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M.D., The Divorce Coach
Dear Divorce Coach:

I've been dating a great man for about 2 months. We hit it off quickly and have even been on an "I love you" level. He has repeatedly told me how perfect I am for him and has hinted at long term plans for us such as living together. The issue is that he is in the middle of a divorce with a woman who is trying to take him to the cleaners monetarily. He's really stressed out and broke (because she closed their joint savings account and took his share of the money). He has cried twice to me while discussing whats going on.

The problem is, despite what he says, I feel like I don't have a place in his life. His lawyer advised him to keep me "on the down low". Even though Colorado is a "no fault" state, they think it will make things harder for him if his ex and her family know I exist. Needless to say, his family, and children don't even know about me. So I am constantly competing for time with his work, his family, his friends, and his children. It seems like 80-90% of the time I see him, its in the middle of the night when he gets off work. In two months we have been to dinner once and to one movie. This is the real kicker....the last two time I saw him, he had his wedding band on. When he noticed, he took it off. He said his oldest daughter was going through an "angry stage" and insisted he wear it. The first time I let it go but the second time I told him that was ridiculous. I told him he needed to help his kids constructively get through this and not put some "bandaid" on it when he's with him. I let him know this really bothered me. I asked him if he was going to continue to wear it around his kids and he said "probably" until his divorce is final. What do you think about all this? I know he's going through a really hard time, but I feel like I am getting short changed.



Dear Margaret in Colorado:

There once was a man who loved to explore caves. He spent most of his spare time hiking and climbing searching out and exploring caves of all kinds, it was his passion. One day, he came upon an intriguing cave and was determined to explore it for the day. He pulled out his flashlight and approached with excitement. As he approached the entrance, he was jolted by fear as he nearly walked into a congregation of snakes at the opening to this cave. His instinct was to flea, and he stepped back a few paces, and nearly ran-dropping his flashlight. But, he stopped himself. He stared at the snakes, his heart pounding-adrenaline soaring. He cleared his throat and attempted to slow his rapid heart. He convinced himself that the excitement of exploring the cave was the source of his surging cardiac rate and adrenaline high. So, he stepped around the snakes and slipped into the cave from the far edge of the entryway without his flashlight. Within minutes he came screaming and stumbling out of the cave with multiple bites on his legs. He was stunned that he'd been bitten by dozens of snakes living in the cave. He fell to the ground and never again rose to explore another cave. The moral of the story- Pay attention to your instincts, until they prove false.

I sense a lot of emotion in your email. The fact that the two of you are using the "L" word suggests high intensity. The reality is, the first relationship following a divorce typically fails. The reasons are obvious to most of us, but when caught up in the emotion of a new relationship, it is often impossible to be rational. That's especially true for a person in the middle of a divorce. His wearing of his wedding ring and tearfulness are not abnormal, but it may be the equivalent of the snakes at the cave entrance. As for his daughter's anger, I would caution that this is likely just the beginning, especially after she learns of your relationship with her father. You seem to be a very intelligent woman, and while reading your email, I was struck by the obvious. You already know the answer to your questions. I'm sure he's wonderful person, but you have to follow your instincts with this one. The chances of a relationship surviving this, are slim. And even if it does survive well into a marriage, the financial considerations are significant. Enjoy your time with your boyfriend, but you already know without my advice that this will be a long and winding road. Make the choice that you know is best for you and don't allow yourself to be someone else's "Band-Aid." M.D., The Divorce Coach

M.D., The Divorce Coach

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