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.
- Be Honest With Me (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- We Obviously Need to Wait for Thursday (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- What’s Next? What SHOULD We Be Doing? (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)