What to Do When His Divorce Doesn’t Seem to Be Happening

How to see the truth and run like the wind.

Posted Sep 18, 2020

Image by Deborah L. Davis
See the red flags.
Source: Image by Deborah L. Davis

It’s the oldest story in the book: A woman and a married man strike up an affair. He sweeps her off her feet with his charm, romantic gestures, and big promises. He reassures her that his wife is awful, his marriage has been over for years, and he has filed for divorce. Two years later, he is still married, living with the wife and children, calm about the situation, and repeating that he'll be free in due time.

Meanwhile, the woman grows increasingly dissatisfied. She’s angry about the insanity he reports, his miserable marriage and delayed divorce proceedings, and wonders why she has so deeply entangled herself in what should be his pain. They have romantic getaways, but fight a lot as she’s distressed by the never-ending drama, frustrated by the lack of resolution, and disappointed in him for not finding a way to be with her. 

Deborah L. Davis
Fantasy or reality?
Source: Deborah L. Davis

A reader recently confessed this scenario. She wondered whether she should cut her losses and move on, but she also doesn't want to give up hope. Should she leave him? Or should she stay? The trouble is, even if she stays, it's highly likely they will remain apart. Why?

Because they live in completely different worlds and never the twain shall meet.

Her world is a fantasy, which he has woven for her. He paints an ugly picture of his marriage and tells her that she’s the love of his life. When he's with her, he treats her like a queen, she believes everything he says and holds on to hope for true love and a bright future with him.

His world is the reality of zero intention of leaving his wife and children. His only plan is to have romantic affairs with gullible women, who he can easily string along with his confident, magnetic personality, endless calm and patience, and a web of lies and empty promises. Whenever a woman finally gets fed up and leaves, he simply finds (or turns to) another to woo and scam. 

If you're in this situation but can't believe you’re being scammed, here are five questions to ask yourself:

1. Is your lover all talk and no action? How many promises are you still waiting for? Understand that if he were truly eager to be with you, it would've happened already.

2. Are you deeply entangled in his pain? Do you worry about him and his misery? Do you empathize with his struggle to get out of his terrible marriage? Do you agonize with him about the children, the money, the logistics? More importantly, have you considered that you seem to find this situation more distressing than he does? That’s because “his pain” is actually not his pain. In spite of what he says, this situation is working fine for him. You are the one in pain, because it’s not working for you.

3. Do you idealize your future? Do you think a life with him will continue to be full of romance, magnetism, novelty, and fun? These potential rewards are what keep you coming back for more. But this is the stuff of courtship. When you actually build a life with someone, you have to get down to business, including working through your differences, tolerating each others' quirks, honing your communication skills, relating to the ex-wife, the stepchildren, and the in-laws, and dealing with the daily grind, including dirty toilets. That's the reality that awaits you.

Plus, if you two are at odds during courtship, how do you expect to build a satisfying life together? Also consider his skill at being deceptive and living a double life. How can you trust him to never deceive you the way he's deceiving his family? More to the point, why do you trust him when he doesn't keep his promises to you?

4. Are you frustrated or tired of waiting?  Feeling "fed up" is a clear sign that this situation crosses your boundaries and is not okay with you. Nor is it in your best interest. Of course you're mad.

5. Does he tell you to be patient? If only you were more patient, this situation would be tolerable? Through this tactic, he is shifting all responsibility for "making it work" to you. And if he admonishes you for being impatient, he's blaming you for turning a supposedly tolerable situation into an intolerable mess. He's also trying to distract you from the fact that by not fulfilling his promises, he's actually breaking them.

Depressing? Fear not. You have many strengths, including these five, which can help you reclaim your power and run like the wind:

1. You know more than you think you do. If you're feeling fed up and thinking about moving on, you already know that this relationship isn’t good for you. You also know that when a door won't open, it's time to explore other doors. Most importantly, you know that “true love” is never founded on lies, deceit, and broken marriage vows. To reclaim your power, focus on what you know.

 Deborah L. Davis
Know; accept; reflect; choose; take action...
Source: Deborah L. Davis

2. You can see your active role in this mess. Bravo. He may be charming, but you're not helpless. You willingly got involved with a married man. And you can see that you're at your wit's end because it's not working for you. And yet you stay because it works for him? When you tolerate way too much to “make it work.” To reclaim your power realize that this is not working for you—only for him.

3. You can reflect on your patterns—such as feeling lonely, looking for love in the wrong places, getting involved with unavailable, unreliable men, giving up your power, letting their needs take precedence, and feeling undeserving or wary of any man who is actually available, reliable, and able to commit and follow through. It’s not easy to stop repeating the same patterns and mistakes. To reclaim your power, dedicate yourself to personal growth, such as identifying your true values and desires, detecting red flags, setting boundaries, and seeing yourself as worthy and deserving.

 Deborah L. Davis
Move with integrity into your own bright future.
Source: Deborah L. Davis

4. You can make smart choices that have integrity and reclaim your power. If he keeps stringing you along, do you remain devoted and content as “the other woman?” Or do you align yourself with your values, cut your losses, and move on? If he breaks up with you, are you going to be devastated and convinced you’ll never find love again? Or can you see that you dodged a bullet, and be grateful you moved forward into your own future instead of being tied down to his? Instead of remaining the victim, you can be the hero, save yourself, and get out with your head held high.

5. You can take action.  While you cannot change him or his role in this mess, you can change yourself and your role. How? Face this challenge, reclaim your power, and stand on your own two feet. Swap your destructive patterns for constructive ones. Hold firm to what you truly want your life to look like. Determine what’s best for you, and move forward into your own brightest future.