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Carolyn Hax: He dropped the bomb, and now he’s surprised about the fallout

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: Two years ago, my wife went back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years. The transition caused a lot of tension in our marriage. We were constantly fighting over chores, meals, pickups and drop-offs, teacher's conferences and the like. The quality of our sex life suffered, too.

I asked my wife to consider quitting her job. She barely makes enough to clear the costs of commuting and child care. She refused. Things got to the point where we agreed to go to therapy.

As the appointment neared, I thought of all our friends who went through this process only to get divorced in the end. It made no sense to waste all that time, effort and money, so I told my wife we should separate and start divorce proceedings.

You would have thought I'd suggested sacrificing one of our children. I am now staying at my brother's and my wife refuses to speak to me — we're communicating by text only. My children are distraught and my wife is not doing what's best for them right now.

What do I need to do so my wife will calm down and look at this rationally? I know I should have prepared her better, but what's done is done and we need to move forward.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: Your friends all divorced, so let’s go? Are you serious? You’re the irrational one.

And you’re choosing divorce as a solution to carpool hassles. Wow. Because she wouldn’t make it easy for you.

You do realize how severely it compromises people’s career and financial prospects to leave the workforce to raise children? And therefore how much she’d sacrifice by dropping out again, beyond that income you scoff at?

You do realize you dropped the bomb that’s distressing your kids? YOU are not doing what’s best for them right now.

Maybe your wife isn’t, either, but your job is to fix your mistakes, and you don’t even think you made any. I’m gobsmacked.

It’s so bloodless I hesitate to advise reconciling — for their sakes.

So I’ll stay here: The formula for division of child-rearing labor is, you do 100 percent, and your co-parent does 100 percent. Just look at it that way and stop finger-pointing and bean-counting who “should” be doing what. These are your kids and they’re already halfway grown: You should be fighting to do pickups, not get out of them.

The first part of enlightenment is extracting head from dark place.


Have at it, commentariat:

●My brother-in-law did this. Met with the therapist once, decided it was too much trouble and bailed on a 10-year marriage. I wish he could see the devastation he left behind, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that my sister and her children have loving people surrounding them. He, however, has no one. Do the work, go to counseling. If it still doesn’t work out, at least you can look your kids in the eye and honestly say you did your best. Right now you’re doing your worst.

●Go to counseling because you love your kids and want to do what’s best for them, even if it’s divorcing in a way that’s least traumatic for them. Considering how selfishly you’ve acted, you’re not the best judge of that.

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