My wife and I got married very young. We both had difficult pasts and I think we were in some way trying to save ourselves, to save each other. After we'd been together almost 10 years, she told me she wanted a divorce. We'd never fought but it wasn't really a joyful marriage; we were just kind of sleepwalking through our lives even after our daughter was born.
Though she never actually verbalized it this way, I think the problem was that she was basically unhappy and I couldn't make her happy. She had made big changes (new job, moving, etc.) trying to find the one that would make her happy; finally my number came up.
I didn't want to get divorced, but she was firm and I let her do what she wanted, as I always do. I didn't think I was going to live through it, but I figured if I did, I ought to have a plan. So, I quit my job, moved to another city and started grad school. I met a girl who I really like, though she doesn't live in the same city, which is hard. And I drive down to see my daughter every couple of weeks.
Now, seven months later, when it has come time to finalize the divorce, my wife says she wants to get back together. She just dumped her boyfriend and I think she's lonely and bored. Is she just having cold feet, or does she really mean it? On the one hand, I'd love to go back. She's my best friend and I still love her, and I'd like our daughter to have some semblance of normality. On the other hand, I live three hours away and I can't just quit school and move back. And there's my girlfriend; I don't want to be a dick to her; she's been really good to me and she doesn't deserve to be treated like that. And most important, what's changed? I don't want to spend another 10 years getting drunk in front of the television, knowing that my wife is depressed and not being able to do anything about it. And I don't want to go through this again in another year or 10.
So what do I tell my wife? What do I tell my girlfriend? What should I do?
Make sure the divorce gives you adequate visitation rights to your daughter. Then sign the divorce papers and have them filed with the court. Tell your wife that as far as you are concerned, the divorce is final. If she wants to undo what she has done, have your lawyer handle it. You can't let her run your life. This is no time for her to change her mind.
Tell your girlfriend that your ex-wife is being difficult but that you're dealing with it. And get back to what you were doing.
It's sad what happened, but this is your chance to do things the right way. Just keep doing things one at a time, be good to your daughter, and don't look back.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Want more advice from Cary? Read the Since You Asked directory.