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Hi Christie,

I’m 44, never been married and have never had children. I’m involved with a man that has filed for divorce but has yet to finalize it. I would have to describe our falling in Love similar to what it must have been like back when you didn’t have a physical relationship with someone until after you were married. I fell in Love after long discussions about Life. Talking about what mistakes we’ve made in relationships, what we would have done differently, and what our dreams of a strong relationship should be. We exchanged I love you’s after three months, having only held hands a few times and two simple kisses. I share this only to say this wasn’t lust. We both realized we’d found something unique and something we’d both thought wasn’t possible.

He was married for 23 years when he decided to file for divorce. Several years before I came into his life he questioned why he was still married. He does not have children but raised his wife’s only son from her first marriage since he was four. Did he want out of his marriage because of me, no. He is a very strong willed man and not one that can be lead astray from what he believes to be right or wrong. When we first met he was very open with me about his marital situation. He said that he was just beginning what would be a very difficult year to 18 month, but he very much wanted to have a life with me and hoped that I would stick it out. As he moved forward through the divorce process his wife swung from extremely despondent, saying she “didn’t want to live without him” or saying her son “wasn’t enough to keep her on earth”, to anger filled phone calls about what an SOB he was for ruining her life. (There are fidelity issues going back to when they were first engaged, to after they were married. There are two other reasons for his wanting to leave their marriage but I don’t feel comfortable sharing that). At first the continuous phone calls were what I expected. I can honestly understand her world being shattered since he has always stayed committed to their marriage regardless of the trials they went through.

When the comments about not wanting to live without him started, she also started to lose weight. He became very concerned and was checking on her and stopping by to see her on a very regular basis. I wasn’t sure if I should step away from our relationship in order for him to go back. He said he didn’t want to go back but yet didn’t want her to kill herself over him. It took him a while to come to the realization that he wasn’t responsible for her Life in that way. Those threats went away. But still lots of phone calls and e-mails. Each time he wanted to sit down to finalize the financial arrangements of their divorce she would agree to have him come over, then “it was too much for her to deal with” and the trip to see her never accomplished anything. Then medical issues started. Every few months there was some new reason why she wasn’t yet ready to finalize their divorce. First it was because she was worried about not having double medical coverage. Her employer covered her medical expenses then his picked up the rest. Then she couldn’t work any more. She spent 18 months trying to get a disability retirement from her employer. She couldn’t finalize her income for a divorce until she finalized her retirement, her employer disagreed about the disability portion. Then more medical issues started, first the doctors “just can’t figure out what was wrong with her”, then to a number of weird ailments from food allergies, to parasites only found in some far off land , to cancer, but only a “mild cancer”. All of these things were proof of how much she needed him to be there for her. ……Through this all he has been adament that he wants a life with me. We live together. His wife has been to our home once. I am not and have never been a secret that he kept from her…….. She continually calls just to share what’s happening in her daily life with him.

So here’s why I’m writing. It is now going on 29 months since we first made the decision to try and have a life together. I say VERY little to him about what’s happening with his marriage. I try and be supportive of the many things he does for her but there doesn’t seem to be an end to their marriage in sight. I will be honest and say that sometimes what I hear seems very far fetched, and that makes me feel horrible. I’m healthy, own my own home, can take care of the normal responsibilities of life. He took care of her for years. She said he treated her like a Queen, I mean that in the BEST, KINDEST, MOST LOVING way. He did the grocery shopping, helped clean house, did laundry, took care of the house, plumbing, roof, yard etc. Am I suppose to make him go back because she needs him more than I do?

Is it the right thing to do to put Life on hold while she tries to figure out whats happening with her health and figure out how to be independent? What if her health never gets better? What if she doesn’t want to learn how to be independent? Because I Love him do I just continue to wait? Do I just be thankful that I get to share everyday with him and that should be enough?



Dear S,

There’s something in the air, because I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently from women in situations much like yours (see this one as an example) – good man trying to get through his divorce, ex-wife suddenly clinging on for dear life despite agreeing to the divorce in the first place, new girlfriend realizing she’s in a relationship with a man who’s still in a relationship with his ex. Never easy, for anyone involved!

After all, the man didn’t anticipate that his ex would fall apart without him, the ex too is grieving the loss of what was, and the new woman is trying to have a relationship with a man who is technically free to begin a relationship with someone else. So what to do?

I think it’s great that you and your boyfriend have taken your time. Relationships that occur during separation rarely do – they often jump in with both feet, the it all comes to a screeching halt when the divorcing man realizes he’s not ready for all that yet. It sounds like your boyfriend is a good guy who took good care of his ex – who wouldn’t want that kind of partner?

However, in Dating the Divorced Man, I recommend women never move it with men who aren’t legally divorced. There are many reasons for this, but your situation illustrates some of them. You took a big step with him, and now his divorce – which needs to end in order for you both to move on with your future – is taking forever. And you’re stuck dealing with it even though it isn’t really your problem.

So let’s cut to the chase. As I’ve said before, divorce means you don’t have to take care of each other anymore. The ex has her own job and her own health insurance. No matter what the nature of her problems, she’s a grown woman and should be dealing with them on her own. If she needs occasional financial support during the divorce, or even some moral support, that’s fine. But she shouldn’t be calling all the time. Whether her problems are “real” or being used as ploys to manipulate your boyfriend, I have no way of knowing – but it’s clear she’s intentionally stalling the divorce because she doesn’t want to let go of the support she got from him.

We could talk about her all day, but this isn’t about her. In the end, it’s up to HIM whether he chooses to enable her dependence, or to wean her off of his support. As good of a guy as he seems to be, he can only have ONE relationship. When you date a divorcing man, you have to accept that some of his time and energy will go toward the ex and divorce; but you shouldn’t have to accept endless delays in the divorce or frequent phone calls from an ex who clearly hasn’t moved on.

To answer your questions:

Is it the right thing to do to put Life on hold while she tries to figure out whats happening with her health and figure out how to be independent? After this long, no. She’s a grown woman and can figure out how to take care of herself.

What if her health never gets better? Exactly.

What if she doesn’t want to learn how to be independent? That’s her choice. The real question is, will your boyfriend continue to stay married to her as a result?

Because I Love him do I just continue to wait? Only if you’re content with the situation.

Do I just be thankful that I get to share everyday with him and that should be enough? Some would say yes; I say hell no.

It sounds like you’ve tried to be patient. If you’re like most women, that patience is wearing out. And once that happens, it will take a huge toll on your relationship. It’s time to have a respectful chat with your partner and say in a non-critical way that you understand how hard this is for him, but this isn’t what you signed up for. Make it clear – again, in a kind, honest way – that changes need to be made. In the end, if the divorce isn’t moving forward, you won’t be happy.

And remember that I do consults for women in situations much like yours. They’re convenient, reasonably priced, and very helpful.

Best of luck in this tough situation!


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