Ask Lynn-Will he ever get divorced?
She’s wondering if her boyfriend, who’s separated, will ever really cut the ties to his wife.
I have known Scott for three years. When we met he was in an extremely unhappy marriage and we were merely friends; then he separated from his wife and we officially began living together. We both have children: mine, who we raise together, and his, who are with us every weekend at least.
Yet I find myself on edge all the time
|I understand that there will always be some love between them.|
I know it is necessary for him to have a somewhat healthy friendship with her — for the sake of the children if nothing else — and I understand that there will always be some love between them. He has made many attempts to assure me that I have no reason to worry about him cheating again. We really love each other, but how long should I wait for him to get a divorce? He says the kids need to be old enough to handle it. Should I really believe that he will dedicate his life to me?
- He hasn’t followed through with the divorce.
- He has cheated on me with her.
- He talks to her often and seems overly concerned with the goings-on of her life (beyond kid-related things).
– Edgy in Erie
Dear Edgy in Erie,
I can see why you’re edgy. Anyone waiting for his/her lover to leave his/her spouse should take note: There’s physically leaving, and there’s
emotionally leaving—really leaving. Your beau has done only the former.
Some of this (as you yourself note) is understandable. Some contact? Of course. They were married; they have kids. Some foot-dragging? Also understandable, and deserving of a modicum of patience. A divorce is often a huge and painful process. And once one is separated and ensconced in a new relationship, excuses must come even easier. (“Eh, it’s just paperwork. Where’s the fire?”)
Some cheating? That's immoral and there's no way I can condone or accept it. It is, on its face, a
dump-worthy offense. But one instance — especially if he is sincerely contrite — can be a forgivable sin. These things are messy; detachment from a former spouse is not an entirely linear, or entirely sane, process. Not that you’re “just a rebound,” but look: He had no downtime in between relationships. He’s still working stuff out, if clumsily. On that one, I see why you might give him a pass.
|“Always on edge” is no way to live.|
But it does sound like he could stand to feel a bit more pressure about this divorce. (His thing about waiting until the kids are old enough to handle it? That does sound like an excuse. Of course the children should be of paramount concern. But who says a clear, consistent, and loving post-divorce custody/visitation arrangement couldn’t be an improvement over the fuzziness they’ve got now?)
Now, just because his actions (and inactions) are understandable doesn’t mean you have to live with them. I know you two have been clear about how much you love each other, but have you been clear about what you need? Have you told him, outright, that you need this divorce to be final? Have you told him, outright, that you’re not comfortable with all the contact they have? Anyway, he’s perfectly welcome to keep doing things the way he is, but you’re perfectly welcome not to like it—and to leave if nothing changes. But you are the one who has to stick to that and walk away if it came to that.
“Always on edge” is no way to live. But after some tough conversations and possibly some tough choices, I know that you’ll find the relationship you are looking for, either with him or the next (really single) guy.
Lynn Harris (www.lynnharris.net) is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (www.chriskalb.com), of the award-winning website BreakupGirl.net — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times, Salon.com, Nerve.com, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via firstname.lastname@example.org. Your question may be answered in a future column.