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Separation / Marriage breakdown - new entrant

Community Member

After 30 years of what I believed to be a solid marriage, and a further 5 years of denial that things were going terribly wrong, we recently separated. I won't go into the reasons why the marriage failed just yet - maybe a bit later when it hurts less.

You learn a lot even at my age and I need think.

As a younger man working in child protection (social work / youth work, etc.) with women and children escaping domestic violence and with children suffering horrible abuse I had been taught to expect them to want to return to their partners / parents.

The teachers and mentors I worked with could not truly describe the reasoning other than to rationalise that it was their need to believe that the abuser did not really mean it and that they believed it would not happen again.

I accepted that and was always a little scathing / bemused about them returning. I really did not understand how you can return to a life that is at risk. It happened often.

In the last few months, as I struggle to develop another life – single -  that will sustain me for the next 30 years I have developed a much clearer insight into the need to return. No matter what.

Home is where you live and love and laugh. It is where you breath relationships and family life like we breath the air around us.

It is all pervasive. All encompassing. It fills the days, hours, minutes and seconds of our existence with life and variety and meaning. Even in the silence and the brief times you get a bit of solitude you still are surrounded by the trappings of ongoing relationships and the physical presence of all the reminders that you are part of something. An accepted, important and needed part of all the people you love and are surrounded by.

This wholeness… this completeness… is just there all the time. Even in times of stress and arguments and disappointment there is continuity – a certainty that life will continue to be experienced in the ongoing relationships that nurture you. There is forward planning – for family for friends for outings for celebrations. You know you are connected to it all.

When you leave it is all gone. Every single connection within the family changes and you lose the neighbours and friends and familiarity of the places and people you grew up with. Connectedness ends. 

So you start remembering the warmth of relationships that were once whole but are now shattered. You start to believe that in reality those relationships are still vibrant and alive and fulfilling. If only you were there. That things were really just misunderstandings and easily corrected. If only you were there. After a while it seems normal that you will consider returning to the security of a life that has direction and all the old relationships will fall into place as if the rift had never happened. If only you were there.

It is more that a belief that the abuse / screaming and bile that was heaped upon you for years will not happen again and was not really intended. You believe that it cannot happen again. That you misunderstood. Was it my fault?

It is a belief that it never really could not have happened that way…. That it is all a misunderstanding that can be remedied with some kind words, a smile, a laugh and a bit of warmth. Life will then return to normal and your security and inclusion can be intact once more. Relationships will be restored and the love and caring that you remember from years ago when you first fell in love will still be there. 

It becomes a solid and undeniable belief that it will be OK. Because you are yearning for that feeling of belonging. Of sharing something greater than the day to day grind of cooking - working – cleaning etc. In a word – a future.

I know in every fibre of my being why abused women and children would rather return to that place than be outside it.

Of course, when I get the occasional interactions with the old relationships that do not work I get an insight into the reality of the need to stay away – and I have resisted the urge to try to rebuild and have not returned – I realise that the direction I have been travelling in the former relationship was not really all that good. 

So on good days it is just OK – on bad days it is terrifying.

When I wrote the first half last week it was a bad day…. The last bit I wrote today and it is a good day.

I hope for many more good days.

6 Replies 6

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

dear Frodg, this is an upsetting post about the reality of a marriage parting ways.

When we do move on or try to establish a new life after all those years, yours 30 and mine 25 years, it really rocks the boat, everything has to be changed, our relationships with people who we once communicated with, and had a connection with, maybe lost, or who are they going to see now, you or your spouse, or are they going to sit on the fence and take no sides which really means they won't see either of us.

Females will often allow the abuser to return thinking that they will be able to change this person and to make them to be a decent person again, but more times than none it never happens, because this person's temper takes control of any discussions.

My separation and then divorce wasn't because of any physical activity, it was because of continual depression.

Your post is only touching the surface, but there is a great deal more to it, and when you feel comfortable please return, as you want to tell us more, but just waiting to see our reaction, and I know that after all these years of marriage, it rips our heart out. Geoff.

Community Member

THANKYOU! thankyou for sharing your story it describes me to perfection! My husband of 29 years has just left and I am going through the worst pain I've ever experienced your story puts everything in perspective for me and I realized I'm not doing this alone even though I feel so alone. I'm having far more bad days than good I'm getting up later and later I cry more often I feel so disconnected I wonder if I will ever be whole again! Yes you are right we feel that connection no matter what even if there's bad times your still part of something this made so much sense to me I think I understand why I feel so bad now because even though we had fights I always had that confident feeling of him always being there, now it's gone I'm empty! I should be looking forward to a life I can do whatever I like but I'm not I got married for life not just until whenever! 

Thankyou your story has helped me xxxx

dear Bertielovie, no it's never pleasant when something like this actually happens, as we are left dumbfounded, so please contact us again as you are struggling like hell. L Geoff. x

Community Member
Hello. I can relate to what you are saying. My marriage of 30 years has just ended. It is further complicated by the death of my eldest son some years ago. I am 63 and understand how exhausting it is to drag the coping resources from deep inside yourself. The thing is, life is still a gift. But so hard sometimes to be able to realise that gift. I wish you well in the hope you will find some sparks of sunshine, something to smile at and be able to rebuild.

Hi Bertielovie,

I read your post and felt your pain. I've been going through a tough time of late due to an abrupt end to a long term relationship. I was unable to get out of bed initially for about four days, after that I was able to get up but would stay in my dressing gown all day, crying, for quite a while I would have to go lie down again after a few hours as I was so emotionally exhausted. I was terrified that I was going to be stuck in that state and never find myself again. However the surprising thing I found was that whilst I was living in this intense pain I started discovering new things about myself. Of course for weeks and weeks I have cried and wondered wasn't there another way I could have learned these lessons instead of suffering such loss but I now realise that without that pain I was feeling, characteristics such as patience and compassion wouldn't now be on a much more richer authentic level. I've grown even whilst I was breaking. I'll share a few things that have helped me and hopefully something here resonates with you;

You are not your emotions, with time and healing the emotions will settle

Guided Meditation - I was still a mess but even if all I did was meditate it made me feel like I had done something towards healing, something for me and each day it helped my self esteem improve. There are so many great guided meditations on YouTube for all types of healing, whether it be betrayal, heartbreak, fear, anxiety, you name it. For the first few weeks I would do them each day lying in the backyard as I was too exhausted to sit. Even though I would be crying the meditation was still healing me.

This will help if you're a person of faith. I had been offering my struggle to God (higher power) since the relationship ended two months ago as I couldn't cope with the burden but the more I asked for him to take the burden the heavier it seemed to get. Offering your burden for him to take care of only works if you don't keep taking it back, by trying to control things in your mind or by trying to work out the future outcome ahead of time you keep taking the burden back. You have to give it all to him and when you start to get lost in those painful thoughts stop yourself and say "I don't need to worry about this as God is taking care of it". I asked God to reveal his love and take my burden completely and thats just what he's done. 

Just take one day at a time. You will get through this, hugs xo


Community Member

Dear frodg.  When my first marriage broke down (over 40 years ago) a well -meaning friend told me that even though there is fault on both sides, one partner is usually more at fault.  Since then, I've been married twice more (this is my third).  My 2nd marriage ended because my husband still loved his first wife, a bit like Charles, Camilla and Diana.  Why his first marriage ended I don't know, we never discussed it.  Our marriage was 'tested' from the first because of ex wife.  There was abuse and violence during our 8 year marriage.  I eventually found the courage to leave.  He returned to first wife.  This marriage is not what I'd call 'ideal', but there's no abuse or violence, just indifference on his part.  His parents have successfully come between us, but I've built a life of my own.  I don't go out with other guys (although there's times when I'm tempted).  That would really complicate matters.  I can understand, though why wives stay in abusive, violent relationships.  The abused wife syndrome is rife, they live in hope that the husband will 'change' if they look after house better, control kids better, keep meals on time etc.  It can take years before the wife finally faces that husband is not going to change unless he wants to.  Usually husbands like that are actually raised in similar circumstances, believing they have all the power and rights.  Not all cases, I grant you, but sometimes even mothers teach their sons it's okay to abuse the wife because 'you're married' and that's part of marriage.  If couples could undergo 'marriage training', (not counselling), training where the husband and wife are re- taught respect on both sides maybe some of these problems could be solved. 

Any thoughts.