My wife of 10 years is leaving me. I'm lost.
October 4, 2008 11:46 AM   Subscribe

My wife of 10 years is leaving me. I'm lost.

After 10 years, my wife has given up and is leaving me. We have a 7 year old daughter and for her (and our) sake are going to try and make the split as amiable as possible.
Although I am totally heart broken, how do I make the best of it?
I'm not as young as I used to be, 42, but I'm very physically active.
I have a good job and I think I'm a good dad.
I love my daughter so much, seeing her in pain over this is killing me.
How do I help my kid get through this?
How can I make this new beginning as positive as possible?
Can I still follow my dreams?
How do I figure out what my dreams are anyway?
How do people survive being single?
Thanks folks.
posted by Echidna882003 to Human Relations (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the process of a divorce, and though I have no kids, I do have a bit of advice I hope will help: You and your wife get to write your own story here. In other words, you don't have to fall into the stereotype of hating each other, speaking only through lawyers--or worse, through your daughter, or fighting over what dish belongs to whom.

You two write your own story, ok? Don't listen to anyone who encourages you to go on the offensive. Your daughter will be better equipped to deal with this adversity if you and her mother are not fighting.

And yes, you can still follow your dreams. You're only 42! You're young!
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:52 AM on October 4, 2008 [18 favorites]

You are a human being. That means that you, personally, are equipped with a system that is designed to recover from difficult emotional blows like this one. Our ancestors faced giant cats, volcanos, tidal waves and other humans. We are built to form close emotional bonds with other people and, when those bonds are broken, recover and learn from the experience. Then we meet others and form bonds with them.

What this means for you is that as you are going through this difficult time, you should acknowledge that you have the resources to get through this and that things will get better naturally.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:03 PM on October 4, 2008 [9 favorites]

I want to echo what ImproviseOrDie said above: Don't listen to anyone who encourages you to go on the offensive.

If your divorce is similar to mine, you'll hear all sorts of bloodthirsty things from your friends and family about "taking Partner for everything you can get" and "making sure Partner pays for hurting you like this." Reject them. It is absolutely possible to go through a divorce, as bitter and ugly a process as it is, without becoming a bitter and ugly person.

Since you have a child, by all means seek the advice of a lawyer when drawing up the legal documents, for your child's protection more than anything else. But if you and your wife can still have civil and constructive dialogues, do the bulk of the decision-making together. Tell your daughter you love her over and over again. Do everything you can to keep her daily routine as uninterrupted as possible. And then tell her you love her again.

The framework of your divorce will never seem to do enough to heal your broken heart. That's because, by its very nature, it can't possibly do so; try not to seek solace or revenge for the emotional destruction you feel through the legal machinations of the divorce process. They are not the same thing, and one has no effect on the other.

It hurts, so much, to go through this, and I wish you strength and peace.
posted by jesourie at 12:12 PM on October 4, 2008

How do people survive being single?

Being single is not having cancer. Presumably, at some point in your life, you were single and you were fine. Yes, you have to recalibrate and find your center when your unit is broken up, and then you move forward.
posted by Airhen at 12:38 PM on October 4, 2008 [4 favorites]

In terms of resolving your differences with your wife, I strongly suggest you research collaboration based Conflict Resolution options. Essentially, this means that instead of both of you hooking up with lawyers and going to war, you seek out a single mediator whose job will be to get the two of you collaborating on a sane strategy toward resolving your differences.

I've also heard of a mechanism wherein the lawyers for both sides in a marital dispute must sign a contract stipulating that they will NOT force the case to court; and if it should end up going to court, both they (the lawyers) and anyone else in their respective firms are disqualified from partaking.

Good luck.
posted by philip-random at 12:41 PM on October 4, 2008

Nthing the advice above to resist the usual narrative of demonizing the ex; not just for the sake of you and your wife, but also for that of your daughter. I was lucky enough to have parents who, after a brief period of acrimony, were able to see the people they had been so happy with before. Thirty years post-divorce, they remain good friends.

I cannot tell you how much this helped me to emotional maturity, knowing that every love affair does not have to end in ruins, and that the end of a relationship can be more like a wake than a funeral.

Even as this phase ends, be good and respectful to each other; your daughter will thank you for it one day.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:42 PM on October 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

The absolute best thing that my parents ever did for me is having an amicable divorce. (The agreement was the person who finally threw in the towel paid for the divorce. Mom got the money up first.) Never, not once, not a single time, have either of my parents denigrated each other in my hearing. The closest my mother ever got was saying, "That's just your dad" if he got off the rails a little. My father often praised my mother for the great job she was doing raising me.

Years later (I'm 40), I have yet to have a relationship that ended terribly. There is not one ex I have that I couldn't be cordial too, if not actually affectionate towards. Thank you, Mom and Dad. Y'all did a really good job. Echidna882003, you can't control your wife's behavior, but you can be as positive about her as possible in your daughter's hearing.
posted by thebrokedown at 12:56 PM on October 4, 2008 [12 favorites]

I agree with ImproviseOrDie as well. I've been through the same thing (+20 year marriage)and besides resisting the temptation to get angry or worse I would add two things.

First, see if you can't do your divorce with a divorce mediator. You may be able to get all the paperwork filed and everything with an attorney who is also a mediator. We had four meetings to handle the child and money issues and we did not speak about it ourselves until the basics were nailed down. The mediator will explain to you what parameters are within the law in your state and give you options to think about. You will have a plan in place until your child graduates college. The more you have on paper initially the less chance of ambiguity leading to anger over the coming years.

Secondly, I would advise taking time with each new step. Give yourself adequate time to process every new change and time to make each decision. If something makes you anxious, tell yourself to revisit it in 48 hours or however long you think will work for you. Watch your sleeping and eating habits. Keep yourself healthy. Get outside and into nature, with your daughter - start setting up things that the two of you enjoy together.

About a week after my husband moved out, I was standing on my front porch with one thought, "What the hell just happened". We had been very shakey for quite a while but I was still somewhat flabbergasted by recent events.
While I was standing there, a car slowed down in front of the house with a guy just staring at the house. I asked "Can I help you with something?" It turns out he had grown up here and was in town on business so couldn't help stopping by to see how things had changed. I invited him in to look around. He had known my husband as a child and had heard we bought the house, and wanted to know how he was doing. So I told him the story in broad strokes.
He said "I got divorced 5 years ago after 19 years. The next year will be HELL. You may think you've come around, but give yourself a year to come to grips with the new you. At the end of two years you will be happier than you could ever have imagined."

I call him my divorce angel. He like I, had gotten used to stresses inherent in a bad marriage. When he visited he was looking forward to marrying the woman he had been seeing for three years. He felt that in middle life we are much better judges of ourselves and others and he was looking forward to the years ahead with a partner who made his life better in every way.

It's coming up on two years for me and I can say that I feel better now than ever.
You will too.
posted by readery at 12:57 PM on October 4, 2008 [6 favorites]

First, my sympathy and best wishes. It sounds like you are trying to do this honorably and I commend you for that.

I'm not divorced and don't have kids, so I can't comment on the first few questions. However, for the last 4, maybe I can help a little.

Hubby moved to another state a little over a year ago and I've been more-or-less functionally single since then. (He left to take a better job, not because of relationship problems, and we still like each other, but I'm basically on my own except for occasional weekend visits.) So I have some idea what it's like to be married for years and then suddenly alone.

Surviving being single: you did this before and you can do it again. It sounds like you got married at age 32, and presumably you were single before then. By age 32 you presumably knew how to take care of yourself, keep your apartment clean, get yourself to work on time in the morning, and all the other things a grownup has to do. You can do these things again. Even if you haven't cooked anything or done a single load of laundry in the last 10 years, you can dust off those skills and keep going. It's a little harder to do everything by yourself, but you already know you can do it.

As far as loneliness, you'll probably find yourself more open to casual encounters. When Hubby lived with me, I had a built-in companion for everything and didn't seek other friends. After he moved out, I started going to MeFi meetups and met some really neat people that way. I still don't have as much companionship as I'd like, but frankly, doing everything with Hubby wasn't all that great either.

Identifying and following dreams: ah, welcome to middle age. I think this hits everyone regardless of whether they're getting divorced, so you'd eventually be pondering this even if your marriage had worked better. (The mid-life crisis may be a cliché and in some people it manifests almost comically - like those guys with comb-overs driving sporty red convertibles - but it's real. Anybody with an ounce of reflection who reaches the midpoint of life starts thinking about all the things they haven't done, and all the doors that are closing, and starts feeling a little panicky.)

I wish I had a magic recipe for discovering one's dreams (let alone following them), but I can offer the observation that living alone provides more time to spend on your own thoughts. Nobody is clamoring for your attention and you can arrange your schedule more to your own liking, so you might find your head is clearer and you have a better sense of what you're thinking and feeling. In the new quiet of your mind, you might realize what your dreams really are.

Making a positive new beginning: try to see the upside in all of this. Even an amicable divorce comes after a lot of friction and unhappiness, so think how much better your life will be without all the bad stuff. It will hurt for a while - nobody likes to be rejected - but after you regain your equilibrium things will probably be better than before the divorce. For a few weeks after Hubby moved out, I felt hurt and abandoned even though we weren't actually breaking up, but gradually I realized I enjoyed having my time and my flat to myself. After a few months I had adjusted to the new situation and now I'm OK with it. (So's Hubby, just for the record.)

Give yourself time to adjust and eventually your innate resilience will carry you on. Keep on being a good dad and honorable man, and you'll come through this in a way that will make your daughter proud of you.
posted by Quietgal at 1:07 PM on October 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lots of sympathy. Nthing: give yourself time, working on an amicable split will pay off, and that doing the best for your kid means trying to never bad-mouth her mother to her.
posted by Idcoytco at 1:08 PM on October 4, 2008

There's a chapter on marriage and divorce and how to avoid antagonizing each other in the book "Mistakes were made" by Carol Tavris et al. - I highly recommend to read that.
posted by meijusa at 1:10 PM on October 4, 2008

My parents divorced when I was 8. The best thing they ever did was to be cordial to each other when we (my brothers and I) were involved. They both came to our sporting events and school functions, sat together and shared the experience. After the event, they both went to their separate homes and continued their separate lives.

Both parents should be involved in all facets of their child's life as much as possible. Maintain a positive attitude towards your daughter's mother when your daughter is involved.

I have fantastic relationships with both of my parents, because they came together for the common cause of raising us.
posted by clearly at 1:22 PM on October 4, 2008

Thank you everyone.
We're meeting with a mediator on Monday, and so far although we don't agree on the break up, we do agree that ending the marriage with respect for each other is the best thing for our child.
It's funny the only times I really break down and feel terribly sad is when I think of how this affects my daughter.
It's hard not to wallow in regret.
Thanks again folks, this has meant a lot to me.
posted by Echidna882003 at 2:20 PM on October 4, 2008

As the child of divorcees: never try to use your child against your ex-wife. Never criticise her in front of your kid. Try never get the child personally involved in anything divorce-related. Never mention alimony, trials, lawyers, etc. in front of the kid. Keep the divorce papers away from her. It will be difficult for her, as a product of your love, to understand that you two not being together anymore doesn't mean that you and her mother love her less.

What she doesn't understand now she will later.
posted by stereo at 2:35 PM on October 4, 2008

I have never gotten divorced or even married, have never been forty-two or experienced been female and have no kids, so take what I write for what it's worth. what I do have is experience with my parents going through a six-year divorce when I was only marginally older. one of them is a retired divorce judge.

first off, don't fight. people fight because of bruised egos. they fight over meaningless items, small sums of money, issues they could easily compromise on. don't be that person and try to make your ex understand that you don't wish to be that person. try to be fair and ask, not demand. make suggestions you honestly believe to be fair to her and hope she will recognize you for being civil. this doesn't always work out and there is a point where you will have to settle for this just getting ugly and prolonged but then again there is the chance that it does and your daughter will appreciate not having to be embarrassed for her parents, even if she doesn't say or even know it.

speaking of your daughter: don't try to get her on your side. don't try to ask her about what your ex is doing, how she's spending her money, all those things. I used to not come home for xmas for years because I would always have my parents competing over whom I would eat dinner with (and by extension whom I'd abandon at that time). they are finally civil and understand things now but that sucked big time.

be clear about your intentions to your ex. be clear on what you want to achieve and ask her for her opinion on how you two could get there. you know that line "he never listens to me?" ask before you present a solution, even if you already know how you want xyz resolved. it opens up a dialogue.

as for new beginnings: there is a time for healing. try occupying your free time with positive activities you enjoy. were you into sports ten years ago? twenty? perhaps you should go out and meet likeminded people. is great to find people with similar interests and if you like running, sailing, soccer, whatever sport you should join a club or league. go out and do it. don't sit at home and stew in it. it will get better with time, just like any other burn.

How do I figure out what my dreams are anyway?
by trying. seriously, how did you realize you loved, liked or loathed chocolate cake?

chin up and good luck.

It's hard not to wallow in regret.
yeah, I understand that. it's tempting. but it leads to revengeful thinking. this is exactly how people end up fighting. thing about fights is - even the 'winning person' ends up with more scars than they otherwise would have.
posted by krautland at 2:39 PM on October 4, 2008

How do people survive being single?

....the same way you survive being married -- by eating when you're hungry and sleeping when you're tired and not cutting yourselves with knives and....okay, I'm sorry for being flip. But as someone who has BEEN single for 38 years (going on 39), I'm a bit taken aback at the notion that singlehood is something that needs to be "survived."

Even when you were at your most in sync, you didn't complete each other -- you COMPLEMENTED each other. Even when you were married you were still each distinct, unique individuals, and you are that same distinct, unique individual still today, and you will still be that same distinct, unique individual no matter what else happens to you in the future. So the fact that you're now going to be single doesn't mean you now have a huge obstacle that needs overcoming. It'll be lonely for a while, sure -- but you've had lonely patches before and you got through that okay.

But the good news is that, in the strictest sense, your relationship with your wife isn't ending -- it's changing. You will still have A relationship with your wife, as a co-parent to your daughter, even though you won't be married.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:46 PM on October 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

You will get through this. I got through this. Others have gotten through this. Keep your chin up.

While it won't be a perfect situation for your daughter, it will be much better then being around parents who don't have a good relationship.

I don't have much more to say that others haven't already said. Just remember you will get through this.
posted by Silvertree at 3:18 PM on October 4, 2008


During this process, you are being watched. You are about to teach your kid how a very common thing in life is handled. How well you do will determine to a large part how well she does when her relationship(s) end.

Relationship dissolution is a phase that most relationships go through. A marriage is a little stickier, but really, most of them end one way or the other.

Were it my daughter, I'd want her to have a model of fairness and residual love, cooperation and kindness, consideration for the bystanders. I'd want HER to see that life continues to be a good thing, and that self-reliance, optimism, and open-mindedness represent a good recipe for living when things don't work out like the silly-ass story books say they will.

I do an imitation of Jesse Jackson some times by saying "The PURPOSE of PARENTING is PROTECTION and PREPARATION!" (punching the "P's"!). This is a wonderful opportunity to establish a meme of "How we do things in our family" instead of "How can I make the bitch pay?". I am constantly amazed at how many people apparently select complete assholes to marry/mate.... how close hate resides next to the same cells that cause infatuation. Perhaps it takes villianizing a mate to have strong enough reasons to break a sticky bond, but my god, the damage inflicted on innocent kids and changed mates with nasty breakups is a horrible thing we could address by just being kind and understanding.

Relationships end. Most relationships. How are you going to train the daughter and PREPARE her to deal with this?

Good luck! (O, and don't go and marry the first woman that you come across. There will be scores looking for a 42 years old man. Be very careful.)
posted by FauxScot at 3:31 PM on October 4, 2008

in the strictest sense, your relationship with your wife isn't ending -- it's changing

That's prime food for thought. How you deal with that relationship today, tomorrow, at your child's graduation, wedding, and so forth should not be taken lightly. Mull it over and be what it is you hope that relationship to be.
posted by furtive at 4:33 PM on October 4, 2008

I think that having two parents who love her and are there for her and had an amicable divorce will be pretty damn good.
posted by sondrialiac at 5:01 PM on October 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

If it makes you feel any better, I think that if two people are in the position to get a divorce, it is better for the children if the parents get that divorce instead of not get the divorce. My husband's parents stayed together longer than they should and it was just hard on the kids. Once they got divorced, family life was considerably better. My own parents never got divorced, and all through middle school and high school and part of college, I wished they would. A lot of other people will tell you the same thing.

Your daughter is only seven so it's understandable that she's upset right now; she's not at a point where she can realize it's for the best. But, in the meantime, to help you cope, remind yourself that it is for the best. It would be nice to wave a magic wand and make the marriage work, but you're making the best decision for her that you can right now.
posted by Nattie at 5:42 PM on October 4, 2008

My heart goes out to you. Just before my 40th birthday, my ex left me for another woman after we'd spent 14 years together. I loved him dearly and was utterly devastated. I spent my 40th birthday alone, in tears.

Everyone's divorce and separation story is different, and yours may not resemble mine. I don't have kids so can't really address that part of it, but here are a few things about the emotional process - things I wish I'd been told in the early phases, when I was reeling from the shock and trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered life.

The next six to twelve months are likely to be hellish. Some days, the most you'll be able to manage will seem like barely scraping by. That's okay.

If the emotional pain ever becomes physical - if at times you feel a crushing weight in your chest, or a strange sensation that makes you wonder if this is what it's like to have a limb severed - don't chastise yourself for being over-dramatic. Do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep ten hours if you need to, and try to get regular exercise even if it's the last thing you want to do. Your body needs TLC in order to help you heal.

At times, your thoughts and emotions may be all over the map. You may cycle rapidly between bone-deep sorrow, fierce anger, confusion, embarrassment, and a thousand other emotions, some you can't even name. Seemingly small happenings may trigger emotional reactions that seem way out of proportion to an outsider. You may go over everything you said or did with a fine-toothed comb, trying to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong. You may find yourself making unusual mistakes, being clumsier than usual, or doing other things that seem completely out of character. You may feel as if your identity is in flux and you literally do not know who you are outside the relationship. Try not to be too alarmed with any of this. It's part of the process. Trust that you will find your bearings eventually.

There will be times early in the process when you'll think you're mostly over it, and are moving on. You'll probably be wrong, though. Grief has its own timetable, and although you can turn your back on it for a time, it'll catch up with you eventually, sometimes when you least expect it. Just allow the process to happen.

If you have people in your life who allow you to be upset - people who can just listen and comfort you while you rant and wail without trying to fix you or smooth things over with platitudes - now is the time to call upon them. Cherish these people. Going through a divorce will make it clear to you how rare and precious they are.

Right now, the rug has been yanked out from underneath you, but eventually, you will find your center again. Although the price is steep, loss, grief and heartbreak will someday leave gifts for you in their wake: humility, deepened faith, compassion, perspective, strength.

You will get through this. You will survive. Best wishes.
posted by velvet winter at 6:00 PM on October 4, 2008

Please take a listen to this episode of This American Life, The Breakup. Especially Act III.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:01 PM on October 4, 2008

Life can feel a bit crazy during such a crisis and sometimes making sure that certain things are well controlled can help you feel less out of control, for instance, making sure your house or apartment is always neat and tidy, eating a healthy diet, exercising, being organized about bills and finances. In other words, rather than letting yourself go in a crisis, go just a little bit the opposite way, without getting crazy in that way though. It's a small part of your grief recovery in such a crisis, but often an important one. Best of luck to you.
posted by caddis at 9:50 PM on October 4, 2008

Never been married, so never been divorced, but as a teacher who has seen the children's side of it, here's my two cents.

1. Don't compete with your soon to be exwife. If she takes your daughter to Disney, don't feel you have to as well. Don't buy your child gifts out of guilt - if you can't be somewhere to attend a play or if plans change for your custody weekend. Instead just talk to your child and explain things for them - stuff happens, to everyone, divorced or not. Also, talk to your ex-wife about gifts and parties for birthdays and holidays so you can plan and don't buy the same thing, or overbuy to compensate.

2. Stay involved in your daughter's life. Attend parent/teacher conferences and similar events. Actions speak louder than words and kids know it. But when you do attend, keep your child as the focus. Your decision to keep things amiable is an admirable one. I can't tell you how many students have dreaded divorced parents coming to school events because they felt their parents would fight and put them in an awkward position in public.

Oh and being single isn't so bad. Just different is all.
Good luck.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2008

I was with my husband for 10 as well but no kids... and having come from divorced parents, I understand about your daughter, too. I was an only child, and so most of this is going to come from the perspective of being an only daughter from divorce.

One thing I have to emphasize is DO NOT use her to get information. If you find out your ex-wife is dating, do not pry for information. Do not make her feel like a "spy" for either parent. If you find out your wife is doing this, try to sit down with a family counselor (think of a couples counselor but for parents) and work out a communications agreement of some kind. Many people upthread have suggested a divorce mediator; this is good. I would suggest trying going to a couples counselor or something similar during the divorce process in order to ensure you both agree, on every point, about future parenting and communication styles. It will also help you get "your final say" about the ending of the marriage, with a mediator, and give you emotional closure.

Your daughter, as she gets older, may see opportunities to manipulate the "two parents, twice as much attention/demands" role. (I'm thinking when she is 14 or so). I know I did it... that's also the time in most states when a child can choose which parent to live with. I see my best friend now, 8 months down the road from her divorce, dealing with her 9-year-old going back and forth and her daughter's behavior changing because of it.

Be sure you and your soon-to-be-ex are always on the same page with visitation, who she's going to live with, make her schedule as regular as possible, etc. Consistent parenting is hard with two households. I wish you all the luck in the world with making that arrangement work; my parents hated each other and it was very difficult for me. I would have panic attacks during "transfers" and often got into fights with one parent or the other over hearing ugly things about the other parent. Please be careful with that; it will skew how your daughter views marriage and relationships forever.

It's hard to be single, at first. You don't know what to buy at the store; you don't know how to sleep. I would suggest talking to your doctor and possibly a therapist about what's going on. You may develop insomnia, anxiety, lots of other things... it would be great if you didn't, but if you do, don't be surprised and DO ask for help. That's very important. If you find yourself depressed or unable to sleep or eat right, your daughter is going to pick up on it and it will upset her... and she's too young to express that to you the way a teenager would, I think.

Children know when a parent "isn't right" but don't know why, and may assume they are at fault. Watch for signs of "perfectionism" in your daughter. If she seems to need constant reassurance that you are okay, or gets very controlling or sad in ways she never did before, it will be her way of trying to "become perfect" so that you feel good and nothing like this ever happens to her again. There are a wealth of books and therapists out there that can help with these issues; just keep your eyes out for signs of her internalizing this process as being something she must control, change or be held responsible for. I was an only child and became obsessed with being perfect after the divorce so I didn't have reason to feel I would be "abandoned" or "left behind" ever again, and it took years for me to deal with those feelings.

You get to relearn what it is to be yourself, alone, all over again. Do all the things you loved doing when you were young, but your wife didn't enjoy. Visit friends, have them visit you, plan father-daughter trips. Don't stay in the house alone all the time; make yourself do normal things, like go to the movies, out to dinner, and to do whatever it is you used to do as a couple alone. Eventually, it'll feel natural to you.

If you are feeling really down? Volunteer. Do Meals on Wheels; do something that makes you realize what you have and how valuable your life is, and how much good you can do for others.

I feel so much for you right now. I thought because I waited until I was older to get married that it would last, but it didn't, and I found myself grateful after awhile to no longer introduce myself as "Unicorn on the cob, you know, X's wife." My divorce was over two years ago, and I am now at a point where I happily enjoy single activities, have no problem motivating myself to leave the house and do tasks, meet new people, date... but there was a black hole for many months where I would be in the gym, at work, at the grocery store... and grief and despair would just wash over me, and I'd have to go somewhere and cry it out.

If you can, find one or two very trusted friends (even ones that live in other cities, I find, are more objective, because they can listen without being involved between you and the wife) to confide in when you feel bad or need reassurance. Talking to everyone about it just makes it omnipresent in your mind. Give yourself a physical cue to do (pinch yourself, close your eyes and count to five) when the urge to go off about the split comes up. When I went through my divorce, it was so devastating, I found myself talking about it constantly. This frustrated friends and family members to the point where they couldn't bear it and they became unsupportive or avoided me. Don't do this to yourself; you already probably feel isolated, and don't want to feel more isolated now. Therapist or long-distance friend is better for venting.

I cannot emphasize this part enough; your life is not over. YOUR LIFE IS NOT OVER. You will laugh again; you will love again. Don't rush it. Don't fall into other people or alcohol or anything self-destructive to deal with the pain. Ask for help when you need it.

If you are surrounded by couples who no longer socialize with you because you're single again, well, don't be surprised. People think they are doing you a favor by not putting you in the position of being "the third wheel." Make it clear you still want to socialize with other people, including couples, and you may be the one who has to invite other people to do things or have people over or whatever. People will feel like they are giving you space to grieve; if you feel like a social pariah, don't take it. Take control of your friendships. Do not make people "pick" your or your ex-wife; make it clear you want to maintain your social connections (the ones you do) and remember... YOUR LIFE IS NOT OVER.

You are only halfway! Isn't that amazing? Halfway. And you have a beautiful daughter... don't lose sight of what the marriage gave you. It hurts now, but it was worth it to have your daughter, correct? Don't forget about that.

This is just another stage in a long line of evolutions that we all go through. Do this right, and it could be the best opportunity of your life. Stay positive.

We are all here for you.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:41 AM on October 5, 2008

fight hard not to just be "weekend dad."

live close to your ex, so that you can, if possible, have a 50-50 custody agreement.

be scrupulously civil with the ex and about the ex in front of the child, and vent bad feelings far away from the child.

don't despair.
posted by RedEmma at 11:17 AM on October 5, 2008

I was married, and I went through a terrible divorce. I have also been single for a very long time, and then was partnered again.

You will wander around a little lost. You don't have to have a discussion about what to eat, when to do the laundry, who paid the bills, did you spend too much on X this week. Get enough sleep. Talk radio is helpful for company. Working out is also very helpful with managing depression and helping with sleep and appetite.

Please, please listen to the people who urge you to not make this into a revenge of your manhood against your wife. My ex and I, when we decided to split, agreed it would be amicable.

And then he moved out and stayed at one of his friends. That was the end of amicable. It ended up costing us both a lot of money, a lot more than it would have if we had gone ahead with our original plan. And it guaranteed that we would never speak to each other again, ever.

42 is not old. 80 is old. if you were 80 and getting divorced I'd just point out that you could finally take that trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro you'd always wanted to do.
posted by micawber at 3:30 PM on October 5, 2008

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