Imagine a couple married for over 20 years. They have been unhappy for a really long time. They have 2 children. They both acknowledge that the husband:
- has had numerous affairs;
- is a philanderer;
- has a gambling problem;
- occasionally goes on drinking binges; and
- totally ignores the wife, and for the most part, the children.
When speaking to the wife privately, I asked her, “How long has this been going on?” She said, “Pretty much the whole time we’ve been married.” I said, “That’s over 20 years! Why didn’t you get divorced sooner?” She said, “Well, I thought he was going to change.”
I said, “Did you think that in the 5th year? In the 10th year? In the 15th year? Did you still think that was going to happen?” She said, “Yeah, I thought he would come around.”
I said, “Here it is 20 years later. He’s not going to come around.” She said, “Yeah, I realize that, but I have a question. Because of his behavior, do I get more money in the divorce settlement?” I said, “No. I’m sure if you went before a judge and said you were the perfect mother, the perfect wife and you did everything right; that your husband did all these terrible things; and because of that, you should get a greater share of the marital assets, I’m sure a judge would say, ‘Ha! You should have divorced him 15 years ago. What were you waiting for?’”
Is he going to change? Is she going to change? No! Some people can change some things, but most people can’t change who they are.
When unacceptable behavior continues over and over and over, it’s a signal that this is a huge problem and not likely to get better. It’s important for you to come to that realization. While contemplating divorce may be scary for some, “I should have divorced him/her 20 years ago” is a lot scarier.
You can’t get back the years that go by while you are waiting for your spouse to change. Make a decision to do what’s best for you and your kids.