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Ask Dr Gilda-Will his divorce ever be done?


One woman has been dating a man who’s been separated for years…but still isn’t legally single.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I’ve been with my boyfriend for 12 years, but he has remained married to his wife. After two children, his wife decided to move out, take the kids, and get a separation. That was 13 years ago. He and I met a year after everything happened, so I was not the cause of their split.

Time and time again, I’ve asked when he was getting a divorce. After all these years, I figured he’d want to move forward with our relationship. We have
I’ve lost respect for him for not letting go of his previous relationship.
a big age gap that has never bothered either of us. He is 57 and I am 38. But I’m starting to wonder if that is what the problem stems from. He is a very good man and has never done anything to make me feel insecure other than remaining legally married to a woman he claims to despise.

I left him a few years back. That lasted a few months, and he begged me to come back, promising to get a divorce, marry me, and give me the security I was looking for, the whole nine yards. But he never followed through on his promises. At the time, he did call his wife and tell her he wanted a divorce. She cried and asked why. Yet they had been separated for many years, and she’s the one who left him. The divorce topic was never mentioned again, and here I sit with questions as to why I stay.

I need to know if I’ve wasted too much time and I should move on. I’ve lost respect for him for not letting go of his previous relationship.
– Why Do I Stay?

Dear Why Do I Stay?,
Twelve years is a long time to remain in limbo. You stay because you feel too weak to pull the plug forever. You stay because you fear that no one else will love you. You stay because you know what you’ve got, but you can’t be sure that another person would make a likely substitute.

You were 26 when you entered this romance. Your guy was 45, and perhaps in a midlife crisis that questioned why his wife rejected him. You provided safe harbor, without
Your boyfriend and his ex have a bond that runs very deep.
demanding much in return. In your 20s, getting a solid commitment might not have seemed necessary, especially if you were commitment-averse yourself. But now you’re nearing 40, and you’re re-assessing your status and your decisions.

Your boyfriend and his ex have a bond that runs very deep. Did you actually hear his wife cry and ask why he wanted a legal divorce? For all you know, this excuse was made up—his way of keeping you at bay so he wouldn’t get rejected again. Some behaviors are just cover-ups for protection.

This is what I suggest you do now:
  1. Seek counseling at once. You need an ongoing support system to help guide you as you examine your fears and your future.
  2. You ask, “I need to know if I’ve wasted too much time and I should move on.” I don’t believe we ever waste our time in learning our lessons. Some people take longer than others, but we all must pass through good and bad experiences to get to the next step. Your boyfriend is in your life for a reason. It’s important to uncover that reason.
  3. You say, “I’ve lost respect for him for not letting go of his previous relationship.” Without respect, you can’t have a healthy relationship. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Disrespect for a partner is a deal-breaker.” So what kind of relationship do you actually have?
Get the help you need to clarify what’s really going on here. While 12 years seems like a long time, if you gain the insight you needed, the journey will have been valuable. Look forward. Think of all you have left to do in your life, and decide that no matter what you choose, it will be done out of strength. You are right that you deserve better than this, and by asking the right questions and seeking the right kind of support, you’ll get it!


Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Today.com. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (DrGilda.com).
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