Redditor gonewild9676 has found himself in quite the predicament. His wife had a few ideas regarding their marriage and now he's a bit perplexed, to say the least.Take a listen...

My (46m) wife (41f) recently filed for divorce after shunning me for the last year but just told a mutual friend she really doesn't want one.

I'm confused, torn, and a mess right now. We've been married for 11 years, and for the last year she has been all but shunning me. She asked for space, I've given it to her. She's had a friend with at least an emotional affair.

We've had marriage counseling that went nowhere. It seems like every olive branch I've extended to her has been shot off. I've been raising our 8 year old almost as a single father for the past year. She's been sleeping in another room and locking herself in it. She's been coming home late and pretending I don't exist. She sold her business late last year and hasn't worked a steady gig since. She has a STEM degree and experience running a business, so she can get a decent job.

Last year I was working at a toxic company and knew my job was in jeopardy. Frankly I was a nervous mess, but was hoping to finish one last project and bail, but was laid off with a nice severance. Meanwhile I've landed a new gig at a much nicer company.

Anyways, a few weeks ago she ended counseling and filed for divorce. Then last night I got a call from a friend who said she broke down and said she didn't really want it she thought I'd fight it.

I don't really want one, but if she wants out I'm not holding her hostage. She went through all kinds of abuse as a kid and I figured I triggered something and she had checked out of the marriage. I've talked to several people and they came to that decision and that she's kind of lost in life right now. Frankly if the divorce goes through she's getting the short stick in the deal. Maybe cold feet?

I'm willing to go talk with the friend and her with an open mind. What's the best way for me to navigate this? On one side I'm sick of her treatment of me. On the other side we had 10 really good years and I'd rather not split custody of our daughter. How should I handle this?

My wife has filed for divorce but told a friend she doesn't really want one. What do I do?

Don't Engage...

she didn't really want it she thought I'd fight it

You're old enough to remember "WarGames" and how it ended, yes?

The only winning move is not to play.


How about a nice game of chess?

Yes, I agree with this assessment as well.

I'm at the point now where I sincerely believe actions speak louder than words.


That's a hot mess honey! 

Sheesh this is a mess. First, I'd like to ask, why don't you want a divorce? I'm having a hard time seeing any compelling reason to continue living this relatively miserable existence. I'm sure your answer is a long the lines of "I still love her deeply" or "we had 10 year together that were wonderful, surely we can get back to that." Before you tell me why you want to stay, allow me to present a few points:

  • the staggering immaturity displayed by her is truly amazing. She asked for a divorce because she "wanted you to fight it/fight for her." That's so high school/college dating crap. You know the type: tells her boyfriend she's fine, he accepts it, then she gets pissed at him for not forcing her to talk/ she breaks up with guy over trivial reason, he accepts it, she gets mad he didn't fight for the relationship. Point being, it's all a test. And something a woman her age should not being doing to a long term partner, out of what I believe is complacency and boredom in your marriage.
  • she has actively avoided you and ignored you while living in the same house, and sounds like she avoided your daughter too. If for no other reason then giving your daughter a healthy upbringing where she's not actively living in the same house as a emotionally neglectful mother, you should want to get out.
  • you can't save her or make her suddenly not be lost in life. Deciding to not get divorced won't help her find herself. In fact, getting divorced and having a chance to explore who she is and life could be best for her.
  • she had at least one emotional affair on you. That should bother you considerably more. It's not like she doesn't have love to give, she just has no desire to give it to you. By all accounts, it sounds like she wasn't terribly engaged in couples therapy, which means what issues do exist, she has no desire to change. This won't change if you decide not to divorce.

As to how to navigate this when you talk, ask her why she felt the need to file for divorce if she didn't want one. If she says she wanted you to fight for her, tell her it is ridiculous and immature to "test" you after 10 years of marriage. By all accounts you did the mature thing. You accepted it as what she wanted, and wanted what she wanted. There's no excuse for her actions. Personally, if it were me, I'd deeply ponder the points above and consider what you really need. I would likely come to the conclusion that divorce is for the best, and tell her as much.


The mother of your daughter has to not want that for herself. You already have a child to take care of. You can't adopt an adult too. Especially one who has proven herself perfectly capable of functioning when she wants to.

You can't read her mind. You know that she's checked out and you know that she filed for divorce. Act on what you know, not speculation. If she doesn't really want the divorce, she can use her big girl words and talk to you. Otherwise, it's time to protect yourself and your child.


Hello Dr. Phil...

Sounds like your wife had a really tough start on life, and while doing really well for the past 10 years, she may be coming apart now. But, sad as it is, you can't save her. She can only save herself, and you can only support her if she lets you, and if you feel it is something that you want to do and can do. It is important to consider your daughter too, and what is best for her in terms of the environment she grows up in and the kinds of adults and behaviour that she sees and experiences. It's not just about having both your parents in the same house, but having a safe, secure and loving environment to grow up in. The current situation sounds very unhealthy - and don't think for a moment your daughter can't see what's going on or doesn't suffer because of it. Children appear resilient because they have no choice, not because they wouldn't be breaking apart inside.

To me it seems like your wife needs individual therapy to deal with her childhood, but it can take years to process and develop healthy attachment and communication models. And it is very hard work and can be very painful, so she has to be very committed to the process.

In any case it might be best for your wife to move away for a while, as that will give everyone a bit of breathing space, and as she is struggling to be a partner and a mother, will give her a break from those responsibilities so that she can focus on herself.

Can you go to one more session with your couples therapist to discuss your options? I don't think talking to your wife and her friend will help, as the friend will only take your wife's side.

Having said that, going through with the divorce may still be the best option for everyone.


Only actions and facts matter...

Deal with facts and not wishes. Deal with the fact she's filed for divorce and act accordingly. That means preparing for all aspects, family, legal, otherwise. It doesn't matter what you've heard. Words are useless while the process is in effect. If she doesn't want to divorce then she needs to follow through and withdraw it, if that can be done. The fact she's filed already takes this past certain points of no return. Maybe you can rebuild but any life with her after this will be affected by what she's done.


Personally I'd take that information as all the MORE reason to divorce because it means this must be some kind of half-assed fucked-up badly-planned brinskmanship ploy to get some specific reaction out of you. And it's not like SHE told you this to your face. (Either that or she paniced when she realised the financial implications.)

I guess you could sign up for couples counselling to try to get to the bottom of what she's actually up to, what she actually wants, but IMHO that's unlikely to work: plus as you say, she's shot herself in the foot here by shooting down all your attempts to resolve this.

TBH I think you'd be happier not married to someone who plays stupid games and makes you feel like crap.


Carpe Diem...

No reason to live unhappy, unwanted, or unloved. Life is too short. Your 8 year old sees it as well. Keep that in mind. Do what is best for you and your child.


Right now nobody is winning...

I fully appreciate the soft spot in your heart that you have for your wife regarding her terrible childhood. I really do. That being said, there is a point for every adult who has been abused in childhood that they must recognize the damage done and learn to mitigate its effects on their adult lives. I am not saying that your wife shouldn't have difficulties based on her past, but that she has to acknowledge these obstacles and learn to deal with them as an adult that wants to thrive in spite of the trauma. You can't use her past as an excuse for her current behavior. She has to accept some responsibility and act as a partner to you and as a mother to your daughter. It doesn't sound like she's doing either of those things and that she is in dire need of intensive therapy.

I don't know that you can save her from her past if she's not willing to work on it herself. I wish you the best. ♡


She didn't tell you this directly so it's not really your responsibility to deal with. It's just manipulative. If she wants to improve things she could have come to you. Or gone to counseling herself. But instead she's been pretty terrible for a year.

I don't think you can trust what she told a friend as true either... She may just be trying to save face as "not the bad guy" to this person while she's the one who withdrew effort from fixing things.

Best of luck to you!


You and your daughter first...

Listen, the way she treated you this last year was basically emotional and psychological abuse. Look it up. She shunned you for the entire year and had emotional affairs. The onus isn't on you to make her a well adjusted and healthy person to be a good mom and a good wife. The onus is on her to keep that shit under control.

I tell this to a lot of people as I'm involved in mental health wellness. Your responsibility isn't to fix someone with mental health issues so they can stay with you. Your responsibility is to support them. When she unilaterally decides she's going to hurt you and the family its not your responsibility to tolerate it and allow her to hurt you and your child in the process. Its your responsibility to protect that child at all costs.

If she wants out and its a bad situation let her have it. If she couldn't come to her senses a year ago and realize how badly she was hurting her child then I don't think she deserves a second or third chance from you. All that's going to happen is your child is going to end up hurt again. You don't think this last year of her mom being pretty much absent and rejecting her hasn't just destroyed her self-esteem and emotions?

Your wife went through some terrible things. Now she's doing them to your daughter. Get her out of both your lives and fight as hard as you can for majority custody. That poor little baby is suffering right now and the best thing you can do is get her mom out of the house to protect her. At least this way you can start to regain some form of normalcy around the house and work forward through all the hurt she's just gone through.

Your biggest responsibility is to protect your child. You're not doing that right now. Having a mom who is actively rejecting her in the house is a lot worse for her than a mom who isn't in the house at all.



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