Leaving your husband and ending your marriage may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do – even if your relationship is unhealthy or even abusive. But, it may be the only way to create the life you want.
If you’re confused about leaving your husband, read Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Susan Gadoua. Take your time to think a few things through, so you know how to leave your husband with as few regrets as possible.
These tips may help you figure out if it’s time to leave when you feel trapped. Make sure you consult a lawyer or divorce mediator — don’t just rely on these tips if you want to leave your husband. There is a lot more to leaving than what I included in this article! This is just the beginning.
“When two people decide to get a divorce, it isn’t a sign that they ‘don’t understand’ one another, but a sign that they have, at last, begun to,” said American writer Helen Rowland.
How to Leave Your Husband
Are you just beginning to understand your husband and your marriage — and it’s worse than you expected? Then maybe it’s time to leave him. Here are several things to think about as you prepare to leave your husband when you’re trapped in a bad marriage…
Prepare your children – the family is changing
Some kids will want to know everything, and others won’t. A separation or divorce will be traumatic for some, and a relief for others. It may be difficult to find the emotional and mental energy to talk to your kids about the separation, but it’s a mistake to leave them in the dark. If you’re leaving your husband, try to give your kids the time, attention, and answers they deserve. The smoother you try to make their transition, the smoother yours will be.
Make sure you’re financially stable
You don’t need enough money to live on for a long time, but you should have at least three months of living expenses saved up. Figure out how much money you’ll need to spend on rent, household bills, transportation, and other expenses. If you need to borrow money, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed to ask a family member – it’s just a loan, and most relatives want to help if they can. You can reassure both them and yourself that you’ll pay it back.
Prepare for awkward moments with friends
You’ll lose some friends if you leave your husband — even if it’s a bad marriage. You’ll keep some friends, and you may have to defend yourself to others. Be prepared for a wide range of possible reactions from friends: anger, grief, shock, disbelief, etc.
Leaving your husband requires being prepared to lose a few friends…and make new ones.
Prepare for painful moments with family members
Separation or divorce can be very hard on extended family members, such as parents in-law, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents, and cousins. Leaving your husband isn’t just about you, your husband, and your marriage; it affects the people you’re related to. Try not to feel guilty about your decision to separate – you’re making a decision that best suits your life. But, remember that family members may your marriage crisis take it hard.
Take inventory of the household items you want to keep
Dividing the possessions you acquired as a couple may be difficult, especially if you’ve been married for decades. Figuring out who gets what may be part of the divorce negotiations, or it could be decided by you and your husband privately. Either way, it’s smart to decide in advance what you absolutely must keep, what you want but will part with, and what you’re happy to let your husband have. You may lose cherished items…and that may be one of the costs of leaving a bad marriage.
If you think you’ll struggle with money after you leave, read Preparing Financially for a Divorce.
Join a support group for women leaving their husbands
Often, the best way to overcome or survive anything – including leaving your husband – is to spend time with people who have “been there, done that.” Or, who are currently doing it! Find people who are experiencing the same situation and emotions as you – it doesn’t even have to be a formal divorce support group. Be honest about what you’re going through and the type of help you need.
Self-care is one of the most important things to think about when you’re leaving your husband. Read 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself.
Learn about different ways to get divorced
Self-representation, divorce mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigation are different ways to leave your husband. You don’t need to make any decisions about divorce right away, but it may be good to start thinking about your options. There are five different types of divorce.
Knowing how to leave your husband involves letting go of someone you love. Letting go isn’t something you do once and poof! You’re free, healed, and happy. Rather, letting go is a journey peppered with steps forward and steps backward, good days and bad days, peaks and valleys.