My Wife Wants a Divorce: One Man’s Painful Story

my wife wants a divorce

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

Divorced Girl Smiling received this comment from a reader. The headline: “My wife wants a divorce.” I have estimated that Divorced Girl Smiling gets about 70% of its traffic from women and 30% from men. So, this article is definitely meant to give advice to men whose wives want a divorce. But, I thought it would also be a valuable article for women, so that they can see things through this man’s lens, and possibly gain some insight, especially for women who are the ones who wanted the divorce.

Here is this guy’s email that began with “My Wife Wants a Divorce”

My wife dropped a divorce bomb on me. I fully admit to the fact that I spent too much time in the man cave and that we took care of everyone else, foster daughter and children, jobs etc, and neglected taking care of each other.

 She told me she’s been unhappy for “years” but never said anything. She said she thought she was being a good wife by not nagging. After our foster daughter died she had new found freedom, a new job teaching and new friends, one of which she had an emotional affair with.

 I didn’t find out for four months and when I told her I knew she was very upset with me. After we played the blame game I’ve come to realize my obvious short comings. Mostly taking her and my family for granted. She says she’s “done”.

Now we are separating and all I feel is the guilt for what I’ve done. The anger I felt at first is gone and I would forgive her in a second for reconciliation. She of course feels guilty for initiating divorce and having an affair but will that make her see what we, all of us, will lose? Kids lose parents, spouses lose each other, all lose half of their family and half of their money. Guilt? Small potatoes. Regret, shame, mistrust in everyone from now on, facing the end of your life alone, that’s what awaits.

 

First of all, I want to tell this man how sorry I am that he is facing this. If he used the words “dropped a bomb on me,” that means he was utterly shocked, and that is traumatizing, and takes a very long time to get a handle on. He is experiencing a lot of pain and I truly feel for him.

 

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Based on this email (which is his recollection of what happened), I see a couple things that bother me. First, this:

She told me she’s been unhappy for “years” but never said anything.

The wife stayed silent, let the resentment build up and then cheated. Instead of saying to her husband, “I’m not happy, can we talk?” Then again, this guy fully admitted that he was in his “man cave” and it sounds like he just ignored her. So, they both did things and acted in ways they shouldn’t have.

Next, I’m not sure how their foster daughter died, but I’m sure it was a heartbreaking tragedy for the whole family. When people are grieving, they make decisions they wouldn’t otherwise make, and affairs can be one of them. I’m not saying what she did was right, but rather it might be understandable. Maybe she chose to change her life because of it, and he chose to shut down and sit in his man cave. Both are unhealthy ways of dealing with the loss, but who am I to judge? Again, it’s understandable.

Next thing, the guy said that when he told his wife about the affair, she got really angry. I have heard of that happening. It’s a reflex response based on her deciding to let all of her resentment out of the bag, as well as her feeling guilty (not saying she should) about what she did; that SHE cheated. Also, she might have had that angry response because she was embarrassed and ashamed.

 

 

On another subject, what I love about this guy is his self-awareness. He’s admitting that he wasn’t perfect, where as a lot of men (and women) who are left will never admit they had any role in the divorce. They put it all on their partner and declare themselves a victim and refuse to take any responsibility or accountability for what happened.

I also want to comment on this part of his email:

Kids lose parents, spouses lose each other, all lose half of their family and half of their money. Guilt? Small potatoes. Regret, shame, mistrust in everyone from now on, facing the end of your life alone, that’s what awaits.

First off, kids might be better off with divorced parents in a healthy post-divorce relationship than married parents who live separate lives. Secondly, the money part is awful, but not a reason to stay in a bad marriage. Regret, shame, mistrust in everyone and facing the end of your life alone DOES NOT await a divorced person!!! That is completely false.

If the divorced person who was left is willing to go to therapy and work on themselves and admit their part in the end of the marriage, then they will most likely have a healthy and happy post-divorce life. In fact, many people who are left realize later that the spouse did them a favor because they didn’t realize how unhappy they were in the marriage (or didn’t want to take action because of fear of change.) So so many end up finding love again and being in a much happier romantic relationship.

 

Bridging the Gap Between Conflict and Resolution

 

More advice for this guy:

People who are newly separated, particularly the person whose spouse was the one who decided to leave, have four phases to what they experience:

 

1. Shock/denial.

It feels unbelievable and they wake up every morning unable to believe this is really happening. They might think, “My wife is going to change her mind and call off the divorce. I know it.”

2. Immense anger.

It’s not easy being cheated on and/or left. It’s a burning feeling that the other person is dumping you and it’s beyond hurtful. That fuels anger and fury.

 

Divorce Mortgage Planning

 

3. Sadness and desperation to work it out.

People start to reflect on what really happened and hopefully take some accountability. I’m not saying that cheating is justified, but rather that if both people were “taking care of each other,” as this guy said, there would not have been cheating.

4. Bitterness and more anger when they realize they’re not getting back together.

When things seem hopeless, that’s when they guy/girl start to take anger to a new level. The gloves come off, oftentimes through attorneys. This is where kids can suffer because the relationship is so bad between their parents. Hopefully, it gets better. In some divorces, it never does. In others, it takes time, but the parents learn how to get along and even become friends.

In closing, my advice for this guy who wrote, “My wife wants a divorce,” is that it is now out of his control. If he has sat her down and told her how he feels, that is all he can do. There is a certain amount of peace that comes from knowing you did all you could. If he starts to feel regret more and more, he needs to get therapy, but he would also benefit from realizing that regret is a very unproductive emotion. Nothing good comes from it, unless you use it to make life changes and be a better person in your life moving forward.

With therapy and working on himself, hopefully he can find happiness. In therapy, he should also learn how to process the grief of his foster daughter’s death, and maybe some other things he hasn’t learned to come to peace with yet.

 

Big hugs to this man and his wife. They seem like wonderful people who deserve to be happy.

Like this article? Check out, “9 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship”

 

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. 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.

3 Responses to “My Wife Wants a Divorce: One Man’s Painful Story”

  1. afrodita Padilla

    I know what your feeling its been almost 7 months, since i found out my husband cheated on me.. He told me he loved somebody else a day before thanksgiving. He blame me for everthing.. i worked graveyard and took care of the kidsduring the day, i verly got anytime for him. Later i found out there were others..his mistress told me. Its been horrible. ..your not alone. They are very selfish people in the word. I dont understand why, people dont be honest and say what they feel, but instead look for someone else. Tell you i didnt mean to hurt you by telling things they didnt like, but found it easy to go out and cheat.. it doesnt make any sENCE…

    Reply
  2. Emily

    Hello, I just wanted to say you have offered very good advice and I hope your reader and others like him find happiness in the future. It won’t go on for ever, remember to be sad and grieve but also give yourself a time to stop and let go of the past. Think towards the future as that is where your happiness lies. thank you

    Reply
  3. Robert Harris

    My first impression is your response to “My wife wants a divorce” is that your response is sensible and not personal, but objective and solution oriented. My response is slightly different. First, we need to acknowledge the family has been through trauma. Second, we need to respect that different people react to trauma and distress differently. To go into the workforce is a possible reaction to new freedom. Going into a man cave is a possible reaction to grief. Third, there is a difference between going into the man cave and going outside the marriage to become involved with another person NOT in the marriage. This man’s future is being changed by his wife’s actions to break her marriage agreement and then sue him for divorce. Fourth, the rest of your guidance to ‘accept’ the situation and construct a positive personal life plan, I agree with. When a woman wants a divorce, there is nothing that will stop that divorce but her own change of mind. Commencing a new future stating I am equally wrong and equally to blame is not healthy for this man. It is healthy to say, I did all I could to ‘correct’ the errors of my life choices post death of my foster daughter but to not accept equal responsibility for the actions of a separate, independent, dishonest spouse. In the future, it will be important to hold your head high based upon how you conducted yourself. Taking ‘equal’ blame today may seem stoic and noble and equitable. But if it’s not true, it will unravel and leave the man writing with regrets of taking the blame for actions, decisions and choices he did not make which will harm his positive self esteem and self value. His future has been changed by this wife for reasons that she chose not him. He should not kid himself ever that this is what he chose. His inner dialogue has to be positive and honest and not inaccurate because to take responsibility for another person’s life choices is not fair to him or to his esteem or to his future. This is not the same thing as blaming her. It’s simply itemizing the facts and allowing her and him, to draw balanced and fair conclusions on how the marriage fell apart. I don’t think this part should be skipped over lightly in the desire for a speedy recovery for this man.

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