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4 seasons in one hour: long-term relationship breakup

Community Member

My partner of 27 years suddenly announced 2 weeks ago that he's leaving our relationship: demanding shared care of our kids- a young adult son with significant disabilities; and an adult daughter on the autism spectrum, who lives at uni, but needs assistance with self-organisation and mental health. I'm still struggling to comprehend why now; without warning. He thought I would be relieved: I still want 'us'! I'm 7 years younger, he's in his mid-50s, and wants the last section of his life to be how he wants. I knew we were in a slump, but things were going to be more manageable once my course ends.

I have 5 weeks left of a teaching degree, finishing my final prac. I'm struggling, with poor supervisory support & feral students: triggering my anxiety. I've studied since 2011, due to parenting and work and must finish to support myself. I've had depression/ anxiety through adulthood, managing with GP intervention/ medication and occasional counselling; my dad died this year from cancer, my mum is in a home. We were going to sell our house and move to the bush: I'd work and he'd reduce his hours; our son would attend a day-program. He strung me along: telling his family and our daughter a month ago. His family egg him on: the matriarch did the same thing to his dad.

He's moved out and we're now in a cycle of 4 nights each with our son. He only opens up in relationship counselling: he can't see my view that this is selfish, narcissistic and destructive. I'm accused of stifling his need to be in a band, meet with friends, family etc. His unorthodox work hours have restricted any couple time, or to have a life away from the grind: yet he's always completed computer games, copious novels and has guitar lessons, while I've worked, studied or looked after the house. He's frowns on respite to lighten the caring load.

Despite this, I want us together. I admit I can be moody under stress, but that was going to end. I want 'us' back, but this puts him off even more. His plans restrict my ability to return to my home-city, with my siblings, mum and support network (once prac is done); I've found a solicitor - apparently I'm rushing in, that there's time for arrangements later, he doesn't want lawyers involved. I'm afraid of going in hard, but I have rights, as does our son. I'm managing negative self-talk by exercising, meditation, private counselling and my GP. I need guidance to control my roller-coaster feelings, to work out what needs to be done and what is going on.

15 Replies 15

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Sue Hi, Welcome πŸ™‚

Kapoww, First up my condolences for the loss of your father, such a turmoil of emtions isn't there, it's not only the 5 stages of grieving, there's a multitude of other emotions to deal with.

Sorry was replying to this hours ago and had to choof but back now anyway πŸ™‚

You sure do have a lot on your plate, long time to be together & then just suddenly WOW, nasty shock & the timing's awful just before final stages of your teaching degree. Hope you can manage somehow to be able to keep focus on your goal. Best of luck, well done.

Wondering if you think esp at this time how things are to continue if you can find the time to see counsellor more often, & you have here too.

Good you're honest about parts of yourself too, shame he can't see your view.

Don't blame you getting on with what has to be done.

I do understand you wanting to be together again, really do, but wondering if he's not prepared to come to see your side of things, selfish, narcissitic, etc, & he's wanting his own scene as much as it'd be hurting he's been part of your life for soo long, do you think it can change?
Maybe distance too could make him realise how much he does love and need you. Dunno, just thoughts.

Hope to hear from you again, how you're going and all very best in degree, jeez long time studying..

Good on you opening up.

Thanks 'blaster, it's great to know others have been through this know what it's really like.

He was just around for dinner, at our invitation (it's my last night of 4 to have our son), but has left to catch a movie. That old saying 'If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours; if they don’t, they never were' has been on my mind, but my insecurities/ low self-esteem wants to cling on, because he's been such a part of me since I was 20, and I still love him. We were a team; a tight group, and although we didn't marry (he didn't believe in it) and we muddled through life together; we had some great plans, and I thought things were going to be rosy in 5 weeks time.I've seen other couples with disabled kids fall apart, and I didn't think we'd be one of the statistics.

To his credit, he's a loving, hands-on dad (the kids prefer him to me, because he's been the permissive/ bohemian parent, whereas I believe that a warm structure, boundaries and cooperation are best when parenting special needs kids). He however gives in to them, and both kids (now young adults) have deficient independence skills because they know that Dad'll always fork out more cash/ do their dirty work (even uni assignments for our daughter); dressing our 19 year old son (who can do it himself) and allowing him to eat dinner with his hands instead of a fork, to avoid conflict.

Our son currently has behaviour issues, and when he gets angry, frustrated or there's something he doesn't want to do, he screams and hits me; our daughter did the same until she started on anti-depressants, which calmed her down significantly (this also took a lot of convincing; he mostly doesn't agree with medication). He's witnessed this regularly, and doesn't step in to stop it: making me feel like he's saying to our son that it's OK to hit mum, or any woman when you get angry. I'm copping it on all fronts.

I also feel he's holding me ransom for a reconciliation: I have to 'behave' and give him space, or it will drive him further away. He says I'm a strong independent woman, but if I do show my strength to him, it just makes it worse. This goes as far as me getting a lawyer and talking about moving back to my family. He wants this separation on his terms, and I feel I that if I get bolshy and proactive, I'll lose any chance we might have had. I've been cast as the screwball recluse for years in his family, and they're all egging him on.

I'm so confused and conflicted. Thanks for listening.

Community Member

Hi sue

I have kids with autism and 1 also has ADHD. Although they are mild compared to how your son sounds, i still fully understand the stress it can put a couple under.

Im going to sound a bit up front but, in my opinion hes being an (insert word of choice here) i would keep going with the solicitor. I think his reasons are completely selfish and just stupid.

Its important to see friends and stuff i know, but in your situation with your son, it has to take a back seat a bit. And not worth leaving so abruptly over. (Almost sounds like a mid-life crisis)

Has this change negatively triggered your son or daughter?

Do whats right for you and your son. Hope things start looking up for you, and very sorry to hear of your dad passing.

Hey πŸ™‚ thx denim & spikeo good support

It's a shock denim, big changes lot going on, glad you're talking.
Hope it's release for you

Being around family sounds like it'll be good for you

listening darl
Hoping you're getting some sleep




Hi 'blaster and Spikeo, thanks for letting me vent,

This has affected my kids. He can't see that. I've just been spat upon, thumped and pushed by the 19 year old (all before 6 am on a Sunday) , because he's upset about leaving his home and me for the next stint of 4 nights back at his Dad's rat-hole bachelor pad. I know it's not against me, it's about the breakup now: he thinks he's just camping at his Dad's, and doesn't understand why Dad's not here in the mornings anymore. Here has a backyard, his room, the pets, his familiar things. Change is hard for all of us, but mostly for him. This is the saddest part.

Our daughter has just applied for and transferred to an arts degree back in my home-city, so I guess that cements that idea: I'm going home, because not only she, but I too need to be there, to help settle her and get some support for me.

In all of this, I can hear the influence of my ex's brothers and his mum: one brother in particular who has never settled down, living a hedonistic man-child existence across the globe, including some periodic heavy recreational drug and alcohol abuse and an addiction to porn which has extended into middle age. He has always been sneery towards me: I was the Yoko back in our early days to their mildly successful band and he's never forgiven me.

The ex did concede last night that his timing was shot; not that this is about one-upmanship, but it was nice to get some recognition that he stuffed up too. I might be a bossy stress-head at time, but I've done everything to benefit my little family.

Thanks for listening. After my son goes off today, I'm going to have to refocus, and get things together for prac resuming tomorrow. A massive walk, then lesson plans, and a huge assignment to start. Urgh. I can do this.

Yeah Sue good girl, keep that belief cause you really can do it. You've got this far with a lot of stress in your life.

A niece has 4 boys all Autistic and at least 2 also adhd. I learnt through her posting at times on fb a bit about it. Change is very hard for Autistic people. Routine. You're onto that but it can't be helped atm aye, hard what you have to endure & teens hormones in the race too.
I don't doubt you do your best for your family.

No problem, keep venting, that's what this place does, support and listen. SO many good people that understand pain and pushing through.

Hope your walk clears your head, they're good aren't they, I do mostly hills but flat as well. Helping with core strength, mental health, stress release & great being out amongst it, quick smile, hi, chat maybe.

Your welcome btw πŸ™‚

Community Member

Hi sue

You sound a bit better already. Although you mention problems, i sense a difference in your tone. You sound more head strong anddetermined to do whats best for you and kids. Is your home city far from ex? Will it cause difficulty getting yourson from him?

Hopefully he will eventually see past those influences and realise his mistake, but all too late. I dont like him if you haven't picked up on it yet! Relationships do break up, but not for the reasons hes given.

Hope your son does settle down, although i fully understand its not his fault. Physically you have no chance against a 19 year old man. Happens alot to mothers.

Hope things start looking up for you.

Community Member

Hi Spikeo,

I run hot and cold still, but not to such extremes. I'll be moving 3 hours away from the big-smoke, to a smaller place, but it's my home town, and I've missed it and the contact with my family since we moved here in the early 90s. It's funny, how everyone hates where they live (calling it a "hole") when they're moody teenagers, but now it's an old friend I need to return to. As for the logistics with the kids, I can't see how it'll work for him long term, but that's not my problem, seeing as they're both over 18 and no court can decide custody etc. It'll be up to him to work that one out. He made this bed...

He's been telling my daughter that he's left because I'm hysterical, too strict, impossible to live with and have a short fuse. I dispute this, he's comparing it to his overly mellow and apathetic approach to our lot, but it's also a symptom of the crap that's been going on due to my anxiety/ depression, exacerbated by the stress of the kids, study, work etc. I was also massively underdosed on my meds, and now on the new regime, I can sense things are better, despite the minefield I've been forced into. But he doesn't want to see that. And that's what makes me bitter and despairing, because it's not fair; he won't even entertain working through and opening up the communication channels. He excuses our son for lashing out, because of his condition, but not mine?

I know I'm dwelling on things, but it's going to take more than two weeks to get over this.There's a lot of grieving, betrayal, insecurity and feelings of powerlessness that I can't yet let go of. Thanks for caring.

Community Member

Yes it will be a long road, but a journey of 100 miles starts with 1 step. You are right, he cant tell you where to live but ill bet he'll try.

Are you getting any therapy apart from meds? IF youve mentioned already then i apologise.

Wish you the best in your new direction.