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How to Stick to Your Decision to Leave Your Marriage

Sticking to your decision to leave your marriage is almost as difficult as deciding to end the relationship in the first place. These tips for letting go of a toxic relationship will give you strength and courage to stay the course — even when it gets bumpy and scary.

“Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than hurt yourself trying to put them back together.”  ~ Unknown.

Sometimes we know a relationship is over, yet we try to force it to work against all odds. If you don’t know if your marriage really is over, read Should I Leave Him? How to Decide Whether to Move Forward Together — or Move On Without Him.

And, here are a few tips for letting go of an unhappy marriage…

How to Stick to Your Decision to Leave Your Marriage

Here’s what one of my readers said on How to Survive an Unhappy Marriage:

“I’m not happy with our marriage and I haven’t been for a long time. I don’t believe we should ever have gotten married but at the same time I love him and I’m so scared that I will change my mind,” says Whitney. “How do I prevent him from talking me into staying with him, especially when I KNOW that it would be bad [to stay married]?”

Here are my tips for leaving an unhappy marriage and sticking to your decision…

1. Let go of guilty feelings

Sometimes women don’t leave unhappy marriages because they feel guilty, or don’t want to leave their boyfriends or husbands in a bad financial, emotional, or social situation. This is misplaced guilt and faulty reasoning.

You are not responsible for your husband’s living accommodations, bill payments, or life. He is a grown adult, and if he’s not capable of taking care of himself, then he needs to learn independence and self-sufficiency. Your job is not to make sure he has a roof over his head, his relatives think highly of you, or he feels taken care of. Your job is to make the best decision possible for you and your kids — which includes sticking to your decision to leave your marriage.

2. Deal with the fear that you’ll never be loved again

I’ve been stuck in bad relationships because I was scared nobody else would love me. I was insecure, didn’t realize that there are plenty of good men who would love to love me — men who would be good for me! My self-esteem and self-confidence was rock bottom, and held me back from moving on to bigger and better relationships. If you feel afraid and insecure, you need to build self-confidence. Surround yourself with family and friends who support you, who help you feel strong, self-confident, and powerful. Keep making decisions and taking steps — even the tiniest steps — that make you feel strong and courageous.

If you’re not sure about divorce, read How to Decide When to Leave a Relationship.

3. Picture yourself a year from now

decision to leave marriageWhere do you want to be living? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be loving – and who do you want loving you? Often, focusing on achieving our goals – visualizing our wish list as already a reality – can give us motivation and strength to do what we need to do. If you want to stick to your decision to leave your marriage, stay focused on your ideal life.

Support yourself with people who want the best for you. Learn why breaking up is hard to do.

4. Ask yourself questions about your life, goals, personality, and future

Take a cue from Gloria Steinem: “God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions,” she said. “Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.”

Asking questions opens up new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new ways of being in the world! Ask yourself the following questions, and answer them in a notebook. Write down your most wildly improbable goals (our goals have a way of coming to life after we write them down).

Questions to ask about your life:

  • Who am I now…and who do I want to become?
  • If not now, when?
  • Who do I admire?
  • What did I want my life to be like when I was young, naïve, idealistic, passionate?

Questions to ask about leaving an unhappy marriage:

  • What am I getting out of this marriage, which I know is bad for me?
  • Who is watching and learning from me in this marriage – my kids, nieces, neighbors, family members, friends?
  • What am I saying about life, love, and choices by staying in this marriage?
  • What would I do about this marriage if I knew I would not fail?
  • How would I act — what decisions would I make — if I wasn’t scared or burdened?

You don’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. Just sit with them. Let them simmer in the back of your mind. One day, you’ll decide to be strong and leave your husband…maybe that day is today, maybe it’s next year.

You’ll know when it’s time.

If finances are holding you back, read 13 Ways to Get Money to Leave Your Husband.


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9 thoughts on “How to Stick to Your Decision to Leave Your Marriage”

  1. My ex (divorced for 3 months) wants me to go to the Middle East this summer with the kids and him for 2 months while he works there. He doesn’t want me to work full time or move out. I’m conflicted because I do want to travel but the other half of me that has been working so hard to get over the marriage would be like a betrayal. I would have to quit my new job if I want to take 2 months off to travel.

    I’ve been in therapy for so long trying to leave him…and support groups…there has been so much effort in just getting to the point of not feeling guilty for leaving…and in some ways I can throw all my hard work away for a trip to Morrocco.

    The other option is that he wants to take the kids by himself. But when he fights with me he says he will keep them there and if I ever want to see them I will have to move there with him..he has a new job option working as a translator in the Middle East. When he calms down he says he would never take them away from me and he won’t quit his civil service job.

    Stay with him so I don’t have to work and I get to travel the Middle East for 2 months with my kids? Or continue the divorce process Hoping that one day I will feel good about my new life.

  2. I am a medical student and have being in a relationship with a fellow medical student for the past 1year now. it seems the girl dosen’t love me, but I love her though so many times, she has said it to my face that she doesn’t love me, we use to fight always because of other guys that I believe she is going out with in my absent. 5days ago, I broke up with her, but the thought of her keeps coming to my mind,I tried to go back to her, but she refused, how do I get her off my mind please! I can’t stop thinking about her and the good time we spent together, eachtime I remember her, I become distabilized.

  3. Surrounding yourself with people who support your decision to leave your marriage is really important….especially if they themselves have left bad marriages.

  4. Peter@rori raye review

    There are several books on this subject. One i heard well of is the Divorce decision, but from your review this also seems like a book I would recommend. If you have thoughts about leaving your marriage it is always good to first read one such book to get a different perspective, and even talk to counselor who is unbiased. But, in the end it’s your choice

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Doobla, thanks for your wonderful leadership tips! I know they’ll help people stick to their decision to leave their marriage….and have an excellent and successful life.

  6. Thanks Sharon. That is great advise. While it is true that the objective professional may strengthen you to stick to your decision, they will also be able to help you see where you may also need to grow and how you can change to become better. Statistically, the rate of divorce goes up the more times you have been divorced and remarried and this is due to the fact that most people tend toward blame rather than taking responsibility.

    Here is my advice based on general success principles given me by the top leadership gurus in the world (literally in the top 10).

    1. Above all else, only take advice from people with demonstrable fruit on the tree in the area that they are advising you. Often times we get advice from our broke friends about new financial opportunities instead of asking wealthy people for their advice. In the same way, make sure that the person advising you on your relationships has demonstrable success in relationship building and not a history of train wrecks. Everybody has opinions, but successful people get their advice from successful people and implement it as a good student and reap the rewards.

    2. Give whatever it is that you want to get. If you feel unappreciated, then give appreciation. If you feel disrespected then give respect. It is the law of reaping and sowing. If you are a corn farmer you would plant corn to reap a harvest of corn and in the same way investors plant money as seed money and reap a harvest. This is true globally and can be applied to relationships. When you give with an authentic spirit and a selfless motive then you will see a return on that investment.

    3. Have an attitude that says “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”. This is counterintuitive to most advice because most people want to lay blame but if you are honest with yourself you probably have an area that you have fallen short in. If you are going to leave, it will strengthen you to know that in every area you did your personal best. Often times you will find that something you are doing may be triggering the other person and they are not mature enough yet to know how to handle that. Often times in my own marriage I have been in the wrong and my wife through her kindness and tolerance and patience leads me to a change of heart and action.

    4. Be a good finder. People are often negative by nature but if you instead train yourself to find the good in people and publicly speak about those good qualities in front of them, they will soften their heart toward you and you will win them over. Why? Because you are giving honest appreciation for the good they have within them instead of only focusing on the bad. Orrin Woodward says of recognition “Grown men die for it and babies cry for it. Everybody needs recognition.” and that is so true. When you choose to find the good qualities in another person it helps you take the high road and even if you do end up having to leave then you know you have your integrity and again have done everything you can in the situation.

    There is so much more that could be said. Read up on books like Love and Respect, The Five Love Languages, Personality Plus, Wild at Heart and Captivating by John Eldredge. These are excellent books that will help you understand motives of people and why they do the things they do as well as help you understand how you can preserve a relationship if it is worth preserving.

    It will also help you identify with certainty if a relationship is not worth preserving and give you the extra confidence you need to leave, knowing that you have done your homework. The more you are prepared with the right thinking, the more confidence you have in your decisions and the less likely you are to go back on them.

  7. Thanks so much for this I can’t explain how much it means to me and how much it has helped. I saved it as my favorites so that I can go back when I’m feeling weak and answer some of the questions because they remind me that I made the right choice and even if I’m not happy now I have the chance to be really happy now.

  8. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your tip, Sharon!

    An objective professional can help you see the reasons you’re leaving your marriage more clearly, which will help you stick to your decision.

  9. Before you make your final decision, do talk it over with an objective professional, no matter how certain you are. There is much to learn before you finalize your thoughts …