‘He said he wanted a divorce after 40 years, but gave no real reason’

‘He said he wanted a divorce after 40 years, but gave no real reason’

January 10, 2019

Dear Coleen

I’ve been with my husband 40 years but just before Christmas (great timing on his part), he announced out of the blue that he wanted a divorce.

Once I’d recovered from the shock, I was very upset and angry, and still am. He hasn’t really offered much explanation other than to say he’s been unhappy for some time and wants a fresh start while he’s not too old. We’re both in our mid 60s.

Our grown-up kids are horrified and keep trying to get him to reconsider, but he moved into his brother’s place and we’ve only communicated via text and email since. It’s very frustrating.

My children and friends have been a great support over Christmas, but I’m confused and heartbroken. My son suggested there might be someone else, but I haven’t suspected anything like an affair. What can I do?

Coleen says

Of course it’s a massive shock after 40 years, especially if you’ve seen no signs anything is wrong. At this point in your life, you think things are planned out, as much as they can be.

A bit like grief, you have to take things one day at a time – you’re not going to wake up tomorrow feeling fine. It’s a big loss – the death of a marriage and a lifestyle.

It could be some kind of later-life crisis and a phase he needs to work through, or maybe your son’s right, and you’ll find out when he is ready to talk.

But I think you have to shelve those thoughts for now and focus on
yourself. You can’t force him to change his mind or have feelings that aren’t there any more.

The good thing is, you have plenty of support. I’d also recommend counselling so you can get those feelings out to someone not emotionally involved who can provide professional guidance.

The way you’re feeling is understandable and completely normal – I’ve been in a similar situation, so I get it. But know that you can be happy again with or without him. Take it one step at a time – and good luck.

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