Seeking Parents with Alternative Living Situations

Updated on February 17, 2009
D.B. asks from Minneapolis, MN
14 answers

I've been married for 9 years and have two small children. My husband and I are inching closer to splitting, but both very hesitant as we are concerned about the impact on our children. Additionally, there are other financial and practical reasons for not ending the marriage, but we are both pretty unhappy and searching for a solution. We've been to marriage counseling, tried an "in-house" separation, which didn't seem to work very well and a more formal separation but logistically it was too hard with the kids. That said, I'm wondering if there are couples/moms out there that have explored or have alternative living situations to keep the family "together" but provide separation for the parents. I'm convinced that if we all moved into a duplex it would be better than shuffling the kids between two houses and provide the separation from my husband that I long for. I'm wondering if anyone has tried this and would love to hear about it.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My daycare teacher has 2 kids and is separated from their father. She lives across the street from them, and though I don't know her personal views on how well it's working, it does seem to make sense logistically, so the kids can spend every other week with each parent, and not change schools, bus routes, or neighborhoods.

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answers from Minneapolis on

A friend of a friend did the house right next to eachother and it worked great for them. I'm not sure how they split the time up between the two but it worked nice when it came to disipline issues and other co-parenting issues. So a duplex might be a good solution.



answers from Waterloo on

I'm sorry that things are working for you and your husband :( Although it is hard on your children when you split, I believe it is harder on them to live with parents that don't love each other, and even worse if you fight a lot. My first thought about living in a duplex with your ex is when one of you start dating again. If he starts bringing women home, you're going to have to watch it (and worse yet - possible listen to it) - or if you bring men home - he may get upset with you about it. Ideally it would be the next best thing to you two being able to live together happily, but I just don't know if it would work out in reality. Just a thought to consider. Good luck to you!!



answers from Des Moines on

Nicole was right, check out Fireproof...even as one last try



answers from St. Cloud on

Are you even considering staying together at all. Because my cousin and her husband went to counseling with a regular counselor and she said it did more bad than good. Then they went to Christian counseling (they were NOT Christians at the time....) and it made the world of difference. That was many years ago and they are STILL together today!!!

On that note, watch the movie "FIREPROOF" together and see if that changes how either of you feel. Even better, along with seeing the movie, get the book "The Love Dare" and do it on your husband. It is still possible to save your marriage. God made marriage to last a lifetime. Divorce will scar your heart forever..... Food for thought.



answers from Minneapolis on

My brother and his ex never found a duplex, but looked into doing something like this for the same reason. The only thing I'd like to mention is that it could get awkward if/when either of you starts dating again. Your ex would see your coming and going. If that doesn't bother you and you have a friendly relationship, then I think it's a great solution. Good for you to look for creative solutions that are in your DD's best interest!



answers from Green Bay on

Hi D.

I my self have not done what you are talking about . But my best friend has tried it with her ex and it worked for a while . But as soon as he found another she found she had a hard time acepting he had moved on even though she no longer wanted him . She made his life hell until he moved with his new wife .
You better make sure you both do not want to be together and want to move on before you do what you are talking about . It will be even harder on the kids if all you do is fight even apart . You and him will move on with other people and it is hard to see some one you loved once in your life with another person . So think hard and good luck .



answers from Minneapolis on

If you are in a situation where you "need" distance and separation, I don't think a duplex will be enough distance. Anxiety, frustration, stress, guilt, anger...all of that happens AFTER the "move" and then being on the "other side of the wall" in a duplex will not be enough separation for you.

My husband had suggested that he would live in the basement and not come upstairs and that would have NEVER worked. It does not provide enough privacy for you. You would not be able to focus on your kids or yourself because your spouse would always still be there, just around the corner and most likely within hearing distance. The kids will be confused. Every time they disagree with a decision that you make...they will run to your spouse for comfort or help to change your mind.

You will lose all authority/decision making power..because your spouse will always be five seconds away to go to for a different answer or decision.

My husband moved about a mile and a half away...and many times I thought that was too close because my kids would just get on their bike and go over to his house when I told them they had to do chores or homework. He would not back me up and send them back home. He played the role of "savior" from their bossy mom.

If you are going to be the primary parent and responsible for getting them to do chores and homework, then he will end up being the "nice/good" parent. If you plan on separating responsibilities evenly between the two households, then the kids will resent doing chores in two places, but it will help with the homework situation.

I think the most important thing is for the both of you to talk to the kids together and agree on how things will work so they know you both are on the same page and they can't play one of you against the other. That is a HUGE thing that I heard over and over again in my support group meetings.

My husband explained the whole "situation/arrangement" to my three kids (4 to 11 years old) when I was gone one day and I have no idea what he told them, but when I came home, I ended up being the "bad guy" from that day forward in the eyes of my kids.

It's going to be hard for you and the kids no matter what. If I could do anything differently over the past fifteen years, I would have spent more one-on-one time with each child separately and set aside a few hours a week where I would do things just for myself (relaxation, fun, time with friends). You need to take care of yourself too if you want to be a good mom!

It's a sad state of affairs, but these situations are not unique anymore. Kids don't want a separation to happen in their family, but half of their friends most likely are in the same situation. Kids are resilient and will bounce back. They just need to know that you love them and will always be there for them. Both my husband and I worked really hard at not changing their school and social lives. We both still showed up at all their soccer games and performances and sat next to or at least near each other. They need to have that from you.



answers from Waterloo on

I dare you to read "The Love Dare" This book has saved many is worth a try...I dare you;)



answers from Waterloo on

Trisha K. made a good point about the "dating again" thing. That might be a little awkward being right next door to each other. I would look for either apts in the same complex, or separate houses that are within walking distance of each other. That way the kids can come and go between your two places easily (which it sounds like that's what you're looking for).

On another note: I come from a divorced family (and, believe me, the divorce was NOT pretty) but I turned out just fine. So did my siblings for that matter. We are all well ajusted and happy. Even though the divorce was nasty, having happy parents AFTER the divorce was the pay off in the long run =)



answers from Rapid City on

Hi D.,
I am a child of divorce and also my 1st marriage ended in divorce when the children were 10, 9, and 1 yrs old. The children will be sad (as will you) but everyone will adjust fine as long as both parents love the children AND there is no bashing the other parent in front of the children or within ear shot. Show them love, and envolve the other parent in school functions, their sports or whatever - you all will be fine once the initial shock/sadness wears off.

I wish you all happiness in your new lives.



answers from Minneapolis on

I was also going to see if you'd seen the movie fireproof. It sounds like you've been trying to save your marriage--don't give up!!!



answers from Omaha on

I think it's a great idea. My ex and I ended up living in same apt. complex couple of buildings away and kids were old enough to tramp between the two as they wished.

I think a wonderful idea ( i wanted to do it but ex wouldn't) is to keep the house, get a two bed apt. the parents each have their own bed at apt. and THEY shuffle and the kids stay at the house always.

if you only have a 3 bd house you could even put both kids in master and have your own bedrooms at house too.

good luck



answers from Cedar Rapids on

I see the other members responses and think they are all wonderful and I can agree on everyone. So, I just wanted to put out there the website by Mark Gungor. He does some stuff on the radio and has started a new show on television and I can't wait to watch it, after hearing the little I have on the radio. It seems like he is very realistic with modern situation, etc. HTH. Good Luck!

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