I've been a very longtime reader of these forums and have learned so much. This is my first post and any advice or food for thought is welcome.
My husband and I have two children, ages 2 and almost 5. Our marriage has been difficult and painful for most of the 7 years we've been married, and after a few years of going back and forth about it, I know in my heart that the best thing for us is to divorce. That was actually the "easy" part, deciding that. My husband is not a bad person, but there are many, many ways in which we are incompatible, and I have not been able to find a way to make this a workable situation. We argue more than we get along. I do not experience joy with him. I feel affection for him because we share a lot of history, and he is a wonderful father and I love that about him. That's about it. Anyway.
I am financially able to support my girls, I have a good support network of family and friends to help me through this, and while my husband does not want a divorce, I have no reason to expect him to become violent or abusive toward me or the girls once I initiate the process. So in many ways, this will be a best-case-scenario divorce.
BUT--I am paralyzed with fear about my children's emotional health and their reactions to the divorce. I try to imagine putting them through the back-and-forth of joint custody and I just cry. I spend a few nights away from home per year for work-related travel and that's it, whereas my husband works such long hours that he is rarely around (and if he is, he's not "present," if you know what I mean). So they are used to having their mama here. Thinking about them trying to understand why they can't be with me all the time....worrying that they will think I don't love them as much anymore....the fear that they will feel abandoned by me....these are the only things that keep me in the marriage. I am so afraid of hurting them.
The girls have loving relationships with my husband so it's not like they're strangers to each other--it's just impossible for me to imagine them being away from me. I'm an adult, I can handle it, as hard as it will be not to have them with me every day...but they are babies. They don't understand.
And yet I worry that if I don't leave, I'm going to be this empty shell of a person for the rest of my life. Ugh, that sounds so melodramatic.
So I don't know exactly what I'm asking....but have you been there? Am I an idiot for thinking of putting them through this? Am I overreacting? Are they going to be okay?
My boys were just turned 7 & 3 when my ex moved out 5 yrs ago and we'd been together for nearly 10 yrs. We were blessed that he was able to just go to the house next door (neighbors moved out when he was deciding where to go) which made the back and forth very easy. My youngest has had some issues with feeling stability but more because I was a wreck for a long time (XH initiated the divorce). and because his part-time preschool closed a year later and he had to go to daycare which was very hard for him. If I had been as stable as you sound when it all happened, I can see that things would have been way better for everyone. I had worked at home very minimally for years and suddenly had to make more money and didn't have the financial or emotional resources to really be available to him when he really needed me.
Divorce is all about what you make it. My kids have been amazingly well-adjusted to it all (aside from the things with Little Boy), to the point where I still (5 yrs later) have to tell their teachers that they have 2 houses because it just isn't obvious to anyone. XH and I have done all we can to keep the boys well-being as the most important thing. We have always been civil and friendly in front of the kids, they haven't seen or heard fighting about them or anything else since long before XH moved out. We communicate important issues through email or occasional conversations when they aren't around. You have to take the high road on everything & let the petty stuff go so that the kids have the best life they can. It's completely possible.
Aside from my financial limitations, I think my kids have a better chance at a happy life having parents who are living separately. It's not how I pictured my life and it wasn't what I wanted for them, but it hasn't been a bad thing at all.
Another single mom (who was the director at our school at the time) told me when everything was happening "You aren't breaking up your family. It's already broken and you're doing what you can to fix it"
Robin~ single, work-at-home momma to my WonderBoys
YoungMan (6/00) & LittleBoy (6/04)