Carolyn Hax: He got a new bod, new car, and now wants a new divorce

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My husband bought a treadmill last summer and used it daily. He lost 50 pounds and looks great. In January, he bought a new car without talking to me. It cost a small fortune. Last month, he came home from work early one day and told me he wants a divorce.

I am devastated. After 20 years, he just announced it. He refuses to go to counseling or seek therapy himself. He said, “No negotiations, no compromises.” We have a 10-year-old daughter. He says that he loves me but deserves better and I cannot give him better.

I have my first therapy appointment next week, but I have been sick to my stomach for a month now. Our daughter seems to sense something is wrong but we agreed to wait for a better time to tell her.

I’m truly floundering. Any words of wisdom? Thank you.

Floundering: YOU deserve better and HE cannot give you better. He is not kind, considerate or in love with you, and you deserve all three.

That belief is the steeple. Now, you spend the next however many months in the therapy and separation and divorce processes focused on that steeple as you run your way to it.

It is going to be hard and sickening and exhausting, but you will get there, a belief I have based on nothing besides the regularity with which people get there once they have got that steeple in their sights.

If you have not talked to an attorney yet, then get there ASAP immediately NOW, and make sure your money is secured. Having a nearly ex-spouse clean out your accounts makes the steeplechase longer and all uphill.

Dear Carolyn: I didn’t change my name when I got married. My mother-in-law often sends cards addressed to me as “Myfirstname Mylastname Husbandslastname.” I corrected her about this previously, but the message doesn’t seem to have stuck.

Is it appropriate for me to say something again? How many times? I don’t want to seem unappreciative of the cards, but also I feel disrespected by her insistence on calling me a name which is not my name.

Not My Name: She’s being rude, and inflexible, and revealing herself as a complete social dinosaur. Might as well start with that instead of trying to parse it more favorably.

Now, what outcome, within the bounds of this reality, would feel the best to you? Among the possibilities, you have:

1. Correcting her every time, knowing it’s for you on principle and not with any expectation she’s going to change.

2. Choosing not to say anything, because it’s pettiness not worth your aggravation.

3. Deciding a set dollar amount to donate every time she does it, to a cause that matters to you (and, if benevolent spite is your thing, something you know she doesn’t support).

4. Having a come-to-dinosaur conversation with your husband in which you decide together how to handle his mother’s addressive-aggression.

Again, pick the one you think will sit best with you, then live it. Engaging with this in hopes of changing the outcome, while optimistic, risks renewable aggravation.

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