First post here. I appreciate all the posts and advice that people have shared. Thank you.
Background: I have been separated for approximately 15 months, divorce should be finalized and signed by the court any time now. (I'm in Virginia with minor children so I had to wait a year from separation before filing). I am the one who asked for the divorce and separation. I have 3 children, ages 8, 5 and 3. Was married for 16.5 years, together with ex for 20. Long story short, we sought counseling, each of us have also done therapy individually as well. I wanted a divorce because after many years of verbal abuse (exp. being called a burden in front of the kids in relation to finances as a result of my small business having issues with my partners), lack of physical relationship (2 times a year despite me trying to initiate, being told when I touched her on rear in the morning and two of my kids were sitting in the other room that I was being inappropriate and disrespectful; physical relationship was probably around 6-8 times a year before kids, sex on honeymoon 1 time), never feeling appreciated despite all that I would do in terms of kids (given our work flow and income, she earned more than me for a significant part of our marriage thus I was the one who was primarily responsible for many of the main tasks with the kids each day, I cooked dinners every night, cleaned, etc.), never truly addressing my feelings or needs (she is a very selfish person in terms of only thinking about her own emotions). I do not want anyone to think I'm without issues. I'm forgetful and stubborn and can be a pain in the < hindquarters >. But I deserved to be treated better, and frankly my ex obviously wasn't happy with who I am and our relationship, and not happy with herself, so she deserves to be happy and pursue what makes her happy and I truly hope she finds that despite the issues that still plague us in dealing with each other.
We share 50/50 custody and I would not accept less. The kids are doing well, transition well (most of the time, there are some issues here and there), are seeing their own play therapists just to give us a high level view and we are told they are doing well, doing well in school, and seem to be happy. We co-parent well most of the time. She has a much better standard of living still and makes a decent amount of money, so she buys them a lot of toys, etc.
Here's my question though: I know I made the right choice for myself and my kids so they don't have to be in a house where two people obviously are not in love or care too much about each other. There was fighting, and ugly words, and when the tough times hit, she would tell me in front of the kids that she was done and sometimes she would walk out of the house. I made the right decision after working to maintain the relationship for years. She put in effort too here and there. But she never thought I would pull the trigger whereas I always thought she would based upon the number of "I'm done" occasions.
I still feel guilty or sad for the kids. I feel guilty because we don't go on the vacations we used to go on because I cannot afford them. That we don't get to do the things we used to do, which all involved spending money. I personally miss the vacations and the outings (even though one or two nights out of each vacation always had me or her sleeping on a couch). I feel sad for them that they don't get to have us under one roof, despite how much strife and tension there was. When I was trying to figure out what to do, my therapist said this to me: "do me a favor, when your wife gets home from work tonight go up to her, grab her and kiss her passionately." I told her that thought made me sick to my stomach. She told me there was my answer.
Is this guilt or sadness normal despite the fact that I made the right decision and the kids are doing really well? I do not miss the ex at all in the manner in which a man would miss a good relationship.
Thanks for reading/listening.