Sometimes you don’t see it coming. A reader wrote to me about her “pending” divorce. Neither she or her husband have yet legally filed for the dissolution of their marriage.
For purposes of anonymity, let’s call her Liz.
Liz said she was totally shocked when her husband said he wanted a divorce.
She has spent months crying and grieving, trying to accept what has happened in her life.
Her husband has been dragging this out for nearly three months. They’re still living together.
He tells her: “I don’t know if I want to stay with you or not.” *Psychological Torture Tactic #1
I’m sure she is wondering: Who is this man? This can’t be the man I married.
Because you don’t recognize them anymore.
She has lost one of her pets, a little dog. Her husband was no support for her during this terrible time.
She still has one dog who needs special care, food and medicine. When she asked her husband if he could stay with him because she would not be able to afford to cover his needs, he told her: “I will put him down.” *Psychological Torture Tactic #2
Just When She Was About To Retire:
Liz has been a nurse for thirty years and was just about to retire. This has happened at a crucial time in her life. Though there is no good time.
She told him to contact an attorney because she’d had enough.
He said he would, but she doesn’t think he has done so. He has cleaned out her accounts, so she doesn’t have the money to get things going on her own.
Liz has a job offer in another state. She is thinking of moving there until she has the money for an attorney.
When she told him she wanted this over with quickly, he said: “Tell me you’ll marry me again someday if I ask.” *Psychological Torture Tactic #3
Liz and I have communicated back and forth via email. I have always made myself available to women in this situation because I have been in their shoes.
My worry is that this man has too much control over her life. I understand that money is a real issue here. He has made sure of that.
But I worry if she leaves him to get the divorce underway, he will do nothing. Or he will further harm her financially and emotionally.
She is in the first stages of divorce hell. This is the stage when you have to accept that the situation is untenable and that you must move on. When you’re at this stage, you are obviously fragile, emotional and afraid.
Fear Makes Women Stay:
The first step is to try to overcome your fear. That’s not an easy task. Your life is turned upside down.
Fear makes many women stay.
I know this from experience. Fear corrodes what self-confidence you have left as you stay on in this terrible situation.
The next step is to take the control away from him. You can’t control everything. But you must control everything you possibly can as you begin to separate yourself from this person. You must do this in order to create a new life for yourself.
This is the time to sit down with a notebook and pen and write down what is possible for you to control.
Write down a perfect scenario for the next chapter of your life.
Then write down what you must accomplish in order to get there.
I truly think she must try to find a way to take the reins here. He may drag this out. Or he may never file for divorce.
I’m not sure about the laws where she lives, but I’m not sure you’d want to file for divorce while living in another state. If anyone knows, please speak up here.
If she were to go back their hometown to start proceedings, how long could she afford to stay there? Legal proceedings take awhile.
I was in shock when I learned what my now ex husband was doing during our marriage. I cried for days. It was hard to think straight. I couldn’t arrive at a decision. At that point you’re both grieving and angry.
I felt like I was tumbling downhill with nothing to grab onto.
Liz is likely at this point. It is hard to make decisions when you’re this upset and afraid.
But the longer she lives with this man, the worse it will be for her. I strongly believe that, because he has already proved to be so cruel.
After I filed for divorce, I had to live with my ex for weeks until we went before a judge. In the state we lived in, the law says you cannot make him leave his home against his wishes. Not until you go before a judge.
He employed all manner of scare tactics during that time.
He knew I hated noise so he continually opened and slammed doors to up my anxiety level. I would pick up the phone to call the police and he would back off. Then in a bit he’d start up all over again.
Finally the court date came and that afternoon he and his girlfriend moved in together. I finally got some peace so I could plan my move. I knew if I stayed in that city, I would never feel safe or content again.
But it would be two months before I could move into a house in the state I was moving to. Thankfully he left me alone during this time.
My Advice For Liz:
The sooner Liz can separate herself from him, the faster she can move toward recovering from this terrible time in her life. The more control she can seize, the less he can continue to hurt her.
These things are never easy. They’re messy and ugly and traumatic. She will be emotionally wrung out for some time. The wounds take a long time to heal.
But her husband sounds to me like a sociopath. And you don’t even want to live next door to a sociopath. Much less in the same house.
His objective seems to be to demean, confuse and frighten her.
It is truly one step at a time. But you must find a way to take that first step.
I’m sure “Liz” would appreciate any advice you might have for her if you have any experience to share.