Home > Breakups > Letting Go > When Your Husband Wants a Divorce – But Won’t Leave

When Your Husband Wants a Divorce – But Won’t Leave

Your husband says he wants out of the marriage, but he won’t move out. Here are a few steps for wives whose husbands say they want a divorce, but don’t leave.

husband divorcing meMy first tip for wives whose husbands want to get divorced – but won’t leave the house – is to learn as much as you can about the legalities of separation.  Books like Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally® : What Women Need To Know About Securing Their Financial Future Before, During, and After Divorce by Jeffrey A. Landers are priceless – and so is talking to a divorce lawyer in your own city.

In my article about making a life after a divorce, a reader named Jill shared her struggle. Jill’s husband wants to divorce her, but he refuses to leave the house and kids. He wants her to leave – he has nowhere to go, no friends to stay with, and no family to rely on.

She wants to go to counseling and perhaps even save their marriage, but he refuses. Jill doesn’t know what to do – she feels stuck, anxious, isolated, and scared for her kids. Not to mention unloved, betrayed, and confused.

When did her husband stop loving her? Why? He’s not having an affair, he’s not gay, he’s not any different than the man she married 20 years ago.

If you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone.

When Your Husband Wants a Divorce – But Won’t Leave

Getting in-person advice from a divorce attorney or lawyer who specializes in mediation is crucial. Don’t rely on the internet for tips on how to deal when your husband wants a divorce. Every situation is different, and you need to get advice that is specific to you.

Talk to a divorce lawyer

Before you take any drastic steps – such as leaving your home because your husband won’t – talk to an attorney! I’m not a lawyer – my tips are based on creating a better, happier life. This is not legal advice.

Jill refuses to talk to a divorce lawyer, because she’s scared. Calling a lawyer makes the whole situation more “real”, and will force her to move forward. She’s not ready, even though her husband has repeatedly told her he wants a divorce and that she has to leave the house.

But, part of getting over the pain of an unexpected divorce is taking action – even when it hurts.

Take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health

Jill’s way to cope with her situation is not to eat. She’s not sleeping, either – and she feels exhausted, stressed, sad, and lethargic. Other wives whose husbands want to leave them may turn to food for comfort, pills to zone out, or shopping to escape. While these coping mechanisms may seem like they’re helping, they’re doing a great deal of damage in the long run.

If you’re unhealthy, you can’t think clearly. If you can’t think clearly, you won’t make the best decisions for you, your children, and your finances. It’s really difficult to stay healthy when your husband wants a divorce and won’t leave the house – but it’s vital that you take care of yourself.

And, start thinking about how to let go. My most popular article has always been Letting Go of Someone You Love – Freedom From the Past.

Write down everything that happens

What date did your husband first tell you he wants a divorce, but doesn’t want to leave the house? Who have you confided in? When did you call a divorce lawyer? Have you tried marriage counseling – if so, who did you contact? How much money do you have in your joint accounts? What transactions have occurred recently?

The more details you have, the better off you’ll be. You never know when those details – even the seemingly inane ones – will make the difference between making or breaking a custody battle.

Consider making the first move

Jill has been stuck with an unhappy, unmoving husband for five months. Neither of them know what to do: he wants her to leave her home and children, and she wants to save their marriage. She feels like she’s starting to lose her mind, and thinks she’s close to a nervous breakdown. They sleep in the same bed but aren’t intimate. Her husband says he loves her one day, and denies it the next. She feels like he’s driving her crazy.

I think Jill should take her kids and leave her husband – but first she needs to talk to a divorce lawyer! Do not leave the house without talking to an attorney first. The reason I think Jill should make the first move is because her health is deteriorating and she feels like she’s losing her mind.

I’m not telling you to take your kids and leave the house. If your husband wants a divorce but won’t leave your home, you need to seek professional, legal advice. But I do think that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to start rebuilding your life and moving on.

You may find Thinking About Divorce? Options for Unhappy Married Couples helpful.

Be prepared to make sacrifices

When Your Husband Wants a Divorce – But Won’t Leave

“When Your Husband Wants a Divorce – But Won’t Leave” image by teresa_lynn via DeviantArt

Why should Jill leave her house? It’s not fair! HE’S the one who wants a divorce. HE’S the one who is ruining their 20-year old marriage. Why should she have to uproot her life and children, just because her husband has suddenly decided he wants out of the marriage?

The thing is, it’s not about what’s fair, right, or how things “should” be. It’s about knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to just pick up the pieces of your shattered marriage, and move on. You need to rebuild your life – and it won’t be as neat and clean as your husband suddenly decided that he wants to stay married, or that he should be the one to leave the house because he’s the one who wants a divorce.

I think that if a man wants a divorce, he should have the balls to walk away. But some men are too weak, indecisive, stubborn, and selfish to do more than say, “I want to end our marriage – so you have to leave the house.” So, it’s up to Jill to screw up her courage and start moving forward…even if it means making huge sacrifices.

Sometimes you have to take care of your future self – and that means making painful decisions right now.

Start looking ahead – because good things ARE waiting for you!

I know how bleak life seems right now. It’s awful, painful, shameful, embarrassing, and terrible that your husband wants a divorce. It’s a nightmare come true, and you didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t deserve to be treated like this.

While you’re going through this, try to give yourself glimpses of a happier, brighter future. Remember that there was something wrong with your marriage or husband – otherwise he wouldn’t want a divorce. Remember that millions of women have survived divorce and are now thriving, happy, and fulfilled. Some wives don’t even realize how unhappy they were, until their husbands left.

If you’re a believer, read How to Survive a Christian Divorce.

What do you think – what would you do if your husband wanted a divorce but won’t leave your home? I welcome your experiences on dealing with divorce, but I can’t offer advice or counseling.

Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.

Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me!

May God’s peace rest on you, and show you the way.

23 thoughts on “When Your Husband Wants a Divorce – But Won’t Leave”

  1. I need advice. I’m not legally married. To this man and I have told him that I don’t want to be with him and I don’t love him anymore. He refuses to leave my apartment because I messed up and put him on my contract. He doesn’t financially contribute to the household. He is on my food stamps and was court ordered to pay me child support for our daughter years ago. He hasn’t paid anything since he quit working. I found someone else in the process and have been seeing him and fell in love with him and want to be with him.. What do I do any advice or suggestions for me!! Oh he smokes marijuana too…

  2. It’s been 19 years for me and my husband to be together but I was never happy with him. He was verbally and emotionally abusive, at this point I got stronger and learn to deal with the emotional abuse. I don’t get affected I ignore him at this time I tell him off. The life we living is lonely without love and I want to leave him but somehow I am afraid to make the first step. I worry for my children and want my daughter to complete school in our home town, but I don’t know how much longer I can bear it. I feel so abounded and lonely I told him to leave I want a divorce but he won’t go and just ignore me and disregards me.

  3. After 27 years & just buying a new house, we have 3 adult boys oldest are twins with disabilities & the younger one in gis 2 year of college. We also have a 17 year old who’s daughter will turn 1 in January. When I asked him why we bought a new house if he wanted a divorce & he said because our kids new a place to live. He knows he makes more money than I do, & can’t afford to stay or leave on my own, no family to run home to like he has! He thinks we will just stay here till our dept is paid. So what then still can’t afford to pay our mortgage & I’m to just sit & watch him come & go while I deal with all the emotional & house & making sure all the bills are paid??? I don’t think I can last that long! & He knows I wont leave my kids behind! What to do???

  4. Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience with a husband who isn’t interested in a full or healthy marriage. It’s a difficult place to be, but I can understand why you’d rather not be alone!

    How are you doing?

  5. After 20 years, 2 children, my husband wants to break up, but won’t leave the home. We haven’t had sex (his choice) for 10 years, I guess I put up with it rather than be alone. The kids are older, and now I spends 90% of my time alone. In a way its going to be a blessing. Reading this has helped me, yes he needs balls to go, he made the choice to end the marriage.

  6. I put in half the money for our house. Husband wants out because my parents lost our inheritance because of a flood. So to him I am worth nothing. He would love for me to leave the house but I own it too. He can’t bear menopause and will not stop during the heat to 75 every night so I am unable to sleep in same bed. After 25 years.sad

  7. Divorce lawyers instruct men NOT to leave the house, lest they be accused of abandonment. Unfortunately emotions are one thing, law is another

  8. So very hard. Son calls me every name in the book including the c word. Father does nothing to stop. I just wish they would leave.

  9. One step you can take when you feel trapped in a marriage – especially when your husband wants a divorce but won’t leave – is to talk to someone who knows what the possible options are. You may feel like you can’t afford to leave, but there may be possibilities that you haven’t considered! Even just calling a women helpline or resource center might help you see what options are available…

    If you had enough money, what would you do? How much money do you need to leave your husband?

  10. After reading all your comments, I am so getting out of my marriage.

    Married for 26 years, husband always unhappy with himself. Said he does not know why. He has been on mediation which only made him more depressed.

    Now he wants out but he does not want to leave until he can afford to live in a house with same lifestyle that he is not contributing to.

    I am going to love and be kind to myself and promise myself that after all my contributions, hard work, playing mother and nurse to him that I am no1 now.

    The further the distance the less my mind will be clouded.

    Let look after ourselves! We owe it to ourselves for survival, happiness and to show our kids the right way.

    Wife of a husband I midlife crisis

  11. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    There are no easy answers, but I think a really good first step is to find your voice and express how you feel about your marriage! If your husband wants a divorce but won’t leave the house, you might consider talking to a lawyer about your legal rights.

    But the emotional side is a whole different story. It’s not fair, we wish things were different, and it’s not easy to make such a big life change. It’s hard.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I pray you find the right resources to give you strength and hope, and that you find peace with whatever decision you make.

    I wrote another article about this, about dealing with love-hate relationships. I have no answers, only thoughts and ideas!



  12. I would suggest that any woman in this situation make the decision to leave. My situation is like this yet different my husband is doing everything to show that he wants to stay but I know deep in his heart he wants to leave. He stays for the kids and public opinion. He tells me and is doing everything he things I want him to do but I just want me to truly want to be here. I know I should make the first mood but I’m afraid.

  13. I met my him when i was a senior in hs, we’ve been married 21 yrs and have a 19 yr old son who lives with us. My son is my silent rescuer… hubby and i have been fighting since mothers day because i embarrased him in home depot by telling him he didnt know what he was talking about. He made me take him home so he could leave, only to come home with a mothers day gift for himself (new shoes). Now its september, we’ve been sleeping together off and on as i have my own bedroom bcuz he snores so loud i cant sleep at all. He’s told me twice in arguments he wants a divorce, but i am the one paying all the bills bcuz i own a solid business for the last 9 yrs. He had a small restaurant the last 4 but sold and quit working all together. My son begged him to get a job to help with bills and he says he’s going to apply for ssi cuz he has screws in his ankle. He’s been standing all his work life as a cook, and isnt willing to career retrain. He hates me. Sometimes i hate hkm bcuz he is mentally and verbally abusive. Like in july when i finally got the guts to tell him he ruined mothers day for the 3rd yr in a row, he told me i was a terrible mother anyway bcuz i was more of a sister or friend to my son. When i told my son this in private, he hugged me and said i was a better mother than he is a father. I know my son is on my side, and i also know my husband has no place to go with no income. Ive been crying at night and im dying inside all day with the stress of keeping ul with all of the bills by myself. What do i do? I told my son today i wish i could just walk away, but i cant close my business or i will lose my property where i live without the income. I havent told anyone about whats going on with me bcuz i dont have many friends or even ones close enough to talk with. Im not a religious person at all, but i am smart, educated and a female entrepeneur.oh i just want things to be normal again. :'(

    1. I feel for you…i am going through the same thing, yet a different situation. One day, my husband will act like he loves me, but in the same day, if I call him out on not putting in his share, or I express that I am sad or mad, he completely turns into this evil person who completely hates me and degrades me. He doesn’t work, kr have any type of motivation to work…we have 3 young children, and he expresses how he doesn’t appreciate my working, cooking, cleaning and jiggling life schedules/finances/situations. He openly tells me sometimes that I do nothing, despite all my efforts. He makes me cry just to make me cry, and he doesn’t filter anything he says but wants me to forget about it asap….and I do to keep the peace in front of my kids. I am living at a shabby place, but I can afford it with my min. wage job…and I have asked him to leave, I have sent him on his way, but he keeps coming back, because he has no where to go. I am so torn. He hasn’t given me any good attention in over a year now. He constantly makes me beg for him to stop and just love me, because I just don’t see this person he has changed into as the person I want to see…i want that loving man back who would chase the stars for me.. .I haven’t been open about it either, I act to everyone (family &coworkers) that life is good. It’s draining me down and killing me inside. I, too, have no friends. I am so stuck. At least you have a 19year old son who can see right from wrong. My oldest is 4yrs and thinks her daddy is the world…even though he hurts me so bad (verbally).
      ..i keep saying his depression is making him say the things he says, that he has to rub his unhappiness off on me, so I can’t be happy…but its been happening so frequently, I am understanding it is his true feelings, and he covers it up just so he can live freely off of me, spending my money…manipulating me for over a year now… I am always the blame of his unhappiness when everything I do is to try to make him smile… I am so hurt and mentally ill over this. And he doesn’t care less. If I sit and cry quietly, he tells me to “quit my whining” …never asks what’s wrong or offers a hug anymore…. He is so uncaring anymore and i can’t afford to leave…… :'(

      1. I relate to a lot of what your saying here. For years mine had been cheating and I finally asked him to leave – and he did. However, after a year away he worked on me and I admit I was lonely and missed him. He used his words to tell me all the things I wanted to hear, but doesn’t follow through on any of them. Moved back and now he tells me on one day how great a job I am doing as a mom and wife, the next he will tell me how terrible I am. It’s hard not to feel betrayed by a spouse and ‘partner’ who is ready and willing to hurt you at the drop of a hat. Now, I’m stuck because it’s obvious he won’t leave again. I am financially stable and can maintain my current life. He however is not. Now, I am faced w/ selling my house and disrupting my kids life all because of how foolish I was to let him back. I feel so stupid, and now so stuck. Think you posted a year ago, hope you are doing better. We’ll see what the future brings for me.

  14. Well god bless you Richard! My husband is a bump on a log. I’m the one who doesn’t get enough intimacy. I have a strong personality but he is someone who has been very stunted because of his parents mistakes. It’s like being a mother. Then he calls me a monster and says I treat him like a child. He has spent my youth drinking and his time between job contracts drinking into a stupor while I pick up the pieces and wonders why I have no respect. Yes I stayed. And I still forgive him and still want to start over everyday and he is the one who doesn’t want to be close to me all while Iam Being approached by other men. It’s awful. I turn 30 this year and in 2013 I underwent major back surgery to save the function of movement in my left leg. It worked but I’m still in a lot of pain and the meds give me terrible side effects. I suffer because I refuse to take what they want me to. The prayer, the fasting, the financial inability to quit working a job that is so physical is killing me. I still joke, laugh. I hide my crying because when I do he yells at me because it makes him feel inadequate.

    Sorry guys. No one to talk to. Guess it’s time for another counseling appointment eh?! It takes failures on both husband and wife usually. It’s rarely one sided. Eventually without a divorce to solve and things becoming extremely unhealthy I think it can become dangerously one sided. How do we make the choice? When he thought I was really leaving he broke down. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand.

  15. This exact same thing is happening to me. I moved out of the bedroom 6 weeks ago, because I couldn’t take the coldness and indifference anymore. I went a step further and had divorce papers drawn up and he sleeps with them under his pillow. Won’t talk to me about what is going on or what we are suppose to do about anything. 22 years together, 2 young children fine one day and emotionally disconnected the next. In the beginning he. Said ” we’ve been through worse”. Now he wants me to get out of the house. I’m lost, broken and an emotional wreck. I can’t even get through a work day without three or four breakdowns b4 I finally leave early cause I can’t hold it together. Everybody tells me to work on myself and everything will get better. How ? I’ve known the man since I was five and loved him forever. He is my other half.

  16. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    My prayer for all couples facing divorce is for healing, strength, and wisdom. May your hearts heal from the loss of your marriage, your bodies and minds strong for the journey that lies ahead, and your mind wise for the decisions you have to make.

    If your husband wants a divorce, I pray you find ways to let him go and move forward in your life. May you be healthy and peaceful as your life unfolds in ways that will happily surprise you.


  17. My man and I are not yet at the place where Romeo and Juliet’s love was, but we are so much closer than we have ever been. By man’s standards, our marriage should not have survived this long, but neither of us wanted another divorce, so we stuck it out. Now, our marriage is better than either of us could have imagined 10 years ago. God has done a lot of housecleaning in my heart toward Greg over the years.

    If you and your husband think you want to get a divorce and move out, take some time to think. Don’t make an impulse decision.

  18. don’t you ever think that the woman could be at fault? No sex drive in a wife is very soul diminishing for a husband who, after 24 years still finds his wife pretty and attractive, yet she won;t talk about it and won;t have relations. In this case, I want her to go, I want a divorce, I want her to get out and leave me, and I still love her! If she left today I would be heartbroken, but I would cope. She simply doesn’t want a sex partner, just a provider, and I’m sick of that, so I’m sick of her. I’ve asked, I’ve talked, no response. I try and try, I do things to encourage her, nothing. It’s gone.

    1. I should leave my marriage looooong many years ago. I’ve been married for 38 years!. There are no empathy, indifference and ignorance. I wish we live in different properties, so that way we won’t ever see one another. Yet, i worked all my life and was bread winner, while hubby was wining and between jobs. To get stripped of my hard earnings by the “justice systems” is UNFAIR to say the least. I understand Richards hurtful feelings about his wife low libido; what he would say when my husband (we didn’t sleep in the same bad for about 12 years, as he is heavy smoker and impotent) offer to buy any libido related drug to try from the counter again if I want to master a hold on job . I am blamed for everything in our marriage. Bless Lord our son is not living with us to see the shameful relationship. In today’s world of bad economy it is easier to say, than top do to just walk away. My mistake is : I was raised as the “good, obedient and polite ” girl, who should avoid scandal at all cost!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *