Saintly Divorcée

8 Jul

Dear LetterBalm: My husband left me three years ago to live with his girlfriend 25 years younger than he is. This happened while we were living in Europe in connection with his job. They still live there. I found out that he used to move her into our house there every time I made a visit back home to the States (where I live now). Our three kids, who are approximately the same age as this woman, are understandably angry and upset. They also think she wants him only for his money. In fact, everyone has tried to tell him this, but he won’t listen. He’s pressing me to agree to a divorce settlement quickly so he can marry her. I don’t want to be vindictive, and I really could use the money, but I’m waiting until all our finances, which are considerable, are dealt with before I agree. This is taking its toll emotionally on me, but I feel I’m doing the right thing for myself. What can I say to him to slow him down?

–Biding My Time

Vindictive? Ms. L.B. thinks you’re a saint. Your husband has acted abominably throughout this scenario, and you can be excused if you get a wee bit angry. He has given you ironclad grounds for divorce. In all probability, you have excellent legal and financial advisors who are telling you not to make a move until everything is legally settled, including the means to protect you financially for the rest of your life. (And make sure you have good investment and estate planning, and don’t give money indiscriminately to family and friends when you get it.) You are entitled to your fair share and more. Waiting for an equitable settlement may well make your husband’s girlfriend realize that she won’t be hopping on the gravy train soon, and she may reconsider life with her lover. Meanwhile, limit your husband’s contact with you – you’re under no obligation to return his calls and e-mails. He has no more power over you. Be strong. Consider telling him this once and for all:

Douglas, you’ve been pressing me to agree to a divorce. Once again, I’m telling you that on the advice of my attorneys and financial people, we have to wait until our finances are sorted out before we proceed. This is just common sense, and this is the last conversation you and I will have on the subject. In the future, please don’t contact me. If you have questions or issues, have your attorney talk with mine.

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