Dear Chump Lady,
Okay, here is the situation. After 23 years together he has reconnected with an old girlfriend on Facebook and wants a divorce. After the initial shock, I told him if he wanted a divorce — go see a lawyer and get started. I have already done so. (He doesn’t know this).
However, most of our lives together he has said this is what I want to do, and I have done the leg work to get it done. (This is my gift, and I don’t mind doing it.) But I am not going to help him get a divorce. If he wants one, let him take the first step and I will follow. (I am armed and ready). This has been going on for four months. She is not local and I know he has only seen her a few times. My therapist thinks he has gotten himself in over his head and doesn’t know what to do. How long do I wait this out? Thanking you in advance.
How long do you wait this out? I’d say T minus four months ago. I think you’ve waited it out too long already. It’s terrific that you’ve lawyered up, but now it’s time to shoot those legal guns.
It seems to me that you’ve been waiting for him to get out of that mythical wayward fog and commit to a path. Either reconciling with you, or divorcing you. He’s not going to do that, Janet. He’s a cake eater. He’s enjoying his limbo. The stability of marriage to a woman whose “gift” is attending to all of his needs, and the pleasures of a side dish fuck with Ms. Facebook. He’s not going to mess up his good cakey thing.
Your husband seems to be a pretty consistent sort from what you write. He asks for things and you make them happen. And you seem a consistent sort in that you give him the things that he wants. His actions say “I want cake,” and you are giving him cake. You think you are denying him the divorce he wants by not initiating it for him — but Janet, this isn’t rebellion. He doesn’t want the divorce. But he also does not want to be faithful to you. His idea of marriage is to disrespect you and cheat on you.
You only get to control YOU. You are making the very common chumpy mistake of focusing all your energy on the cheater. What motivates him, what he wants, what he’s going to do next? No! Put the focus back on yourself. What do YOU want? Is the marriage as it stands now acceptable to you? If not, what are YOU going to do about it? Create boundaries and ENFORCE those boundaries. And a pox on your therapist for wasting your precious billable hours trying to get inside your husband’s head and not yours.
Sticking up for yourself and the sort of marriage you deserve is hard at first. It’s scary. You have to let go of the outcome. Forcing his hand by filing may snap out of his affair (but I would argue who wants him if you have to hold a legal gun to his head to make him do the right thing). Filing will probably also have the result of making him finally lawyer up. But either way, you can get on with your life.
I am assuming that you have told him you want to save this marriage, and what he needs to do to save it (i.e., quit fucking around). I’m also assuming that his actions (or inactions) have given you answers you don’t want to hear. (He intends to do nothing — not divorce you, and not quit cheating on you.) Four months is long enough for him to set on the fence — time to push him off. File for divorce! You’re halfway there — keep going.
Let us know how you’re doing. Best of luck!