On 15 February 2015 I broke off my engagement, ended my 6 year relationship and decided to leave the father of my son.
The beginning of this year was really difficult for me. My son was about 4 months old, I was on maternity leave, I had just about mastered the whole breastfeeding thing, but it was still really difficult. I was getting very little sleep.
I was also supposed to be planning a wedding. I was planning a wedding that I wasn’t excited about. In fact I was dreading the day, partly because I knew that my then fiancé’s family were in the middle of a feud and no weddings, christenings or funerals were going to melt the ice that had frozen over, partly because, deep down, I knew that I didn’t want to marry him. Arranging the wedding was a chore at best; at worst it was a nightmare. My ex wanted me to ask my family to contribute more money. I wanted him to ask his family to cease their feud. I didn’t ask my family for more money. He didn’t ask his family to cease their feud.
My then fiancé wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there when, in my sleep deprived state, I nearly crashed the car carrying our 4 week old son. He was in Washington on a work trip. He didn’t call.
He wasn’t there after I asked him, just once a week, to get home by six in the evening to bath our son. Not for me, but for our son, for their relationship. He didn’t make it once, not once in eight weeks.
He wasn’t there to eat the dinner I had cooked. He called me from the pub to ask whether I could put it to one side so that he could eat it later.
When he was there, we argued. He said that he would ‘blame, begrudge and resent me for the rest of our lives’ if I did not agree to have our son christened a Catholic like his mother wanted. He said I needed to compromise, but compromise only ever entered my ex fiancé’s vocabulary as an instruction.
So, I turned to Google. Yes, you read that right. I turned to Google. I typed:
‘Should I end my relationship?’
‘marriage guidance counselling’
‘when should relationships end?’
…and probably about fifty zillion other search terms along a similar vein.
Believe it or not, Google didn’t know the answer. Google knows most things, but Google didn’t know this answer.
Part of the reason I set up this blog was because I wanted to speak to people, to read about people, to connect with people who were going through exactly what I was going through, who had been through exactly what I what I was going through. I wanted to know if I should end my relationship. Having now separated from my ex, these are my words of wisdom if you are considering separation, if you are teetering on the edge and don’t know whether to take the plunge.
These aren’t the answers, because only you know your answer, but asking these questions helped me to find my answer.
Would you be happier on your own…possibly for the rest of your life?
Now, I am not saying that you will be on your own for the rest of your life. I hope that I will not be on my own for the rest of my life, but I do know that if I am on my own for the rest of my life I will still be a lot happier than I would have been had I stayed with my ex.
Every relationship has its ups and downs. All relationships go through tough times. Few couples could say that a new baby didn’t put a strain on the relationship. And the grass is always greener. There may be a guy or girl in the office who is really funny and vaguely attractive. There may be an ex who you haven’t seen in years and who you remember fondly now. You may even have found someone new. These affairs and infatuations may turn into something. I hope for your sake they do, but they may not. You need to make your decision on the basis that they will not. Relationships made at this time may not be built on the best of foundations.
Do you have different values?
Every relationship requires compromise, negotiation, respect for your partner’s values and assimilation of those values into your life, but sometimes those values are too distinct to ever be reconciled without drastic compromise. Drastic compromise is likely to cause a rift as one of you struggles against what you really want and what you must become in order to fulfil the other person’s needs.
My ex has shown his true colours and I don’t like him. I don’t like his values. I don’t think he has integrity. He certainly has no respect for my values or my sense of integrity. I wish I had seen my ex’s true colours sooner. I think he hid them, and I didn’t follow up on the clues.
What impact will your separation or divorce will have on the children?
This was the question that perplexed me the most and for the longest. I do worry about the impact that our separation has had on Cygnet and will have on Cygnet for the rest of his life. Not a day goes past when I don’t wish that Cygnet had a Mum and Dad who love each other. But Cygnet has never had a Mum and Dad who love each other. Staying together would never have given him a Mum and Dad who love each other. We would have been living a lie, when we were able, and miserable hell when we were not able to live the lie. I try not to think of the impact that staying together would have had on Cygnet in the long term.
Cygnet’s relationship with his Dad has improved beyond measure since we separated. Cygnet and his Dad spend time together. They’ve bonded. My irrational self is sad about this. I want to be the centre of Cygnet’s universe and had we not separated I would have been. My rational and logical and level-headed self knows that Cygnet now has two centres to his universe. He has a Dad who is more engaged than he ever would have been had we stayed together. He also has me – the real me, and not the me trying to live a lie. This can only be a good thing.
I am not for a second trying to downplay the damage that parental separation and divorce can have on children. What I am saying though is that there are opportunities and positives to come out of every situation. Cygnet’s relationship with his Dad is one of those positives (logical self speaking!).
I think, at times, we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that some relationships should end. Some relationships are toxic and have to end. Some relationships just run their course. The challenging thing is having the bravery to take the plunge and to admit that the relationship can’t continue. Ending a relationship takes courage. A bucket-load of courage.