Saturday, April 11, 2015

After Wife Leaves, Husband Discovers that Money Isn't Everything

Dear Tazi:

My wife has left me because she claims all I ever do is work. She never complained that all the hours I put in has provided her with a beautiful house, a nice car, private school for the children, a designer wardrobe, a membership at an exclusive country club, and a bevy of other benefits. I thought this was what she wanted, but she left me for some guy who lives on a boat and charters trips for guys like me. I am pretty sure this is how she met him, too.

“Patricia” is now living on this guy’s boat while the kids are away at boarding school and has filed for a divorce. She claims that she doesn’t want anything more than the dissolution of our marriage, that she is only asking for the house, her cars, custody of the children, the vacation home in the Caribbean, etc. because her attorney has told her she needs to ask for more and expect to get less; that the less she asks for the less she will actually get. Whatever. All I want is my wife back.

Patricia and I have not told the children that we have separated. Patricia wants to do it in person, when they come home for the summer; I want to have reconciled with her by then and to not have to tell them at all. I am a very successful businessman who has never ended up on the raw end of a deal – if I want something I make an offer generous enough to make sure it is accepted. Right now, I want my wife back.

I am considering offering this other guy a large sum of money to wait until Patricia gets off the boat to go grocery shopping and then sail away into the sunset and forget he ever met her, but that feels dirty. I want to win back my wife on fair terms. Patricia says the only way she will even consider trying to make things work between us is for me to stop working so much and start spending more time with her and the kids – which would mean resigning my position and taking a huge step down, pulling the kids from boarding school (for logistical and financial reasons, since I won’t be able to afford it anymore anyway), and selling off some of my stock portfolio to keep up with the expenses of our property holdings. I don’t think Patricia is seeing the big picture here. My best friend – the only one who knows what is going on – has told me to let her go and find myself a trophy girlfriend to help ease the pain, but Patricia is the only woman I want – she is my trophy; she stuck by me when I was just starting out…why would she leave me now?


Dear Perplexed:

You have given your wife and children everything you want them to have, but is it also what they would like to have? I was ready to toss your letter, unanswered, when I saw that you used the word “our” and not “my” to describe your property holdings. That little three-letter word holds a lot of meaning, and it tells me that you see your marriage as an equal partnership, even if you have not given your partner what she is truly seeking.

The time has come to have a sit-down with your wife and tell her exactly what you have told me: that spending more time with family would come at a large financial cost because it will mean stepping away from your lucrative job and cashing out some of your stocks. Tell her that the children will have to switch schools and board at home instead of away, and that your expenses will have to be reined in if the children want to graduate college debt free and the two of you want to have a secure retirement. The fact that your wife is willing to leave a mansion to go live on a boat tells me that she probably will not mind making these sacrifices. Will you? The answer to that question holds the key to reconciling your marital differences.

I recommend marital counseling for the two of you, and I hope that it is not too late to save your marriage. There is a lot of damage that you cannot see because you have not been around to witness it; you may be surprised to discover how lonely your wife is, and how bitter she is feeling towards you. For the sake of your children, the two of you need to set aside your anger and your hurt feelings and work hard on renewing your commitment to each other. Think of your marriage as a business deal, and make a generous offer of what your wife wants in order to seal the deal. Just be sure to ask her what she wants, rather than assuming to know.


P.S. Try watching the Michelle Pfeiffer-Bruce Willis movie The Story of Us for some insight into your situation; it’s got a great line at the end about how a married couple is not made up of a “you and me” but of an “us”.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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