The Start of Our Separation Guidelines

19 Oct

Yesterday morning my husband and I had our marriage counseling session.  He was late, and for the first time ever (seriously) our marriage therapist was running a bit early.  That meant I had about 5 minutes or so to tell our therapist the story of the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Okay, it was more like a beam than a straw, but you get the point.

Once Mr. Mess arrived he told the therapist we had been separated since the previous Wednesday…  Really?  You can’t even remember when this all happened?  Apparently the separation seemed to have lasted longer for him than 5 days.  He was kinda sullen and frowny-faced.  We had a bit of a moment where we disagreed in the re-telling of an incident.

None of that is really the point of this post, though.  Those little details don’t matter at all.  What does matter is that we both agreed that the separation needs to continue so that we can focus on ourselves.  Our marriage counselor concurred.  He felt that at this point it was a healthy, positive decision for us as individuals and for our marriage.

Once that was decided, we set upon the task of setting a few guidelines for the separation.  We didn’t cover everything there is to cover, but we did get a good foundation laid.  He utilized the book Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel.  I have already ordered the book so I can read the rest.

The first thing our marriage counselor covered was a time limit.  He said that in a controlled separation it is helpful to have an idea of when we want to sit down, take stock, and consider moving back into the same house again.  He recommended a time limit in the 1-6 month range.  He advised that both extremes of that time limit would probably not be the best choice at this time.  We settled on 3 months.

For the next 3 months that means we will maintain separate residences.  Both of us also agree not to file for divorce or see a lawyer to move forward with divorce proceedings.  At the end of the three month period we will talk about whether we want to move back in together, extend the separation for a period of time, or divorce.  In those three months we will continue going to marriage counseling together once per week or as often as both of our schedules allow.

The next issue was to decide on our continuing relationship and contact outside of marriage counseling.  He gave us both an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide our ideas on things that we want, need, or expect during this time.  Based on my not-so-great experiences of the previous 5 days, I proposed no contact after 9 pm.  He agreed, and our marriage counselor added his suggestion that we only use texting for basic housekeeping and non-emotional topics – no strong feelings or loaded conversations allowed.  That sounded like a good idea for me.

I also asked that Mr. Mess announcement himself before entering the marital home.  In the 4 days before our counseling session there had been a few times when he just used his key to walk right in unannounced.  He would send a vague text like “I’ll be coming by at some point tomorrow for some things,” but I didn’t get any real idea of when until he was letting himself in.  I asked for that to stop, and to at least get a specific call or text with notice and a knock at the door when he arrives.  He agreed, then upped the ante by saying he will give me the key back.  Okay…  I didn’t ask for that, but I’ll take it if that’s what he wants.

Contact-wise, those were my main requests.  Then it was Mr. Mess’s turn.  He said he is fine with my requests, then said that he would like to have some face-to-face contact with me at least once per week outside of marriage counseling.  He suggested meeting at a neutral place just to talk about how we are doing in our respective recoveries, how things are going in general, and other lighter topics that we should be able to handle without a mediator.

I considered that request, and didn’t see a reason not to comply at this point.  I truly do not have animosity towards him.  I just can’t have him be a constant presence in my life while he isn’t a trustworthy person.  Always a details girl, I asked how these meetings will be coordinated.  Our marriage counselor said that he would recommend that my husband take the lead and show initiative in this area.  He (very aptly) explained to my husband that I am looking for him to step up and show me that he is invested in this marriage and willing to fight for it.  I didn’t even have to be the one to say it…  I love our marriage counselor!

Somewhat surprisingly, Mr. Mess said that was absolutely his plan (although really, how could he say anything different?).  He said that he will contact me a few days in advance with a suggestion of a time and place we can meet.  He even said that he will choose a location close to where I am since he isn’t sure yet where he will be staying.  No matter where he ends up, he said he is willing to come to an area that I am comfortable and familiar with.

In the final few minutes we decided on a basic financial arrangement for joint bills like his car payment, car insurance and our cell phones.  I include his car payment on this list only because it is in MY name, not because I will actually be putting any money towards it.  In fact, that car payment is the bulk of what he is contributing to “joint” bills – 3/4 of the amount we agreed on, in fact.

He suggested removing himself from the cell phone plan and getting his own.  That immediately triggered me.  First of all, most of these plans require a 2 year contract.  If he is going to get off of our joint account and commit himself to 2 years on his own, then my thinking is we may as well proceed with the divorce.  Suddently 3 months of separation is turning into 2 years?  Uhhh….  what did I miss?

Secondly, it made me think that he is looking to hide things from me.  Why else would he need his own cell phone plan?  Joint plans are always cheaper, and he isn’t making a ton of money.  In fact, in our financial discussion of just a few minutes prior he made a point of how little he will have left over once he puts in for the 3 joint bills he would currently have to contribute towards.  So WHY exactly would you be looking to increase one of those expenses?  His current payment for his cell phone is $50 – with unlimited texting, a decent amount of minutes, and free nights and weekends.  It is actually on the lower end of plans that Verizon offers, and I can’t imagine even on a bare bones pre-paid phone he would pay much less than that…

It just got my spidey senses tingling and made me feel uncomfortable.  The marriage counselor advised against separating things too far or making any changes that aren’t necessary, especially long-term ones.  Mr. Mess said that was “fine” with him, but never offered his reasoning for not wanting his phone connected to me.  I still find it very strange and disconcerting.  When I pair that with the fact that he changed the password to our joint account without telling me and took the checkbook and register out of the house (again without telling me), I am feeling more uneasy today than I was yesterday.

Still, I’m trying to give this separation a chance.  I committed to 3 months of the above plan.  We would have to be separated for 6 months in order to be granted a divorce anyway, so there is no use in me getting caught up in a “what if” or “what is he doing” panic.  Instead, I choose to focus on the positive, and on how I can keep my serenity during this time.

One really fantastic thing has been the support of my S-Anon group.   Tonight I went out with a few women who I have gotten to know.  We had dinner at a Mexican place, a few of the women had a margarita (me included – raspberry – yummm), and then we went to see Taken 2.  I love, love, love the first movie!  The second movie wasn’t quite as good (in my opinion), but it was just perfect for tonight.

I found myself laughing, cheering, shouting at the screen, and getting caught up in the action (yes – I am one of those people).  I wasn’t alone.  The whole theater seemed to be sucked into the storyline.  I really couldn’t believe how fast the movie seemed to end.  A glance at my watch confirmed that it had run the proper amount of time – it just flew.

I’m still on a little bit of a high from the pumped up action.  Plus, who wouldn’t want a man like Liam Neeson who is handsome, rugged, bad-ass, and who will go to any lengths for his family?  Especially when so far the man in my life has put forth a very lackluster, pitiful effort on the simplest things – like getting STD tested or telling the truth.  Maybe he should watch the movie for a little inspiration.

15 Responses to “The Start of Our Separation Guidelines”

  1. James D. February 6, 2017 at 9:38 am #

    Calling him Mr. Mess is incredibly revealing. Very condescending, and wondering how this insulting title will help with any healing….

    • beautifulmess7 February 6, 2017 at 9:47 am #

      First of all, it was Mr. Mess because my username is Beautifulmess. Secondly, he chose it. Thirdly, what caused our marriage not to heal were his continuous lies and betrayal of trust.

  2. MR. Chris September 27, 2016 at 3:23 am #

    So how did the separation goes, have u guys settled or u people ve finally divorce? U know things are’nt smote sometimes. But work hard on ur self hope to hear from u soon.

  3. Klalloway January 2, 2016 at 7:18 am #

    Since this is all from your point of view I doubt you are the innocent angel you make yourself out to be. You get to stay home and be the judge. And why do you get special alone time for your “true” reason for your problems? And Mr. Mess? You have already put a negative spin on him. There are 2 sides to these things. Miss Perfect

    • beautifulmess7 January 2, 2016 at 9:10 am #

      I guess when you say “stay home” you mean because I stayed in my house? The reason is, it was my house. 100% in my name. I had it before I met him (for years), and I was paying the mortgage 100%. He couldn’t have even afforded half, so there’s no way I would have let an irresponsible person who couldn’t afford the payment to stay in my home while I left. That wouldn’t make any sense.

      I have no clue what you mean about special alone time of “true” reasons for the problems. That is the vaguest, most cryptic thing I’ve ever read. The “true” reason we were having problems is that he lied to me for weeks about getting tested for STIs after putting my health at risk. Also, lying about money. And lying that he had leather insurance for months while not having any. Basically, lying about everything all of the time.

      I’m not perfect and never have claimed to be. I do tell the truth, though. I’m not sure what side there could be to justify lying constantly to your supposed partner and giving her a STI because you’re too irresponsible to get health insurance (and lied to remove yourself from said insurance, complete with a falsified letter). You should accept that some people aren’t logical.

  4. Mark August 13, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    I appreciate your post and feel for your marriage. Have you a new report (status update)?

    It is my hope that you won’t take this the wrong way so here it goes:

    I was happy that you were able to go out and find happiness with your friends at the movies but please read what you said about Liam and then think about your Husband blogging about June Cleaver (the perfect housewife) or some gorgeous actress in a romantic movie. It isn’t fair or right to compare your spouse to a fictional movie character or someone in a Romance Novel. Life is real….movies and books are not.

    I say that in the face of seperation from my wife after 24 years of marriage.

    Take it for what it’s worth..

    • beautifulmess7 August 13, 2013 at 11:38 am #

      My entire blog serves as an update. My fears were proved right because the effort he put forth was pathetic. I know that movies are movies… I tried to convey that with my tone, which wasn’t completely serious. However, my husband couldn’t even put forth a minimal level of effort, much less the extraordinary level portrayed in the movie. The comparison is glaring because he was soooo inadequate.

    • John June 24, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

      Not to mention Liam is divorced from his wife because he was never there for her…

  5. Our Journey After His Affair October 29, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    I think his taking of those items and desire to get his own phone may just be a passive-aggressive move. I see a lot of that in what I read that you say about his responses to you.

    But, with his history, I can understand why you are triggered by that. I certainly wouldn’t take it lightly, but am glad that your MC stated that it is unneccessary for any long-term decisions to be made just yet.

    He is jumping the gun and – IMO – it is out of hurt and it comes out passive-aggressively.

    (I’ll keep reading!)

  6. writerperthpom October 22, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Hi BM! It’s amazing how many separations I’ve seen since my own one in April. There are sooo many similarities, yet it’s totally different. And this seems to be a common thread in all break-ups. I try not to give advice, but I do say what helped me. I allowed myself to be honest with my feelings,a nd I allowed myself to feel them, whatever they are. I’m a 40 year old man, yet I cried at my desk, and when it was too much I went into the toilet and cried there. I talked like someone on crazy-talking steroids, and reached out to talk to as many people would listen – real ones, not online ones (we’re not bad, just you need the hugs!) and finally, I think a book that I read might be useful to you. It’s called ‘rebuilding after your relationship ends’ by Bruce Fisher. It is a truly awesome book. Finally I’ve worked REALLY hard to do everything from a point of love – for myself and others. remember that love is much broader than romantic love. (Love Actually is a good reminder!) But I’d also say that I allowed myself to feel crap, to feel VERY VERY angry, and frankly any other emotion. They are all valid, and they should be honoured…and then they go away…

    Good luck!

  7. Stacia October 20, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Thinking you of you tons and I know you can do this! The hardest thing to read in this is the “trust” issues. Once that is broken, it seems feelings and dreams start to fade away. The fantasy has been tainted and it’s so hard to get that back. You will clearly get to see actions now and not just words, and maybe with just you in the house, you will start seeing a new “you”. xoxo

    • beautifulmess7 October 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

      The trust is the biggest issue. You can’t have a relationship with someone if you don’t trust them. It is hard to get it back. I want to be able to, but I don’t know the path there. We are taking it one step at a time.

  8. A Dog With Fleas October 20, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    The agreements you made sound very positive for you in the long run. During this time you can focus on yourself without all the daily stressors of you two living under the same roof. And I’m glad you were able to go out and have a good time. That is very important, and it sounded like it took your mind off the things going on at home!! Happy for you. Think this is the right way to go for the time being.

    • beautifulmess7 October 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      Thanks! It has been nice to keep living my life. I can’t let this stop me from being happy.

      • A Dog With Fleas October 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

        You sure can’t. 🙂

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