I want a divorce

-- Question for John --

I want a divorce. I am 47 and have been married 16 years. We have 2 sons. Approximately 5 years ago, I found out my husband was having an affair. He broke off the affair and lived with his mother about 2 hours away. He moved back in after 4 months. I’ve had a difficult time trusting him ever since. His position is that he doesn’t have to account for what he does or with whom.

He is an only child. His mother (who was divorced when he was 3) was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The same day she was given her prognosis, he went out with the “guys” to a strip club. I was ready to file for divorce, but his mother begged me not to and to give him another chance. I have nothing left to give. I want to file for a divorce and end this charade, but am uncertain as to how it will affect our children. Especially if their grandmother dies within the next few months.

-- Answer from John --

If you are not yet completely certain that you are ready to divorce right now or if you are not certain that you have tried everything possible to rebuild your relationship, i.e. to get your husband to join in that effort in some meaningful way, then I would encourage you to give your husband the choice: (1) to either commit to a year of weekly counseling to bring your dead relationship back to life or (2) to go ahead and figure out the best way to get an amicable divorce at this time, in a way that will least adversely affect the children. Sometimes, not always, giving a husband that clear and certain a choice will wake them up from their otherwise defensive or evasive patterns. If you have already done this, that clearly, with no response, then read on….

If you are absolutely clear that you want a divorce, then your next steps are: (1) to become educated as to how to do it in a way that has the least negative adverse affect on the children. (2) You then would need to figure out how to do the divorce in the least confrontational and adversarial way, so as to maximize whatever assets you and your husband have to split up. (3) You would also want to figure a way to at least enroll your husband in the idea that the two of you should make some kind of peace and figure a way to co-parent your sons in a way that will have the least negative impact on their psyches and their lives.

These positive divorce goals would also be made more easy by committing to go to a counselor together and to make some new kinds of agreements that will serve those goals.

As far as the educational part about your main concern, the effects of a divorce on your sons, you might research for books on that topic on amazon.com and/or look for a support group or educational provider in your town that speaks to the issues of single parenting or co-parenting or children and divorce. In our Yellow Pages in the phone book, for instance, there is a group called “Parents without Partners” — you might also search on the internet for organizations that can provide that kind of education and support in your area.