Divorcing chronically ill wife


Divorcing chronically ill wife


your avatar   R. L., 45-year-old man

I am a 45-year-old male, married, with a 21-year-old son. I have fallen in love with another woman and started divorce proceedings, but my wife became chronically ill before finishing the procedure. I am no longer in love with my wife and have not been sexually involved with her in over a year. I have fallen deeply in love with the other woman. I am miserable and do not know what to do.

Is it wrong for me to proceed with a divorce even if I started the procedure before she started on dialysis? She and I have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for over a year.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear R.L.,

No one can make this difficult decision for you. If you were a callous, uncaring person, you'd just walk away. But clearly, that would conflict with your sense of what the right thing to do is.

A consideration is: what does your new lady think of it all? How would she feel if you chose to continue the marriage from a sense of duty? How would she feel if you continued with the divorce? How if at all would that affect her opinion of you as a person?

I can see at least 3 possible courses of action:

1. Stay with your wife because you don't feel you can abandon her in her time of need.

2. Proceed with the divorce, and establish a new relationship with the other lady.

3. Openly, without subterfuge, continue supporting your wife financially and even emotionally, but at the same time enjoy a loving relationship with the other lady.

Here are a few tools that will help you to make up your mind:

1. For each of the three options (and any others you come up with), draw up two columns: advantages and disadvantages. Then compare them, and choose the one with the best balance.

2. Look at two options, and toss a coin. "Heads I stay, tails I leave." Suppose the coin comes up heads. Now, don't necessarily go with it, but look at your emotional reaction. If it's relief for example, then go with it. If it's disappointment, that indicates that intuitively you want to go the other way.

3. Third, suppose you had a twin brother. He is the person in this situation, not you. You know everything about it though. He comes to you for advice. After thinking it through, what will you tell him to do?

4. Fourth, do a 5-year projection. For each option, how will my life be in 5 years time? For example, if I abandon my wife, and marry again, will my new wife trust me to look after her if she gets in trouble? Will she bring this issue up in arguments? (Every relationship has arguments.) And so on. Make the projection as realistic as you can.

Finally, I have a question that may not seem to have much to do with your issue, but it does. What is the meaning of life? Why are you on this planet? How can you become the best person possible, and build the best possible life for yourself?

Good luck,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com


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