Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I was married for twenty-eight years. I had the same job for the last
twenty-four of those years. During that time my relationship declined
systematically. My wife blamed my job. I blamed her drinking and
addiction to pills. She was right that during that time I gave much too
much to the job. I gave up half my weekends and vacations whenever
there were unpredictable deadlines—read regularly. I had various
health problems that all boiled down to “stress.” I missed family
events and trips, and yes I tended to put the relationship in second
place behind the job. But I needed it to support us, including two
moves for jobs she thought would make her happier. (My employer
graciously let me telecommute long before such things were
commonplace.) We have been separated for two years but haven’t
made much progress towards a divorce. She moved out of state for a
job (leaving one that paid well and where she had lots of security).
I’ve been soldiering on doing my thing at work and trying to figure out
how to move from being separate to becoming exes. Now I am finally
ready to date and realize that I want more freedom from the job (No
more nights and weekends! I’ve had it!) and from her (No more
stalling! Let’s lawyer up and settle up!). The fact that I’ve met
someone who could be very special helps, but it’s more than that.
Dear Time’s Up!:
You convinced me!!
You don’t say what you do for a living, but I’m betting it is a
professional job with deadlines that are imposed on you by others,
usually without enough warning. That’s not to say everyone should
just roll over and have no boundaries between their personal and
professional lives. In fact, one should not. Life and death, yes. But
short of that, my diagnosis is that you’ve been a shlubb too long and I
applaud your desire to change.
Whether or not your marriage would have imploded with a different
job, no one will ever know. But you do have a choice to make about
how you want to live the rest of your working years. Say it with me:
Work is not life. Life is not work. If you want a recipe for starting anew
relationship off on the wrong foot, keep doing what you’ve been doing.
If you want to give it a fighting chance, go in and tell your boss, My
doctor says I need to change how I’m living or I’m going to die of
stress. The good news is that no one can give you the same kind of
hard time over a health issue that they can over dating. Your
communication to your soon-to- be-ex wife also should not involve your
social life. Instead, it should be, It’s time. Let’s do this. If the new
girlfriend sticks with you through the transitions, you’ll have found
someone worth investing in.