Dear Uncle Mat

I think I have made a mistake. Last year I married my girlfriend of over five years. She is a wonderful woman and I love her, but I am not happy. I thought I could be happy, but I think I knew I shouldn’t have married her when I did. I am fairly certain that I am not the “marrying type.” I have discussed this with my wife and we have agreed to get a divorce. I know she understands my ideological issues with marriage, but I am not certain she realizes that after we divorce and I start law school, I want to separate as well. I am done with the relationship. I have no animosity towards her, only love, but not romantic love. I am hopeful we will remain friends. I tried to leave her two years ago when I moved here, but it didn’t stick and she followed me and then we got married last year. I feel terrible, but feel I have to put myself first for once and not try to protect her. I am not certain what I am asking you advice for, but I am open to hear what you have to say.

— Breaking the Chains of Love 

Dear Breaking,

Is that an Erasure reference? If so, maybe you are a gay man, which is like not being the “marrying type.” Don’t worry, you don’t have to ask me a question. Just telling your story is enough and I will happily tell you what I think. That’s why I have an advice column; I am pushy.

Rule number one: People who have ideological stances about marriage shouldn’t get married. I’m including anyone opposed to gay marriage in this group, too. Ultimately marriage is about a personal relationship between two people and shouldn’t be put through a political filter. Even if it’s your own marriage.

If you married her when you knew you shouldn’t have, you definitely made a mistake. I think it’s an easy mistake to make, but still rather stupid. Marriages require a proposal, an acceptance, planning, a certificate from the government, and if you were so inclined, a ceremony involving anywhere from 5 to 500 guests. Unless you did it in Vegas on a drinking binge, and then it kind of doesn’t really count — or so Brittany et al. would lead you to believe. My point is that you really shouldn’t have to make it down the aisle to figure out that you are not the “marrying type.” Whatever that means. Self-actualization is challenging and you are way behind the curve on this. Please spend some time in therapy talking about your emotional desires and needs. Not a favorite pastime of a lot of guys, but it worked for all of the lawyers on Ally McBeal, so it might help you.

Seriously, you may be happier as a single person, but I suspect there are some root issues you need to address to find a more complete happiness. If you were truly happy single, you wouldn’t have married her. I suppose you could blame societal expectations or your mother’s nagging or your wife’s need for security or the desire for a toaster oven and some Corningware, but no one throws themself on a grenade unless they fear something else in the room more. Do the work and stop experimenting with others.

Be very nice to your wife through this process. You might offer to pay for her to go to a therapist a few times as well. This is not easy: hearing that you love her, but you want a divorce and are going to leave her to be a bachelor in law school. That is the stuff that makes alcoholics and “black widow” serial killers and keeps Meredith Baxter (Birney) and Valerie Bertinelli employed. Thank god you didn’t mention any kids. And do avoid accidentally making any of those while you’re at it. Babies are cute and good for a lot of things, but not divorce.  

Much luck and probably some more luck,

Your Uncle Mat 

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at [email protected],, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.