This is Hell
Time for a divorce after 26 years?
I've been married for 26 years to my husband who is a serial cheater. My husband even left me on Christmas to go skiing with his girlfriend.
Do I stay in this hell-hole of a marriage because I'm more financially stable this way?
Or do I risk poverty to divorce him and finally (hopefully) achieve some peace of mind? (Our kids are 19 and 24, by the way, so there won't be any custody battles).
This is Hell
Dear This is Hell,
In this case, listen to the dying. You are far from the first person who feels trapped in a marriage that feels like hell. For decades, Stephen and Ondrea Levine worked with people on their deathbeds and they always asked what their biggest regrets in life were as part of their work.
One of the top three deathbed regrets was dying people wishing they had gotten divorced sooner.
There is a simple and practical reason divorce is likely to feel more like liberation than failure for you. Marriage and long term partnerships boil down to huge quantities of time with the same person. Even if you spend little quality time with each other any more, you are constantly sharing space and getting angry. Every hour of your life is precious and limited and you are giving them to someone who makes you unhappy and who you likely make unhappy as well.
Let go. The people who wished they had gotten divorced sooner also had all the logistical and financial difficulties that are part of divorce and they didn’t regret them. Do it right. Get a lawyer and stand up for your interests. But let go and get out.
If you won't divorce him, then let go of your desire for monogamy. To stay with this man and find some happiness, you’d have to enthusiastically embrace a polyamorous relationship model and do the work of researching how to do so happily and ethically.
It would be an experiment to see if he and you are capable of a happy marriage in a new model. It too is likely to fail after such a long and unhappy history. Nothing about it may match your values today so you’d have to let them go and find new ones. You’d have to forgive him. You’d have to discover if you enjoy dating while also pursuing happiness with your husband. Your friends and family might be shocked at your new arrangements. He may also find new ways to break trust. It would be a bold adventure if you are up for it and the high risk of failure would have to be part of the fun.
Whatever you do, staying while nursing resentments about his affairs is the terrible choice to stop making today. You have described your situation as hell. Find your way out without delay.