December 15, 2006

Dear SML - Response from Mr. What Should I Do

The following is a response letter from Mr. What Should I Do.

This is "What Should I Do" with a follow-up letter.

I appreciated the Dear SML response, as well as all of
the comments that were made about my letter.

It became clear pretty quickly that I chose a
signature name too hastily. It's been fairly obvious
to me for a while *what* I should do -- mostly what
I'm stuck with now is *how* to go about doing it. But
I digress.

One comment in particular I felt needed addressing --
the one by Taiko Tari. I realized after reading the
comment that my letter could be construed to sound
like I'm just wanting to point fingers or place fault.
It does sound that way, but isn't my intention at all
nor how I really feel. I gave many details simply as
a background for how I'm feeling and as evidence that
the relationship is broken at best, or dead at worst.

I fully realize that it takes two to tango, and
certainly I'm not an innocent bystander in all of
this. As one example of something I'm perfectly
willing to admit, I stonewall something fierce. I'm
the silent type anyway, so it comes all too naturally.
Stonewalling is not the same as the silent treatment
-- I don't do that. I may go for quite a while
without saying anything at all, but that's who I am --
it isn't the silent treatment. Stonewalling is more a
matter of not sharing feelings.

The problem is that I didn't want it to be that way.
I have tried sharing feelings and bearing my soul, so
to speak, many times. The problem is that she
couldn't take or accept what they were, thus she
reacted severely and harshly (from my perspective).
Of course people sometimes get shocked and simply
don't understand things another person feels or how
they could feel that way, or may not even approve
morally of the thoughts. That's ok, but it doesn't
give free reign to launch into emotional & verbal

So the problem is that this has happened time and time
again, to the point where I no longer share anything
at all, really. This stonewalling, of course, only
makes the problem worse, and I'm aware of that. My
other major fault is aversion to conflict or
confrontation, so that's why it's easier for me to
withdraw and let myself be walked on than to try to
stop the abuse and deal with the issues. Given the
abyss between our beliefs and values now, though, I
don't think it would make any difference. She has
shown the inability to agree to disagree with me many
times, on some topics. This is also understandable.
We all have our bottom lines that simply cannot be
crossed. It is her right to have those.

I have never, ever, to my recollection, directly
called my wife a derogatory name of any kind, directly
insulted her, not even so much as raised my voice to
her. I've never touched her in a moment of anger,
even in an attempt to escape as she was cornering me
for a brief bout of physical abuse to go with the rest
of it. She has done each and every one of those
things to me, sometimes innumerable times.

So, as far as I can tell, the real problem here is not
what it sounds like at all. My wife is NOT a bad
person. She is fiercely loyal, selflessly giving and
serving, and does so many things for me and our
children without ever complaining that they are too
numerous to mention. I don't hate her or blame her
for our marital demise.

Nor do I really blame myself, although that's tough
for me. I have a long list of
shoulda-woulda-coulda-s, but it's all water under the
bridge. There were plenty of warning signs that this
mismatch was clear from the very start, but I was
young, lonely, hadn't had much luck in dating (she was
only my second dating partner that I would consider a
"real" date, as opposed to casual friendship date),
and couldn't believe my good fortune that she agreed
to go out with me (she was quite attractive). I
ignored all the warning signs. I was a fresh gung-ho
morg convert who thought all we needed was to both be
committed to the "gospel" and everything would work
out. (This is also nobody's fault but my own for
being so stupid)

The real problem here is that we simply are not good
for each other. I think it's as simple as that. As
the commenter mentioned, abusive treatment like this
bubbles up from other stuff that's built up. If that
is the case, she had major baggage before I even met
her, because even shortly into our dating (within a
few weeks), I got my first major dosage of emotional
abuse -- up to and including being accused of having a
little side fling with her mother (I kid you not!).

Something isn't right there, from her past or
whatever, but she has never shared anything deep with
me that wasn't about mormonism -- not even from day
one when I'd try really hard to talk about deep topics
as I was getting more deeply involved in the dating

Looking back, with a start like that, it should've
been easy to see the trainwreck coming so it could've
been avoided, for both of us. But it wasn't.

I want to be happy. I don't expect someone or
something to make me happy, of course, as it's more of
a journey or attitude. But being with a person that
you aren't a good match with can really suck the life
out of you.

I want to be happy, I deserve to be happy. So does my
wife. I honestly & sincerely want her to be happy. I
do see your point that people don't just do this
abusive stuff I mentioned for the fun of it.
Something is really not going well within her. But,
like me, she isn't sharing. I've tried to share and
got smacked down, over and over again. She hasn't
ever shared -- that's her bad.

My point is that although neither of us is a bad
person, we are not good together. She says she is
happy with me, but her actions as I outlined in my
first letter tell me otherwise. It's as if something
about me brings out the worst in her. I have tried to
talk to her and explain it to her this way, but she
won't have it. In her eyes, divorce (or even
separation) is evil, so she'd rather both of us (and
eventually the kids) be unhappy and miserable for the
rest of our lives than consider the concept that
divorce can actually be the best decision in some

So I don't want to make her out to be a bad person,
honestly. These are just symptoms of an
irreconcilable marriage, as far as I can tell. And I
could only report the symptoms from my point of view,
as she doesn't share her perspective with me and it
would only be conjecture on my part to offer any. The
only one I could offer would be that I made
"covenants" to the morg with her in the temple when we
were married, along with a long list of expectations
that went along with that. I have broken pretty much
all of those (considering they were all covenants with
the morg and not with her directly -- if you don't
believe me, look up the text of the sealing ceremony).

I have been loyal/faithful to her, but not to the
morg. Her sense of fidelity includes things that I do
not agree with (such as not having friends of opposite
gender, and agreeing with her on morg-is-great

I can not expect her to change any more than she can
expect me to not change from what I was before (tbm).
What she fails to see is that our marriage mismatch
has been there all along, it's just that I was
suppressing the real me for the morg. The real me
enjoys coffee, tea, beer; finds profanity
entertaining; and feels passionately about being
passionate in general with life, with heated
intellectual discussions and all. She doesn't
appreciate or like any of what really makes me be me.
And now that I see how entrenched moism is in her, I
don't much like her either. So what's the point? We
are NOT doing ourselves or the kids any favors by
stringing out a dead marriage.

That being said, it's really pretty clear, after all
this, *what* I should do. What will remain unclear
until after going through it, is *how* do I do it.

I appreciate all the well-wishes, and especially the
dissenting comment by Taiko Tari who boldly holds up
the "wait a minute" banner to pose the harder

I am not asking anyone to judge my wife harshly --
unless she's been abusive to our children behind my
back. Just painting a picture of a bad marriage, and
how irreconcilable it can look. I am a deep thinker.
I'm at the point where I would like to just end this
and go on with our lives, amicably. I believe it's
possible to do so while preserving as much dignity and
resources for all of us (her, me, the children) as
possible without it going the route of the hostile
enemy-making classic battle. But *that* also takes
two to tango. I am willing. Whether she is remains
to be seen.

If there is something else I have done that needs
further inspection and correction, which has
contributed to this problem, I am wide open to know
what it is so I can work on it. I'm a very WYSIWYG
kinda guy, so it shouldn't be too hard to spot,
whatever it is. I'm also my harshest critic.

-How do I do it?

Dear I Know What I Should Do But How Do I Do It?,

My best advice is to consult with the lawyer that will defend your best interests and those of your children when the time comes. If it were me, I would ask a number of lawyers which divorce lawyer they would not want to either face in the courtroom or whom they would never want their spouse to hire to divorce them.

There is one divorce lawyer here in town to whom businessmen pay a fee for his promise NOT to represent their wives, ever. That's the kind of lawyer I'd suggest you get. I suspect that your wish for amicable divorce is not going to happen, since your wish for amicable married life hasn't happened either.

I wish you luck in whatever you decide you must do.


Anonymous said...

Boy, but should you go nuclear right away? -- that is a hard question. That, of course, virtually guarantees open and bitter warfare, with all that entails.

Definitely RETAIN a good lawyer right away (like, today would be nice) just in case. But, depending on your situation, there is at least one other option in terms of working with your wife that might avoid nuclear war. You should definitely consider mediation, if you think you can bring your wife around to discussing it rationally.

In mediation, you both agree upon and hire a trained mediator to facilitate a resolution between you two. The mediator is legally-trained and knowledgeable about divorce law, but represents neither of you against the other. She is neutral.

The advantages:

* It's a more cooperative, less-stressful environment. It is private, voluntary and under your control -- and that means that if either party ceases to find it satisfactory, they can terminate it immediately.

* A resolution is more likely to feel like it is the product of mutual agreement and therefore less of an imposition on either of you. Generally, people are far more satisfied with the results and compromises achieved in mediation than in the results of a judge's decrees.

* It allows both of you to express/vent your feelings with a safety measure -- the mediator -- present. The mediator ensures both have complete say, and part of the process is the mediator conferring with each of you separately to avoid confrontation. In the end, there is far less ruination of the partners' ability to have a civil relationship afterward.

* It results in a contract both of you may sign, which will be subject to contract law, as opposed to divorce law. Both parties are encouraged, if not required, to have a divorce lawyer review the agreement, so the potential for a completely unfair result is minimized.

* It's far cheaper than divorce.

* As a male, you are generally seriously disadvantaged when it comes to custody. Your state laws may vary, but generally a woman has a decisive advantage. Thus, if you can work out a better agreement by negotiation, it will work out better for everyone.

* Either way, corrosive and relationship-maiming legal battles over custody are avoided.

* Overall, the process is far more reasonable and may even improve the divorcees' ability to get along.

However, there are serious disadvantages:

* Most seriously, there is no enforcement mechanism. Neither party *has* to attend, and there is no requirement to negotiate in good faith. Both parties must be willing to participate and come to a settlement.

* Related to the above point, the mediator has no power or authority over either of you, unlike a judge, who can hold either of you in contempt for failure to follow procedure.

You can find a lot of information on the internet. A simple google search combining the terms "advantages of mediation" and "divorce" will produce many sites where you can read in more detail.

Hope that's helpful.

Anonymous said...

Again, I should add, have the lawyer retained and all your lawyer canvassing done BEFORE you ever mention it to her seriously. You may be reasonable and fair about it, but she is likely to be far more vindictive about the whole thing. Have your body armor already on, so to speak, before has cause to start brandishing her gun.

Cele said...

Wow, great advice and fabulous information Gluby. I know I appreciated the insigths.

Bull said...

I think I've said this elsewhere, but if you are going to divorce then make sure that you file first so that you have control over the jurisdiction of the divorce. Otherwise the spouse could run home and file in another state. In that case you will be subject to the divorce laws and courts of the state of filing. That means retaining an out of state lawyer, out of state court appearances, etc. In other words it can be very costly. It also goes beyond the original divorce since any amendments to the divorce decree such as changes in visitation or changes in child support would have to be handled in that court as well.

I think that your current home state has pretty fair divorce laws. For example, alimony is limited to three years and child support is based on a fixed formula.

Taiko Tari said...

I see that I'm weeks too late to see this post. Thanks for acknowledging my opinion, Mr. What Should I Do.
I wish you the best. I hope all works in the best interest of all affected parties (you, your children, and your now-wife).

In Japan we'd say... Ganbatte kudasai!