We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

If you don't know my story, we are just at a standstill. H is very depressed and down about us not getting along, my insecurity and trust issues, how he keeps making mistakes, the tension between us, etc. He's pessimistic by nature. He took 5 days to himself to think about things and really just decided that he loves me but has defeated himself so much that he feels like he has no fight left.

We started a discussion about maybe him going and staying with his parents to feel what it would be like without us. He didn't say much, but the next day he said it's the only thing that makes sense to him. We're both tense when he comes home from work, no fighting, but just uncomfortable to be in the same room because there's no interaction as we both overanalyze everything and can't be ourselves. So, he says that if we didn't come home to each other, it would be easier to deal with things and talk online or on the phone. He would also take me out on the weekend and we wouldn't talk about our marriage at that time, which would allow us to have some fun and possibly reconnect. This is the first thing he's been willing to try.

I, of course, am hesitant and torn. I go back and forth, and have always felt that as soon as he's out of the house it's hard to recover. But we want to lay some ground rules, so expectations are clear. There are 2 kids involved here, after all. He also works right by our house, and we're still sharing a life. He's set on this, and I can see the logic.

-So, what recommendations do you all have for this?
-Do we state the goal of this trial separation and a plan for reconnecting? Do we write all this down?
-Is it okay to state that we will speak each night, and he will tell the kids goodnight?
-Can he come over for dinner once a week, allowing me to go out afterwards for me time?
-Do we establish that every Saturday, we do something fun together? Or is that too much pressure?
-Is it a good idea to set aside one night per week to discuss the relationship?
-Do we set a reevaluation date where we look at how this is working and whether it's going in a positive direction? And at that point we decide whether to continue with the separation or move home? (no talk about moving home in between that date)
-Can he see the kids any time he wants? Or do I make it where he needs to set it ahead of time? What if my son just misses his dad and wants to hang out?
-I don't want the kids staying away from their home, so is it alright to let him stay at the house to visit them and I go to a friend's?
-He will be surprised if I state any kind of "no other person" rule, but I think it needs to be stated. Right?
-Is it okay to go do things as a family, set ahead of time, as long as the activities are out of the house?
-What if my son just wants to go and stay with him for a bit? He likes to watch wrestling with his dad, so is it weird for H to come over and watch TV with him and then leave when the kids are in bed?
-He already stated that he'd come up on his day off and clean the house and do chores while I'm at work. But this seems weird, doesn't it?
-Most of all, do I become less available? I want to do what's right, and I want him to see the seriousness of this. I want him to miss what we had. But I also don't want to totally disconnect and shut him out. This is so hard!

Sorry for the 20 questions. These are just concerns I have and I feel like most of this needs to be established ahead of time. Any advice would be appreciated. I hope you can share your stories or reflections of what you would have done differently, what worked, what didn't work, etc. I'm really hoping that this turns into a positive thing and we can work this out. We both want it to. He just doesn't know how. I will miss him so much. But I already miss him now.
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Old 03-03-2011, 09:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

Having ground rules is good, so that you both accept and understand what the terms and goals of the separation are.

However ... it's all out the window if one of the parties simply decides to disregard the ground rules.

Separation was my choice. Goal was to eliminate the prevalent tension. Get some space. Feel the discomfort of NOT being together. Get some perspective and work towards determining if we could address our issues together and have a better marriage.

That's what we agreed on. We never instituted a no dating clause ... primarily because at the time, I didn't think it was even remotely possible.

Suggestions:

If he is choosing the separation, don't let him dictate the terms; particularly when it comes to the house.

There HAS to be pain and discomfort associated with the choice.

No. He should not have access to the house unless you are there, or he has made the request and you have approved.

He shouldn't be allowed to come and go. That way he can simply show up if he's feeling lonely or bored. If it's a separation, you should treat it as such. He either has scheduled time with the kids, or takes them during the week or weekends, based on his living arrangements.

I would suggest a period of no contact. Again, goal here is for you both to be uncomfortable. Only initial contact should be around seeing that the kids needs are being met. The big exception here is that if the kids want to talk to him. My belief is that the kids should have access, at least to talk, whenever they need. Goes a long way to preserving a sense of security.

Scheduling family activities is fine. It's absolutely positive presuming that the relationship between you isn't toxic.

Yes. You should absolutely be less available. If he starts calling you several times a day ... be busy.
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Old 03-03-2011, 11:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

I think Deejo has some good points.

Reading your list, it seemed like you probably had too much "us" time scheduled.

I would set a schedule for the kids - it will help everyone. Be flexible, but try to stick to it if possible.

Don't talk every night. You won't really get a chance to find out if you actually miss each other.

Its reasonable for him to come over sometimes - to watch wrestling or whatever.

Why can't the kids go and stay at his parents' house? You SHOULD use this time to do some thinking of your own - which means you shouldn't be doing 90% of the parenting while he comes and goes as he pleases.

I think having an evaluation or end date in mind is good - but I would keep the deep "relationship" talks in a counselor's office if possible. Give the talking a break for a bit.

Take care of yourself and hold him accountable as an equal parent - even if he doesn't have his own place.
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Old 03-03-2011, 11:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

Deejo ~ Our goal is definitely to eliminate tension. He is depressed and defeated by all this and needs to be able to think straight before we do anything. He says he loves me over and over again, but he hates this situation. I am torn between the discomfort thing. If the goal is to reconnect, how can that happen if I make it uncomfortable? I'm so concerned about the kids.

Our relationship isn't toxic at all. It's just strained. We're both crushed by this. I was thinking the initial period of no contact would be good. But how long? And we have bills and things to figure out together. The kids could call him. Definitely. I do think a schedule is necessary. That's good for everyone.


niceguy~ I appreciate your input and advice. I'm torn between the "us" time since the goal is to reconnect. I don't want to lose him completely. It's scary. I don't like this. And I miss sex! LOL. I guess we should just work out a schedule. Maybe one night he comes over for dinner and hangs with the kids and I go out. Maybe another night is our "Relationship Talking Night" on the phone or online. Saturday night is date night. On Sundays we do something as a family. Or maybe every other Sunday, he gets them on the alternating Sunday. Other contact is limited.

I think I could let my 8 year old go to his parents, but not my 2 year old. She's a mommy's girl and my sunshine. I just feel like I shouldn't suffer because of all this, and it isn't fair. I know, maybe that's wrong. He won't go to a counselor. Big bummer. He said I can't push that. My hope is that he opens up to his mom, since she talks to me, too.
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Old 03-03-2011, 11:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

Is he addressing the depression?

That in and of itself is a huge hurdle. That's his to own and deal with, and if he isn't, then I don't think separation will change much of anything.

You may feel compelled to rescue him if he starts to sink. Be aware, and be careful.

Date after a few weeks. Connect. Have sex after the kids are asleep - then send him home.

Again, that is only to reinforce the reality of the choice.
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Old 03-03-2011, 11:59 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

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Originally Posted by Deejo View Post
Date after a few weeks. Connect. Have sex after the kids are asleep - then send him home.
Sounds funny - but our MC gave us similar advice. If you need sex, the last thing you want to do is feel like you have to turn to someone else. Your spouse is the only person you should be looking to - even when apart.

And also - per our MC - sex is a great way to reconnect.

Just don't talk and kick him out when you're done!!!

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Old 03-03-2011, 12:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

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Is he addressing the depression?

That in and of itself is a huge hurdle. That's his to own and deal with, and if he isn't, then I don't think separation will change much of anything.

You may feel compelled to rescue him if he starts to sink. Be aware, and be careful.

Date after a few weeks. Connect. Have sex after the kids are asleep - then send him home.

Again, that is only to reinforce the reality of the choice.
No, he's not addressing the depression. It's been THE hurdle. He feels defeated and like he's "lost himself". He won't see a IC, or talk to anyone. He copes differently. It makes it hard to play my side, because me shutting him out will only hurt him more. That's part of the pull here, is that he might open up to his mom. That's why I have opened up to her. I'm worried about him. He feels like if he's able to have some space from the constant reminder of the state of our marriage and the tension, that he can start to deal with his demons. But right now he's stagnant.

So you think a no contact period of 3 weeks? Sounds like this will be a long thing. I was thinking 3 months apart would be forever. I'm prepared, after reading about it, that it could be very long. I'm hoping not. I'm going to see a IC on Wednesday so I'll see what she thinks about this. I want to date right away. Or do I give him a chance to miss me?

I do understand reinforcing the reality of it all. He says depression doesn't make him have much of a sex drive. And while that realm of our marriage is fantastic when it happens, I feel a connection, but he feels the painful reminder of the situation afterwards. I can't even grasp the reality of it. It's heartbreaking. I have a lot of thinking to do about it. And he wants to leave tomorrow. I said how I wanted our son to have time to process, but he doesn't think it will be a big deal. I want everything to be done in the best interest of the kids. And I need to push that.
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Old 03-03-2011, 12:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

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No, he's not addressing the depression. It's been THE hurdle. He feels defeated and like he's "lost himself". He won't see a IC, or talk to anyone. He copes differently. It makes it hard to play my side, because me shutting him out will only hurt him more. That's part of the pull here, is that he might open up to his mom. That's why I have opened up to her. I'm worried about him. He feels like if he's able to have some space from the constant reminder of the state of our marriage and the tension, that he can start to deal with his demons. But right now he's stagnant.

So you think a no contact period of 3 weeks? Sounds like this will be a long thing. I was thinking 3 months apart would be forever. I'm prepared, after reading about it, that it could be very long. I'm hoping not. I'm going to see a IC on Wednesday so I'll see what she thinks about this. I want to date right away. Or do I give him a chance to miss me?

I do understand reinforcing the reality of it all. He says depression doesn't make him have much of a sex drive. And while that realm of our marriage is fantastic when it happens, I feel a connection, but he feels the painful reminder of the situation afterwards. I can't even grasp the reality of it. It's heartbreaking. I have a lot of thinking to do about it. And he wants to leave tomorrow. I said how I wanted our son to have time to process, but he doesn't think it will be a big deal. I want everything to be done in the best interest of the kids. And I need to push that.
Our biggest concern was how our kids would handle things. They were good - they were 7 and 10 at the time. We just stressed that it was temporary - not divorce - and that we were still working together to fix things. I don't remember any real drama on their part - just some basic questions about when and where and such.

I'm with Deejo - give yourself at least a week or two before you go out on a date.
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Old 03-03-2011, 12:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

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Sounds funny - but our MC gave us similar advice. If you need sex, the last thing you want to do is feel like you have to turn to someone else. Your spouse is the only person you should be looking to - even when apart.

And also - per our MC - sex is a great way to reconnect.

Just don't talk and kick him out when you're done!!!

LOL. Wish he felt like it. Of course, if I initiate he comes around, but I was trying to be playful the last couple times and then later in discussion, it came back to me. I asked if he felt a connection when we had sex and he said it's hard to when I say, "F**k me please!" He didn't have a problem with it at the moment. And the last time was the night before he went away for 5 days to find himself. I asked for a kiss after a long conversation, and he did, and it turned into a long drawn out one where he was holding me and being very passionate which led to love making where I asked him to go slow. When I brought that up, he said there's no denying that he loves me and we have amazing chemistry. So how do I ask for a booty call?!
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Old 03-03-2011, 12:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

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LOL. Wish he felt like it. Of course, if I initiate he comes around, but I was trying to be playful the last couple times and then later in discussion, it came back to me. I asked if he felt a connection when we had sex and he said it's hard to when I say, "F**k me please!" He didn't have a problem with it at the moment. And the last time was the night before he went away for 5 days to find himself. I asked for a kiss after a long conversation, and he did, and it turned into a long drawn out one where he was holding me and being very passionate which led to love making where I asked him to go slow. When I brought that up, he said there's no denying that he loves me and we have amazing chemistry. So how do I ask for a booty call?!
Same way as before!!! You just won't have as many opportunities. When he comes over to watch wrestling, let him tuck the kids into bed while you go slip into something a little more comfortable!
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:38 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

Ugh to the opportunities. I hope the ice thaws once he's gone.

I've been thinking about the no contact thing. If our issue is communication and openness, and we are separating to improve things and reconnect, then why would I cut contact? Even just for a bit? I know I shouldn't be 100% available to him, because he needs to know the seriousness of this, but I'm just curious as to why no contact for a bit would be good.
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Old 03-03-2011, 03:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

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Ugh to the opportunities. I hope the ice thaws once he's gone.

I've been thinking about the no contact thing. If our issue is communication and openness, and we are separating to improve things and reconnect, then why would I cut contact? Even just for a bit? I know I shouldn't be 100% available to him, because he needs to know the seriousness of this, but I'm just curious as to why no contact for a bit would be good.
It gives you a chance to really actually miss each other. Also gives you a chance to find out how miserable you might be without him. You won't get that by spending one or two hours together almost every day.

Also, you should both be taking some time to think about what YOU want from a marriage. In a vacuum - independent of how the other feels - what do YOU want? Hard to answer when you are constantly thinking in terms of "we" or "us" or "him/her needs."
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Old 03-04-2011, 07:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

Well, we "talked" last night a little. He was in a big frumpy mood on the couch, totally bringing us all down. So I texted him something along the lines of "smile" or something. He then starts this whole text conversation, while we are in the same room. Wasn't about the separation but about how depressed he is, etc. I did some research online about separation cases where reconciling is the goal. I sent him a message outlining the basics, along with links to several sites. I told him we have to come up with terms and a goal. He kind of made me feel crappy by responding to it by saying that the purpose is "to cool off and find ourselves, and possibly reconnect." I hate the possibly part. I just responded that this part has to be crystal clear, because the way I go about is very different depending on that. And the kids need to know what's going on. I just can't handle all this. It's ripping me to shreds. I have this huge fear that once he's out he'll just decide that he likes it that way and he doesn't want our family together. I wish there was something I could do, but I can't.
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

Going to give you the same advice I would give a guy in this circumstance.

Work on yourself.

You REALLY should not be placing your sense of well-being into the hands of a depressed knuckle-head that thinks his issues will passively evaporate if he moves out.

I understand your investment and perspective. I used to share it. But I don't any longer.

Seriously, you should really start thinking about what YOU want to make your life look like without this man dragging you and your children down with him.

You want to protect him. I want to kick his ass sideways.

Nothing about what you have shared as his thought process makes a lick of sense. It's all avoidance and deflection.

Is he sick? Yes. But won't do anything about it. You cannot work with that.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:00 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: We're going to do a trial separation. Any tips for ground rules?

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I have this huge fear that once he's out he'll just decide that he likes it that way and he doesn't want our family together.
This feeling SUCKS. I could not shake it. There is nothing you can do about it. Even if he said something, there is now way to really trust it.

Unfortunately, you guys need time apart. It did wonders for my story, but was the hardest thing I've ever done. We were also in MC at the time.

The only way he can decide if he wants back in is if he leaves for a time. I wish your husband would agree to MC before leaving, but that may not be an option.

From the storiest i've read and my own, separation sometimes allows people to really connect. \

Quote:
and possibly reconnect." I hate the possibly part. I just responded that this part has to be crystal clear,
It will not be crystal clear. Don't push it. He isn't able to give you an answer. Pushing and forcing him to give you one will make him want to reconnect less.

I'm sorry, its a scenario that makes you feel horrible. Not knowing what is going to happen, but its how it is.

Last edited by anx; 03-04-2011 at 12:04 PM.
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