DIVORCING After 27 Years Marriage
I am in the last stages of a divorce. It has taken 3 years 9 months to get to this stage. I doubt whether anyone ever marries thinking of divorce as an escape down the line. I discovered just by sitting listening to a conversation about the weather my husband was having with a work colleague on 1 Jan 2006, when it struck me "Oh No - she doesn't want him to let him off the line - something is going on." I tried to make light of it when I asked him whether he was talking to his girlfriend. His reply basically sealed it for me, "Strange you should say that - her husband thinks the same. Turns out, her husband and I were right.
From there followed a year and a half of my trying to save the marriage. This was complicated by the fact that every time I approached an attorney my husband would say he was confused and needed time to sort himself out. The most startling comment he made in the early days "If you really loved my you would wait for as long as it takes." By that he defined everything by saying "Let's see where this goes." I decided that I did not want to end up wondering whether there was anything that I could have done to save the marriage and regret acting hastily, so I felt inclined to believe that he was confused and going through some kind of mid-life crises. I felt I needed to 'hang in there' and I truly believed that with my support, he would overcome this 'mistake'. I guess you could call this denial - I simply could not understand how he could be doing this in front of me and my 3 sons. By this I mean that he stayed at home while his mistress walked out of her marriage (actually her husband divorced her immediately).Sometimes he never came home. I remember the first time he did that was when I told him that I had been to an attorney to find out what my rights were. He was visibly upset and tearful and asked me to give him some time so that he could sort himself out. When he left for 'gym' I truly believed we had turned a corner - given his emotional reaction! That night he didn't return! I sms'd him and asked him what was going on as I thought we had connected emotionally about this. He again told me not to give up on him and lose hope. This went on for 18 months. Four times during those 18 months he told me he had ended the relationship. Each time I found out that it was not the truth. I even phoned the 'otherwoman' once and she told me it was news to her!
He has now lost the respect love and trust of his sons now 24, 20, 14 years old.
On one occasion I even met with 'the other woman' and asked her to give us a chance (at this time as unbelievable as it sounds - he was deciding what to do, give her up and reconcile, or leave!) He had both of us waiting for him to make up his mind in - as he put it - "My own time - don't rush me - these things take time to sort out." Her reply to me was "I can't promise that - this is not about you this is about what I want." His response was "Why don't you work on our relationship and leave me to sort this out!" I could not believe that anyone could expect someone to work on a 'relationship' while another one had not even conclusively ended! (I have since learnt that we cannot take responsibility for anyone else's behaviour and should not try and understand What motivates them to behave as they do - we are only responsible for our own responses and behaviour).
He never once left home except when he lied and went away with her for the odd weekend or overnight stay. In July 2007 I finally drew the line in the sand. He had promised me 4 times in the preceding 18 month period that we were reconciling and each time I found out he was still seeing the other woman. It was a nightmare. I filed for divorce and suddenly all he wanted was to go for counselling, he panicked and said he would end the relationship in front of her (all the things I had asked him to do in the crucial 18 month period). The fact of the matter is that to date I am still struggling to get this finalised!! I have a 2nd signed divorce contract in my possession which I signed with him on the 7th August and his attorney has decided that something should be changed (in his favour of course). We had however both agreed and he has signed the agreement! I have now told him that I DO NOT intend signing another single sheet of paper.
What makes things difficult is that he still wants to see me and does not want to lose me etc etc. When I once asked him what he would do to leave her and reconcile with me - he asked why it was always up to him to do something! I was 47 when this started - the same age as him. I am now 51. I have learnt so much - but I would not wish this experience of betrayal on my worst enemy. It was not the affair - I really felt we could learn from that and show our sons how to forgive and build a better marriage - what did it for me was his inability to keep his word and the self-centred nature of his behaviour.
What have I learnt? Always address an 'issue' immediately. He comes home late without explanation? It is your duty to yourself to ask or demand explanation. If this is habitual behaviour or his response is arrogant - red flag - don't allow this treatment of yourself! Even if you have to move on when it becomes obvious that nothing is changing. Remember too that behaviour cannot be changed in someone else and NO they do not change after marriage, after the baby ......etc. I fell in love with a man whose understanding of love was vastly different to mine. We did not discuss the important issues. We met at 17 and married at 25. To be honest he behaves like the 17 year old I met years ago. My sons have never behaved as carelessly and irresponsibly as he has! In fact he can learn from them. I am humbled by their wisdom and maturity.
Just know you can forgive yourself and there is a beautiful world out there when you open your eyes and ears after you have stopped buying into his version of 'reality'!
With regard to the legal side - my attorney has given them some options: either they meet with us and we all discuss the terms of our divorce, or we take the matter to court to decide, or he honours the agreement as it is and as it has been signed by him!
I want to move on with my life now. I have given 3 years and 9 months to this! It has become a 'project' in my life. My dilemma now is what next? I am a young looking 51 in heart body mind and spirit - and I thank the universe for those blessings. I would like to study again. Built a career. I am very interested in helping people and have considered studying counselling. I love children and could do a course in early childhood development. Just not sure of the next step?