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Marriage is over. What do I do now?

  • 15-05-2024 10:51am
    Registered Users Posts: 22,301 ✭✭✭✭

    Been married for 11 years, but we've been together for almost 20 years. I'm a man in my very early 40s

    My wife has left me, we have 3 kids together and have agreed to share custody 50:50.

    It's been about a month since she moved out. We're still working out financial stuff but aiming for a full 50:50 split in all assets, we have both agreed this.

    I tried everything I could to save the marriage but it wasn't enough and even though I still love her, I have to accept that it's over and need to move on.

    What next for me personally? I now have the prospect of whole weeks on my own and even thinking about that is making me feel lonely.

    I've been getting back in shape, walking loads and going surfing and trying to find things to fill my time but my entire life was my family for the past 16 years and the friends I have have moved away and don't live locally anymore.

    I have some plans in my head of using my free weekends to travel and see the friends I haven't met in years, but that still leaves the other 5 days a week of sitting on my own feeling sorry for myself, and every other week is gonna be me trying to be the best dad I can be.

    Any advice for a newly single 41 year old who hasn't even thought about chatting up another woman in 20 years?

    How long should I even wait before jumping back into the 'dating' scene?



  • Registered Users Posts: 252 ✭✭Gary_dunne

    Sorry to hear this, really hope that you're doing ok.

    Best advice I could give is not to even think about rushing back into the dating scene. Take the time to work on yourself, it sounds like you have been doing just that and have a plan in place which is a great start. Concentrate on your kids too, as you have said "be the best Dad you can be".

    I'd always advocate for some therapy, you've just had a major change in your life and seem unsure what the future holds for you. Talking with a therapist can help you to understand and deal with this emotional shift that has just occurred.

    Good luck with it all.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,004 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    I wouldn't even bother with dating for a good while, especially only month after a 20 year relationship.

    You're doing all the right things, focus on your hobbies, your health both physical and mental, your children and your work. No need to feel sorry for yourself, just start planning events and giving yourself things to look forward to.

  • Registered Users Posts: 134 ✭✭_H80_GHT

    I scho the opinions above. Also, best not to have a new partner until the divorce is finalised lest your wife takes umbrage to that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 55 ✭✭KingFling

    I'd 100% recommend counselling to talk through everything with a professional. It might take a few experiences to find a counsellor who you match with, but you will click with one and feel the benefits. Time to invest in yourself and give yourself every opportunity to find your new self.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,298 ✭✭✭✭Calahonda52

    As I wrote earlier in another thread

    1: eat well

    2: exercise well

    3: sleep well unaided: if aided do more of 2

    4: be a positive contribution every day to family/friends/community/whatever

    5: only interact with folk who have a positive influence on you, so friends who only lament with you don't cut it!

    6: control what you do on social media and keep away from negative stuff, including radio TV news

    7: live in the present, past is past and future, well we dont know

    I would put some paperwork in place re the 50 50 deal because you need to cover off all the bases before dating again as a vengeful spouse, prompted by a lawyer, could get dates mixed up and suggest she moved out because you were….

    “I can’t pay my staff or mortgage with instagram likes”.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 429 ✭✭martco

    find some practical useful things to fill your life with

    and it doesn't have to cost a fortune either, for example…

    I like driving so worked on filling my driving licence entirely…now I'm A,B,C and taking my D test soon

    I took night classes, certified responder amongst other things

    maybe get involved in local vocational voluntary things even politics where there's a ton of things to do and need doing

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,661 ✭✭✭Bobtheman

    Create new routines. Join a gym

    Join a tennis club. Get lessons.

    Keep busy.

    Look up a men's shed. There might be separated people's groups to support you.

    It will get better and eventually down the road you will meet someone and wonder why you didn't leave her.

  • Registered Users Posts: 471 ✭✭drury..

    Boxes are helpful someone taught me that

    A box for the marriage .Another box for stuff that's unhelpful

    A box for where your at and another box for where you want to be

    Keep everything in the boxes and focus on the where you want to be box

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,722 ✭✭✭YellowLead

    You’re still young, plenty of time to cultivate a social life and eventually meet somebody. I wouldn’t advise going near dating apps or actively looking to date somebody until 6 months or so pass, and only then if you are ready. This is coming from somebody who has been the first person guys have dated post marriage break up - they’re never ready.

    I recommened looking up solo events with Ecofitness. Nobody really dates from it, but it’s an excellent social platform for older people (35-55) to meet other single people. You go on one of the solo hikes or trip and then get access to the main whattsap group and regional ones where people post that they are going for a walk or drinks and whoever is free joins them. No pressure for dating and loads of people attending have been through divorce etc - it’s a great way to meet people of your own gender who are in the same boat. Loads of friendships form and it’s an avenue to socialise.
    Other than that, you’re lucky you are doing 50/50 custody - a lot of men get every second weekend with their kids and a mid week evening and that’s it.

    Go on a solo mini break to a European city. Take up a class if not a sport. Volunteer. Got to free events. Enjoy your alone time because one day you might be in a relationship again.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,578 ✭✭✭Beta Ray Bill

    Any advice for a newly single 41 year old who hasn't even thought about chatting up another woman in 20 years?

    I'm not gonna sugar coat this for you OP, It's a sh!tshow out there. It's all on apps now. Bubble, Tinder, POF, Hinge and what not. The apps are awful, I've been through it, and as an average looking man myself it is absolutely soul destroying. If you're in bad place now I would advise NOT to use those dating apps. That being said I've been dating the most amazing woman ever the last few years, IE there is light at the end of the tunnel but the tunnel itself is a long as nasty place, you need to be in the right frame of mind before entering it.

    How long should I even wait before jumping back into the 'dating' scene?

    As long as or as short as you want. (Just make sure you're in the right head space for it)

    But you don't need to do anything, It's only been a month.

    It will take time for you to figure out what you can do in the evenings.

    My time was taken up building a gaming PC and playing games on it, and motorcycling.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 28,967 ✭✭✭✭Wanderer78

    very sorry to hear op, i really enjoy our posts here, always very well informed, but id agree with all of the above, consider a therapist, its something i really should have done earlier in life, and id really have to agree with not dating for a good while, just rediscover yourself. you will go up and down and sideways for the next while, this is a very traumatic experience, this is to be expected, tons of really good youtube channels out there for advice, best of luck and look after yourself

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,301 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    Thanks for all the kind comments and suggestions. I used to play tennis years ago so might take that back up, had a motorbike too and am tempted to get another one, give myself permission to go full mid life crisis mode :)

    I'd never heard of EcoFitness but I'll check them out too

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,123 ✭✭✭Spore

    Some good comments here. I'm going through a similar thing, splitting with my partner, house dog etc. no kids however. I'll be homeless in the near future which scares me. But I'll soldier through, I take heart in knowing that I'm not the first to experience this. I've plenty to give and if anything I've more freedom to give with. Losing the dog will kill me to my core… but I'll try see the little fur ball as often as I can. And I'll get another dog. Keep the faith brother. You're far from done.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,301 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    Sorry to hear it Spore. Hope you find somewhere to stay and can start rebuilding

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,301 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    The hardest times for me are right before bed, and just as I wake up. All the other times I can pretend that she's coming home soon.... Or distract myself.

    I do still love her, so much.

    I know she's gone.

    But I still love her. Need to learn how to stop loving her

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,991 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    Akrasia, I'm so sorry to read what's happened. It's only early days and it's bound to be so difficult at this stage. I can only think with time the hurt will pass. For now, get a routine going, a new pattern to your day that will keep you going.

  • Registered Users Posts: 77 ✭✭Avatar in the Post

    You’ve made a great start.

    No harm taking baby steps into the online dating scene. It might help kick start the moving on phase. Might take your time actually going on a date. But, see the ‘lay of the land’.

    Therapy sounds like a great idea.

    How’s work going?

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 24,566 Mod ✭✭✭✭CramCycle

    I would say don't try to not love her. You love her but your not together, almost everyone has someone who ticks that box. Try and be a good father, be civil and friendly to her, and leave it at that. One day, sooner than you think, you will still love her but you won't want/need her. Try and find hobbies and social outlets, tennis sounds like a good call, typically a social scene with a club. Best of luck out there.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,301 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    Work is happening but I'm very distracted, so I'm far from performing at my best.

    Maybe doesn't help that I'm WFH so literally everything around me reminds me of her all of the time.

    If we didn't have kids I'd move to another city, or even leave Ireland, but we do, and they're the most important things in the world to me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 672 ✭✭✭Norrie Rugger Head

    You're not in the headspace for dating. You need to find, or rather rediscover, who you are. What's your identity alone.

    Any relationship, for now, is literally a rebound where you're just trying to fill a void and not be alone. Unfair to yourself and, more importantly, any prospective partner.

    Book some therapy. This is a trauma, no denying. You're whole life is being upended. Give yourself a few months

    On things to do. You're getting in shape and exercising is good for your mental health but your mentioned exercises are very solo activities.

    Barring chronic injury, at 41, you should look to a team activity. Did you play sports? Are there veteran teams you can join or Junior "Z' levels?

    Can you coach an adult team if you can't play (many clubs would snap up help even if you can only do every 2nd week). That will start a new social circle at the least

    ⛥ ̸̱̼̞͛̀̓̈́͘#C̶̼̭͕̎̿͝R̶̦̮̜̃̓͌O̶̬͙̓͝W̸̜̥͈̐̾͐Ṋ̵̲͔̫̽̎̚͠ͅT̸͓͒͐H̵͔͠È̶̖̳̘͍͓̂W̴̢̋̈͒͛̋I̶͕͑͠T̵̻͈̜͂̇Č̵̤̟̑̾̂̽H̸̰̺̏̓ ̴̜̗̝̱̹͛́̊̒͝⛥

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,722 ✭✭✭YellowLead

    It’s very natural to feel this way. It will take a lot of time for the feelings to change. Perhaps try not to pretend she’s coming home soon. Allow yourself to miss her and feel the feelings, but do accept that it’s over. That’s a big step.
    Getting back into tennis would be brilliant - if you join a club as well as practice nights and leagues there is usually social events. Just getting out takes you away from wallowing and gives room for the feelings to lessen in intensity.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,904 ✭✭✭✭anewme

    hope you ok OP. I split from my partner after 13 years many years ago now. It was not amicable, so in many ways was easier than what you going through (if that makes sense).Also no children, so no need to keep in touch.

    Some great advice from others here. What I would also recommend is to some solo travel- ie solo group travel. Go somewhere very different culturally. If you walk- consider doing something like a stage of the Camino - there are some groups you can go with, while also taking reflection time alone.

    Do not consider at this time going near dating apps/sites, you are not in the frame of mind for that.

    You will need to take time to sort through everything like paperwork etc. Hopefully you ok financially (I was not) and focus on that if you need to as well. Nothing worse than money worries on top of emotional ones.

    Eat well, read, consider an evening course and stay away from booze.

    Good luck

    Post edited by anewme on

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,301 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    That does actually make sense. When I was still trying to save the marriage we were getting on fine, still having loads of good days and very few rows but she still wanted to separate because she said she didn't feel in love with me anymore. I said to her 'If our relationship was worse, it would almost be better, because at least then I would know that splitting up is the right thing to do."

    The fact that it's amicable is way easier in a lot of ways, especially for the kids, but it is a head wrecker for me because I, and me alone, still have it in the back of my mind that this is all just a terrible mistake and she'll figure it out and come back.

    I still see her almost every day and we're still working out the details of getting the house and financial things sorted. The fact that she can come over here and sit next to me and be all smiles and jokes is good for the long term, but stings a whole lot inside. And every time she gets in the car to leave, feels like she's leaving again for the first time.

    I know it will get easier with time, but there will probably need to be some milestones. The first time she starts a new relationship (or my first new one) might be that final act of closure?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,717 ✭✭✭SuperBowserWorld

    Don't beat yourself up mentally over it. And don't fall into that trap. As soon as you feel it coming on, stop and breathe and let it pass. And don't feel like you have to justify anything to anyone. Just be kind to yourself.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,722 ✭✭✭YellowLead

    ’Closure’ is difficult to define. But one thing is for certain you won’t find it if you are seeing her every day! It will be confusing for the children also. It sounds like a bit of a cake and eat it too situation (I don’t mean to speak negatively of your wife of course) - if you are in each others faces every single day and both looking after the children that’s not really a clean split. I understand you want to put the children first, but you won’t be a good parent if miserable and pining and they need to be secure in the NEW reality.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,301 ✭✭✭✭Akrasia

    I feel a little bit like Schrodinger's cake myself tbh

    She thinks she'll be able to see the kids whenever she wants even though I told her that when she chose to separate that this was literally breaking up our family.

    I'm torn between short term pain for me, keeping the kids happy and everything as 'normal' as we can for their sake, and avoiding a long drawn out messy divorce and keeping on good terms with her, because us having the kids together mean we'll always be part of each other's lives.

    If I can just compartmentalise and put her into a friend zone I feel it will help me to move on.

    The last thing I need is to keep thinking she might change her mind. I need to be able to accept that it's over and part of this is picturing my life in the future without her. And because I don't want to live alone, part of that means trying to find someone else. I know I'm not ready for a serious relationship right now, but in time, I'll need to be.

    I have been to a couple of therapy sessions and didn't find them that useful TBH. they were just telling me the things that I've already been telling myself

  • Registered Users Posts: 606 ✭✭✭taxAHcruel

    While I can get behind the idea of making choices to keep the kids happy - some moderation there is always advisable too.

    A lot of people of course stay together "for the sake of the kids" and try to keep things on the surface as happy and normal as possible. But kids pick up on and process a hell of a lot more than we generally give them credit for. And such relationships maintained in that way - well meant as they are - can cause more harms than you might predict.

    Now while you are not doing exactly that - it still pays to be congnizant of just how much ground you give and concessions you make in the interest of keeping the kids happy. Not everything you do for your own sake and your own well being and your own agendas and towards building your own new path into the future is going to be ideal for the kids. Nor should it be. Consider the cost of each concession to you as an individual and reconsider the ones where the price is too high for the gain. Kids are robust. They can take at least some hits due to the breakup.

    As to your main question - what can/should you do with the 5 days "every other week" where you are both child and friend free - there is simply too many answers to that question potentially for anyone here to really give you any.

    Of course it would be entirely out of character for me not to shout "Try Jujitsu" at this point because it is one of my main loves in life and the thing that has brought me more positivity than anything else. So I throw it in here tongue in cheek.

    But the reality is - There are already numerous threads around the forum(s) here on topics like "What hobbies can I try" "How can I meet women" "How can I make friends" "What should I do with my life". I can tell you from my own experience that there - is - so - many - things. So much to try and do and learn and attempt in life. Worse many things you might not expect to like - or even positively expect to hate - until you try them and discover you love them.

    Take horse riding for example. I half looked at that as something for either little girls - or people engaged in high level sports like racing and show jumping. Someone got me to try it though and I instantly became addicted. I had no idea I would love it so much. Nor the effects it would have on me physically and emotionally and so forth. I simply adore it. Especially since I combined it more recently with another of my loves - archery. It's hard to describe the feeling though of an animal that powerful under you - in the moments when you sync and it feels like you are "one" with them.

    Until I tried it I simply had no idea.

    You now have a life where for 10-15 days a month you have no real ties stopping you going out and just trying what you want. It's "you" time. You can relish it or rue it I guess. I can only tell you which I would pick in your position. Try it all. Stick to what you discover you like.

    Finally the WFH issue. That could actually be one of the simpler things to deal with depending on your location and money and so forth. You might find it healthy to find a work space you can go to work in. A rented hot desk in a hot desking facitility. A local library. A mates house if his house is empty during the day and he has a desk or table you can use (two of my friends did this and it worked out extra well as the spare house had a stay at home alone dog in it so it helped both parties in the end). Or go into work some days in the week even if you do not have to. Or some combination of all of the above. I know one guy who goes one day a week from WFH to work in Bewleys cafe. Sometimes I myself (also WFH) go out and work in the kids Tree House :-)

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,497 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    You need to formalise the kids' access situation, for everyone's sake, including theirs. I don't mean via court or anything, but just agree a set "they spend X days with you and then X days with me" situation. Obviously you can be flexible within that as needed, but at the moment the kids are in as much of an "Are they or aren't they?" situation as you are with her turning up every day. The sooner they can start settling into a new normality, the better.

    As for closure, my own opinion is that there's no such thing - you just get a little better and a little better and a little better, day by day, month by month, year by year, until finally it doesn't hurt any more. It's not a linear process, unfortunately, you'll have setbacks and regressions and as many bad days as good, at times. But you will get there. The only way out of it is through it,, as I always tell people. There's no magic bullet, much as we might like to think there is.

    The very best of luck to you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,004 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    Time is the only healer I think, and nights are the worst when your brain goes into overdrive. I maintain that any thoughts after 10pm should be taken with a pinch of salt. Tiredness and darkness increase my sense of paranoia, so I don't listen to my internal monologue.

    In my past breakup I used to watch box sets until I was too tired to stay awake. Sometimes 4 or 5am, but it only lasted a fortnight before I could sleep at a reasonable time.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,251 ✭✭✭jackofalltrades

    Sorry to hear what you're going through Akrasia.

    You seem to be doing very well though. Just keep yourself busy, exercise, try and eat well, get proper rest and keep yourself busy. Hopefully it'll get more tolerable in time.

    One thing that raised a red flag for me though was "She thinks she'll be able to see the kids whenever she wants" and "I still see her almost every day… she can come over here and sit next to me and be all smiles and jokes". I wonder has the reality of the situation really hit her, how will she be when she can't see the kids for a week because you have them. Best bet is to get some kind of formal custody agreement and see if she can stick to it. I'd minimise contact with her to the minimum needed to get everything sorted out, just so you have some space to mourn the relationship.