Separation before divorce takes a long time, especially if the couple is trying to work things out. Six months after Bob moved out, I began to realize that he was more distant from me than ever. If it hadn't been for therapy, he would have completely disappeared from my life.
He was very cagey about his complete absence, telling me he was busy. I learned much later that he was going to our lake property and dating our realtor, and visiting his brother and sister, looking for women to date among their friends. In fact he found his new wife through his sister that summer.
I only sensed something was different, but couldn't put my fingers on it. Besides, I had my own issues. It had been months since I'd had sex, and I was a healthy and good looking woman. And as I lost weight, I began to look better and better. I was also taking great pains to look good, especially with my hair and makeup.
So the irony was that while I felt so lousy inside and cried for hours at a time, men were beginning to notice me again. And so I contemplated the idea of dating. I was still shopping for lawyers (we'll pursue this subject later) and I brought the subject up to one. She immediately became alarmed and told me not to date anyone until the divorce papers were signed.
"Why?" I asked, puzzled. "My husband abandoned me and the marriage. It's not like I chose to be in this situation."
"Because," she explained patiently, "you would be legally regarded as having been unfaithful and in an adulterous relationship. If he found out, it would affect the amount of the settlement."
"What if I just went out with a man and not had sex? What if my husband was already dating?"
She shook her head no and cautioned me against taking this step and putting myself in a precarious legal position. So, if you're thinking about dating, but you are having problems coming to a financial agreement, and if things are becoming heated and complicated, hold off.
My male pen pal from New Zealand sent my dog a get well card after he'd been hit by a car. My doggie and Bob shared the same initials. The card was inadvertently delivered to my husband's apartment. That mistake cost tens of thousands of dollars. So the advice that lawyer had given me was correct: dating or even the perception of adultery can cost you a bundle before your divorce becomes final. If you can wait, do it. If you can't, understand there might be repercussions.