The lure of being single again?

Had an interesting experience… a friend of mine a few weeks ago looked pretty down, so I asked him what was going on. His response was that there was some “pretty serious sh*t going down in his life” but that he couldn’t really tell me about it for a few days.
A week passed, and then another, before I finally saw him again.
And this time he opened up.


“My wife and I separated a few weeks ago.”
me: “I thought it was something like that. What a drag. How you doing?”
he: “Actually, pretty well. After a week she came back to me, in tears, saying she couldn’t handle it and needed me to move back in.”
me: “after sixteen years of marriage, right?”
he: “Yeah. But I didn’t move back in and I’m kind of enjoying being a single guy again. It’s nice…”
He’s not dating, as far as I know, but it did surprise me and made me really wonder how many couples find that a so-called “trial separation” or other setup when one moves out is a dramatically wrong move, a final nail in the coffin of the relationship rather than a chance to assess what’s working and figure out how to mend the hurt and heal the marriage?
After years of being a dad and husband, my friend is enjoying the freedom of not having those responsibilities, however illusory they may be. His children? They miss him terribly, I’m sure. And his wife, well, he knows she misses him too. But he’s just fine being in a small apartment, living his own life again. For now.
Ah, the journeys we all travel…

13 comments on “The lure of being single again?

  1. Dave,
    It’s well known that “trial separation” overwhelmingly more often than not leads directly into divorce. Few separated couples ever reconcile.
    It’s also well known that the majority of people who divorce say, down the road, that if they had to do it all over again, they wouldn’t.
    In the meantime, the lives of their children, and their children’s children, are shattred. When children are involved, divorce is almost always a very selfish act, by a very short-sighted parent.
    Anne
    Anne P. Mitchell,
    Attorney at Law

  2. I think it depends on the couple and the reasons for separation. My current partner and I have been together for nearly seven years and have separated twice. Each time, we come back together stronger. We are also toying with the idea of a “marriage sabbatical” for each of us to be able to go out and have set aside time each year to get things done without the children and relationship issues getting in the way. It’s my experience that this has and will strengthen our relationship.
    If a separation is meant for clarification of personal goals with a set time limit and purpose, that’s different than when it’s done in a state of anger and frustration over the relationship. Also, if you engage in therapy while the separation is going on, that’s different than if you’re just winging it. Also, the separation needs to be mutual and based on a certain level of respect and decency for both parties involved.
    There are books out there that help people deal positively with planned separations, including “Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage” and “The Marriage Sabbatical: The Journey that Brings You Home”… highly recommended for people considering these issues.

  3. I have to disagree about divorce being a selfish act. Staying together “for the children” can be just as bad as separating, and sometimes worse. As someone who has been a single parent since becoming a parent, it’s hard for me to put myself in such a situation, but I cannot believe that it’s better for me to stay in a situation where my child’s father and I are both miserable, under the assumption that it’s the right thing to do by my child. But again, I’m not experienced in this area at all, and could very well be talking out my..well, ok Dave, I’ll keep the profanity on my own site. 😉

  4. I’m sorry. Not to be disrespectful but your friend needs to grow up and learn about responsibility. His actions of ignoring his wife and children are very selfish. You can’t just throw out your family when the chance comes along. Think about how awful this period must be for his wife. Not only does she have to suffer the loss of her husband, she has additional demands from the children because they only have one parent now. And imagine what the children are going through. This is not a good situation. And as a proponent of attachment parenting, I would like to see you take a stand, kick your friend in the bu**, and tell him to treat the family he loves like a family he loves.

  5. I hear what you’re saying and I appreciate your perspective, Alex, but just as I don’t want friends telling me how to live my life, I’m not comfortable confronting my friend or “kicking him in the bu**”.
    For all I know, there could be extraordinary circumstances – his wife could have had an affair, for example – that he doesn’t want to share with me, but that have effectively pushed him out the door.
    Frankly, he wouldn’t be the first man to say “A” when the situation is really “B”, so it’s also possible that his talk about enjoying being single might be a rationalization for surviving a hurtful and painful situation…

  6. We all separate for many reasons, more so reasons out of our control. I agree that staying in a relationship with someone just because of the children is wrong. When two people have come to the point where nothing ever seems to better, your stuck in a relationship that you almost regret, that is when you know there’s better things in life than to live miserable with someone you will never grow strong with. The foundation is broken at that point and it would be time to move on. Find happiness in your self, no person can make you happy if your not happy with self first. My separation has lead to Divorce, and it was by choice, not chance. I’m more happy now than I have been in a long time, because I know there is someone out there that will love me for who I am. The lord has a blessing for me, that I’m ready to receive.

  7. How many people truly marry people they hate?
    Why do we marry people we do not like?
    I believe that when we marry we marry someone we love and like. So what happens?
    One writer spoke of the foundation being cracked and need to start over with a new house. I believe that divorce sometimes has to happen, in cases of those married to people who are trying to kill them, molesting they children, or verbally abusive, adulterous, and refuse to change and get real help.
    I would recommend that in the next relationship that we attend to making sure the foundation is good. All builders know the corner is the most important piece. So I suggest you make sure Jesus is the cornerstone. I also recommend the foundation needs to start with God’s Word as your base. I guarantee that Jesus and God’s Word will not crack and you can have a house that will not fall.

  8. For all of the people who don’t think it’s right to stay together for the sake of the children: did anyone ask the children?
    I’m an adult child of divorced parents, and let me tell you, the divorce doesn’t solve anything, it just makes the kids responsible for peacekeeping between two adults who are apparently too immature to uphold the promises they made to each other. If two adults can’t maintain a relationship, how do you think the kids fare trying to maintain it for them?
    Divorce is a selfish act. When you bring kids into the world, you have to sacrifice for them. This may mean sacrificing your own happiness, but if you decide to stick it out “for the children” you may find a way to make the journey enjoyable since you have to be there anyway.
    Be adults! Work it out!

  9. I just can’t believe some of these comments. Every situation is unique. Stay because of the children? I highly disagree. Children will walk their own path with you as their role model. if you stay in a loveless marriage with no affection and only fighting, they will seek the same type of mate when they get older, and walk the same path. I have heard so many kids say..they wish mom or dad had divorced sooner than they did. I spent my whole life sacrificing myself so hubby could be happy. he took full advantage of it, and my kids saw a lovely picture portrayed before them. Now I am an empty shell, and it has all caught up with me. I need to take care of me now, after being sucked dry from a spouse who took advantage of my loving heart. I also saw this in my own family and parents, they modeled it for me. So don’t just asume 2 people are just to damn immature to work it out. It just isn’t that simple when trust has been lost and feelings of intimacy gone, because of one partners selfish and manipulative behavior. This is just a very complex subject and it makes me angry to read some of this. As for most people saying they WOULDN’T divore again if they could do it over? I don’t buy it. I have personally spoke with many divorced people. They all agree they have no regrets, although things have gotten tougher in OTHER ways. They had not regretted their decision. ANyway just my own experience and 2 cents.

  10. The question is, did he have forgotten about his responsibilities as a dad? If that happened to me, with a guy who isn’t comfortable anymore when it comes to doing his responsibliities for our kids, i will be more than willing to become a single parent.
    Afterall, my kids are my life and inspiration. I will overcome all the challenges of being a single parent. But of course, I will not remove any bond that binds my kids and their dad.

  11. As someone who is a week into being separated, I can only say that as heartbreakingly sad as it is, it is the right thing to do. We’ve been together 20 years and have a wonderful 8 year old girl. We are co-parenting her and we are on very good terms with each other, though at times it’s too much to bear. We spent the last two years trying to be what the other person needed and in the end, well, you can only be true to yourself. We do believe our child will continue to happy and feel secure because that is how we make her feel. So every case is different and every couple has their history. I’m grateful for mine and I will miss the good parts terribly. BUt I am also glad that she can be happy to lead her own life too.

  12. In most cases, divorce is a selfish act that devastates kids. When you have kids, you find a way to make things work. Instead what many people do is go out and find a new partner only to find that many of the problems they have repeat or worsen. The sadness and lonliness kids feel after divorce in inevitable.

  13. Thank you, Kelly! I completely agree with you and so many others on this forum that believe it is NOT always in the best interest to “smile for the cameras” and attempt to save the marriage just for the sale of the children. My very soon-to-be-ex has been abusive verbally AND physically for over 8 years now, will not seek therapy, and has NPD (Narcisisstic Personality Disorder – s.p.?) in the very worst way. After years of watching my daughter be verbally and physically assaulted from the age of 1.5 to 3 (when I finally told him to get OUT!) and seeing how his family denied and ignored my pleas, I had finally had enough. It breaks my heart every day to hear my children say “Good-bye Daddy – we’ll miss you!” (Their parental grandparents are their daily caregivers and my ex lives with them) However, I also know that I have taken them out of the path of constant daily danger from a man that refuses to change. I have been diagnosed with recurrant depression (and yet STILL managed to obtain an MBA, keep a steady, well-paying job, and maintain my own small business on the side) from years of abuse and I am moving on happily and taking my children with me. Hang in there to everyone facing this overwhelming, frightening time in your life. If you feel there is the slightest possibility of redemption and you are BOTH on the same page as far as wanting to continue, do so! But, if there are demons that either party is unwilling to face and chase away for the betterment of the relationship – run and never look back and know that you did everything you possibly could – trust in your gut-feeling. God bless!

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