Ten weeks after our first kid was born, my husband asked for a divorce

Now he's banging a 23-year-old who works at the motel where he's staying!


Cary Tennis
February 18, 2005 1:00AM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I am a 33-year-old mother with one 5-month-old daughter. I am currently married to a 31-year-old man whom I love deeply. He has always traveled in his jobs since we met five years ago. We have been married for two years and we have prided ourselves on our trust and ability to have a great long-distance relationship. We had a few minor issues between us, but nothing major that would have destroyed our marriage.

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Since 2001 my husband has been working with my employer as an insurance adjuster. Our daughter was born on Aug. 27, 2004. When my daughter was 10 weeks old my husband told me he was not happy in our marriage and wanted a divorce. This came as a total shock to me. I have since discovered that he is having an affair and intends to make some kind of life with a 23-year-old girl who works at the motel he was staying at while working in Illinois. He has been unfaithful for about two months.

I do not believe in divorce and especially not when children are involved. I live in Alabama and my husband is living in Illinois. I asked my husband to go to counseling with me and he agreed -- but quit after one session, saying that he got nothing out of discussing our issues with a third party. At that time he had not admitted to the adultery.

Here is my question: Should I fight for my marriage, or should I give him up? I do not see that I have any choice but to give him a divorce, as he is adamant that is what he wants. I feel that he has been away for five months and that he should spend some time with me and our daughter before taking such a drastic step as divorce. I cannot convince him of this, so I hoped you may have some words of wisdom to help us through this difficult time.

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A.

Dear A.,

I think you ought to secure the services of a competent divorce lawyer. I hope you'll contact one right away. That doesn't mean you have to agree to a divorce. But a lawyer can help you sort through your options.

From a commonsense perspective, it sounds as though your husband has acted like a real jerk. If anybody should be filing for divorce I would think it would be you! Here your husband deserted you right after the birth of your first kid, and he's taken up with some woman at a motel. He's deserted you and committed adultery. So I would not be surprised if, in spite of how well you're handling this, you were pretty angry and upset.

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In fact, at present you may be focused almost exclusively on what divorce means to you morally and spiritually; you may be in almost a state of shock about how things could have taken this turn. That would be very human.

But in order to get a firm grasp on the legal situation, I suggest you try to put aside for the time being your objections to divorce and your hope for reconciliation, and approach this as a body of facts to master -- almost as if it were a subject in school. That doesn't mean you have to agree to divorce. But I do think you need to consider it as a real possibility. Feeling the way you do about it, you may be deeply reluctant to become fully engaged in learning the facts. That would be understandable. No sensitive person is eager to subject her personal feelings to the cold and brutal world of the law. But I think whatever difficulties you face in the future will be less severe the sooner you engage an attorney and start learning about your options.

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If you do go through a divorce, whatever is decided may affect you and your child for years to come. So think about the future. What would you want from your husband if you were to grant a divorce? What kinds of aid or support would be most important to you? Would you want financial support now? Would you want to create a fund to send your child to college? Would you want him in your child's life, or not? What if you should remarry? How would that affect his responsibilities to you and to the child? These are the kinds of things that a legal agreement might address, and so it will be helpful to think about them now.

Talk to two or three lawyers and choose the one you like best. Make sure it's somebody who listens well and understands your concerns. Then, if legal proceedings should actually begin, stay on top of developments. Even the best lawyer may not always keep you as informed as you would like to be -- or may not explain the significance of certain things unless you question them carefully and make sure you understand.

Remember: Just because you're talking to a lawyer doesn't mean you can't reconcile. In fact, taking steps now to secure the best legal position may ultimately work to persuade your husband that it's in his best interest to come home. If not, at least you won't be left high and dry.

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