How do I prepare myself in case my wife leaves me?

My wife has told me she’s done with our marriage multiple times in the past 12 months. We have 2 young kids and it breaks my heart when she says that. She says it’s nothing I do wrong, she just can’t do it anymore. I’m terrified for my kids to go through a separation.
Asked by Homer

Hi Homer, thank you for asking your question and I am sorry to hear you are having struggles in your marriage.

The first way I would answer this question of how to prepare yourself is to address the problems in your marriage to the best of your ability. If things are going to end the best thing you can do to prepare yourself is make sure you leave it all on the table. So, your wife says it's nothing you do wrong but she just can't do it anymore, and I would wonder what is "it" that she can't do anymore? Are you arguing? What are you arguing about? Is there anything that she says you can do to change the way she feels? How often is she saying this to you about being done with the marriage? Has she done anything else besides threaten to show that she is serious about leaving the relationship? Is there any part of her that wants to work on it? And if so, putting effort towards that on both of your parts. So depending on the answers to the series of questions I would try to exhaust all options and avenues to mend the relationship and move toward repairing the bond and marriage. Another option to consider is individual or couples counseling or both. Sometimes talking to someone and having a neutral and objective party involved can help to bridge the communication gap and improve the relationship.  This way, if it eventually doesn't work out, you can say you did everything you could do and put in your all. And I would just add that if she says there is nothing you can do, then it would become more about what you want to do, what you are willing to accept and tolerate. 

The second thing I would say in answer to this is to essentially prepare yourself to become independent and take care of yourself and your children. In my mind this is kind of like a worst case scenario emergency planning approach to the situation. This could mean different things to different people, but thinking about things like how you would support yourself independently, potential living options or what you would do if you needed to or were forced to separate from your wife. Do you have a support system in your area? Maybe lean in to some of those supports, the people you trust, your parents or siblings or best friend to talk about what is going on and discuss potential options if you aren't able to work things out or improve your marriage with your wife. I understand the fear of your children going through a separation as well and all of your fears are valid. If and when appropriate, when you have exhausted all options and you know a separation is inevitable, it might be good to talk to your children about what is happening, reassure them that you and their mom love them, and differentiate the relationship with your wife from your relationship with them. There is no good way to deal with getting a divorce other than being as open and honest as possible without putting the other parent down or placing blame.

Last thing I would say is to begin practicing your coping skills or hobbies if you have not already. So, what are the things that you like to do? What are the ways you spend your time that make you feel good? And similarly- how do you relieve stressor sadness? What are the things that you do to feel better? Engage in these things. Spend time doing things that make you feel good or make you feel better. This could be anyting from spending time with your kids, doing things with them, going to the gym, going for a walk, going to trivia night with friends, journaling, singing, drawing, etc. Whatever makes you feel the best, do that. This way, if the relationship cannot be salvaged, you will have good coping skills and positive ways to spend time in place. 

I hope this answer provides some comfort and guidance during this difficult time. Take care