Should I stay or should I go now?
April 19, 2014 5:37 AM   Subscribe

I’m no longer in love with my fiance and I’m not sure how I should proceed. The complicating factor is our children.

I’m not in love with my fiance and I’m no longer attracted to her. I find her personality to be grating and she is a constant source of negative emotions and experiences in my life. There are some times where we get along and have fun together but those times are more like we are friends and not at all like we are intimate. I could go into much more detail but suffice it to say that I no longer want to be in a relationship with her. The problem is that we have two kids (one a 3 month old, the other a 2 year old) and she has two children from a previous relationship and I don’t know how to negotiate this.

We've been in a relationship for just over three years. I left once before after 6 months; I packed up all my stuff and moved out secretly. We got back together (stupid, stupid!) and she got pregnant shortly thereafter. I've tried to be a great partner for her but I've reached the end of the compromises and secrecy that I can handle.

We tried counselling once before. I thought that the session went really well and we were meeting on a level playing field but my fiance rejected everything that the therapist suggested. She has subsequently refused to go back saying, “We can solve our issues on our own.” It’s gotten to the point that I don’t feel comfortable talking to her about our relationship because any time I bring up an issue I’m having she makes it about her (ie. “How dare you bring this up; I’m pregnant with your child.”), she deflects the conversation to be about something else or she escalates to the point where I become too uncomfortable to continue the discussion and acquiesce or apologize to defuse the situation.

I don’t know what to do.

I would leave her today except we have a new born baby. I worry that she’s not going to be able to look after all of the children if I leave her. I worry that she will be violent with me (as she did one time a year ago when we had a big blow up). I worry about the children and how they’re going to handle my departure as I love them dearly and will miss the heck out of them if I spend much time away.

Do I just straight up tell her that I don’t love her and am not attracted to her? Do I give her an ulimatum (therapy or I leave). Do I just tough this one out and put my feelings and needs aside for the good of the family?

Have any of you had a similar experience? What did you end up doing and what where the consequences. I guess I just need to feel that I’m not alone right now and that someone knows of my plight.

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Forgive me for saying this (and it's not going to be useful advice), but you seem to be assuming that you can or should leave your two children behind in the care of a woman you say may be abusive and incapable of looking after them. You should think more about your responsibilities toward two lives you brought into this world.
posted by Etrigan at 5:49 AM on April 19, 2014 [109 favorites]

If your mindset is that you would like to try therapy and if she doesn't agree, then you'll have to leave, then tell her that. Also, if you believe she will be abusive to your children, then you have to find a way to make sure that your children are protected, either by a custody arrangement or some other way.
posted by xingcat at 5:51 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can break up with her, but you can never "leave". She's the mother of your children so you'll have to cobble together some sort of working relationship. You need to be actively involved in their lives. Trying therapy again might be worthwhile. If she won't come, go alone. You have a lot to think about.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:54 AM on April 19, 2014 [21 favorites]

You give yourself a year to get your life in place to leave her. I would start that year with finding a therapist (for you alone) and a lawyer. They are your team to take care of you so that you can make the best choices out of bad choices, make thoughtful and strategic changes in your life, and take good care of yourself and your children.

I would use the input of the lawyer and the therapist to decide what you will tell your fiancée, when, and how. The stakes are too high, for all of you, to fly by the seat of your pants, and now is not the time for spontaneous intimacy and risk taking vulnerability in your relationship. Now is the time for thoughtful deliberation and careful purposeful moves. But whatever you do, you don't get married.

Thanks to your children with her, you are in a permanent relationship with this woman. Things may feel urgent now that are not. A lawyer and therapist can help you sort out emotional urgency (inside you) from practical urgency and to make good decisions that lay a good groundwork for the long haul. Finding a good lawyer and therapist can take time. I would say that for now, that's your urgency. There is too much at stake here not to be careful and strategic.
posted by Salamandrous at 5:58 AM on April 19, 2014 [47 favorites]

Your children don't need to handle your departure. You need to take them with you. You are responsible for their lives both physically and emotionally.

Also, and this is critical, this woman has been pregnant and postpartum for much of the past three years. To base her overall behavior on the period when she was pregnant or for up to a year afterwards is a bit much, which is pretty much the entire length of your relationship.

If her personality was so grating on you, how on earth did you have two children?
posted by clarkstonian at 5:59 AM on April 19, 2014 [53 favorites]

Well if you split then yes you miss seeing them every day and that is a real loss for them and you. Also, a three month old nursing infant might not do well with forcible separation from mom for days at a time. So yes you might would be leaving the infant behind depending on how well the infant is doing with separation from mom. Talking with a therapist will likely help and hopefully you'll get some good advice here. It would be really good for you to talk this over with a professional and create a plan that has the best interests of your children in mind. There are pros and cons of whatever solution you choose here.
posted by xarnop at 6:00 AM on April 19, 2014

Therapy can be helpful not only for working out issues in a relationship, but also for determining whether or not the relationship should in fact continue, and working toward the most non-disruptive separation possible.

I think the very first step in this process would be to get yourself into individual therapy with someone who can help you examine your feelings about the relationship (is there any realistic hope that the relationship is salvageable with your wife's cooperation, or is it just a fundamental incompatibility where your needs are never going to get met?) and help you strategize how you approach your wife on these issues.

The right therapist can help you figure out how best to let your wife know how bad things are in the relationship so she is at least aware that her belief that you guys can solve your issues on your own is a false one. The right therapist can also help you cope with your frustrations and be more tolerant of the current situation without driving yourself crazy, so you can wait things out a little bit until timing is better. Askme periodically gets questions that are basically "how can I learn to live with my spouse's horrible treatment of me?" and the answer is usually "you can't and shouldn't," but unless your description of your wife as "grating and unattractive" is secret code for "emotionally abusive" then there probably *is* a lot you can do to just accept the situation for a while.

At that point, the hope would be that she'd be willing to pursue couples therapy to either try to work things out or to figure out how to move on with the next phases of separation and co-parenting. If she's not willing to do that, a good therapist in your corner will be all the more important because you may be in for a rocky road and its super important for you to be able to do what you need to do to stay involved in your children's lives, come what may.
posted by drlith at 6:42 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seems like you're in a lot of pain and you're having a hard time figuring out how to make it work for you, and that's fine because your head is all mixed up.

But you've got a post-partum fiancee and four kids to also think about.

You mentioned that the two of you did have some positive counseling (positive to some extent, and that's great).

As hard as it is, because there are kids involved, I strongly suggest that you first, see a therapist on your own. Take the time for yourself and make a commitment to your own mental health. You could benefit from an impartial point of view to help you navigate your life.

Second, you have to be honest with her and explain that you're suffering and that you owe it to yourself and the family to give couples counseling another chance. You have to make it clear that this isn't negotiable; you need a partner who is willing to work through issues with competent help.

Don't make it, "Therapy or I'm leaving you with four kids," even if that's how you feel right now. Try to approach it as, "I'm struggling. No doubt you are too. How can we make us better because I want this to work?"

Take a long view; don't move out secretly. Stay focused on relationship maintenance and repair, not planning your exit strategy.

*I wish someone had given me this advice years ago when I was SO unhappy and SO pissed off in a relationship and I completely bailed instead of trying to work things through because I was miserable in my own head. My judgment was clouded. Running from everything felt easier but it wasn't, and I destroyed what could have been a wonderful relationship because of it.
posted by kinetic at 6:43 AM on April 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Start with making 1000% sure you do not get her pregnant again! Don't trust if she says she's on birth control, for instance: the last thing this situation needs is yet another child, and she seems to get pregnant very easily.

Couples therapy would be best, but if she refuses to go then go to therapy by yourself: you're gonna need someone to talk to.

See a lawyer: what are your rights when it comes to your two children, the family home, vehicles, etc. Consider demanding full custody, especially if their mother has a history of violence --- and if that violence against you is documented (ie, the cops were called) then tell the lawyer that too. You've lived with them for three years and you may love them, but I'm sorry: her older two kids aren't yours, and you are not responsible for them like you are for your own two.

If they aren't already, separate your finances --- the lawyer should help you with advice here, too. Meanwhile, until you do leave, stash whatever savings you can in an account she is unaware of/unable to access..... you'll need it later.
posted by easily confused at 6:44 AM on April 19, 2014 [7 favorites]

Aside from other good points made already, I feel compelled to point out as someone without kids myself who has watched pairs of friends go through the process of having kids over and over again that at least in my social groups, nobody seems to love their spouse less than when they have a toddler and an infant. That period of time seems to be better focused on just trying to survive, and figure out later how the relationship really is, because it seems a bit wrongheaded to be judging the quality of the whole thing based on how you guys are feeling with no sleep and no energy, and likely more so on your part.

I'm not saying nobody loves their spouse at this stage, but I've heard worse than "I don't think I love them anymore" from people who actually managed to put things together quite well within a couple years. Like, still married, the couple where the wife once spent an hour listing to me why she hated her husband in the form of every thing he hadn't done in the previous 24 hours, while he had norovirus. Exhaustion makes you crazy. Don't make big decisions while hungry-angry-lonely-TIRED.

I'm not saying you won't eventually decide to leave anyway, but yes, of course she's going to be unreasonable at this point, and if you're well-rested enough to be rational yourself then you're probably not taking your share of the child care.
posted by Sequence at 6:44 AM on April 19, 2014 [60 favorites]

First off, I am glad you asked this here. Coming to terms with your situation I am sure was not easy and it is really good that you are verbalizing what is going on with you. I found that to be enormously helpful when I was in a similar situation.

This might sound like overkill, what I am about to suggest. I had a hard time doing it when I was in your shoes. I would - hear me out - go to a safe location and call the national domestic violence hotline. Their number is 1-800-799-7233. Just call and talk to someone. They have heard from lots of people in your situation and can be a great sounding board for working some of these things through.

I did not think I was in an abusive relationship even after he started physically assaulting me. Calling the hotline was for me the first step in my journey to freedom.

An individual counselor or therapist might also be very helpful for you to help you navigate this. I would do this and I hate to say it but I would keep it a secret from my fiancé were I you. Just go and talk this out with an objective third party - like you are doing here but way more in depth.

Do not tell her right now that you aren't attracted to her and want to leave. Talk to these professionals and figure out how to get your ducks in a row as best you can first. Your fear that she will react violently means that it is best (in my opinion based on experience and anecdote from my DV buddies) for you to go slowly and figure it out and make a game plan before you leave outright. Leaving a person like this is messy. So messy. So approaching it with a clear head and a concrete plan is pretty vital because she is likely to go off the rails a bit. You want to be as level headed as you can about this.

A domestic violence shelter would also be appropriate just to contact and see what resources they have available for men in your situation. The first time I called and went into the center I felt ridiculous. I thought I was being dramatic and silly and that I was taking resources from people who were actually in need. I didn't want to do it but my therapist convinced me just to try, that if I was right and I wasn't being abused that the center would help me identify that and figure out what to do. And then I got there and they asked me to tell them a bit about what was happening and I shocked them with my (what I thought) puny little story about him threatening to hit me and laughing in my face when I flinched the night before because I cooked the chicken "incorrectly" - and that's when I started to realize how abusive he was. That little story was nothing. It was the tip of the iceberg.

I digress but my point is: just take a gander at some of these resources. It can't hurt. It might be incredibly helpful. Because there are children involved you will almost certainly want a family lawyer who understands and is familiar with situations similar to yours. A shelter or therapist can point you to those resources too.

Memail me if you'd like to talk further. I wish you the best.
posted by sockermom at 6:59 AM on April 19, 2014 [9 favorites]

Please find a lawyer who regularly practices in your local court on behalf of unmarried men seeking to maintain strong ties to their children. The package of legal assets and liabilities you have is VERY specific to the local court and VERY different from those of the most common case (married men) and the next most common case (unmarried men who want to put the entire thing in their rear view mirror). In some places you are in a great position: strong presumption of paternal rights, and none of the alimony / asset division leverage that a (soon to be) ex-wife would try to hold over your head to get a better deal. In some places you are in a terrible position: a presumption that you should be a source of money only and should not have any parental rights that will keep your ex from moving on with her life.
posted by MattD at 7:27 AM on April 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

You also need advice relating to the children that aren't yours: there are places where your ex could move aggressively to require you to pay child support for them, as well as for your own children. That could be fine for you, of course, and perhaps it would even be the right thing under the relevant law, but you need to know where you stand.
posted by MattD at 7:29 AM on April 19, 2014

I wasn't a part of this and only watched from the sidelines and at a distance but I wanted to let you know that I have a friend who is in a relationship with a man who left his wife in similar circumstances and it has worked out fine even though there was a lot of emotional combat at the beginning. As near as I can tell, while the relationship with the ex isn't ideal, it's certainly livable and the kids are all fine and deeply bonded with their father, including the one who was in utero when he left. The factor that seemed to make the biggest difference was when the ex-wife got into a relationship herself. That was both a sign that she had recovered to some extent and was also in itself healing as she was no longer alone with four children.

She was quite vindictive initially, though, which isn't surprising but was tough for my friend who was kind of just a bystander in this.
posted by janey47 at 7:32 AM on April 19, 2014

Just to say, and this might just be the way you wrote this combined with people's personal experiences and biases, you're coming off as not very empathetic to your wife at all and I think it's tainting people's understanding of the one mention of abuse thrown in a lot of other accusations that sound mostly like you being insensitive to a women who just gave birth a few months ago.

If she is truly violent, you DO need to address that and get clear about what about her behavior is abusive; i.e. her not being very attractive after giving birth is an issue of you being insensitive not her being neglectful to you. However her being violent is an issue of her being abusive and should be treated as such.

Since it comes across as that you are treating her badly (again could totally just be the way you're writing is conveying what's going on, and she may truly be the abusive party here leaving you with your less than rosy feelings of her) it is likely making a lot of people here hearing "and she was violent once while we were fighting" in light of you trying to paint her out as having done something horrible-- when it might have been that that you've been pestering and confronting her with kind of unfair demands and she is trying to get you to back off- in my head I feel like you're describing you in her face trying to make her talk about what you want her to do more for you and her pushing you away.

I'm not saying that's what happened, I'm saying you might not be getting the response that domestic violence should get (sockermoms response was excellent) because a lot of us have been emotionally abused and finally had a "blow up" reaction that was more defensive than offensive; as well as people responding differently to female violence than to male.

Your situation sounds complex and I have no idea what's going on, which is why I recommend both a therapist and to talk with professionals about the violence and whether she may be a danger to the children and whether or if you would be able to get full custody or that is actually in the interests of the children; as well as being willing to asses whether you're being a very compassionate partner yourself or focusing too much on what you want her to be supplying to you rather than looking at this as a partnership where her needs matter too and she might not be able to supply each of your demands and you might have to back off with your expectations especially given she is raising for kids and recently birthed a tiny human.

It's very hard for a man to get full custody, and one violent situation that didn't leave any evidence can be hard to prove if she is otherwise a good parent (this is unfortunate because violence is a really serious issue for a parent to have problems with). Talking with a domestic violence center would be really really great but make sure that you be as honest as you can about both of your roles in this situation. When you don't love your own partner, you will probably see them at their worst because they know you don't love them; and that legitimately might make them less interested in "working it out" when they know they aren't even really loved to begin with. If you don't love her and you want to leave, you're not being honest when you tell her you want to "work it out" and that might be impacting how well couple counseling would work. If you want her to go to counseling to make her become someone she's not or to do things for you she just can't do, it's not going to work and it won't be fair to her.

However if she's abusing you with threats of violence or self harm etc then couples therapy won't work very well because abusive relationships don't tend to get handled very well in couples therapy. There's nothing you can do to MAKE an abusive person stop being abusive, all you can do is get yourself in therapy of your own to create the best plan of action you can for your kids and yourself. If she's doing the majority of the parenting and hence is overwhelmed and hence why you assume that if you leave you would be leaving the kids behind because you're not really the one doing the parenting- you need to remedy that whether you leave or not and help out more.
posted by xarnop at 8:29 AM on April 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

1. Parenting classes. You're about to be a single dad.

2. Therapy, preferably couples' counseling with an emphasis on co-parenting.

3. Lawyer to sort out custody issues if you two can't agree on legal custody and parenting time.

4. Make everything in your life a 100% priority for your kids. It doesn't sound like you can be the best parent possible while you're in a train wreck of a relationship, but the end of a romantic link between parents needs to be kept between the adults. What is best for your children in this situation? Figure that out, then plan the best route to that outcome and start taking all steps necessary.
posted by mibo at 9:00 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't understand why "hate" is a tag here. You don't mention hating her, and that's a long way from not loving her. I feel like there is a whole lot in this situation that you chose not to include or discuss, and the way you've written it makes me wonder whether you are a reliable narrator.

Aside from the issue of "hate", there's also:
1. You mention her being violent against you once, but say nothing about the context or what actually happened. A lot of the answers are using that fact as key information to inform their response. Violence is never acceptable, but there's a very long long way between her threatening to kill you with a knife or gun and you guys being in an all out screaming match and her giving you a shove or something, and was she ashamed of herself afterwards and said she'd never do such a thing again, or was she unapologetic? You've been together 3 years and there was this one incident… it's really hard to know what to make of it without you explaining further. I might either say "you've got no option to stay with this woman and need to leave immediately and work on getting the children into your custody ASAP" or give a quite different response knowing the circumstances.

2. The way you address your children in the question. You are worried about the children and how they won't take you leaving well, because you love them and will "miss them". Well, of course, but you say nothing about how you would take care of your children in the future, you almost make it sound like you think you can just cut loose from this situation and leave your children behind, and that it'll be sad because you guys will miss each other, but that's just the way it has to be due to XYZ. You're not explicit enough about saying this that I can assume it's what you meant and really rip into you as seeming like you're having more of an escapist fantasy or an extremely selfish and unrealistic way of looking at this situation, not knowing what you really expect your parenting responsibilities to be after you leave. Obviously whether you and the children are safe in the household is a major factor here too that is unclear.

It's a smaller deal, but I notice you specifically did not include what issues you've tried to discuss with your wife, leaving anyone who's reading the question to sort of imagine (likely based on their own biases) what you might have said and how you brought it up. Issues listed above aside, this is relevant, because it's another place where I'm not sure to be sympathetic towards you or not. There was a question here some time ago that had some similar themes to yours (i.e. we have a newborn baby and I don't find my wife attractive anymore) and people almost unanimously, and most likely deservedly, tore that asker apart because he seemed to be expecting his postpartum wife to be most concerned with getting sexy again for him rather than, you know, taking care of their new child and all, which as most of us know is hard as hell. So I'm at a loss with this, because if the issue you were bringing up to your wife is "you're spending outside of our means, we're going bankrupt and we need to talk about it", again, that would be a world of difference from if you were saying "we only have sex twice a week lately, and I know you're in the 3rd trimester but my sexual needs aren't being met." Do you see what I'm saying here? Either one could be responded to with "I'm pregnant with your child" - which could either be a very understandable angry response on her part or a complete inability to address something that actually needed to be addressed.

So I know that's a long way of saying "I can't answer this question." But I think it's important for you to know as you read these answers why you might have gotten the answers you did, and what other answers you might have gotten if you had given us more information and left us fewer assumptions to make.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:55 AM on April 19, 2014 [39 favorites]

Lots of people break up when their kids are babies and toddlers because it is the toughest stage in a relationship, ever.

With an infant, a toddler, and two other children, I be she's stroppy towards you these days. Yep.

While you consider things from her perspective...

Educate yourself, too, about how post-partum circumstances effect both men and women.

Lots of life stressors, hormones, and challenges right now.

It sounds like you both need respite care (family? friends? can you possibly afford a nanny?) before you need a lawyer.

You might feel differently about your fiancé once the new normal of having children together settles in.
posted by jbenben at 9:55 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't know what you should do, but I know what you shouldn't do, and that is marry her.
posted by desjardins at 10:16 AM on April 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

Just know that if you leave the house, you may jeopardize your ability to get custody later on. You need to stay in the home now, try to work on getting things to a point where you can live together amicably and start working towards a longer term, legally formalized separation.
posted by brookeb at 10:30 AM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you should go back to therapy at least.

But, honestly, I don't trust your account of these events, because I cannot relate how you would jump to "and I'm leaving her with all the kids, of course", let alone "she's been violent, and I'm leaving her with all the kids, of course".

If what you are wanting here is, a guide to leaving without looking like the bad guy, you are going to have to front up a lot more as a parent. Because it's not looking good, even just going from your side of the story.
I'm more worried about your relationship with your kids as a parent than your relationship with her.

Don't get married. Do get a cleaner and/or a short daycare breaks and/or babysitters, possibly on weeknights so you can both get sleep. Don't breakup until you've both had enough sleep. If you're laughing at that thought, then get a babysitter, because it'll be less financially painful than this breakup, and you cannot trust your judgement during newborn sleep deprivation. If you do want to go ahead, you'll both be more emotionally able to cope with it.

Back to parenting:
Imagine she gets hit by a car tomorrow - you'd be the single father of two kids.
Single father.
Because you can break up or divorce her, but you can't divorce those kids. If that's freaking you out, well, that sucks, but that's life. Distinguish your wanting to flee from the responsibilities of parenthood from wanting to leave the relationship, because man, it's a heavy weight, and it sucks, but one of those is not an option.
posted by Elysum at 10:31 AM on April 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

[Couple of comments deleted. The notion that a partner should "feel the fear of God" is an insane criterion for a healthy relationship; feel free to answer in a more clear way that does not appear to include insane presuppositions.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:55 AM on April 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

OP, you seem to be in a situation that even you don't quite understand, which, given the sleep deprivation you've probably been living with for 2 years, is totally reasonable. Given that there are small children involved and a risk of violence, a therapy ultimatum seems to me like the most responsible situation.

If for no other reason, then because you yourself can't seem to decide whether your fiance is simply "grating" and "a source of negative emotions and experiences" or whether she's an active danger, and you don't seem to have a good grasp on what leaving will entail. A therapist (for yourself if your fiance refuses) will help you get clarity on those things.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:28 AM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is not a good time to make the decision to leave. This is a GREAT time to tell your fiance what you want.

"I am unhappy, I know this is a high stress situation, with a newborn and a toddler. I acknowledge that you may have postpartum depression and/or are exhausted. Right now, I want to run screaming from the house and never return. But I'm not going to do that. I need for us both to be back in therapy and I want to see a therapist on my own. I can't predict the future, but right now I'm in a very dark place. I have made an appointment for the both of us."

She may want nothing to do with you either. But she's in no position to initiate a break up right now.

The best thing you can do for all of the members of your family is to get to therapy and to hang in there for the near future. Wait until your baby is at least a year old. Nine months isn't an eternity and then once everyone is better, and no one is pregnant or lactating, then you can all decide what you want to do.

Children mean that sometimes you have to keep doing stuff you don't want to do. That was the decision you made when you chose to have them.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:36 PM on April 19, 2014 [7 favorites]

Wake up call. Its not about you and what you want. Its about the 2 kids you have created. Your post makes it sound like its her kids and you are ready to bail on her and her kids. I think the uppermost thought on your mind should be how you can save your kids from this disaster that two "adults" brought about themselves.

If you are unhappy, that is a reason to stop racing to the altar. And stop making more kids.
posted by jbean at 3:59 PM on April 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

How would you feel if she told her you she is no longer attracted to you, that you are grating, and left you with four children to take care of. She would tell you she would be there for the children, on a part time basis? I only assume she would be a sendary support to the kids, if that, based on what I know about people who a abruptly leave their families, especially just after having a newborn.
posted by waving at 5:19 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

People have separated with children. It's not unprecedented and worse things have happened at sea.

Such a separation will be the most taxing on the person with custody (which will almost certainly be her). How hard will depend on the age and custody arrangements of the other two children, the support network (extended family, mainly) and your financial position(s).

Separation will be expensive. In addition to your moral obligation to make as much time as possible for your children, you also have a financial obligation to both your children and their mother. This means bearing a large proportion (if not all) of the cost-of-living expenses of your partner for the indefinite future. If she has a job, then these costs will be somewhat mitigated, but regardless you will be certainly be financially worse-off if you leave.

You probably don't need a lawyer unless you actually plan on leaving, at which point getting a clear picture of your legal obligations is a good idea.

There are alternatives to the "we work it out or one of us leaves" ultimatum. People have been known to come to arrangements to stay together for the sake of their children until such time as it becomes more easy to separate. This requires a mutual agreement between the two parties, which would require initiating a conversation that mightn't end well.

Unless your partner also wants a separation and has been thinking long and hard about how best to leave you for the last two months, then any decision you come to will likely come as a surprise to her, no matter how inevitable you perceive said decision to be. Thus, the timing of any conversation about your future is important, and it's important that she has immediate support if you do decide to leave (i.e. family, friends, finances).

Best of luck.
posted by kisch mokusch at 7:35 PM on April 19, 2014

Whatever you do, you should not see this as leaving. You can separate from her, but you need to still very much be part of your kids lives and you need to make sure they don't think they are the problem. You will have to find a way to be civil with her and maintain a good working relationship.

To that end, I think you need to tell her everything you've told us and try to work toward a resolution. "Leaving" might've been the easiest option a few kids ago, but now you owe it everyone to try to work this out and give it a chance. You might also want to stop vilifying her and blaming her for every problem in your relationship, too. That attitude isn't going to help things at all and I seriously doubt you are blameless here.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:18 PM on April 19, 2014

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