When You Feel Guilty for Breaking Up Your Marriage


Yes, it’s possible to be peaceful and happy even though you broke up your marriage. Here are a few thoughts on dealing with guilt after breaking up your marriage – and being fulfilled, healthy, and at peace with yourself.

These tips for coping with guilty feelings are inspired by a wife who wants out of her marriage. She says:

“I’m struggling to overcome my feelings of guilt when it comes to leaving my husband. He was diagnosed bipolar after we married. He hurt his back several years ago and rarely goes to work. He is mean to me and the kids and is extremely selfish. He has no regard for the finances or any of the things that are adult/parent responsibilities. He has alienated all of his friends and he doesn’t have much family. When there is a hint of me leaving he brings up the fact that his mother passed and he has no one. He also says he “almost died” from a seizure he had several years ago.”


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She ends by asking, “Is my guilt justified? Is it okay to leave someone who has medical conditions?”

When You Feel Guilty for Breaking Up Your Marriage

While I would never tell her it’s okay to leave her husband – because I don’t give advice, especially about huge life decisions – I can give her (and you!) a few things to think about…

Learn how to live your guilty feelings

This reader also mentioned that she is in counseling, but it hasn’t helped her feelings of guilt – you can read her full comment on When Guilt Keeps You in a Marriage You Wish Was Over.

Some things, we just have to live with. I think it’s okay to say, “I feel guilty for breaking up our marriage,” and get a divorce anyway. Sometimes we just have to live with the guilt we feel, the mistakes we make, the pain we cause, and the choices we make.

I’m not saying you should feel guilty for breaking up your marriage. If I were you, I’d accept that I feel guilty and I’d hightail my ass outta there. I think life is too short and precious to waste in an unhappy home with a man who is ungrateful, mean, and antisocial.

That’s not advice; it’s just what I’d do if I were in your shoes.

Flow with the guilt

This breakup will cause your husband emotional pain, and you will feel guilty about that. I think it’s a waste of energy to try to overcome your feelings of guilt, because guilt is your reality. Plus, you know that trying to overcome your guilty feelings doesn’t work because you already tried!

Instead of fighting how we feel, I think we should flow with our feelings. I feel guilty for lots of things I’ve done, big and little. Some things I can never make better because the people are dead, and other things aren’t fixable.

I’ve learned that my guilt isn’t going away, and I’ve stopped fighting it. When I feel guilty for giving my dog away or making my grandmother cry, I acknowledge that I’ve made choices that made others unhappy. Then I remind myself that I am a valuable, lovable, and precious child of God. I have made good choices and bad choices, and I’ve been both weak and strong. I am the whole catastrophe, as Zorba the Greek said!

If you feel guilty even though you know breaking up is better for you, read How to Break Free From an Emotionally Destructive Relationship.

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver said, ““Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It’s easier to live with choices that are scary, difficult, and painful for other people when you keep reminding yourself that this is it.

This is your life on our planet Earth, and if you don’t get a grip on it now…then when? I believe living with guilt because we made choices that are right for us is far better than wasting our lives in quiet desperation (that was Thoreau).

If your guilty feelings are overwhelming, read Escaping Toxic Guilt: Five Proven Steps to Free Yourself from Guilt for Good! It’s a book by Susan Carrell, very popular on Amazon.

Are you struggling with the “I feel guilty for breaking up” demons? What factors are holding you in place (eg, health issues, kids, money, comfort, security, etc). I welcome your comments below.

breakup guilt


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2 thoughts on “When You Feel Guilty for Breaking Up Your Marriage

  • Marg

    Some people will hold others hostage in a relationship (i.e. I will commit suicide if you leave) or whatever (even 16 year olds will do this. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each partner to be relationship ready and independent. If a person falls apart and cannot take care of themselves they either get help, or if the want to further deteriorate that is there choice. The other partner has a right to leave. Some will fall apart and die after a relationship, but ultimately their life is only their responsibility.