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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our relationship has been rocky, and lately I'm seriously considering that we'd be better co-parents and happier people if we weren't romantically involved. The problem is that I have no interest in moving out or kicking DP out. Financially, it'd be a massive burden, and I have absolutely no desire for kiddo to lose time with his parents.

I know that it will likely be incredibly difficult and I'm sure I can find a giant list of ways that breaking up and continuing to live together can go badly- but is there any resource on doing it and having it go well? Or even just resources on co-parenting platonicly from the start?

We both still love each other, we work together well as parents, but our romantic relationship is just a mess. I don't want our family to tear apart just because we may be better friends than lovers.
 

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It could just be a bad phase. My husband is the step-parent and we spent many years just running the household. Frankly there were too many issues, some of them circumstantial, some of the them societal, some personal, that prevented us from having both a "romance" and a family. We are still together, parented well, love each other, and are now (empty nest) creating the "romantic" and satisfying marriage that we always wanted (which is its own set of challenges, but that's a different story).

I personally do not believe that romance and family life are necessarily compatible; evidence is that they often are not compatible for myriad reasons (patriarchy, economic and childrearing demands, biological changes, etc).

Can you sort out for yourself what is the "romantic" part that is rocky and what is actually just a working marriage that is working?

My personal opinion is that the "romantic" aspect of a marriage is the rather immature and self-absorbed preliminary courtship phase that, while cherished and rekindled at times, doesn't and shouldn't serve as the foundation of the marriage. I'm very "old school" on this. To me a working partnership should have commitment, honesty, respect, and fidelity/loyalty. Those qualities are love-in-action and endure a lifetime.

If you are still willing to see yourself for the indefinite future in a committed partnership with your spouse then you aren't, in my mind, "breaking up." Even if you feel you have "lost" the sexual and romantic props to ego that caused you both to "fall in love." To my opinion, you are just in a difficult phase of maturation in the relationship.
 

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I vote for couples counseling and a hefty dose of cutting you all some slack. Most marriages see their demise when the kids are toddlers/preschoolers and I think it has less to do with the marriage and more to do with becoming parents and the stress that puts on everyone, especially when there are losses/emergencies with the kids that both of you have differing stories about (we had both kids hospitalized at different times and saw the experiences from opposite points of view which drove wedges between us as a couple)

Perhaps you need some boundaries clarified, perhaps you need to open the relationship a bit to take the stress of "romance" off you both. A good counselor will help you through that. I wish that I'd done it with my ex before things got too far to detangle it all and we both got very hurt.

That said, it does happen that people co-parent platonically in that same house but I think that unless you resolve whatever has changed your romantic relationship and deal with that, it will always affect your relationship as co-parents, whether or not you are still a couple
 

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unless you resolve whatever has changed your romantic relationship and deal with that, it will always affect your relationship
For us it was just "life." 10-20 years later we were different people with different needs and different perspectives of ourselves and each other and the world. Different experiences, expectations, tolerances, routines, strategies. Same goal, same commitment, same attraction, same love, but the path to "get there" diverged.

We also both became too demanding of each other due to outside stressors and preferred to stay apart rather than fail over and over again in connecting with each other.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If you are still willing to see yourself for the indefinite future in a committed partnership with your spouse then you aren't, in my mind, "breaking up." Even if you feel you have "lost" the sexual and romantic props to ego that caused you both to "fall in love." To my opinion, you are just in a difficult phase of maturation in the relationship.
I disagree. There are many people who've had an amicable divorce, made a commitment to co-parent and put the kids first for the rest of their lives, and maintained that commitment- but they clearly weren't romantically/sexually involved. There are also people who clearly maintain that romantic/sexual spark.

There is a very big difference between co-parents who get along and people who maintain a romantic relationship, and it goes beyond just living together. It sounds like your relationship has easily gone out of a romantic phase, and I'm glad that's worked for you- but it's not that easy for everyone.

The problem is that we haven't lost the romantic/sexual aspect- but they aren't healthy for us. We'll have to intentionally remove them, which I anticipate will be incredibly difficult.
I vote for couples counseling and a hefty dose of cutting you all some slack. Most marriages see their demise when the kids are toddlers/preschoolers and I think it has less to do with the marriage and more to do with becoming parents and the stress that puts on everyone, especially when there are losses/emergencies with the kids that both of you have differing stories about (we had both kids hospitalized at different times and saw the experiences from opposite points of view which drove wedges between us as a couple)

Perhaps you need some boundaries clarified, perhaps you need to open the relationship a bit to take the stress of "romance" off you both. A good counselor will help you through that. I wish that I'd done it with my ex before things got too far to detangle it all and we both got very hurt.

That said, it does happen that people co-parent platonically in that same house but I think that unless you resolve whatever has changed your romantic relationship and deal with that, it will always affect your relationship as co-parents, whether or not you are still a couple
I'll consider bringing marriage counseling up again, but the first time I did, DP had an incredibly negative reaction to it.

I agree that a lot of this is stress- but that's been our entire marriage. Neither of us handle stress well. There is never going to be a magical, stress-free time period because, ultimately, the stress is coming from inside of us. I wish it was worse because of our toddler- we're actually handling things much more rationally now than we ever had.

I do not think opening the relationship will end well, at least not romantically. Even if we did break up, I think we'd both be incredibly stupid to jump into anything romantic soon after. We do need to find support and friendship from other people, I'm hoping that breaking up would force us to do that- because right now, we rely on each other entirely for support.

We both use each other as a crutch and hold each other back. And I do mean "both". Both of us have been guilty of being too possessive and clingy to allow the other to make friends or even try. It's very hard to break out of that. To a degree, kiddo makes it harder- but, again, this was a problem well before we got pregnant.

In theory we could learn how to stop leaning on each other without outright breaking up, but it really is too much of a crutch. Removing it for awhile might be enough to get us to actually heal and grow into functional adults.

I've been seriously considering encouraging DP to get a night job so we work opposite shifts and just barely see each other. Or alternating nights where one person stays home with kiddo and the other person goes out and does whatever. Which, again, technically we could do without officially ending the romantic/sexual relationship, but I don't know. I've been thinking about this for a few months.

It would be one thing if we had a healthy relationship and it got bad: but, honestly, we have never had a healthy relationship. It's a shoddy house built on a bad foundation- it's starting to seem easier to just bulldoze the whole thing and see if we can even try building it right.
 

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It sounds like your relationship has easily gone out of a romantic phase, and I'm glad that's worked for you- but it's not that easy for everyone.

The problem is that we haven't lost the romantic/sexual aspect- but they aren't healthy for us. We'll have to intentionally remove them, which I anticipate will be incredibly difficult.
That's not what I meant, to me "romance" isn't the sexuality, it's the ego props, meaning the "mood" and explicit demonstrative gestures, blatant "show me you appreciate me" gestures. We still have great sex! And great intimacy. It's just getting there in a way that is simultaneously welcome and comforting that has been the problem. My point was that romance and sex/intimacy aren't the same, in my thinking, anyway. Romance fades, intimacy and sex remains. And love, in new and surprising ways over the years.

It seems as though you do want to break up. You don't want the intimacy with your spouse... why?

You say you are using one another as a crutch - what about each of you building up your personalities and inner reserves rather than turning to others (including your spouse). One of the things my husband and I are currently struggling with is personal development. There hasn't been much priority on that over the years and without it we are finding it's pretty bleak relationship with nothing much to offer one another. So we've been trying to adjust to empty nest by doing more for ourselves and thus being more enlivened and interesting to each other.

I hope that whatever you decide works out for the best for you and your family. There are many creative options and it seems as though you are considering many. Transitions are hard, not matter what you decide I hope that change brings just the relief that you are looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I do want it- I just don't think we're good for each other. We're worse together than we are apart. We don't get things done when both of us are together, we aren't as good with kiddo. If only one of us is home for a few hours, we can get a lot of cleaning/cooking/etc done. If we're both home- it doesn't happen. We've talked about it and we don't know why. It's not like we spend the time gazing into each others' eyes, we just spend the time on the computer not talking. We have been saying for our ENTIRE relationship that we need to put the computers down. And when we're apart: no problem!

It's not even just things like chores- even things I want to do, like drawing or playing with kiddo, I just can't bring myself to do with my partner around. I don't know why. My partner really encourages both of these things and wants me tod o them, I've tried asking my partner to just tell me to go draw, I've tried setting aside time that I'd draw alone in a room. I can't bring myself to do it. And, again, it's both of us. There's something about being together that just messes us up.

We've never had a lot of that kind of romantic stuff. In fact, any attempts at it have only led to giant fights. DP will often complaint hat I'm not romantic enough- but then when I track down and spend my own money on a beautiful, meaningful gift I truly think DP will love, I get nothing. When DP spends far more than I want on gifts that I don't like just to fill the "budget" we "agreed" to for Christmas- I'm supposed to be all happy. I really loathe birthdays and holidays for that reason.

When we're good, things are really great. We get along well, we have deep conversations on a range of subjects, we have easy affection and great sex and all of that stuff. But the bad times are just as bad, way too often we just fight and snipe and sit on the computer and whine about how our house is falling down around our ears and we never talk and argue over whose fault it is. It's pathetic.

I love my partner deeply, but I hate our relationship. It brings out the worst in us. I don't know why- and I don't know what to do about it.
 

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It does seem as though some marriage counseling would help. It seems as though there are some behavior patterns that are happening reflexively, reactively. It probably (my guess) has to do with the roles you assume/need/want for yourselves and each other that ultimately aren't getting you where you want to be. Like you want opposing things (not that you each want something different, but that you want something that doesn't in fact meet your goals). It seems (my guess) like the equivalent of someone who wants to have a hot latte every morning, drinks on Friday nights with the group, 2 vacations a year and still actually and seriously does want to save a downpayment for a house.

My husband is much less able to move outside his "head" and see that what he is doing is what he wants and meets certain requirements for him, but what he also wants isn't going to happen if he just keeps doing this other thing.

Like you need some shared goals, and it will take sacrifice from both since you seem (my guess) to be both in a groove that is kinda-working but not-really.

Hugs!
~Puma
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I agree- like I said, I'll try to bring it up. Right now we're not really talking to each other because last night we tried to do something nice for each other, a miscommunication happened that played on both our insecurities without the other knowing and every time we try to work it out it gets worse. *sighs* So, yeah, I definitely agree a couple's counselor is in order. But if DP still isn't willing to try that...
 
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Hang in there. Do your own work, it's never useless. "If one person changes, the relationship changes" I always say. Be the leader if you must, if he doesn't follow at least you've taken a few steps in the direction you want to go. Marriage is incredibly difficult. :Hug
 

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I could say a lot about this as my relationship is very similar. Alas I should have been asleep 3 hours ago...

I will say that I actually have just decided, privately, to reframe our relationship as platonic co parents during a hard phase. I needed to detach my emotional needs from him, and it was actually really helpful for me. I am the type who is strong and independent when single, but somehow I disappear in relationships, and that manifests as anger. Since this time I'm trying to be in it for the long haul, I have to try to replicate the feeling of being single so I don't lose myself.

Anyway, not sure if that relates to your situation, but I'm interested in hearing more about what you decide.
 

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replicate the feeling of being single so I don't lose myself.
That's a good perception. I also used this strategy for the reasons you mentioned.

When I was angry (now I usually just get exasperated) the concept of being single while married worked somehow. Now that we're actually trying to live as married while married I'm seeing that the "being single" posture, without anger, is selfhood & personal development - inclusive of my spouse rather than exclusive.

This was only possible, by the way, because he started making some real changes and stopped letting me down all the time. He didn't mean to let me down, I think he really thought he was doing the right thing. It took a loooong time for him to realize that his assessment and attitude toward his life just wasn't realistic and was ultimately destructive (I think he thought he was doing a good job of "maintaining" things and be a "good man" comparatively speaking, when in fact life requires growth and things like opportunity, intimacy, and joy were gradually slipping away from him, and us).

I had and have my own work to do as well. Resentment nearly wore me out. I still tend to feel hopeless and be easily discouraged at times. I only recently have had the energy to force this issue.

I'm sorry to say that the role models and ideals for men are often harmful or incomplete so I realize that the poor fellow simply didn't have a clue. He didn't get any modeling as a youth within his family either, they have extraordinarily low expectations of themselves and others, and he was constantly being praised simply for having a career. Media messages run along the same lines. We had to decide to investigate and commit to what it meant to be fully mature and functioning people and make our own way. We've even gotten flak from his family over the changes we are making (I'm never happy with I have, according to them, so you can see that these problems can be and usually are, I think, bigger than the two people in a marriage).
 

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Our relationship has been rocky, and lately I'm seriously considering that we'd be better co-parents and happier people if we weren't romantically involved. The problem is that I have no interest in moving out or kicking DP out. Financially, it'd be a massive burden, and I have absolutely no desire for kiddo to lose time with his parents.

I know that it will likely be incredibly difficult and I'm sure I can find a giant list of ways that breaking up and continuing to live together can go badly- but is there any resource on doing it and having it go well? Or even just resources on co-parenting platonicly from the start?

We both still love each other, we work together well as parents, but our romantic relationship is just a mess. I don't want our family to tear apart just because we may be better friends than lovers.
I'm not seeing anything here that suggests your problems are past the point of repair. Have you both read any John Gottman books? "And Baby Makes Three" specifically addresses the changes that are inevitable when kids arrive.

Why do you want to end the marriage?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
When I was angry (now I usually just get exasperated) the concept of being single while married worked somehow. Now that we're actually trying to live as married while married I'm seeing that the "being single" posture, without anger, is selfhood & personal development - inclusive of my spouse rather than exclusive.
This is a really good point. Ultimately, I want us both to grow and heal and be less unhealthily reliant on each other (we've pretty much been each others' sole support for the last 6 years).

We both came from divorced parents who didn't get along well and have issues of their own. Neither of us have a model for a good parent, a healthy romantic relationship, how to handle anger well, or how to fight without trying to destroy each other. It's actually a miracle our relationship is as good as it is, and I still don't know why we're as good with kiddo as we are. Like I said- this really isn't a "young kids" thing, our toddler is the only thing we absolutely agree on and are good about. We've gotten better since having kiddo.

It's just so dang easy to fall back into the rut, though. And change is just scary. Mostly, I really just want to force us to stop relying on each other- because we're going to just keep falling back to where we are.
 
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