Still married (it’s been 13 years)

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My boyfriend is 60 yrs old. I'm 43, but that's not the issue. He's still married. Well, legally separated – in another state. He and his wife have been married for 23 years. He's retired from the military after 20 years. He moved out of their apartment and has lived separately now for about 13 years. (He lives in Maine, the ex lives across the country.)

We've been together for three years now and he's still married! I don't know why and I'm nervous about asking, which I know I have the right to do, but I haven't found the right time. He's an honest, hardworking man and I trust him entirely. The only thing I've been promised is that he was getting a divorce. He told me this when we started dating ... three years ago. It's never happened and he hasn't mentioned anything about it since. I don't know what to do.

Why would he intentionally stay married to someone he's not in love with? I don't get it. Am I missing something? I'm in need of some guidance.

– Afraid to Ask


We've had a lot of "my significant other is still married" letters this month. Just noting a trend.

In your case, it's about asking the question, even if it's scary, even if it seems like the wrong time.

It doesn't have to be a smooth delivery. You can say, "Hey, when we got together, you said you were getting a divorce. What ever happened with that?" You can also tell him why his marital status is important to you. Maybe it's because you want to take your own steps with him. Perhaps you're worried about what this means financially. If there's a reason for your concern, please make it known.

After three years, you should be able to have difficult conversations. You asked if you're missing something, and that's what popped out to me – that you don’t feel comfortable talking about something that might be awkward or unpleasant. If you want this relationship to work, you need to break the silence.

There are so many reasons this divorce could be taking a long time, by the way, one of which is this pandemic. Perhaps he didn't see the need to do the paperwork before meeting you, and then COVID-19 made it difficult to get anything done. Or maybe there's a health insurance issue (a recent letter writer had that problem).

Accept that there's no right time and ask. If he won't answer, that’s a bigger problem. You can always write to us again.

– Meredith

Readers? Any help with timing and language here?