Dear Amy: I recently returned from a week-long visit to help my 90-year-old father, whereupon my 46-year-old husband sat me down and said he had contacted an attorney to file for divorce, rented an apartment and wanted me to keep our brand sell -new home.
He’s always been a good, solid, loving partner.
I was completely taken aback by this.
He says there is no affair. He doesn’t want to see whether marriage counseling works, although he’s been seeing a therapist privately for a year.
I am totally shocked.
Where do I start emotionally? Legally?
Thank you for your insight.
Mourning in Montana
love sadness: This is… a really terrible shock and I’m so sorry. You appear to be entering a new demographic of elders: those experiencing what is known as “gray divorce.”
My top advice is that you do not take any financial action (by no means put your house up for sale) until you have consulted an attorney who will represent your interests and help you take this resolution in careful steps. Developing your own game plan will help you be – and have – more control.
Immediately collect all your tax returns, retirement accounts, income statements, certificates and all other financial records and make an extra set of copies. Your husband cannot force you to sell your house on his schedule. Don’t agree to anything until you’re sure it’s the wisest course for you.
Your husband has deceived you and has spent the last year strategizing and firmly executing his plan without giving you the benefit of a warning. This is both cowardly and brazen.
Until your relationship stabilizes, I don’t think it’s wise to believe everything he says (or possibly everything he says) about his decision or the reasons behind it.
I realize this is a very charged and emotional time, but if you focus on some of these business matters you will gain some clarity and feel less blind.
It would be of great help if you could confide in knowledgeable and steadfast friends or family members. You need people who don’t add to the drama but are a sounding board for you.
This is an extremely challenging and emotional time – a time of deep sadness, confusion and anger. A compassionate therapist would be invaluable. An in-person or online divorce support group can provide you with ongoing help and advice.
Dear Amy: I am a male millennial turning 40 next year.
When I was 26, the “Great Recession” came and my business went under. I had to move back in with my parents for a few years and was deeply depressed.
I eventually built another business and got back on my feet. I was able to travel to four continents and nine countries. Those were my humble goals in life.
I have no wife, children or pets. I try to help others and volunteer monthly. I also support charities through financial donations.
I feel like I achieved my goals before I was 40. That’s a good thing and a bad thing because I’m a little bored.
What do you recommend me to do?
love boredom: Bored people are boring people, and so the obvious answer is that you set new goals and look for new and life-enriching experiences.
You could work to improve your education, set an ambitious health or fitness goal, start a garage band, or read a book a week.
Or, if your work life allows, you can combine two of your interests and work for a charity abroad for a month or two.
A book that might inspire you is Be the Hero of Your Life: Ditch the Excuses, Take Your Hero’s Journey, and Find Your Life’s Purpose by J. Scott MacMillan (2019, Mobes Publishing). The author describes the concept of the ‘hero’s journey’ and illustrates how understanding these stages of life can lead to insight and change.
The hero’s journey usually begins with a “call to adventure.” This could be yours.
Dear Amy: I know you don’t like the term ‘girl’s name’, but what do you suggest replacing it with?
The term is outdated and reeks of a paternalistic society, but ‘birth name’ has its own connotations.
are there still girls
Love are here: You raise a great point. Women could refer to their original surname as their “family name”.
Oddly enough, just yesterday I was asked for my own “maiden name”. Sigh.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.