Dear Coleen: My husband has moved out — but he won’t tell me why

Dear Coleen

My husband moved out of our family home a few weeks ago saying he was “done with the relationship”.

I tried to talk him out of it, or to at least agree to relationship counselling before he made a final decision, but he won’t listen to anything I say.

We have two children under 10 and they’re very upset, which is heartbreaking, and I can’t understand why my husband won’t at least try for their sakes.

I also don’t really know what’s at the root of it because he’s not opening up to me, although he has said that no one else is involved.

We’re very different characters, which is part of what drew us together in the first place and kept things interesting.

Now though these differences seem to be driving us apart.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve argued a lot about everything from the kids to the mortgage to where to go on holiday.

He thinks I’m domineering and that he never gets a say in anything we do, but I think I have to be organised because he’s the kind who is happy to drift through life.

I don’t want this to be the end for us, but I don’t really know where to go from here.

I know he’s hurting, but I can’t get through to him.

Can you help?

Coleen says

I think it’s crucial to keep the communication open and friendly if you can, and to stay calm, even though you’re hurt and angry.

Sometimes a separation works – I know several couples who took a break and found their way back to each other.

Things have been toxic at home and there’s been no space to think calmly and rationally.

So put that idea to him and let him think. If you can go back to the beginning, you might find you remember what drew you together.

There might be a compromise if you both want it, which I realise might sound ridiculous from a person who’s newly divorced.

I was trying to find compromises, but my ex-husband wasn’t and you can’t do it on your own. Both of you need to be committed.

It’s good he’s voiced he’s unhappy – it’s actually healthier than putting up with the status quo.

It’s hard to acknowledge your own faults, but if you can meet to talk, why not try having 20 minutes each (without any interruptions) to explain how you feel?

You’re both being defensive, so you’re not listening to each other.

Therapy would definitely help to break down these defences if he’d agree to it down the line.

But if he doesn’t want to carry on, you have to come to agreement on how to co-parent your children in a way that’s best for them.

Good luck.

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