You’re financially dependent on your husband and you’re unhappy in your marriage. Even if you could fix your relationship, you don’t know where or how to start. You’d leave your husband if you could, but you’re a stay-at-home mom without an income. How do you leave your marriage when you have no life, money, or support?
“I am so sad in my marriage,” says Mary on How to Leave a Man You Love – But Can’t Live With. “I am a stay at home mom with 5 kids, ages 12 to one year. I DESPERATELY want to divorce my husband, but I have no means. My family is so far away. The pain of not leaving is killing me. I don’t trust my husband at all, even though he’s my children’s father. He is a pathological liar, and having him in my life is a growing cancer. What do I do? He is a good dad – actually, more of a good provider for me and the kids, but that is not enough for me. Please tell me how do I divorce my children’s father?
She added that they’ve been married for 14 years, and he’s been with up to four different women at the same time, plus being involved with ladies outside the country. I have no magic solution or marriage advice that will solve her problems, but here are a few things to think about…
4 Steps to Leaving Your Marriage When You’re Financially Dependent
I wish I had an easy answer, but I don’t. There is no simple, uncomplicated way to divorce a man when you have five kids together and you’re a stay at home mom. My heart goes out to you, because I know from your comment that you’re in a lot of pain. I don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes, but I know how heartbreaking it is to feel powerless, sad, and trapped in a situation you have no control over.
1. Find good sources of emotional support
The first thing you need to do is contact a women’s resource centre and a legal aid organization. I don’t know where you live or what social services-type support you have access to, but I do know you need to start doing some research. My friend’s husband just left her and their three kids – she’s also a stay at home mom – and she had to find a lawyer. It’s a difficult step to take, especially when you have financial concerns, but it’s necessary. If you want to divorce your kids’ father, you need to know what legal rights you have.
Online forums for stay-at-home moms – and relationship blogs – can be a great source of emotional support for financially dependent women. For example, here’s what one reader said to another on How to Help Your Children Through a Painful Divorce:
“I am sorry you are dealing with that situation,” says Amanda. “I know that is tough to want to leave your husband when you’re a stay-at-home mom but you’re stuck. My ex-husband left me 15 months ago, we divorced nine months ago and he married his new wife three weeks ago. They work together. I know it is hard to hold your head up when you’re financially dependent on a husband who cheats on you. There are times when you feel that no one notices or cares but that is not true — don’t let yourself go there! You are strong and wonderful and you can get through this. Keep your mind and feelings on finding ways to leave and support yourself financially – not what is going on with your husband and his affair partner. You can get through this regardless of the outcome. Take care of yourself.”
2. Move closer to your family – even if you don’t want to
The second step is to consider moving closer to your family. They may live far away, and it will be stressful for you and your children to move! But, you need to compare the short-term pain of divorcing your husband with the long-term pain of staying with him, and continuing the path you’re on now. Call your closest relatives, and talk about the possibilities. Can you stay with someone for a few weeks, while you look for a place?
Sometimes stay-at-home moms are embarrassed to ask their families for help. They feel guilty and ashamed, or bad about their past family relationships. But when it comes to your survival…you must do what you need to do. You have to swallow your pride and become vulnerable if you want to leave your husband.
And, know that one day you will be in a position to help some other woman who needs help leaving her husband. You’ll be financially independent and able to lend a hand to someone else. By helping her, you’ll show your gratitude that you were helped when you need it.
3. Research different ways to get financial support
The third step – which is actually of primary importance – is to figure out your finances. I assume you don’t have much money, as a stay at home mom of five children! If you’re divorcing your children’s father, you’ll probably need money to support yourself. Don’t forget that he will have to pay child support and alimony (that’s why you need to talk to a legal aid representative).
Buckle down, because it’ll be exhausting and frustrating to look for support for financially dependent women. This might take days, weeks, or even months. But it will be worth it because you WILL succeed if you keep looking for sources of support. There are sources of income assistance for stay-at-home moms who are financially dependent – but you really have to stay focused and disciplined. Don’t give up! It’ll be hard, but it will be worth it.
Read What to Expect at a Women’s Shelter or Safe House to start learning what your options are.
4. Gather evidence of your husband’s financial and other affairs
The fourth step is to start gathering evidence of your husband’s affairs. You’ll have an easier time seeking a divorce and getting child support if you have concrete evidence that your marriage is unhealthy. Again, a women’s resource centre in your area can help you with this.
I’m really sorry you’re facing this. It’s a very difficult time in in a woman’s life – even if you weren’t a stay at home mom! But you can – and will – do what you need to do. You are a survivor and you can make huge, positive changes in your life. Take it one small step at a time. Make one phone call a day, and give yourself time and space to process the information you get about divorce.
Help for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Are Financially Dependent
In A Woman’s Guide To Financial Security After Divorce: The Basics: Creating A Solid Foundation (Think Financially, Not Emotionally®), Jeffrey Landers describes the critical first steps you need to take after your divorce to establish long-term financial stability. It’s extremely important for you to learn how to support your goals and vision with a sustainable spending plan that ensures your long-term financial security.
You need an immediate source of income if you want to break free from your financial dependence on your husband. But, you also need to start thinking about smart ways to use your retirement and investment accounts – and other sources of income – to increase your cash-flow and extend your financial future. You have to learn which assets are best and what strategies will help you manage and pay off your financial debts and liabilities. This is part of taking action towards leaving your husband, and it will help you feel more independent.
In The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce – What Your Girlfriends Would Tell You If They Knew What To Say, Suzanne Reeves tells you what your girlfriends would tell you about leaving your husband when you’re a stay-at-home mom – if they knew what to say. With a good dose of humor, Suzanne offers life-giving encouragement as well as practical guidance for getting a divorce. This is a book full of hope from someone who has been there.
“After I realized my marriage was over, I walked into my local Christian bookstore with my head down, hoping no one would see the tears streaming down my face,” writes Suzanne. “I didn’t want the usual version of surviving divorce – have a glass of wine, slash his tires, head to Jamaica, and party like you did in college. I needed Godly advice from a woman who had walked in my shoes and lived to tell about it.”
You will get through this. It won’t be easy and you will never be the same, but you will come through the other side. And you will value everything you learned while you were married! If you regret getting married, read 5 Reasons Your Marriage Wasn’t a Waste of Time.
What do you think? Your comments – big and little – on how stay at home moms can gain financial independence are welcome below.
Read How Do You Leave When You Have Nowhere to Go? for long-term ideas and tips. Learn how to start saving up for your future. You don’t have to divorce your husband today, or even this month. Take a deep breath, and find an in-person support network to help you figure out what step to take next.