‘How do I move things forward?’ (Picture: Neil Webb)
My husband and I have decided to separate after a decade together.
We married young and we didn’t think much beyond our wedding day.
We’ve both cheated and, although he’s moved on, I still feel ashamed about our behaviour.
This last year has been incredibly challenging but we’ve finally agreed our relationship is over.
I’m relieved, sleeping better and looking at flats to rent. Our home has been a prison for me.
But he is unwilling to discuss things further and hurt by my relief — so how do I move things forward?
You say you both agreed but are you sure you agree on what you agreed to?
‘People can have very different understandings of what was said,’ says James McConnachie. ‘It certainly sounds like he’s putting his head in the sand and digging his heels in at the same time — I know, it’s a weird image.’
When a relationship initially blooms and eventually wilts, it’s not unusual for one person to set the pace.
‘When you’re getting together, one of you can be more ready to take things to the next level,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘When you’re separating, one of you has to cut the cord and it’s highly unlikely you’ll both want to do this at the same steady pace.’
‘You’re relieved and energised by the decision, while he has opted for the more avoidant route of passively waiting to see what happens,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘If he’s bothered by your attitude, consciously change the record.’
So be gentle but businesslike from now on.
‘Schedule meetings, discuss timings alongside any plans and take minutes so you agree on what was agreed,’ says McConnachie.
‘This enforced time together means you have a higher chance of a civilised separation rather than one fuelled by hurt and anger,’ says Rudkin.
As for your potential new home, go ahead and rent it.
‘Once that’s a fait accompli, everything else is going to have to fall into place,’ says Smith.
If you find any future discussions laced with what-ifs, whys and accusations, you both may benefit from a mediator who can help you create a divorce plan. But for now, keep a long-term plan in mind — you’ve been a huge part of each others’ lives.
‘In five or ten years’ time, what sort of friends do you want to be?’ asks McConnachie. ‘If you can start with that and work backwards, you’ll be on the right track.’
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
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