We need divorce counseling! No, we don't! Yes, we do!

We're separating. I say we need help. My wife disagrees.

Published October 18, 2005 11:45AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

My wife and I have agreed to separate. However, she refuses counseling to discuss things like splitting the finances or managing our daughter. She thinks we can deal with each problem as it comes. I'm thinking, if we had been taking that approach we probably wouldn't be getting divorced. More important (from my point of view), our marriage has been on the rocks for the last five of the nine years of our marriage, so I'm more than eager to move on.

I feel she is creating an environment where I can never be too far away because we're never going to resolve issues. However, the longer issues go unresolved the more contentious the issues will be when they occur.

Thanks for any advice.


Hotel California

Dear Hotel California,

If your wife won't discuss these issues with you, and she won't go to counseling, I suggest you go to counseling by yourself. With the help of a counselor, you can hammer out some concrete proposals to present to your wife. A counselor can also advise you on how best to engage her attention on the issues and not get sidetracked. If she is being actively uncooperative, i.e. in impeding your progress toward separation, the counselor could also help you deal with that.

There may be many reasons she does not want to go to counseling. She may feel that you will be using a counselor as an advocate for your position, or that it represents some kind of failure, or that it might involve unearthing issues she does not want to deal with right now. So it might be best not to make the counselor an issue at all between you and your wife. Just go yourself.

This option may not make you happy. It may not seem fair. It may seem that you are going to have to do all the work. But if you want answers to questions, if you want to settle things and get decisions, giving her proposals that require only a yes or no or a multiple-choice answer may be the most efficient way to go about it. My guess is that coming up with those proposals on your own may be extremely taxing. That is why I suggest that you yourself enlist help from professionals. A counselor may suggest that other experts tackle financial and legal aspects.

No doubt there are lots of other issues, but if you could solve them perhaps you wouldn't be getting divorced. Now is not the time to delve into them. Just get some help with the concrete matters before you.

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