Dear MIMsters: My Wife Just Sent Me Divorce Papers. What Do I Do?

My wife has just sent me divorce papers. What do I do?

I was working in South Africa where I met Vanessa, but she’s Nigerian and I’m Ghanaian. We got talking and found out that we are both US citizens. While I was in South Africa on a short assignment for my firm, an oil company, she was there for a 3-months training.

Vanessa and I hit it off real quick and in no time, we were like two pea in a pod. I loved her independence and her sense of humour. She was a single mum.

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She’s lived most of her life in the US while I work in an Oil company which often sends me on assignments from one country to the other. I am well travelled with credit to my job. During some of my short trips, Vanessa came with me.

We returned to the US together and started living together but we were not married. I was sent on another assignment from the US to Nigeria. This was to last for 3 years. I came to Nigeria to help start up a new project. Vanessa came with me and I proposed to her there in Nigeria.

The plan was to have our wedding in the US where most of our family resides and after that she would come and live in Nigeria with me. She left Nigeria and went back to the US to plan our wedding. It was a big wedding. At this time, Vanessa was no longer working, but it wasn’t a problem for me. I was earning more than enough to take care of us.

Problem started when Vanessa refused to return to Nigeria with me after the wedding. She was more interested in establishing a business in the US and buying properties. I tried to make her come back to live with me in Lagos so we could start a family but she wasn’t having it. She convinced me to invest in a number of properties in the US including a house and two businesses for her to manage and I did.

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I started to feel lonely in Lagos. When I tell her how much I miss her and want her here by my side, she would tell me to come back to the US. I wasn’t ready to quit my job and fall back on the businesses she was running.

Soon, I started to hear about how Vanessa was frolicking around town in the company of younger men. I even walked in on her on one occasion with another man in my house. I was shattered but eventually, I forgave her because I loved her very much. She had such a strong hold on me, that I could not just imagine my life without her being in it.

I returned to Lagos disillusioned. So, I got involved with a few girls in Lagos, nothing serious. Maybe a fling here or there. I kept on cheating on my wife for over 2 years until I met Barbie. Barbie was different from everyone else.

She was going to leave me when she found out I was married but somehow she stayed back. She told me clearly that it was bad enough Vanessa was in the picture but she would not put up with me cheating on her with any other woman. Slowly, my love for Vanessa dwindled. Barbie would always say that anytime Vanessa comes home, she would leave. She always felt guilty being with me because I was married.

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To my surprise, Vanessa has never returned to our home in Lagos. Instead, one day, we had an argument over a transaction she did without my approval and she immediately asked me for a divorce. I thought it was a joke but she meant it and she started to talk about dividing our assets between us. She got a lawyer who has sent me the divorce papers.

How do I handle this?