Why Won’t He Take Steps To Finalize His Divorce?

I have been with someone for six months. He and I are very compatible and have a great time together. He has two kids who I’ve grown to adore. The only problem is that he’s still married. 

He’s been separated from her for three years (she cheated on him). He wants a divorce from her and she’s a massive pain to him, but he just won’t take the steps to begin his divorce. Until recently, he was still paying her bills on top of his own (she refuses to get a job because she’s a “musician.”) She has custody of the kids and all he can talk about is getting custody of them, but I can’t get him to begin to take the steps he needs to go through to get to what he wants.

On top of this, any time I bring it up, he accuses me of being worried he wants to go back to his wife. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I just want him to be happy and it is obvious to me that he’s not happy in his current situation. Please help me. I love my boyfriend and he loves me. I love his children. I just want him to take the steps towards being legally separated from her. -Caitlin

There’s absolutely nothing preventing your boyfriend from getting a divorce.

Your question reminds me of one I got a year ago, in which a man wrote in that his girlfriend wanted him to get a divorce, but he wouldn’t because he was on his wife’s healthcare. In that instance, I sided with him. He was clearly in love, but he was caught between a rock and a hard place, because getting married would cost him tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

It was one of the rare instances in which the majority of my readers disagreed with me. And while I haven’t changed my position one bit, it’s always stuck in my craw that I couldn’t get more people to see his point of view.

And that’s why I chose your dilemma, Caitlin. Because while your situation is similar, there’s a very important distinction that tilts my sympathies in your favor:

There’s absolutely nothing preventing your boyfriend from getting a divorce.

In the previous case, a divorce wouldn’t benefit the man at all. In your case, a divorce would free him officially from his ex and allow him to start over with a clean slate.

So that begs the question: why would a man who has been separated for three years from the wife who cheated on him NOT want to divorce her?

Beats the hell out of me.

Which is why your question is better directed towards HIM than yours truly.

I can’t omnisciently declare what’s going through the minds of all men, especially when it’s not clearly rational.

The best source of clarity, therefore, would be your boyfriend.

When he says, “You’re afraid I’m going back to my ex,” and you say, “No, I’m not. I’m afraid that if you never get divorced, we’re never going to get married,” you’ve ended his false line of reasoning and put the ball back in his court.

Now, instead of letting him wiggle out of it with another non-answer, nail him down and get an answer to the following $64,000 question:

I can’t omnisciently declare what’s going through the minds of all men, especially when it’s not clearly rational.

“Why don’t you initiate divorce proceedings and get legal shared custody of the kids? What’s holding you back?”

You may learn that he’s financially dependent upon her.

You may learn that he still hopes to get back together one day.

You may learn that a divorce will cost him a lot more money in alimony than he wants to pay.

You may learn that the status quo is fine and that a divorce may hurt the amount of time he has with the kids.

Or you may just realize that he’s a doormat – a man who is willing to pay the bills for his cheating ex-wife and play entirely on her terms.

No matter what you learn, Caitlin, at least you’ll get some clarity moving forward.

And if marriage is your endgame and he’s not playing, it’s time to walk.


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  1. 61

    I appreciate all the comments on here and i can feel the pain thru the words.  I have reached a point to finally say enough is enough.   I would rather be alone than in a dysfunctional family that can and do only care about their selfish wants.  I gave to no end only to my loss and their gain.  Its an eyeopener to see how very self centered people can be and its disheartening.  I am going to force my heart to close the book and hope a brighter path awaits.   Best of everyfhing to all the good women out there that allow their lives to be lovingly strung along for the sake of hoping that this is it. I unfortunately have learned that you will never be puf first with a married man who lacks the courage to end it. It will take a toll on you physically, mmentally and possibly financially while you enable his family to reap from what you sow. 

  2. 62
    Jenna Vincent

    I was in a relationship with a married man for two years. Just recently, it all came to a head and we haven’t spoken In two weeks. He just pulled away with no explanation and attempted to contact me only once with a half assed apology. He is married, he will never leave his wife, and you will always get the short end of the stick. Please, I beg you, leave him before he breaks your heart, bc trust me honey, it’s inevitably going to happen. You deserve to be a wife, not a mistress.

  3. 63

    I have been with my boyfriend for just over two years and he is still married. They have been separated for almost 7 years and she is currently in jail. He has full custody of his two kids, whom I am helping to raise. It hurts me every day that he wont get a divorce. Where i live, it costs $200 to file for divorce. We do not have a lot of money, but I’ve told him we can save up and get it all done with but he says we cant. He claims he wants to marry me and start a family and i want that too as i love him very much, but its just getting harder and harder to believe he really loves me. 

  4. 64

    I have been in a relationship with a married man for 2 years now. He wasnt honest about being married at first but then after he told me he said they were going through a divorce which he could never could furnish any type of paperwork to prove so and there was no records on file either…he made it like he had custody of his kids and she lived elsewhere well come to find out a year and a half into the relationship they still resided in the house together (I lived 3 hours away)…after quite a few red flags I knocked on his door and found out she was still living in the house…big confrontation…found out they apparently are trying to divorce but for whatever reason nothing has been filed….he has since moved out but still will not be clear on whats going on with the divorce…he says he filed a dissolution but never shows me any paperwork….he has been throwing smokescreens to keep me from leaving even went as far as creating a fake divorce decree…has made it a very intolerable situation for me and tired of the BS. 

    1. 64.1

      why on earth have you not dumped this guy?  He lies to you, plays games with you, refuses to give you direct answers…  Is that the kind of person you want to build a life with?

  5. 65

    Thats a good question, still looking for the answer myself… but no, thats not the type of person I want to build a life with.

  6. 66

    Never get involved with a married man. Separated or Not. The minute you find out that he is married turn around go the other way, quickly!

  7. 67

    I met a guy One night while I was out with my male cousin. The guy kept asking is that you boyfriend, once I introduced them it was fine. Anyways so he asked for my number and asked me out the next day I delayed it for A few day. He seemed to be  perfect out the military, worked for homeland security..had his own apt with roommates!! Well let’s get to the real deal.. I always said this guy is too perfect something is not right .. I found him to be shady .. he was hungry for my attention daily. And I was away in the hamptons a lot.. So once I was home he chased me day after day. Blowing up my phone any chance he got.
    He invited me to go out one night for drinks with his marine buddy .. After I had maybe 3/4 drinks.. His busy pulled me aside and said oh we need to talk.. I said ok.. It turns out he is married and has 2 small kids that lives in Florida. He is still 1000% legally married and talks to her daily ame she calls and says oh the kids need so he spends. But is cheap with me. 
    Anyway I said so are you getting divorced he said yes. This was July.. I asked every month what are you doing? He said in November that he did not want to file it because his wife bday was coming up and did not want to upset her. I said go to hell! He said he will file it which I never saw proof. But his roommates were his wife’s cousins and made me look like a fool he lied to me about that too. I honestly tried and he continued to lie.. And now I’m December he goes to FL to see them and I went we stayed @ my brothers home.. I spent Xmas alone because he was with his wife, her mom and his kids. And left me 2 hours away @ my brothers. That entire week I had to deal with that shit. He was so disrespectful. 

    Once we came back to NY he did nothing to move the divorce ffwd.. And I said do it or I’m gone.. He did nothing.. I got fed up & left his ass. Honestly if they are married leave it along and find another man that is single. I was married but once I knew it was not working I got divorced. 
    He tried to fill my head with you are wife material, I want to have a baby with you.. Oh I’m going to marry you. Don’t fall for that!! It’s a pack of lies.
    now he texted me last night that he loves me. I did not even Reply. The mistake he made was lying and now I just don’t care. 


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