My carpool companion is getting divorced, a process that's been in the works for months now. Meanwhile, he and his not soon enough to be ex-wife still live under the same roof, a situation that he once reckoned was a good idea for the sake of the kids but which is becoming increasingly intolerable as he embraces the divorce.
I reckon he's lucky to have a former divorce lawyer to commmute with, because I have been able (for free) to put him through the paces to get to the point where he can make rational decisions. He was the one who was blindsided by his adulterous wife, stay at home mother of three small children to whom my companion has devoted everything. He is a family man through and through, so the idea that he was going to lose his family was the ultimate blow. Seriously, his whole life revolves around hearth and home.
He went through the typical stages of the wronged spouse. At first, he was sure that his wife didn't really mean it, that she was just trying to get his attention, that the whole thing would blow over. I was pretty harsh with him during that phase. I pointed out that she was fucking somebody else and not him, that she did secretly set up a bank account, and that she was pretty adamant about getting divorced. I explained that she had been preparing for this for months, maybe even years, so that she was emotionally ready and poised for action. That's why it didn't seem upsetting to her. Her mind was made up. Say hello to reality.
Then he went through the "I'll do whatever it takes to save this marriage" stage where he floated all kinds of offers about how he would change, that they could work it out, get counselling, what have you. "Won't someone think of trhe children" also came into play. The dude was ready to live in a loveless marriage just for the kids and because he secretly believed that, given time, the bitch would come around and love him again. Again, I was pretty harsh. "She doesn't love you any more, if she ever did, and nothing you do or say can change that. You can't make her love you. If she changes her mind and begs you to take her back, great, but meanwhile don't be stupid. Look to your interests on the assumption that you're getting divorced. Your wife will use your vulnerability against you, so don't settle on anything until you get your head out of your ass."
Then he alternated between depression and anger for a while. This was understandable, but I told him that he had to make plans and decisions with a cool head. He wouldn't always feel this way. Eventually, he'd get over his hurt and anger enough to move on with his new life. And he'd be glad to be free of the shrewish harpy, at least as free as you can be with children together.
Now he's ready to protect himself and to work with his lawyer to get the divorce done with as little inconvenience to himself as possible. He still claims that he wants to have the kids with him way more than he probably really does, but that's what fathers are expected to say. If the ex-wife wants to saddle herself with a disproportionate amount of the burden of parenting, let her. You can always trade days with the kids for economic concessions. Down the road, she'll be begging him to take the kids more often.
One thing he can't seem to get past is that the court doesn't care whose fault it was that the marriage failed or that his wife cheated on him. I'm working on convincing him that the "Justice System" has nothing to do with justice. It really took him aback when I remarked back when the divorce process started that "nobody held a gun to your head". "This is what you sign up for when you get married and have children with someone. Didn't anyone warn you?" I reckon every marriage license should include a conspicuous warning: MARRIAGE MAY RESULT IN DIVORCE WITH YOUR SPOUSES TAKING HALF YOUR STUFF AND A LOT OF YOUR INCOME.