The Washington Post

Finding the right time to divorce

From elsewhere in The Post: A mother of two children has been unhappy with her husband for years. Money, sex and parenting have been points of disagreement. Now that her youngest is a college freshman, she asks Marguerite Kelly how much longer she must stay with her husband.

“The past five years have been particularly tough. We lost our jobs. We started freelance careers. And I’ve had to deal with my mother’s inoperable cancer, as well as my own health problems. These crises have taught me that I cannot depend on my husband.

I stayed in the marriage years longer than I wanted, because I didn’t want my daughter to go through a divorce. Now that she is a college freshman, however, I’m wondering how much longer I have to wait,” she says in a letter to the advice columnist.

Kelly suggests this mother take a “premarriage checklist” to see if she and her husband are truly incompatible, and to look for a counselor who encourages clients to write their feelings down. “The results could be a revelation to you, especially if you find out that your husband expresses himself better on paper than in speech,” Kelly says.

If doing the checklist and going to counseling don’t improve the marriage, Kelly advises the wife to gently tell her kids about the coming separation, and listen to their input. “Ask them to help you decide on the timing of the separation and continue to be friends with your husband because, in a sense, you will always be married to him,” Kelly says.


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