where are they now: update #4 – the reader whose marital stress was impacting his work

Remember the reader who was struggling at work due to the stress caused by the break-up of his marriage? His estranged wife was still living in his house and he was driving her to and from work every day, and finding he couldn’t focus on his work. Here’s his update.

I am extremely grateful for your feedback — it’s made a difference in my life.

My wife is still living in the same house — there’s been no movement there. Since I wrote to you in September, I spent several more weekends greatly expanding my gathering of financial information, and ended up with 600 pages of bills over 4.5 years (that’s 1/3 of a CD full of page scans). I gave her a CD copy and mailed the other CD to my lawyer. No movement yet on negotiations.

The good news is that my work is starting to settle down. Instead of checking personal E-Mail every five minutes, I check it occasionally on my Blackberry. Since I’ve been on transit, my stress level (and commuting expenses) are down. I’m able to have a beer at the end of the day when I feel like it. And I’m on my own schedule, which is awesome.

The bad news is that there was a work production issue that was partially my fault, and I spent part of a week waiting for the call to a meeting that would conclude with me being marched out the door. I worked extremely hard to fix the mistake, and the storm blew over. Phew.

The thing is, my team still has a ton of work to do … so while I have had unproductive moments, I’m badly needed, and I’m good at what I do. And my team lead is in the loop about what’s going on. So I’m OK for now. And things will only get better when this thing gets resolved.

Finally (not really relevant to the whole job thing), I signed up for a dating site a few months back, marking myself as Married, but explaining that we were separated, blah blah blah .. and got a few nibbles, but a lot of women I heard from just weren’t interested in Some Guy Who Was Married With Some Story About Being Separated.

This weekend, I had a date, and she said, “Look, your ex (or Future Ex-Wife, as I’ve been calling her) spends her weekends with her Mother (in another town an hour’s drive away). She sleeps in the house during the week, travels to work by herself, and you’re paying 100% of the house expenses .. so you’re single. Change your profile.” So I did that, and felt like I’ve made a big step forward. And I’ve been seeing a lot more activity, which is gratifying. Good for my (somewhat reduced) ego.

So, this is more than ‘just a line about how you’re doing’, but you can easily reduce that to ‘Not out of the woods yet, but happily on the right path.’

{ 9 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I'm so happy that things are getting better!

    But as someone who online dates, it has to be said: at least TELL your prospective dates that you're married! maybe marking yourself down as single is appropriate, but you are still legally married, and potential dates 1) have the right to know that when deciding whether to date you adn 2) it will save you from the awkward moment when you have to tell them later and they get very, very upset.

  2. Jamie*

    Between this and comments from another recent post about personal issues in the work place I'm starting to wonder if there's something wrong with me.

    Like everyone I've had personal issues in the past – but work is the best place in the world to get a respite from emotional turmoil. Channel that energy into work and it can improve performance.

    I thought most people compartmentalized between work and home life, but in reading some comments I guess that's not as common as I thought.

    I think everyone should just drop their personal issues at the door when they get to the office.

    Okay, I am officially the grinchiest person in the work and possibly a sociopath…but it works for me.

  3. Anonymous*

    I have to say, I was with you until you decided to lie online that you were single. Just as your last date found no problem dating a married man, there will be other women who will.

    I know breaking up can be tough. But you have to realize, many women don't want the drama of dating a married guy even if he is almost single. Be honest or you're going to find yourself in a tough spot when the woman you're dating finds out you lied to her.

    As Anonymous 10:03AM said…women have a right to know the guy they are meeting is actually married but feels single.

  4. Anonymous*

    Jamie – you're not a sociopath, but not everyone is wired that way. I wish more people were.

    I've had co-workers in the past who are dissatisfied at home AND dissatisfied at work. They're not able to separate the two, and often view work problems as an extension of their home problems. (Not saying that's the case with the OP, but definitely was the case with a problem co-worker of mine just a few years ago.)

    If you like your job, or are able to whip your work ethic into shape to do your (disliked) job with honor and professionalism, it's more likely to lift you out of your home funk.

  5. Ask a Manager*

    I have zero expertise in this, but I think what really matters is that you tell women in the first or second contact that you're in the process of divorcing. Don't wait until you're already out on a date with them — a lot of women will (rightfully) feel misled if you wait until that point.

    But you ARE "in the process of divorcing," which I think sounds more concrete than if you just say "separated."

  6. Jamie*

    Anonymous 11:50 – I've also worked with people who were a mess at both work and home – it makes it really tough to manage a project when there are emotional forces at play beyond what you can control.

    This may be why I like a fairly long commute. In a weird way if I have a half hour to an hour from home to work (and vis versa) it's a seamless transition.

  7. Lisa*

    I see a number of others have latched onto the same (non-work) bit of the post I have, about the online dating profile! Good for the OP for having things on the way to being sorted out, but speaking as an online dater, for me the relevant piece of info meaning he shouldn't put 'single' is that the soon-to-be-ex-wife is still living in the same house (even if she's not there weekends). It's very nice that he's getting more attention by putting single, but the reason for that is that women who don't want the hassle of dating a man whose wife is still around (even in nearly-ex capacity) have been sensibly self-selecting themselves out – isn't it more depressing to lose something that's started because you weren't upfront than for something to never start?

  8. Kay*

    Jamie, you're not the norm, but you are definitely not alone. I try my hardest to separate the two, and I like it that way! It's hard for someone like me to work with people who really, really integrate these parts of their lives.

    I think it's one thing to have a bad day here or there because of emotional strain at home, and, to me, the OP originally just sounded like he was having a really bad year. I have co-workers (and a boss!) who use work as their outlet for nasty home stuff and it sucks.

  9. Anonymous*

    I'm the original reader in this post.

    I was with you until you decided to lie online that you were single.

    Interestingly, I just came back from a date with a woman who lists herself on this site as single. Her situation is similar to mine — her common-law husband left her over a year ago and promptly turned around and sued her.

    Legally, neither of us is single. But tonight I made a point to explain my situation, and she explained hers, and we're both fine with it. We both understand that in this context, single means Not Emotionally Attached, regardless of what's technically correct.

    I refuse to let my ex-wife's reluctance to reasonably negotiate a separation agreement hold me back from living my life.

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