan. More financially free and I have found some nice houses/townhouses in the area my wife is looking. So would only be 5 minutes away as opposed to 15 minutes and maybe backtracking sometimes for kids. It's a tough decision. I don't know what to do.

It would be really hard to sell this house. I wonder if my parents could help me but they already gave money for house deposit years ago and I have only paid half back, 5k to go. I'm not sure I can put them in that position or to ask.

I think I will ring the marriage counsellor tomorrow (I have a voicemail to call the counsellor after my enquiry) as his voice message said he just wants to have a chat to see where I am at.

I will definitely look into some of the info you mentioned for the kids.

Thank you so much again for your kind words and invaluable information. I will look at the 180 again.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear dl23

Thankyou for your thankyous lol. Our reward will you being OK & I'm sure you WILL be great!

Yeah I hear you about the house - a tricky one.... I can see your Rational thinking pumping hard - well done!

House: This is where legal advice becomes INVALUABLE.
I "got the house" but I sure did push every point in Family Law that applied to our case - we were in Courts. YUCK. Avoid at all costs, don't ask how much lol.

Via Family Lawyers only (not Courts) you can settle in the cheapest way if you seek Mediation through a service like Relationships Australia first. And it's deemed 'appropriate' that you attend it.
Then with a bit of tooing & froing you come to an Agreement & do "Settlement". Get it all signed off by 2 separate lawyers.

You could think of an 'interim plan' (like I did lol and it worked out BRILLIANTLY)..my name for it, not a legal term.
I went all out to buy exH out.

Similar to the way YOU are thinking... paying off all debts etc. to raise my borrowing capacity.
Increased work JUST before I applied for my loan to carry it over.

Collected scrap metal, seriously ALL OUT.

TBH I would pay parents back out of joint accounts now. You can ask a lawyer about this.

We were in a low market too, as you are now. This can work brilliantly to your advantage.
The Valuation will be lower... (good for pay out..).
The Valuation (not merely an Appraisal by any ole agent) is what Settlement goes off.

I thought IF ONLY I could get over the line to get the house 100% then if I CAN'T manage financially afterwards, I'll sell when the market improves.

I didn't have to sell, magic happened. House Value almost doubled after Valuation. OMG insane.
This year my mortgage was reduced.
I don't have a leech lol.

I offered more of my Super, less cash. He took it.

You may or may not be up for this, but you could advertise rooms for rent to help pay the mortgage.
Ask for a Working With Children's Check lol.

I had students for 6 months living downstairs (no tax implications)- that was plenty.

IF you can get over the line, buy W out and hold on until the market improves then the profit is yours.
Or simply keep it.

TBH think about YOUR best advantage here.
I think the kids would LOVE to go "home" to dad's especially when you get in the role of organizing BBQs with their friend's parents and friends to swim in the pool. Stuff like that. Change it up!

I changed most 'family traditions'. The kids love it.

What's your thinking?


Community Member
Hi Em

It sounds like you did quite well with the house in the end. Congratulations on that. Must be such a relief and load of stress off.

I like the sound of your paragraph regarding the bbq's and the pool with my kids friends and parents. This would also make me so happy, as I keep my house with the home theatre setup as well as the great floor plan and entertainers backyard.

I am still holding on for hope that I can convince my wife to come to counselling as I still really want her. I don't think it's the same from her end.

The only downside is the big mortgage and weighing up the cost of it vs more financial freedom. I know I would be more depressed living elsewhere (but I would be renting) and would have to start the whole 'saving for a house' process again. It would be no where near anything like my current house.

Something I really need to think about if my wife doesn't want to try and fix things.