How to Handle a Divorce After a Long Marriage

Mar 17, 2019 | Just Ask Joyce

Q: “My husband has asked for a divorce. He says there’s no one else, and I have to say that I believe him. I have found no evidence, and he shows none of the usual ‘symptoms’ of having an affair. He says he hasn’t loved me for a long time, and there certainly have been signs of that. The kids will be blindsided. They have only known a stable home and normal family life. After 32 years of marriage, I don’t really want to think about starting over; however, I don’t believe I’m going to be able to convince him there’s reason enough to stay. Any advice for how to handle this situation?”

Joyce’s FIX: The unspoken often has a louder voice than the uttered words.

        Of course, your children will be devastated. If you’re not a grandparent yet, it is certain to be in your future. Every child looks forward to bringing his or her kids home to Grandpa and Grandma to enjoy the stability they enjoyed growing up. A divorce changes everything about normal. Unfortunately, kids rarely have a say in a divorce, regardless of age. I highly suspect this will be the case here, as well. Will they adjust? Somewhat, yes. When kids aren’t reason enough to stay and keep a legacy intact, there’s little else that will persuade one to try again.

        My parents divorced after 32 years of marriage. For me and my seven siblings, home was never the same. For a while, there was an immediate disconnect from any sense of bond we shared. Both parents are deceased now, and some of us have managed to rekindle relationships, but for others it became the reason finally to lose touch. I share my history not to suggest that your children will lose the closeness they might share, but to say it can become a greater struggle at times. It will be important to nurture the relationships. You and your spouse will set the pace.

        I don’t believe your husband is the only one who has misplaced love. I sensed no more desire on your part to convince him to stay than he has to do so. It’s difficult to resurrect feelings that have completely died. That is the very reason I encourage couples to seek help while love can be revived. But if starting over is all that is left for you, let’s get your foot on the right path.

  1.      Don’t give up. Giving up on yourself will not be a new beginning. This is a great time for self-evaluation. If you work, do you like what you do? If you don’t, find something new. Get into a different exercise routine. Change your style of dress and/or your hair. Go back to school and enhance your degree. Find time for old friends and make new ones, as well.
  2.      Be better, not bitter. This is cliché, I know, but there is much wisdom attached. Part of setting the pace for your children will be to ensure they hear no bitterness from you or your husband about one another. Allow them to remain loyal to both of you. Having a happy new-home environment will help all of you navigate this unfamiliar journey. So, stay positive and make each moment count for the best of everyone involved.
  3.      Keep your heart open for love. After a lengthy marriage, it’s hard to imagine love again, but it’s out there. By all means guard your heart, but keep it pliable and receptive to someone who can love you the way you deserve to be loved. You could have already decided never to marry again, but don’t predispose yourself to thinking it will never happen.

Starting over is never easy, but it can be better than where you were. Desperation will get you nowhere fast, so I encourage you to relax and take days as they come being ever mindful of your value. If and when love happens for you again, you will be all the wiser and much more content.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at justaskjoyce@gmail.com and find a solution for life.

Extra tidbit: How to bring the love back into your relationship.

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