Wife seems anxious to enter into a separation agreement
This is in addition to a previous post I made, but the subject matter seems to be useful on its own.
My wife and I are currently in the process of deciding the fate of our relationship after over two decades. She has recently had the desire to explore life, alone, since our kids are all grown up, and she feels we are incompatible with each other.
In some of the earlier talks in this situation, she wanted to be able to move out, period, and live on her own to do so. She had always verbally said that the house should be mine because she feels her new direction in life is her decision and should not hurt others in the process. Besides, the kids still live in the house, and she wouldn't want to uproot them, either. She also wanted to be able to live her life on her own salary, bills, housing, and all.
That being said, and approximately two weeks later, her plans changed. She discussed an option of moving to a different bedroom instead. In the meantime, we would attend counseling. I have no problems with this. In fact, I feel I owe her that much. The relationship needs mending, and to keep sharing the same bedroom during this process might be akin to "picking at a wound while it's trying to heal." I have no problems with a little separation if it allows each other some breathing room to think and encourage the wound to start heeling.
We discussed a separation agreement. For those who don't know, a separation agreement defines terms, options, requirements, or any other enforceable clause that should be written into it. It can also be used to define asset distributions before a possible divorce. In short, a separation agreement defines boundaries within the relationship. My state (I'm in the USA) does not recognize separation agreements. However, they are just as binding as any contract. They just don't carry a court's authority. The breaching party must sue if it's not followed. It is also NOT a divorce. We would still be bound by the legal requirements and expectations of marriage.
A separation agreement can define who pays what bills and expenditures with what monies. And it can define that each party in their separate spaces is to be treated as if they were living in a private dwelling of their own. In our case, since we'd be living under the same roof, it means that each other's bedroom is considered off limits without being invited in by the other. It's not an uncommon arrangement, and I am OK with doing this. The draft of our separation agreement also defines the rights to use and/or claim properties such as the house, cars, recreational vehicles, etc. As I said before, it defines boundaries for the marriage and marital assets. I'm OK with most of the separation agreement as it has been written so far. What's bothering me is her anxiousness to get it signed and notarized.
Let me explain the lingering pitfalls of a separation agreement. The discussion of those pitfalls was the elephant in the room each time we were talking about it. In no direct way (in my state) does it address or set boundaries on interpersonal relationships with others outside of the marriage. However, there may be case law that allows for either one of the parties to carry on a full relationship with another. This is where my fears come in and how they raised a red flag in the process of entering into a separation agreement.
Let's just say that I have very little doubt, and some certifiable proof, that my wife has spent one-on-one time with another man recently. One that she met shortly before all of this separation talk started, and one with whom she has been taking steps to keep secret from me. The relationship between the two may very well be platonic, but her actions and secrecy tell a different story. We haven't discussed a date to get a separation agreement signed before, but we are already working toward her moving to another bedroom. As I said in the title of this thread, she seems very anxious to get it signed.
She agreed to go to counseling with me. That makes me believe there is still a chance to mend the marriage. She also keeps saying she doesn't want to break up our friendship, no matter if the marriage should officially end. But, I don't want to be played for the fool. I sense duplicity in her and I can't come to terms in my own mind about that. I hear one thing from her and I appear to be witnessing something different.
Maybe I'm just extremely jealous. Maybe she doesn't want to tell me about that other person because I could make a big deal about it, or misinterpret the relationship she has with him, especially if it is little more than "a friend who just happens to be a man", something my wife and I could normally be able to trust and tolerate in an unbroken marriage. We're all adults here, right?
So why the rush on the separation agreement then unless it's for what I think the rush is all about, that she would not be bound to a lack of infidelity (for the lack of a better word) that could be damaging at this stage. We had a talk last night where she said she couldn't do something like that with another man because it would go against her personal integrity. She has put a lot of faith in her integrity these days.
Shouldn't I be trusting enough to believe that she would do nothing to undermine that integrity?
On the flip side, a separation agreement would also potentially allow me to have open relationship with others. I'm trying to reconcile our differences, through counseling, because I hold hope that it would mend the relationship. She knows that. It does not feel right to me that either party would or should even consider secret (or not so secret) relationships with a member of the opposite sex. I would prefer to deal with a separation agreement after a few more sessions with the counselor. We only had one meeting so far, with others scheduled for the near future. I would like to add something on the lines of an "infidelity clause" to the agreement, but I doubt she would take kindly to that. Plus, it could undermine the marriage reconciliation process.
I have only a couple days to figure out how to resolve my personal issues over the separation agreement before she expects it to be signed. and if I have a moral right to delay signing it. The worst that could happen if I don't sign is that she calls for immediate divorce proceedings, ignoring everything she told me she didn't want to do to break out of this relationship. But that just seems a bit paranoid on my part, right?
Counseling may assist you but there's no guarantee that it will work no matter how many sessions you attend. You BOTH need to attend together and you BOTH need to have the need to try and reconcile your differences and repair your marriage. One partner's contribution is not enough for the process to work. Regardless of any separation agreement, and I'm sorry, but your post tell us that you have a need to reconcile your marriage but your wife has other ideas at the moment.
Never mind an infidelity clause undermining the marriage reconciliation process, your wife is already undermining the whole exercise of you guys getting back together with her actions with others. As for friendship after a divorce, ironically it relies on continued trust and respect for each other. How can you trust her if you can state that she's being secretive or has been recently?
Forget about jealousy and being paranoid, rather, it's your gut instinct talking to you and it's guiding you throughout your situation. Listen to it. Again, your wife needs to share your reconciliation goals and be on your page for both of you to have any success of getting back together. Her words mean absolutely nothing, given your circumstances, if she doesn't back them with positive actions.