What Jameson1977 shares is true.
I had started writing a post for this thread about focus. There has been so much emphasis on how miserable your wife will eventually be and how you can find comfort in that. Personally, I don’t see any future benefit for you in her happiness OR unhappiness.
Your future happiness should not be based on what your wife is doing, once she is no longer your wife.
It’s been a VERY long time since I walked in on my fiancé and OM. Like a lifetime ago. I lost all contact with her about 3-4 years after d-day and haven’t seen her in person for about three decades. Wouldn’t recognize her if I saw her.
I would occasionally run into her dad (my father-in-law never to be and a wonderful and good man) maybe once every 6-8 years until he passed away some years ago. Last time we met he mentioned her and the sorry state she was in. I felt pity, and a sense of how great potential for a good life (with or without me) had been squandered. That evening – when I went to bed – I didn’t feel better, vindicated or expect a prize for winning infidelity. I just felt sad that a fellow human-being that I had once cared so much for had made choices in her life that led her down a road of misery.
Had he shared that she hooked up with OM, married him, had a house by the lake, six kids all with degrees and successful careers and winning Nobels, a dozen grandkids, a BMW and a summer house in Italy… I don’t think I would have been unhappier at the end of that day. My life and the quality of my life is not dependent on the happiness of misery of those that are outside my circle.
What’s happening now is not your choice. It was never your intention that this marriage wouldn’t last and you probably envisioned retiring with your wife, playing golf, fishing, moving to Florida or whatever. Now your whole future has been changed…
There is still a future though, only it isn’t as you envisioned it some months ago. Changed does not have to equate to worse.
However – it is what it is. You aren’t divorcing your wife out of your preferred choice. It’s not what you envisioned or even wanted. But its inevitable given the circumstances. You are divorcing her because she moved out to another man, professed her love for him and how she hadn’t been happy with you. You are divorcing because the options she’s offering make divorce the only logical choice.
Once divorced you work at distancing yourself from her rather than focusing on how she’s managing life. For all you know she and OM can be totally happy, well off and all that. For all you know OM might be invited to the family Thanksgiving dinner at her parents, the one you used to attend. Your happiness should NOT be dependent on what she does or does not do.
It’s like if you came home to your house on fire. You wouldn’t hesitate on taking action rather than just hope the fire will go out by itself. You would call 911, get help, save what can be saved, maybe take the garden-hose to the flames… Later – once the crisis per se is over – you would check if rebuilding is possible, minimize the financial damage and try to learn what caused the flames. You start by addressing the prime problem, and then handle the consequences and sequential issues. At the moment it’s seemingly clear that there will be no rebuilding of the old house, and you move on to a new place.
You would find little comfort in discovering your wife’s possessions were more damaged, or that the neighbors house burned down too.
Focus on the divorce. Focus on making it as fair as your conscience requires. Keep in mind that what you want out of it is partially controlled by law. I have suggested you look into if infidelity affects divorce in your state; there are still a few where it can impact factors like spousal support.
I have a friend who is a family attorney. He stated that about 60-80% of the cost of divorce is often focused on maybe 20% of the real value. Like people will argue about a possession worth 100 spending 1000 in legal fees. He also stated that as a rule attorneys can tell you with uncanny certainty what the financial outcome will be once they have all the information required.
You mention your 401k… If you are the typical family-unit then MAYBE (as the law sees it) the reason yours is higher is because she took years off work to raise the kids. That in turn created an environment where you could work more, climb the corporate ladder and all that. The law simplifies things by generally evaluating all financial acquisitions (and debt) in marriage as joint, irrespective of who broke sweat to create the income. (Keep in mind the absolute worst advice to follow on SI is legal advice. This could be totally different in your state, but this is a very general and widespread POV).
If you don’t agree with the law then go sign a petition or write your local politician a letter. But don’t expect the judge to use anything other than the law as it’s presented and has been applied so far.
I’m not suggesting you give her half of yours, but MAYBE your best (and cheapest) option might be to agree to her getting more equity in the house in lieu of the 401K. You can calculate it to your advantage; for example, if she was demanding 100k of your 401k and there are still 10 years until you are eligible to withdraw without tax or penalty it might equate to 60k after taxes and penalties. Since it’s paid up-front instead of 10 years down the road it might even equate to 30k… It’s basically a comparable calculation lottery winners are faced with when deciding on a lump-sum. Or if there is something she values then let her take that at full value in lieu of any claim she might have to the 401k. Basically – make it non-personal and be result-driven.
[This message edited by Bigger at 4:19 PM, Thursday, July 14th]