What advice would you have for an unhappily married woman who is separated but still has to reside in the home with her husband for financial reasons? I have two children in college, housing is more than I can afford and don’t make enough to support myself and my kids. I’ve been married for 25 yrs., most of my life. Separation would mean taking kids out of college, no insurance and, well…many other things. I’m 47, other women have told me that my time to find a suitable mate will be harder if I don’t do something now because “more desirable, high quality” men prefer youth. The problem is my “married on paper” is a roadblock. my marriage is absolutely over but we’re still tied to each other because of finances, children, like many other couples. I’d really love your input.
– Stuck and Miserable
I’m really sorry to hear about your situation, S&M. I know it’s small consolation but you are far from the only one who is in this predicament. I know someone who told her husband she was leaving him and then got locked down by coronavirus. Awkward! I have a client who called me from her car bawling that she was stuck and paralyzed and wanted me to fix her miserable 23-year marriage (I don’t fix broken marriage; I get people out of them). Another woman told me she had been dumped 14 times by her man but was back with him for a 15th go-round and hoping for different results. Let’s just say that if I was a betting man, I’d put the whole ranch on divorce lawyer stock in 2021-22.
As far as YOUR situation goes, my friend, while there are no painless solutions, there are some easy conclusions you can draw from your situation.
- You’re separated. That means that both you and your husband have expressed the intent to consider divorce even though you are highly dependent on him financially. That tells me that things were making you so unhappy that ANYTHING would be better than continuing to stay in this relationship. Please don’t lose sight of that; your feelings are your North Star.
- If you have two kids in college, I would surmise that your husband also wants them to succeed, so their futures should not be on the table or at risk in this discussion. Of course, I could be wrong; I guess I don’t see how the end of your marriage would mean the kids have to leave college. I admit that I’m lacking your financial information and the mindset of your husband.
- If you’ve been married for 25 years, I would assume that there are divorce laws protecting you. Have a conversation with a lawyer (or a mediator to keep it even less expensive/less contentious) and find out what your options are. I have a friend who got divorced last year and they settled without lawyers for a more-than-fair monthly stipend to support her in addition to her working income.
- Your friends suck and you shouldn’t turn to them for advice. Being 47 isn’t the reason to act now; being UNHAPPY is the reason to act now. Do you want to be in this position in one year, five years, ten years, or the rest of your life? How long are you going to let your (very rational) economic fears dictate the rest of your life and prevent you from freedom and lasting love with someone else?
Listen, I’m in no position to minimize the scope of what it means to be on your own for the first time in your adult life at age 47.
But from where I sit, you have two forks in the road:
One is to stay on the current path of misery and the other is to attempt to find a peaceful and moderate settlement that allows your kids to go to school and for you not to starve.
Fear is always the problem and never the solution.
It’s obvious what I think. Fear is always the problem and never the solution.
Yet it’s up to you: how much is your happiness worth? Is happiness being a prisoner in your home? Or is happiness having the freedom to reinvent your life from scratch?
I wish you luck with whatever you choose.