Sad for Her and Me Both

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My wife and I have agreed to a divorce following years of living
together unhappily. The idea was hers, after what I thought was a
theoretical discussion about moving to Indiana (where her family is
from) or divorcing. It was a surprisingly easy choice. Since then I have
noticed that things that I was able to handle for decades but now
bother me increasingly seriously. The most notable: she drinks almost
a bottle of wine each night. I am always walking on eggshells about
when is a good time to bring up issues we need to resolve. I want to
tell her that her drinking is one of the big reasons why I am ready to
end a thirty-year marriage. But intuitively I think her response will not
be good. She has resisted the idea of couples or individual counseling
virtually annually. How and when do I tell her she should head to AA
before she destroys the rest of her life like she did our marriage?

Sad for Her and Me Both

Dear Sad:

Here’s the sad truth about people who need to change anything from
dinking to gambling: they do not stop because someone else says they
should. Perhaps a massive intervention with everyone in their lives
would have an impact. But your scenario, an about-to- be-ex about
whom she has at best ambivalent feelings will not be perceived as a
reliable source. It is very likely to make her if not outright hostile
towards you, at least a whole lot less likely to make the divorce
process as tolerable as it might otherwise be.

Trust your gut and zip your lips. When the ink is on the forms and they
are code legal you can say anything to her as a friend, or an ex, and
she will disregard it the same way she would if you said it now. But
you won’t have to suffer the massive unintended consequences of your
truth telling. The only caveat I would have would be this: if you would
want to live through the next several years of your life with her in AA,
you both in counseling (individually), and the marriage in couples
therapy, then put that on the table as an option to divorce. But be
forewarned, you will need to carefully weigh the chance to start your
own life over, albeit in your 50s, with the odds that you’ll be facing the
same prospect after the counseling process doesn’t work for her. If
she were coming to you with this plan I would argue to give it at least
a chance. But the way you are telling the story makes me pretty sure
that she’s happier with her bottle than with you.