We have four kids but I can’t see myself growing old with him

We have four kids but I can’t see myself growing old with him

I’m trying to decide to stay or leave my marriage. We have 4 kids aged 17, 13, 3, and 1. We married 6 years ago, separated after the first 2 kids for 5 years. I then went back to him because it felt safe and comfortable after an emotional rollercoaster relationship with someone else. Here’s the thing: the attraction hasn’t been there for me this whole seven years. I see intimacy with him as a chore. I know that’s what I signed up for and its been fine until now, when we’re starting to disagree on parenting and it’s becoming clear we seem to want different things in our lives.

He likes drinking and socialising and partying and buying expensive boy toys. I don’t drink and find parties a bore. I really want a simple life focussing on family and experiencing things with them like family holidays. I hate it when he’s disrespectful to our kids and when he has temper tantrums when he’s frustrated. He doesn’t set a good example. I’ve been fantasising about leaving [again] but I fear being alone, I want to do the best thing for the kids and I’m worried about how it will affect all the people in our lives. My brother is in business with my husband. My good friends rent out investment property off us. Also worried about being a single mum. I’ve done it before and hated the stigma that goes along with it. I can survive in this marriage but I can’t imagine growing old with him. Without the kids we have nothing in common. What do I do?

You leave. I know I say that blithely when it’s actually a lot more complicated, but you don’t love this guy. You’re not attracted to him. You’ve split up once already. You hate having sex with him. And you’ve had four children with him based on, from what I can see, the fact that he’s ‘safe’. I don’t know if you’re getting all tangled up in red flags over there, but I sure am.

And yeah, splitting up might be awkward for those entwined with your life – but it’s YOUR life. Not theirs. So your brother and your mates shouldn’t even factor into your decision. This is one you need to make solely for yourself and your four kids. On the whole notion of ‘doing the best for the kids’: your kids aren’t blind. I’ll bet the older ones are picking up on exactly how you feel and the loveless dynamic between you and their dad. If he’s not setting them a great example with his fits of anger, you’re not setting a great one either by staying with him and showing them exactly what a bad marriage looks like. But the longer you stay, the more you’re teaching them that’s ‘normal’ and what to replicate in their own relationships, when they’re adults. Which is sad and, I’m guessing, the last thing you’d want as their mum.

I’ve never been a single mother so I can’t comment on how bloody difficult it is. Or the stigma you suffered. But I still think it sounds preferable to the situation you’re currently in and you might actually find that you’re not only happier (in time) but your kids are, too. You might not have much money, but you’ll have peace. You’ll have the freedom to make decisions about how to raise your kids. You’ll have the freedom to create the simple, family-focussed life you crave. Plus, maybe it’ll be different this time around. There are heaps of Facebook groups for single mums – search for one in your local area and you might find it’s a lifeline when you need advice and support from those who’ve walked in your shoes. Ultimately, you’ll never know what the future holds if you sit in this unhappy holding pattern with a guy you hate the thought of growing old with.

Love, reality chick

Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).

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