Blindsided by Abandonment

Dear Paulo, After 30 years of a “wonderful marriage,” as my husband called it, he is asking for a divorce. We are both 55 and I believe there is another woman. He apparently has been planning this for about 8 years. “I don’t LOVE YOU anymore!”

I thought we had the perfect marriage: beautiful home, kids through college, ready for retirement. Now, I am told, I will need to get a job and take care of my self. If you have any words of wisdom, I am all ears. I have told him that I am willing to forgive and forget! I know I am not the only one that this happens to … how can a person be so selfish and cruel? I have cut his hair, done his laundry and raised our children for those 30 years, not to mention, moved 8 times for his job and worked and found employment for my self.

– Barb, Houston, TX

Figuring out his psychology is not that relevant any more (you’re probably not that good at it anyway, considering how unaware you have been for 8 years). Unfortunately, living in a bubble only contributes to bitterness later on, which feeling now hurts you more than it hurts him. It will help you make better decisions going forward to become as self-soothing and objective as possible.

You obviously don’t have to believe what he (or anyone else, including your children) tells you about what you need to do. The transition from co-dependence to independence is challenging, but you are on your own and must make your own decisions independent of what he or anyone else wants. Surely you have some community property rights and more options than you may be able to clearly see right now. Things are never as bad as they seem and often come with a silver lining that we don’t recognize for months or even years later. Start building faith in yourself.

When the vow “until death do us part” was instituted, human beings probably lived to be 40. The primary reasons for marrying were different too — having to do with survival and clan politics, not love. In any case, we were making a commitment of 20 years or less. Death from any number of causes — even simple infections — was always lurking. Now chances are good that you are going to live another vital 25-30 years.

It’s a new life for you now, one where you can focus on taking care of yourself for a change! As difficult as the transition may be, it could be enlightening. It hurts like hell to be blindsided and feel rejected — and it’s difficult not to argue for pure victimness and prolong the pain with self-pity. Please forgive yourself for being naive and look for new opportunities to awaken and develop as time heals your wounds, which it will. In the meantime, get counseling and avoid despair as best you can.