How to cope with loneliness
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Considering Divorce or Separation If you're considering divorce or separation, this is the place to talk.

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Old 03-10-2013, 05:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to cope with loneliness

Just like so many others here my marital situation is difficult and IF my wife and I aren't able to make progress then divorce is a real possibility.

A little over two years ago I separated from my wife after many years during which she was in a downward spiral. There were a lot of reasons why I decided to separate but I think ultimately I felt that we had gotten to a point that we were no longer able to work on things without first separating and collecting ourselves. It was essentially a 180 for me and ultimately for her. We were separated for 13 months and eventually reconciled. It has been about a year since we moved back in together and unfortunately I feel that there are some issues that we might not be able to resolve.

Some extra info: We've been married since 1992 (20 years), we have two daughters (11 and 8), I am 45 and she is 42.

I think during our separation the one thing I struggled with the most is loneliness. I really had no friends outside of work except for the friends I shared with my wife. She is very religious and involved with the church and other religious social groups and all of our friends came from there. I am not religious and unsurprisingly when I decided to separate, I found most of them very unsupportive. I have no family here and the closest any of my relatives live is about an 11 hour drive away. Other than the time I shared with my daughters, I was completely alone.

Interestingly, I thought I was alone in my marriage but it is different when you may go a whole weekend without having a meaningful conversation with anybody ... weekend after weekend ... it became unbearable at times. I used the time to work on myself and from that standpoint, I was frequently able to distract myself from it and mostly avoid falling into the self-pity abyss but it was always there.

I didn't know about TAM at the time and if I did I most assuredly would have been posting back then. The worst thing about being alone was not having anybody to talk to about my situation. Nobody to bounce my thoughts or feelings off of. It seemed like when I needed people the most is when I discovered nobody wanted to be there for me. That was hard because I always felt that I had and would have been there for them. Whose to blame them? Who wants to spend their time with someone going through such a traumatic period in their life? People like to surround themselves with positivity, not negativity and while it took me a while to realize that, working on the positive things I had going for me became my focus. People also like to surround themselves with people interested in them and that is my fault ... I was so focused on my own problems that I had little to give at that time.

As I contemplate the thought of divorce, I am ... intimidated ... by my memories of the extreme loneliness. I feel alone now ... my wife and I seem to function only as roommates these days ... but I know those feelings will get worse when I am actually alone.

How many of you have struggled with that aspect of separation and divorce? How were you able to cope with it?

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Old 03-10-2013, 06:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to cope with loneliness

I can relate to so much of this!

Before I was partnered, I stayed busy working, taking care of my kid, working out, taking classes, connecting with people online. I also enjoyed my hobbies (reading, photography, film, travel) when I had kid-free time. I would go to events infrequently (maybe once a month or less). That being said, I'm pretty introverted and enjoy alone time.
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Old 03-10-2013, 06:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ok, I'm not in your situation but will chip in until others do so.

If you don't want to spend every weekend indoors with no-one to talk to you need to find some interests that take you out of the house and intermingling with like minded people. Can you go to a different church, take up a sport or hobby, volunteer or some such.

It will take time for you to make friends with whom you are comfortable enough to have deep meaningful converstions and to begin with at least you will need to present as positive and outgoing or yes people will tend to avoid you.

No-one is going to come knocking at your door so put yourself out there and go through the motions even if you don't feel like it to begin with. As time goes on you'll likely find that you're not pretending to be positive anymore coz you actually begin to genuinely be positive.

And just because you are alone at home you don't have to be lonely - take responsibility for your own happiness and find what uplifts you and enjoy. It might be something simple like listening to music, painting, crossword puzzles. Don't indulge yourself with feeling overwhelmed with negativity and lonliness. Instead, make a point of enjoying your alone time.
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Old 03-10-2013, 06:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You are not alone brother. Your age is the same as mine and your wife's is the same as my wife. You went 13 months before reconciliation, and I'm 13 months separated but not yet reconciled.

She was the extroverted one and had all the friends and I was the introverted one and was focused on the children. When she left I was devastated and didn't have anyone to share my hurt and feelings with. That lead to some uncontrolled drinking. Weekends were the worst when the children would stay with her, I found myself all alone. It drove me crazy.

After one year you think I would have figured out what to do. Well I think I am finally getting it, and that answer is: Work on yourself and really make the effort. Working on yourself is not just physical but also emotional. You need to get yourself in shape and look great. Hitting the gym does wonders to relieve stress and make you an attractive man physically. And during this time, you need to look within yourself and analyze how to improve your emotions and attitude. That was the hardest part for me. I've only been working on that aspect just the last month, but it is doing wonders and I feel like a much improved person already. I have to remind myself daily to make these changes but the progress is coming along nicely.

Now the other advice I'll give you, is to take advantage of your wife living with you again. Although it is not good at the moment, don't consider divorce until you work on yourself. You will evolve slowly and she may notice this. Set the gear in motion, light that spark and she may once again see the man she fell in love with right before her eyes. I would not blow the opportunity if my wife were back with me. Give her every reason to love you.

Now if you make the changes and she doesn't respond, then don't be nervous about being lonely again. If you have put in the work, there are loads of women out there who will find you attractive. It won't be long before you meet someone because you will be an attractive 45 year old male with a great attitude. Women like that.

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Old 03-10-2013, 07:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to cope with loneliness

Try meetup.com. It has tons of social groups for just about anything your into. I've met alot of really nice people (men and women) at these events and have done everything from salsa lessons, to softball games, bowling, happy hours and golf.

Lots of fun and you'll get the opportunity to meet new people.
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Old 03-10-2013, 07:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to cope with loneliness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Advocado View Post
Ok, I'm not in your situation but will chip in until others do so.

If you don't want to spend every weekend indoors with no-one to talk to you need to find some interests that take you out of the house and intermingling with like minded people. Can you go to a different church, take up a sport or hobby, volunteer or some such.

It will take time for you to make friends with whom you are comfortable enough to have deep meaningful converstions and to begin with at least you will need to present as positive and outgoing or yes people will tend to avoid you.

No-one is going to come knocking at your door so put yourself out there and go through the motions even if you don't feel like it to begin with. As time goes on you'll likely find that you're not pretending to be positive anymore coz you actually begin to genuinely be positive.

And just because you are alone at home you don't have to be lonely - take responsibility for your own happiness and find what uplifts you and enjoy. It might be something simple like listening to music, painting, crossword puzzles. Don't indulge yourself with feeling overwhelmed with negativity and lonliness. Instead, make a point of enjoying your alone time.
Thanks for the feedback, Advocado.

Well, I am not the religious one in my marriage so I don't go to church, but your point is understood.

I am not an inside person so I do get out and do things. I don't even have my tv hooked-up. I spend a lot of time at the gym and other outdoor fitness type things. One thing is certain, as you said, you cannot meet people locked indoors. Well, that's not me ... I'm usually itching to get out and do something.

I also volunteer quite a bit although frequently it is through work. I've even spent time in Mexico and the Dominican, building homes for the poor.

I do struggle with not being outgoing enough. I like to socialize and when I do socialize I have a good time. But I am the quiet guy, at least initially. Always have been since I was a child and oddly enough my daughters are exactly the same. They are sweet and funny and smart ... always have stories and interesting things to say ... but that's with people they are close to. They don't fall far from the tree. What can I say, I am a work in progress in that respect.

I did spend some time at the local bars, at least so that I could be out on Friday night, even by myself. I am NOT the quiet guy after a few beers, that is for sure ... but it's not really my scene, I think. I haven't live that life in 20+ years. I don't know ... I struggled to find things I could do that would put me in a position to meet people.

I have a lot of hobbies to keep my mind off things and try to enjoy my alone time ... but that sense of loneliness becomes overwhelming at times. When it's friday night and you come home and the silence is deafening ... you don't have anybody to call up and say "do you want to grab a beer?" ... it's a little difficult. There were times I would go to the gym that is open until 10 on Friday night and despite this cavernous gym being packed every day of the week, it would be just me and one or two other guys ... and the guy at the front desk, lol. That was sad. On the positive side, the equipment was always available

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Old 03-10-2013, 07:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to cope with loneliness

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Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
You are not alone brother. Your age is the same as mine and your wife's is the same as my wife. You went 13 months before reconciliation, and I'm 13 months separated but not yet reconciled.

She was the extroverted one and had all the friends and I was the introverted one and was focused on the children. When she left I was devastated and didn't have anyone to share my hurt and feelings with. That lead to some uncontrolled drinking. Weekends were the worst when the children would stay with her, I found myself all alone. It drove me crazy.

After one year you think I would have figured out what to do. Well I think I am finally getting it, and that answer is: Work on yourself and really make the effort. Working on yourself is not just physical but also emotional. You need to get yourself in shape and look great. Hitting the gym does wonders to relieve stress and make you an attractive man physically. And during this time, you need to look within yourself and analyze how to improve your emotions and attitude. That was the hardest part for me. I've only been working on that aspect just the last month, but it is doing wonders and I feel like a much improved person already. I have to remind myself daily to make these changes but the progress is coming along nicely.

Now the other advice I'll give you, is to take advantage of your wife living with you again. Although it is not good at the moment, don't consider divorce until you work on yourself. You will evolve slowly and she may notice this. Set the gear in motion, light that spark and she may once again see the man she fell in love with right before her eyes. I would not blow the opportunity if my wife were back with me. Give her every reason to love you.

Now if you make the changes and she doesn't respond, then don't be nervous about being lonely again. If you have put in the work, there are loads of women out there who will find you attractive. It won't be long before you meet someone because you will be an attractive 45 year old male with a great attitude. Women like that.
Thanks Alpha.

I haven't given up on my marriage yet but I guess the question is whether I want my wife, not whether she wants me. There are a few things that we both have to work on but I think if we divorce then it will likely be me pushing for it. We ended our original separation in large part because she refused to play along with getting divorced. I wasn't convinced about reconciliation but she was going to make divorce so difficult with the kids that I felt pushed towards reconciliation ... at least to try it after having put so much work into things.

We have worked through a lot of things but one issue that doesn't seem solvable is sexual intimacy. You speak about going to the gym and improving how you look physically ... making yourself more attractive. My wife weighs 330lbs. I'm already fit (although I'm NOT happy about losing weight with all this stress). My wife has gained so much weight I don't even recognize her. It is VERY unattractive so we don't have sex. It isn't even about the sex, it is about the intimacy ... the connection. It's gone and I don't know how to get it back.

There are other issues like that ... this isn't the only one but it is a big one. I ask myself ... if that was the only issue, would you divorce ... I don't think so. I'm sure that my reaction to all this has caused a disconnect within her too and she probably isn't in love with me either. I do know that if I could flip a switch and just be in love with her that she would want that and respond to it. I wish it was that easy. She is a good person and a great mother. There is a lot to admire about her. I wish I could just make it work.

I am glad you are making improvements and seeing results in that area of your life. I have been working on that aspect of myself for a while now. Currently reading "Take the Stairs" by Rory Vaden. Good book. Recently saw him give a presentation so I picked up the book.

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Old 03-10-2013, 09:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: How to cope with loneliness

All I can say is... separating while working on your marriage is lonely. Because you aren't free to move on.

Deciding to divorce because it's done sets you free. Not so lonely.
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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All I can say is... separating while working on your marriage is lonely. Because you aren't free to move on.

Deciding to divorce because it's done sets you free. Not so lonely.
That is true. I imagine it would have been different if I separated with the intention of divorce. I don't know if it would have made it any easier to make new friends but at least the dating potential would have been there.

Not sure I could have dated right away though; I wasn't in a good place. I felt like I had failed and becoming a part-time dad to my beautiful girls was VERY hard. When I decided to separate, I found myself crying while driving so many times at the thought of breaking up the family. I had the feeling that separating was both the right thing to do for my daughters and the wrong thing ... at the same time. In the end, it turned out to be the right decision for a few reasons:

1) She was homeschooling the girls and doing an incredibly bad job of it. She spent more time socializing than teaching the girls. She did nothing and the girls were paying the price. As a result, I wanted them in school and she refused. During the separation, we put them in a school that is part-time home school and part time classroom. They thrived and it was at that time as she was sobbing she admitted that she had made a mistake and school was the right thing for them. They are now in full-time school. That was a huge motivating factor for me to separate and a result of the 180. Both my girls are now honor roll students and love going to school.

2) There was so much tension in the house. A lot of built up resentment and anger. That couldn't be dispelled under the same roof. The girls saw that and I had to ask myself if I was doing them any favors by trying to work this out in the home. With the exception of a schedule for my girls and some financial things, I went into NC for the first month. I told her that after one month, I wanted to attend MC. When we moved back in, the tension and resentment was gone even if not all of our problems were resolved. We are able to live together peacefully even though I know we are both unhappy.

3) My SAHM wife was doing nothing prior to the separation. Nothing. She was socializing with her church friends and that was it. The house was always a disaster. I did everything. We hadn't even had sex for about 3 and a half years. Our connection was gone. She had spiraled into one of her depressions that she has struggled with all her life. It was unbearable and I felt completely taken advantage of and disrespected. While I still do much of the work around the house now, she is better. The big thing ... and I'm really proud of her for doing this ... is that she has decided to start working again but in a different career. She is going back to school to become certified for teaching. It is an accelerated 9 month program and she is rocking it out. She was meant to do that. It is a night and day difference. That wouldn't have happened without the separation.

I have to be careful about dating if a divorce was to happen. I certainly don't think introducing somebody else into my girls life is healthy at all. I will have to take that slowly and one thing is certain: I would be very careful about making sure the person I'm dating is someone I want in my girls life and who would want to be in their life. For our differences, my wife is a very good mother; I would not be looking for somebody to replace her in that role but I would look for someone who could be a positive influence on them as a woman. So many women out there don't meet that criteria.

There was a point about 7 months into it that I had all but given up and was talking to attorneys. That was a liberating moment. I did start dating at that time ... something that I have mixed feelings about but I am all but certain she was at the same place. I have never cheated on her and never will ... even so, some may call it cheating (technically it is) ... my only defense is that at that time I had told her I was going to file. It was all but a done deal and I didn't do that so I could start dating. It's where my head was at. That time period is something we don't talk about. I don't think she wants to hear about it and I don't think she wants to tell me about what was going on with her (I have evidence that she was dating too) I started to broach the subject one day but she immediately changed topics. It is what it is and I probably don't want to know about it either. I hesitated on filing for a number of practical reasons. Then about 10 months into it I realized that for those same reasons, there were signs that she was going to make this very difficult. I stopped dating with the possibility that we might not divorce. That was a good decision. She asked me why I hadn't filed yet and I explained it to her. We eventually agreed to move back in together, mostly due to financial concerns. Halfway through the week before we were supposed to move back in ... she announced that she was moving to Texas to live with her mother and taking the kids with her. She gave me a two-day notice. I talked to the attorney and there was nothing I could do on such short notice to stop her. I felt like I had no choice but to essentially beg her to reconsider and commit myself to R. My daughters mean everything to me; we are very close. I am extremely skeptical that this was a scripted move based on advice given to her; but I am also certain she was willing to see it through.

It's interesting, before writing this I had just gotten back from grocery shopping. On a side note, yes I still do all the grocery shopping ... but what has changed is that now she actually helps me put them away, lol. Anyway, I was at checkout and turn around and there is one of my former friends who dropped me like a rock when I separated. His wife is a religious fundamentalist and believes in marriage for life no matter what. They are extremely judgmental and wanted to have nothing to do with me. Seeing him and making small talk was ... tense. He made a few remarks that I don't think he meant as condescending but I could tell where his head was at. Lovely.

Anyway, there are a lot of challenges with separation and divorce. We might be able to work this out but there are times when I contemplate the logistics of divorce. It is daunting to me to go through that initial loneliness and I was curious if anyone else had felt that way and what steps they took to cope with it.

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Old 03-10-2013, 11:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Alpha, I reread your post ... just want to say thanks for the advice and I'm glad things are getting better for you. You have the right approach and I'm happy for you.
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Old 03-10-2013, 11:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I look back at my separation and for all the loneliness there were some good things. I felt like I had control again.

Before the separation everything felt like it was spinning out of control. I was angry and resentful and I had shut down and become uncommunicative. You won't know exactly when I am angry, I don't vocalize it ... you can only tell through my body language. To make matters worse, she will disagree but she is worse at communicating than I am. She avoids the tough discussions at all cost. The marriage counseling was a real eye opener for both of us. She had controlled the finances up to about a year before the separation and they were a wreck. Not because I didn't have a nice income but because she didn't stay on top of it. Suddenly I was getting collection notices and I took over. I was furious. I took over laundry because she never did it. How many times do I have to go to work without underwear on because there was nothing clean. Ridiculous. I took over shopping and put her on a strict budget because all she was doing was buying crap and there was never any food in the house. She was eating out with the kids nearly every meal and costing us a fortune. I have a beautiful house in an upscale neighborhood. I look out the back and the view is just picture perfect. The houses in my neighborhood are immaculate ... my house was a wreck. Even if I cleaned on the weekend, when I came home from work on Monday the house would be a wreck. Sometimes I refused to clean ... and she would let the place get unlivable. That is a pet peeve of mine. I felt completely disrespected and used. She didn't do anything except visit friends and play on facebook until 2 in the morning. I was not the father I needed to be because I couldn't stand to be in the same house with her. All the stress and distractions of my personal life was taking a toll on my career. I found it hard to recognize the person I felt I had become. I refused to accept that.

Suddenly I had control. I could envision building the life I really felt I was meant to live ... the one I imagined earlier on in my life. Even though I was a part-time dad, I made the most of the time I spent with my girls and we did all sorts of things together. The time was limited but I made the most of it. My anger and resentment slowly melted away and I could see clearly. I was able to make choices that were no longer clouded and I could see the mistakes I had made. I was resolved to never repeat making the same mistakes in future relationships. I was beginning to feel like me ... the me of a long time ago with hope and goals and a positive spirit.

I am back with her and I feel that control slipping away again. I don't want to be that guy again. I'm not angry and resentful this time. At the worst I feel resigned to an unhappy existence and at best I feel like I can keep on working on it and by some miracle, improve on things. The debate in my mind is whether it is worth it or not.

During my separation, the former pastor of my wife's church (a wayward spouse who had been kicked out of the church) contacted me and told me to go back to my wife. He told me that if i do then God will reward me and fill my life with good things. I'm not religious but there was a part of me that really wished that were true.

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Old 03-11-2013, 05:39 AM   #12 (permalink)
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JustSomeGuy thanks for the encouragement. I read your posts and felt a connection because we have similarities.

Do you believe in Sexual Rank? If your wife and you aren't more or less in the same ranking something is going to give? She is 330 lbs as you said, you are fit. Do you even find yourself remotely attracted to her? Seriously. I bet the answer is no. I also bet she knows you are the hot one and that leads to insecurity with her. Google Married Man Sex Life and you'll read what I am talking about. The author Athol Kay has some very interesting things to say and many have opened my eyes.

I also believe you have every right to be happy. If it isn't happening at home and you have made the effort but she hasn't then what are you waiting for? Life can start anew for you, much tougher for her, but you should not feel guilty about it. Your daughters sound like they are mature enough to handle you leaving your wife should you decide. You will always love them, you know that, and you can make sure that they always are reminded of that.

The worst thing I believe that can happen is being in Limbo. I am in Limbo now and it sucks! I'd rather know now whether or not I have a chance to get back with her than be dragged along. The ball looks to be in your court now. If you don't feel it is going to ever work out, then I think you should make the move.

Don't let anyone control your life. You only have one and it shouldn't be wasted unhappy.
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Old 07-29-2013, 02:29 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Sounds like your wife has completely let herself go and has no pride in anything.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sounds like your wife has completely let herself go and has no pride in anything.
I should probably revive this thread because a lot has happened since I've posted last.

I would say that yes, she has completely let herself go, physically and in a number of other ways. I wouldn't say she doesn't have pride in anything. She does have pride in her job as a mom and while we've had disagreements on how to raise our children, she is a devoted to them. I really have very good children as a result. They aren't perfect but I really couldn't be more proud of them.

There are a lot of things she couldn't care less about and that really drives a wedge between us. I think that I've simply come to accept that these differences in priorities/values are not going to change. I think I've realized that I can't lead her there and the differences are too far apart to reach a reasonable compromise. Instead of placing blame or finding fault, I am willing to accept that she just is who she is and there is nothing wrong with that ... however, it may mean that we are no longer compatible. I'm ok with that. It is amazing how the resentment/anger/frustration just melts away when you come that realization.

Now comes some hard decisions.

A lot has happened since I posted last. Both of us are in a better place and there have been "moments of clarity." I'll post a more detailed update a little later when I can get some time.
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Old 07-29-2013, 11:48 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Cool. I love Michigan.
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