Telling your spouse you want a divorce is always a difficult moment. Many men and women simply don't have the guts to say it as it is, so they take the coward's way out by living their lives as if they were single.
Meanwhile, their spouses are experiencing waves of anger, pain, and resentment. Deep down I believe most spouses know what's coming, but often fool themselves because the fallout from separation and divorce is so devastating and often embarrassing. We've all heard "They looked like the perfect couple."
Often female clients will say, "Oh, we're not going to divorce. My husband says this is just a trial separation." Don't believe it for a second! This is just another lousy husband who doesn't have enough respect for his wife to tell her the truth, the whole truth.
For spouses who are desperate to hang on to their marriage no matter what, it is cruel for their mates to pretend it's not really over when it is. While a phased-in separation may assuage the guilt of a spouse who is leaving, a left-behind spouse will only suffer more heartache knowing he or she has been set up, again.
In my 22 years as a divorce lawyer, I have seen the gamut of "breaking up is hard to do." Let me share a few of the more memorable scenarios.
Probably the worst thing you can do to a spouse is move out of the family home and take everything with you while he or she is out of town. While this may be the best option in a short, abusive marriage where there are no children, it often occurs in long-term marriages where the children have left the home.
I can't think of a crueler way to say sayonara to your husband. A person who would do this to their 30-year partner must be devoid of any human kindness or empathy.
An unusual approach is one that I personally observed while having dinner with married friends. I can't recall how the topic was broached, but my friend's husband suddenly declared that he and his wife had "had a good run, but some good things come to an end."
I, of course, thought he was joking, but this was no joke. I later learned he had convinced his wife to agree to purchase a "rental" apartment in a neighbouring town and coincidentally the company he worked for had just transferred him to their office in that community.
What seemed obvious to me had sailed right past my friend. Yes, he was now staying in the new apartment and coming home only on weekends. She only clued in when I suggested this was odd behaviour, but fully understandable based on his dinner comment.
Perhaps the most shameful "notice" was that of a small town mayor in California. At a busy city council meeting, Mayor Mario Hernandez suddenly announced to the crowd that he was having an affair with a councilwoman and explained that he was separated from his wife. He did this with his wife sitting in the first row of attendees.
Not surprisingly, Mayor Hernandez and his paramour quickly left the meeting together. A week later at the next San Fernando council meeting, 150 angry residents called for the mayor's resignation. His lover, councilwoman Maribel De La Torre, wisely stayed home that night.
Divorce can bring out the best and the worst in people. Don't forget the adage "You don't really know who you married until you divorce them."