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Which to Do First: Surgery or Divorce?

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From the U.S.: I need to make a decision: My husband is depressed. I have tried to help him but he has been unwilling to help himself, although he talks about it. I am considering divorce because living with him has become very difficult for me. I’m very unhappy in our relationship, as I suspect he is also.

At the same time, I am considering having bariatric surgery (for weight loss) which my doctor has urged me to do. I would like to do it, but can’t conceive how this will impact my marriage. He seems skeptical about it but would probably support my decision.

Do I go ahead with the surgery, which I am eager to do; or do I separate with my husband first? One other thing: I am the sole earner in our household (we have no children). He has not held a job for many years and I worry about how he would cope if he had to support himself and be on his own.

Which to Do First: Surgery or Divorce?

Answered by on -


You are asking a far too complicated question for me to answer responsibly. What I can offer is some thoughts for you to consider: You are in your 60s. You are considering two very significant changes in your life that will have impact on both you and your husband.

Before going ahead with either the surgery or the separation, I urge you to find an experienced therapist who works regularly with older clients and talk this through. You need input and support from a professional — especially since your husband is depressed.

Therapy is not limited to relieving mental illness. Often we therapists serve as an objective sounding board for decision-making. Often we provide support and guidance for personal growth.

As a senior myself, I’ve come to appreciate that it is sometimes more helpful to talk with an age-mate who understands issues around aging (and the life decisions that come with it) from a personal as well as a professional point of view. As actress Bette Davis once said, “Getting older is not for sissies.” Life decisions are more momentous because there is less time to make changes and less time to back away from those changes if we make a mistake.

The decisions you are making are very, very important ones. Please don’t be impulsive about them. Don’t let other people pressure you into making them before you have given them the time, respect and consideration they deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Which to Do First: Surgery or Divorce?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Which to Do First: Surgery or Divorce?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 7 Nov 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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