Guy Thinking of Separating Seeks Divorce Advice

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

I received this e-mail from a guy who is thinking of separating from his wife of 10 years.

Dear Jackie:

 I’ve been married for the past 10 years and have been together with the same person for 14 years. We have a beautiful little girl who will be five at the end of May and I’m in this relationship for her. 

 We’ve been in therapy for the past six weeks and I’m running out of resources.  Our friends believe I’m rushing decisions to separate. I’ve been trying to work on our marriage for the last two years.

 I’ve changed a lot of who I am, saw a Primary care physician who said nothing was wrong with me but to change my attitude, he put me on an anti depressant (which I’m now off of).  Marriage is no question undoubtedly hard; but, how do you bridge the conversation of dissolution when the other partner isn’t ready to call it quits? 

 I feel as if I’ve given it my all, and that I wanted change months/years ago; yet, we continued to just drift apart. I’m not looking for anyone to provide me with direction and a definitive answer yes or no; but I am looking for a road map and for someone to acknowledge that my daughter and I will be ok if I decide to separate.

 I’m also concerned about my daughter. In the back of my head, I believe she will lead a healthy and successful life with two parents who love her but no longer love each other.  My dilemma is I have a friend who constantly projects her feelings of her parents divorce back on me as if my daughter will grow up a terror.  Any wisdom would be greatly appreciated.


My gut reaction to reading your e-mail is that you really want someone to tell you it’s okay to leave. You want that validation/rationale/permission, and who better to get it from than the divorced girl smiling, right? Wrong.

Here’s the thing. I totally get you. Like anyone who has gone through a divorce, I understand where you are coming from. It’s the hardest decision you might ever have to make in your life. It’s gut wrenching. On one hand, you don’t want to hurt anyone, but you might be feeling like life is short, why do I have to live unhappily? I still have a chance to find true love. Right?

I wish I could tell you that separating is the right thing. I also wish I could tell you that separating is the wrong thing. But there is no way I can tell you what the right decision is. You are the only one who knows that.

You are asking me if you will be okay if you separate. Of course you will be okay. You will also be okay if you stay.

I bet the guilt is killing you. I also bet you are scared of making the wrong decision. It sounds a little to me as if you’ve already checked out of your marriage. And I have usually found that when one person does that, it almost always ends in divorce. But, I could be wrong.

So, the little advice I can give you on this subject is a piece of advice I give A LOT to others who have said to me, “I’m thinking of separating.”

Here is what I say to them:

“If you want a divorce because you think you can do better, in other words, you think you can meet someone who you will have a better life with, then you should really think about this more, and possibly try to work on the marriage.”

On a side note, six weeks of therapy is not a lot. That’s just scratching the surface, and I say that in a good way. It might seem hard to believe, but when couples really make the effort, a lot of times they can fall back in love and get to where they were pre-problems. Wouldn’t that be nice?! You may say yes or no. If you are saying no, you’re checked out.

Continuing what I say to people thinking of separating:

“If you are getting a divorce because you absolutely cannot live with this person anymore, i.e. they are abusive or addicted to something or cheating, that’s another story. If someone said to you, ‘You will be alone forever and never find love again after your divorce,’ would you still want to be divorced? That’s the question you have to ask yourself. If your answer is, “oh, then I’ll stay married,” then you are not ready to separate.” When you separate, you have to be okay with being alone.

Regarding your little girl, the question of whether she will or will not be fine if you get divorced can only be answered during and after the divorce. It depends on how you and your ex handle the co-parenting aspect of the divorce, what kind of relationship you have, how you treat each other, what you say about each other, and a million other mistakes you either do or don’t make when it comes to divorce. AND, you only have control over YOUR part in how you act. So much is out of your control.

I wish you all the best in your decision because I know how tortured you must feel.

When it comes to friends and family, consider their opinions and what they have to say, but don’t let them influence your decision.

Whether you separate or not has to come from you. The words in your head, and the feelings in your heart and in your gut.


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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

7 Responses to “Guy Thinking of Separating Seeks Divorce Advice”

  1. Deb

    I sympathize with the decision you are trying to make. Jackie gave some great advice especially how our society is consumed with finding the next new bright shiny object and if that’s your goal you likely will keep repeating that and just have relationship after relationship that seems fulfilling but eventually isn’t and then you’re doing it all over again.

    As for your daughter, on rid the biggest lies of divorce, in my opinion is that it ruins kids. My daughter was in fifth grade when I got divorced and exactly half of her class was a child of divorce. That shows that your child will be one of many and not the unusual kid like when we were growing up. My kids have actually flourished in our situation. Their dad liked to cause a lot of drama and like it much better without that. However, we are very amicable, don’t insult each other in front of them or in private. We work things out and move on. I personally think the younger the child, the better because they are more adaptable to a new way of normal. But I did want to point out one thing…just because you aren’t married anymore doesn’t mean she doesn’t have two loving parents who now, probably are able to focus in her needs more….if you keep her out of drama and put her needs first.

    Good luck on your decision…regardless I appreciate that you are being cautious enough to seek the advice of many instead of just making an emotionally irrational decision.

  2. Mish

    I know where this man is coming from. I share his pain, his torment, his indecision. My husband is an emotionally abusive man, which normally would be a trigger to make the decision to be an easy one, however I still feel a sense of obligation to him…to my children (ages 8 and 10). Everyone says I should hate him. Part of me does. And I want to leave. I want to be on my own. I can’t wait. But still, something freezes me in place. The hurt that I will be inflicting. The guilt I will feel. It makes me stop dead in my tracks. It pisses me off. I feel so weak. I don’t know how to get over the speed bump myself. I know everyone says you will just KNOW when the time is right. I’m not sure how true that statement is. I just want it to be done and over with…but without me doing the hurting and tearing everyone apart.

    • Mari

      I read your comment and saw myself 4 years ago. I felt the same, I felt I had no strength to go to the process and be on my own. But one day I woke up and said it was enough. I felt the same way you did. And I can tell you, being a single parent is not easy, but its so much better than being in a bad relationship. Don’t be afraid. get your financials in order, find a full time job that can support you and your kids without his support. If he helps it will be gravy, and you will be so happy you did.

  3. Michelle

    I am currently proceeding to divorce after 18 years of marriage and a 6 month separation. I have 2 children. This is one of the most frustrating things I have come across throughout the process…the total lack of support from ANYWHERE for those of us who believe divorce is a better option than continuing in an unhappy marriage. I understand and agree that you can’t tell this guy what decision to make. However, the amount of pro-marriage support and judgment for those who take any other path is overwhelming. It’s too bad there’s not a place to hear from those of us who, while not pro-divorce (I don’t think there is such a thing) can understand and support those who feel the need to make that choice. I have found there is very little published that’s neutral let alone supportive. I wish I could talk to this guy directly, to let him know he’s not alone and there are times when walking away is the best decision both as a parent and a spouse. Your kids can and will thrive and be okay post divorce, and you will too.

  4. Randy

    I have been married 17 years to my wife and we have 3 great kids. I’ve been unhappy for a long time – I don’t know how long because it’s just been an extended period of feeling unenthusiastic. It’s one of those situations where it was just the way it was, and I didn’t want to be alone if I left. We are both professionals and financially are very well off. But for years she makes me feel like one of her employees. If I don’t do a task “properly” it gets commented on. There is no “lovey-dovey” sweetheart-type behavior that I see with other couples. I would see how friends act around their spouse and just think it must be an act, because I didn’t feel that way. We make very good business partners but I don’t feel like husband and wife. I find myself feeling somewhat indifferent toward her. If she takes a trip I find myself wishing that she wouldn’t come back. This makes me feel so guilty. Our days revolve around our work and running the kids around to their activities. And so it was. Until I met “her”. At a business meeting two months ago. I wasn’t looking for anything, we just met briefly, but started texting all the time. We “talk” all day long and have probably had more meaningfuly conversations in 2 months than most couples have in a year. We are absolutely crazy about each other. We’ve had a few dates, but we live several hours apart so it’s difficult. Yes, I know all the problems: 1. it’s all new and shiny right now. 2. It’s only been two months. 3. blah blah blah. The fact is that she brings out the best in me. She loves my sense of humor, whereas at home I get a lot of blank stares so I just keep quiet. At home it’s a lot of feeling stressed and walking on eggshells. With Miss New Girl it’s so relaxed. We laugh about everything. It kills me to be apart from her. She feels the same. So now I’m wondering about leaving. And that’s how I found this blog. I’m so torn up inside because of the guilt I’m carrying that I want to leave my wife. And what Michelle said above rings true. There is no support for that. Everything I have seen relating to a situation like mine completely vilifies the man as being selfish and immature and slays the “other woman” as should know better, why is she getting involved with a married man anyway? And then they say, yes you should get divorced because you’re an idiot and your poor wife deserves someone who loves her. Anyway, facing all this is torturing me. I really think that Miss New Girl and I have something very special. But I wish someone would tell me that it’s OK to feel this way. I don’t want to do counseling. Like Jackie said, if you ask if it would be nice to reconcile and you say no, you’ve checked out. I definitely feel like I’ve checked out. I feel like I’m cheating on Miss New Girl when I’m at home with my wife. It’s crazy. I just try to avoid my wife as much as possible. This whole mess is tearing me up.

  5. Amelia

    Randy, I normally NEVER comment on postings, but after reading yours I couldn’t get it out of my mind so here are a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful when making your decision( to leave or to stay). First let me say that it was extremely difficult for me to read your post since it is MY story! The only differences are I was married for 33 years and the “New Girl” was in a different state. My first question is Does your wife know how you feel.? I’m going to guess that you haven’t told her and so is it fair that she not have a say in if you two can work on your marriage? My ex kept saying it takes two to make a marriage and yes that’s true if BOTH of you are in it and working on it. It also takes ONE for a divorce which is the hardest thing to accept. Your wife may even feel the same as you, or come to that point if the counseling wasn’t going anywhere. The biggest thing people DO NOT tell you is what you will lose( and I’m
    not talking monetary value).
    1. Your legacy – you may never get this back and my ex has found that out the hard way! His children are not even speaking to him and it was really bc of the New Girl.
    2. You will forever change the lives of your children- they will never have the home that you and your wife have built for them and their future will be about taking sides( unless your children are very young)
    3. Your respect- the cheating alone has destroyed this and this is why you feel the guilt, but your family will for ever remember this .
    4. Your holidays and celebrations will forever be changed as well, your kids and grandkids will have to pick sides once again and you may be disappointed on who they choose.
    5. You will lose your other family( in laws) and you may think that’s a good thing, but believe me when I say a loss is never a good thing!
    Divorce only tears and destroys all who is in its path. Now I realize if someone is being abused or lives with a person that is unstable mentally, then yes I do think divorce is inevitable. In your case you lost that loving feeling and found someone that has brought it back, but remember you had that for you r wife as well and overtime if it isn’t nurtured will lose it again with all the other things I mentioned. I found this saying right after my husband decided counseling wouldn’t work, the grass is greener where you water it. This is SO true!! You could fix your marriage if you wanted to, and if you could see all the pain and regret that divorce caused In your family BEFORE your divorce then you would work on it I am sure!!
    I read my comment to you to my 28 year old son, and he said ,”wow mom that ‘s great and so true, now only if a guy would of told him that”. He feels you will hear your wife’s voice and not take this to heart, I hope for your sake and happiness for your entire family he is wrong.

  6. vy

    I think you shouldn’t divorce. Try to talk to your wife. It’s easy to divorce for yourself but it’s very difficult situation for your daughter. She will find it very difficult to be with mum or dad. She will feel lonely when she is with mum because her mum would be busy with work, housework and getting stressed after divorcing, which affect your daughter’s feeling so much. To you, you only can visit her at the weekend, that’s not enough


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