Is it wrong to divorce my disabled husband? | LDS woman ask Dr. John Delony

Is it wrong to divorce my disabled husband? | LDS woman asks Dr. John Delony



Right, let’s go out to Denver, Colorado and talk to the great Diane. What’s up, Diane?

Hey, John Delony.

How are you? I’m so good. How about you? Good.

What’s up? I have got a moral, ethical dilemma going on in my personal life. I have a son-in-law and daughter who listened to me frequently, and he said, You know who you need to ask is Dr. John Delony.

Here we are.

Here we are. I’m not a.

Very moral or ethical person, just so you know.

Well, I have listened to you enough to know that is not true. I’m going to lay it all out there. It’s a long story. I’m going to make it as brief as I can because-.

Go for it.

-it’s been a long few years. Go for it. Five years ago, first of all, I’m 49 years old. I am married for 30 years to just the most amazing man. We have eight incredible kids. Five years ago, we took the kids up to the mountains about 3 hours away from home, went mountain biking, and he was in. He crashed his bike, very, very severely suffered a traumatic brain injury that almost killed him. We spent two months in local hospitals, five brain surgeries, had half of his skull removed, coma, all the everything just horrible couple of months. He regained consciousness enough that they accepted him to a rehab hospital eight hours away. They said for two months, we’ll do rehab and do the best that we can. I packed up, left my kids with family members, and I went to this rehab hospital for two months. That two-month stay, due to a very serious stroke and seizures, turned into a seven-month stay, and we finally got to go home. He came home with a trait in, a feeding tube in his stomach. I had to learn how to put a catheter in. I learned how to take care of him so we could bring him home.

I had so much faith, John, the whole time he would be healed. I knew it. I’m a religious person, and we had so much faith, and we worked so hard. I knew he would get better, at least better enough that we could carry on a conversation with him. He would be somewhat himself. Over the next two years of having him at home, it was a lot of work, and he just never really got better. He did learn to walk again. We taught him to walk. But ultimately, his injuries are… He lost hearing. He’s completely deaf, and he has no short-term memory, so we can’t even teach him sign language because he can’t learn new things. He knows my kids. He knows anything that happened 10 years ago or more, but anything that’s happened about two years before the accident and anything current, he has no idea. He doesn’t remember he’s had three kids get married. He has grandkids. I have an eight-year-old. He was our surprise baby, and he knows that he has an eight-year-old but doesn’t really know him. He forgets their name sometimes. He has no concept of space or time or age or distance.

All of that part of his brain was damaged. Two years ago, I decided for the sake of my kid’s lives, moving on in mind that I needed to put him into a facility. He’s in an assisted living facility just a few miles from home. We go see him all the time. A couple of months after we put him in that facility, we made some medical decisions, decided it was time to let him go. We put him on hospice and thought the time would come that he would pass. It’s been almost two years, and despite all medical, odd, science, everything, he’s still with us. Pretty much no quality of life. We’ve prepared ourselves to let him go so many times when it looked like everything was heading that direction, and he’s still with us. It’s just been so hard to know how to move on. Through this process, I got my master’s degree and I went back to school. I was recently become an LCPC, so I’m able to work now and provide for my family. My question is, sorry that took so long, but here’s my question.

Hold on, before I ask you a question. Okay. Can I just sit with you in that for a minute?


That’s so much.

It’s a lot. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I know. This could be a whole Hollywood movie that would last 10 hours.

My oldest best friend on planet Earth is a traumatic brain survivor. And when I’m with him now and we go out, I stuff to help him go to the bathroom, stuff to have people take care of him and help him. I can’t imagine going up 100X that with building a life with somebody because it changes everything, right?


Man. It changes the way you breathe. Yep. My guess is, as a mom of eight, you’ve been solving and fixing for five years.

Yeah, I have been.

Then you went and got a freaking master’s degree at some point. I know. Have you exhaled?

You know, after about year one, I did, and I still had so much hope and so much faith, and we would work with him every day, work on walking, work on brain stuff. Don’t let him just sit in front of the TV. We got to work with him. It’s going to get better. It’s going to get better. Then after about year three, I just really had to shift my thinking that this isn’t going to turn out how I thought it would. We’ve come to peace with it. In fact, we came to so much peace with him passing. That is what we’ve been praying for the last two years, that it would be better for him. You talk about your friend and how that is with him. My husband is the same way. He would be humiliated to see what he has become. This is not what he would want. This is not the life. If he had his rights and he would say, Why didn’t you just let me go three years ago? Why did you keep me alive? I listen to your last call and it breaks my heart the loss that she feels.

Do you know what I’m thinking is, why can’t I be one of the people whose husbands get to pass. I’m in a position where I’m jealous of women whose husbands just get to go peacefully and don’t have to live through this pain and agony that my family lives through every day.

I’m so sorry. Yeah, sorry. Because you’re right. It’s been hard. You’re right. Hold on, you don’t have to make me feel better. You do that too much to everybody around you. When you finally get a glimpse, they finally get a little peek behind the curtain and they realize how much you’re hurting, you have become so accustomed to making sure everybody around you feels okay. At least for these few minutes, that’s not your job with me. I get to be sad that in the effort to save somebody’s life, yet again, we got so sophisticated with our medical care that we have put families in these positions. I’m sorry. What’s your dilemma question?

Recently, one of my husband’s old friends that I didn’t know before we knew each other reached out. I had a carrying Bridge account. Facebook, I would keep friends and family up to date, and I haven’t posted anything for a really long time. He just reached out, said, How is he doing? How’s the family doing? I responded, and we up this friendship.

No, Diane.

No, no, no, listen. It did not go where you think it’s going. That’s my dilemma. But it was just nice. It was awesome. It was nice to have somebody talk to me on that level. It was nice to have somebody check in at night saying, How are you doing? He’s divorced, so he’s single, but I’m married. I promise you it has not gone anywhere. You know what I mean? It just- Listen.

Tip it to me. Listen to me. You’re not crazy. You’re not a bad person.



My question. It’s a dozy.

There’s no dozies on the show. Go for it.

I am considering getting a divorce so that I can move on with my life.


With my relationship with my husband would change. One thing I didn’t say about his personality is he’s very apathetic. He doesn’t care about anything. I walk in, he smiles at me. I could tell him his kids took his truck and wrecked it or whatever, that he wouldn’t care. He isn’t capable of caring about anything. We go see him. It’s mostly for us. He doesn’t remember. He doesn’t really care. Just this little encounter I’ve had with this man-.

It made you feel alive again.

-made me start to really question- You made me start to really question. Yeah, absolutely. Would it be so bad if I divorced him just for the sake of getting my feet out of the concrete? I feel like I’m stuck in and start to imagine a future because for so long we thought, He’s going to pass any day, any day, any day, any day, and we’ve lived thinking he’s going to pass. Now I’m thinking he could live another 10 or 20 years. His heart and lungs are pretty dang good. His brain is pretty shot. But he could live a long time like this. What does that mean for me and my kids?

It sounds like in all of the… If I was to distill down. Well, let me say this. I want to be careful how I do this because I don’t want anyone listening to this to think this is the right path for somebody who’s having this conversation. I am collapsing what would be a long time of you and I getting to know each other and hanging out and me getting to hear all the stories and developing a relationship with you before I started asking you these questions. You know more than anybody else listening how awful and thoughtless and dumb and just stitched into pillows, the sayings you get lobbed at you all the time. You’ve got that for five years. Right. I don’t want to contribute to that. But at the same time, for the sake of this, I’ve got to expedite a lot of this, okay? Sure. This is just you and me, same side of the booth, just figuring this out, okay? Actually, I’m not really the same side of the booth guy. We’re looking across from the booth at each other. It sounds like through all of your prayers, the chief prayer overall has been, I want this to be exactly as I want it.

I want this to the outcome of this to be exactly what I want it to be. I’ve done this. Praying for someone that I love to go ahead and pass, and then they don’t. Then I have the guilt that I prayed for them to die.


I can’t breathe. Then I go through these like, Well, I guess they’re here to teach me something, as though that’s their job. It never stops. It never stops.

Right. Something I’m supposed to get out of this. There’s still something I’m supposed to learn. That’s right.

I guess you said it best earlier. There’s a coming to terms with the fact that all the things you’ve prayed for the last five years, many of them have come true. They just haven’t come true in the ways that you wanted them to.


And the great challenge of just being alive is dealing with that gap of what we wanted versus what we get. What I thought this would look like versus reality. And that’s the worst. That’s grief. That’s the black hole. Going back to what you said, this is for you. I would suggest you’re not crazy. I can’t imagine how alive you must feel to have somebody check in on you, who also might be a little bit cute.


Cannot imagine how lonely it is not being intimate with somebody when they’re right there. All of it. But just from the few minutes I’ve heard you on the phone, I’m trying to project out a year from now. Would you be able to breathe? This isn’t a judgment question at all. This is a curious question. This is me just asking Diane.

If I were to divorce him, would I be able to breathe? Is that what you’re asking me? I think I would. I don’t foresee that me getting a divorce would change anything with him. I would still-.

Has nothing to do with him. It has to do with you saying for sickness and in health.


I know he won’t know up from down day one from day seven. He won’t know. You will. As terms of your covenant, like this idea, and again, I use that word intentionally, and I’m not even using it in a religious context. I’m just saying there’s so few forevers anymore in our culture. If you say, No, I’m in forever, and then I don’t have to look, Diane, in the mirror. You do. If it’s like, Yeah, I’ve done my duty, and if my husband was alive today, nobody knows him like me, it’s been 30 years together, he would be saying, What are you doing? Go hook up with one of my greatest friends. Yes, at least you’d be taken care of.


If you say, I’m going to figure out how to feel alive and be alive inside of the parameters, lifeinside of this deck of card, this hand of card that life has dealt with me, because I said forever. I guess at the end of the day, I can’t let you off the hook either way.


I can tell you what I would do, but I don’t think that’s helpful here. I can also tell you, telling you what I would do right now on this side of this thing actually happening probably isn’t even true.

Yeah, this is not something I… In fact, people started asking me early on, have you thought about divorcing him? I just was like, Absolutely not. That is a ridiculous idea, and it’s just been long enough. I know if the roles were reversed, knowing what I know now, I would tell him, go find somebody. Go find somebody to be with and be happy with. And one thing, I am a religious person. I’ve talked a lot about prayer and faith. My religion, my husband and I were married in our temple, and we were married for what we call time and all eternity. One thing I know is if I were divorced from him, it would separate us for this life. But I know and fully intend on living with him in the next life forever. I know that that’s something in my religion that some man would be very cautious to evendate me, knowing that I have been sealed to my husband, because that would mean that whatever marriage we have here would not extend beyond this life, if that makes sense. Just as a frame of reference for where I am at.

Sure. I don’t have any reference point for your religious background, but I would say, based on what you just said, if this is a cosmic linkage, if this is a forever together, what’s the rush? If you truly believe that.

I do. I know everything is going to work out. I know God’s got a plan, and in the end, it’s going to.

Be- But you don’t like his plan.

I don’t like it. You don’t like it. I can’t help but think with 30 more years in me in this life, what it is this idea of finding somebody to have some companionship with for the next 20, 30 years. I know where. I can tell what you’re thinking and then pointing it. Can you tell that?

Yeah, you don’t know what I’m thinking. You don’t know what I’m thinking. I’m thinking how hard this is. I’m trying to think.

Ultimately, my biggest, I’ve got an eight-year-old, like I said, my next oldest is 16, and I’ve got older kids out of the house. He is my biggest concern at this point, is this eight-year-old that I have still at home. In no way would I ever do anything that would make life harder for him or jeopardize my relationship with him, for sure.

Again, not a judgment question, but just a question, curiosity question.


You be showing that eight-year-old that there is a boundary to forever? There comes a day when mom moves on. What do you think?

I don’t know if that’s the truthful one.

I’m not going to give you the satisfaction of telling you what I.

Really think. Just give me permission, John. I’m not giving you a chance. Just tell me what I want to hear. Nobody ever does.

Listen, no. I hear a woman who deeply loves her husband.


Hear a woman who has not yet opened her hands up to the fact that you can’t control any of this. Every step of the way, you’re continuing to control, continuing to try to control, continuing to try to control, even to the point that you got everybody together to plan for the end that you don’t get to decide. There’s no possible way I’m going to sit in judgment of you on any decision that you make. I do believe that you get to choose to feel alive and to be alive in whatever context you find. I also believe that for sickness and in health and covenant, I don’t know, still means something.

I’m trying to think of what my life would be like dating Diane, who’s like, No, I still love this guy. I’m linked cosmically forever to this guy. I’m still going to go take care of him every week. I just needed some cover so you and I could hook up.


Are certainly men that will take you up on that.

I’ve talked to a couple of friends, and that’s what I said. Say, I go ahead and do this. What guy in his right mind?

There’ll be a line of them, Diane. There’s a bunch of just- Take that on. -shady people out there. No, they’ll be there. They’ll be there. They’ll be there, no question. But it all comes back to you. It comes back to you. Just talking to you, you’re exhausted. Every plan you’ve made along the way for the last five years has not worked out as you wanted it to. Your next option to try to control what happens next is what it sounds like to me to violate one of your core tenants, one of your core beliefs religiously, one of your core beliefs in love because you’re real lonely and you’re really exhausted. But again, it looks like yet another attempt to control what happens next because you’ve been out of control for five years. I would suggest before you go file for divorce, you spend some time with open hands and fully leaning into, probably with your kids too. I don’t control any of the outcomes now. I’m going to stop racing and seeking to try to find another outcome that I can control. God Almighty, yes, it feels good when people reach out. That feels good when you’ve been married and you’re happily married.

That feels good when somebody reaches out and tells you they miss you or they like you or checking in on you. I would tell you to take a break. Take a break from visiting for a bit. Take a break from the divorce conversation for a bit. Take a break from talking to this guy for a bit. Maybe your prayer switch is from, Okay, what about this? Okay, what about this? Okay, what about this? Instead, your prayer switch is to, I’ve got no control and I’ve got no power. Please lead me into what comes next. Again, I don’t know your faith tradition. I don’t know your religious tradition. I know you’ve been trying to control stuff for a long, long time. So sorry, I can’t give you my truest, deepest thoughts on this one. What I can tell you is unhook all the breaks and just sit for a minute. Maybe talk to your kids, maybe get some wisdom from your friends, but seek to be alive outside of some new romantic relationship for just a minute. Seek to be at peace. Seek to open your hands and say, Okay, I could draw nothing. Get me through tomorrow.

And really dig in on the promises that you made for forever. Because you’re the one that made them. And if you make this other choice, you’re going to be the one that breaks them. And Diane is going to have to live with Diane. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful for your bravery. You’re awesome. Call anytime.




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