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Changing Course

Direct Answers - Column for the week of March 17, 2003

I'm at my wit's end. My wife of 20 years is leaving me. She said she is sick of me always talking at her. She says she doesn't care about money or anything else as long as she can get away from me. I pleaded with her to stay and she stayed one night in the spare room, but she refused to talk further.

Next day I returned home from work to an empty house with no idea where anybody was. I was so upset my wife was not home preparing a meal for our teenagers, I went to the restaurant where she works. I am ashamed to say I created more than one scene in more than one place. I am now barred from the restaurant.

I'm struggling on my own at home trying for the first time in my life to cook and look after my children, who expect everything to be as their mother did it. I think my daughter understands, but my son is naïve. He thinks we can wave a magic wand and make everything right again. How I wish he was right. I even thought about suicide.

Glenn

Glenn, in old Hollywood movies there was a scene where a girl would fly into hysterics and the male lead would slap her to bring her to her senses. That's where you are now. You are in the "I can't believe this is happening" nightmare.

Everything seems unreal, and you don't know what to do next. But you have an ally. Your ally is time. Mavis Hetherington did the largest study of divorce in the United States. In her book "For Better or For Worse," she says, "Things will probably get worse over the course of this first year, then improve radically."

Life is so precious you can't consider hurting yourself because that is the most crippling thing you could do to your children. Beyond that, the greatest harm you could do to yourself is not to let your life unfold.

Move through this with fresh eyes. Your life is not falling apart. It is changing. With change comes the possibility of finding the joy and satisfaction and love which were not present in your marriage.

The way you feel today is not the way you will feel tomorrow, next week, or next month. Take care of your children. This can be the beginning of the life you were meant to live.

Tamara

Parting Shots

My husband and I have agreed to divorce, and both of us are still in the family home. He is a retired government attorney. I am a real estate agent.

Like all real estate agents, my income is very hit or miss. We have his pension and our property investment coming in on a monthly basis. I don't trust my husband to be up front about all our assets. He incorporated with partners, and he's always kept our real estate investments and business very much to himself.

I am sure you have heard all this before, but I would like not to be in the poor house when this is over. Just fair would be the best.

Charlotte

Charlotte, when you deal with other people, it's best to act in accordance with who they are. If you are dealing with a kind person who always thinks of others, you act one way. If you are dealing with someone selfish and secretive, you act another. It doesn't matter that you once shared a bed.

In olden days a man-of-war would fire a shot across the bow of another ship as a signal to stop, so they could have a chat. There is no reason why your divorce should be acrimonious, but you need a lawyer to represent your best interests. He can fire a shot across your husband's bow, so the two of them can stop for a chat.

Wayne

About The Author

Authors and columnists Wayne and Tamara Mitchell can be reached at www.WayneAndTamara.com.

Send letters to: Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield, MO 65801 or email: DirectAnswers@WayneAndTamara.com.

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