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How to Leave a Marriage When You Have Nothing Left

Your marriage is in crisis, you have no money, and your future seems unbearable. Here are a few tips on how to leave a marriage when you have nothing.

leaving a marriage when you have nothingIn Divorce: Think Financially, Not Emotionally: What Women Need To Know About Securing Their Financial Future Before, During, and After Divorce, Jeffrey A. Landers guides women on how to focus on vital financial matters, offering specific instruction on a number of key issues vital to securing long-term financial security. Topics covered include building a top-notch divorce team (even when you have nothing when you leave your marriage), uncovering a husband’s hidden assets, protecting your personal assets, business and intellectual properties, dealing with pensions, 401Ks and other retirement accounts, and negotiating alimony.

The happiest day of your life – your wedding – is ending in pain, heartbreak, and financial debt. Your marriage crisis has wiped out all the happy, warm memories.

“I never thought my husband would watch me fall, and criticize me on the way down,” says Sherry on my article about leaving your husband. “I have nothing. My business failed, he stopped it, and I’m financially ruined. I literally have nothing.”

This is it; you’re at the lowest point of your life. And, it takes a long time to heal from a marriage crisis – whether you divorce your husband or work hard to save your marriage.

Marriage Crisis – Surviving When You Have Nothing Left

You have to rally the troops when you’re going through a marriage crisis. Here are your troops, and here’s how to rally them…

Accept that your marriage is in crisis

“I am so heart broken,” says Sherry. “Facing the reality that my husband doesn’t really care, love, support, or want me is devastating. Our days (of being married) are numbered, everything in me is screaming RUN! He is rude and mean to me, and consistently bashes my creativity, dreams, goals, accomplishments.”

leaving a marriage with nothing

“How to Leave a Marriage When You Have Nothing Left” image by Laurie

The first thing you need to do is feel the pain. Feel your heartbreak, betrayal, and pain so you can process your emotions. You need to melt down before you can rebuild. You need to face and accept how bad a marriage crisis is, before you can survive and move on. And trust me – you CAN and WILL survive and move on.

Write down your exact problem

In 10 words or less, what is the crisis you’re facing? Maybe you feel like you have nothing left – no money, no friends, no marriage, no hope for the future. Write it down – you can use the comments section below or, better yet, start a Journal That Will Take You Through Your Marriage Crisis.

How can you start solving your marriage crisis? Who can help you?

“The answer to this question is critical,” writes Jim Moorhead in The Instant Survivor. “There are so many people who want to help you and reach out to you in your time of trouble.”

You don’t need close friends or family members to survive your marriage crisis! So many women write me, asking for help and saying that they have nobody to help them. Yes, not having family or friends makes survival more difficult. Yes, life would be easier if you could run home to mom and pop.

But, part of surviving a marriage crisis is accepting the reality of your situation. So, if you feel alone, you need to start approaching “strangers” (eg, counselors, distress lines, womens’ help lines, social services, womens’ support groups) for help.

What is one step I can take right now?

“Don’t think about two, three, four, or five different things you can do,” writes Moorhead . “Just list one. Doing one thing will start up momentum toward solving your problem.”

He also encourages people in crisis to be selfish in pursuing a full recovery from victim to survivor, and focus on using the crisis to build a positive future for yourself and others.

Steps I would take if my marriage was in crisis:

  • Figure out my financial situation (learn how to get money to leave your husband).
  • Talk to my friends (I have no close friends nearby, unfortunately. But, I’d connect with my friends in other provinces and I’d open up to the casual friends I have here).
  • Find strong, healthy women who have survived marriage crises and who are happy.
  • Keep telling myself that the most beautiful flowers grow out of the stinkiest, most disgusting piles of sh*t. The worst marriage crisis can lead to the best stage of life!
  • Look for the best in my situation and be grateful for what I do have.
  • Read the readers’ comments in articles like How to Let Go of  Someone You Love, and remind myself that I’m not alone.

I’m a huge fan of reading books. If my marriage was in crisis, I’d re-read The Instant Survivor: Right Ways to Respond When Things Go Wrong. I’d also remind myself that having a husband or a man isn’t the only way to be happy. I’d rather be independent, strong, and healthy as a single woman than dependent, meek, and unhappy as a married woman.

Is your marriage in crisis? What’s one thing you can do to take control and survive this disaster? The first step towards leaving your husband when you have nothing left is to start with one step, and take it one step at a time.

I welcome your comments below, but I can’t give advice. You may feel better after sharing your experience; writing often brings clarity and insight.

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28 thoughts on “How to Leave a Marriage When You Have Nothing Left”

  1. Hi
    I HAD love marriage in dec 2017 i struggled for almost 2 years with family to convince him because he was divorcee .now after marriage problems getting started he always fight with me.he never gives me respect or love which I always wanted.he just happy with himself.i discuss with him that I am alone but he never understand me.now it’s situation I can’t live with him but I still love him alot

  2. I am forever having to Remind my husband of what I have contributed to our marriage. I feel that all he sees / remembers is me now. Now I am a woman with a Chronical Illness who can no longer earn money. I nurnsed for 30 years as well as raised 4 children (often on my own while he worked away). I was the one who took them to their sports training and games (re-arranging my rosters to suit the children). Every cent I earned went into the house-hold, and now have very little super/finances. I know he has no respect for me, and this I feel comes down to the fact that I cannot give back money. Also due to my illness, sex is very painful, and he is always Wanting to know When he can expect Sex. He has for years been addicted to Porn. He is verbally abusive when angry, and seems to be Angry All the time (every minute of each day), over the past 4+ years.. he is not happy, but blames for his unhappiness. Hence, I feel going our separate ways is what he wants after 39 years. I guess as others would say, “then leave, I deserve more”: but where and how? I feel so alone, and isolated, although I have some very good friends, but as everyone has issues of their own, I am not the type of person to know how to ask for help. It seems to me that I am only needed for others to use as Their sounding board. I am not even able to add a comment to most discussions, as someone will either ignore me or talk over me. If I add the smallest comment, my husband says I am starting an argument, and either gets deeper into an argument (even though I can be agreeing with him). or gets up and walks away. I can’t believe I have been so blind for so many years, and followed his decision making blindly, too; believing that his were the right decisions (even with big decisions like selling homes that were paid off, twice, and then starting over again. I am turning 60 this year and cannot find ways of continuing with no financial income, and my continuing deterioration of health. Surely we are not mean’t to live life like this….just surviving with no emotional connections, unless he decides he can spare a few minutes……..I even feel that he deliberately tries to turn our children against me too, for yesterday, he spent an hour with our eldest daughter, and then had No words to speak to me for the remainder of the day (except of course wanting to know when I was going to get his dinner at 5pm while I was scanning his timesheet through)……

    1. Only been married 1/3 the time as you and I relate to nearly all you’ve said. I realize just from your post that it won’t get better for me to stay married. I just want to feel loved and happy. Leaving with nothing and staying in an abuse shelter now seems more hopeful than staying in this hell.

  3. I have tried to leave and always come back I let my housing go I have no money he won’t give me any I. Bought a car last year and because its under his name he won’t give me the keys I don’t care about the car im scared to be homeless no where to go please help me anybody it hurts a lot everyday cause I can feel him he is so cold with me sometimes I feel he treats me this way cause he wants me to leave and when I go out the door he’s like bye

  4. I have no family no where to go I feel lost I thought he cared and loved me but I see it in his eyes and how he gets mad everything I say or do its so hard to walk away. I’ve tried but can’t I hate the thought of loosing him I need help

  5. I’ve been troubled over the idea of leaving for about two years. My husband and I have been together for almost 19 yrs…And we have a 5 yr old that has ASD and ADHD accompanied by lots of anxiety. Shortly after my child turned about two he was diagnosed and my husband had gotten a job that would relieve him from “working 12 hr + days and would be home at night so we’d have the regular family life. He started of being very involved and over the course of the last 3 yrs he’s progressively just kinda dropped out..Of our family….Unless there were people around in which he’d act like everything was wonderful. Before my child was born we had some issues to work on which we had started and having a baby was just the topping if the cake. He has spending issues and he’s drank the entire time I’ve known him. Once we started seeing the challenging behavior of our child, he began “working” more, giving him a reason to be in his mancave every night to drink. In the summer he’d work on landscaping, another escape and drank while he did it. There’s so much more to this story…like his issue W my weight gain (I still wear clothes from the year 2000 and he doesnt consider his drinking baby he carries around?)But presently I’m just craving a brand new happy life without him. We ve gotten in arguments in which I’ve played internally told him I’m done, throwing in the towel, asked for his opinion on what we should do because his actions are saying I want nothing to do with you but he constantly says he wants to work it out. I don’t, I’m at a point to that I need to leave to save myself from spiraling downhill any more than I have. I’m constantly depressed, angry, and just want to feel free and be the best Mom I can be for my sensory oversensitive child. He’s absolutely miserable, even when I suggest us (trying to get out of the funk) going to do something he’d rather not unless it’s his idea…..I just can’t sit here and rot anymore like he wants to do. If I give him the demand of taking care of our child, it is absolute minimal supervision, and things get broken or colored and somehow someway there’s a price to pay…I need the power and courage to my next step but I don’t know how to find it?

  6. Never been truly loved

    No good mornings no good nights no physical contact for 10yrs lost house have no money married 30yrs. No outings ever just sit in corner wishing to die.

    1. Yes to never been truly loved; I can see what you are saying, for in this household we never can go anywhere together either; and as he will tell Everyone, it’s my fault, because to him “I am stubborn and want everything my way”. Then he will turn around and say “can’t afford it” ….he won’t even go to his children’s homes as “there is always something wrong with Them/their partners”…one’s too overweight….another takes his daughter’s money…..another abuses his daughter, and his son is gay, so an embarrassement…etc etc.

    2. Thats so sad. Wish in all this sadness of abuse I could be friends and near ones hurting the way I do and just let you know it will be ok n give you a hug. Praying you find a shelter at least.

  7. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Greg,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how difficult life is for you right now. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Your marriage is in crisis, you feel like you have nothing left, and you have nobody you can rely on to help you through this. Your kids may be feeling the stress and tension as well, which isn’t good for them or you. It’s a hard place to be, and I wish I had magic words to make things better.

    Giving advice isn’t my strength, so unfortunately I can’t tell you what you should do. However, I have written about this type of issue in the past. You might find this helpful:

    Emotional Disconnection in Marriage – How to Feel Less Alone

    And, here is a list of national resources and hotlines that provide anonymous, confidential information to callers. They can answer questions and perhaps even give you advice.

    Phone Number: 800-442-HOPE (4673)

    Mental Health America – For a referral to specific mental health service or support program in your community
    Phone Number: 800-969-NMHA (6642)

    National Alliance on Mental Illness – Provides support, information, and referrals
    Phone Number: 800-950-NAMI (6264)

    National Domestic Violence Hotline
    Phone Number: 800-799-SAFE (7233)

    National Sexual Assault Hotline
    Phone Number: 800-656-HOPE (4673)

    National Suicide Prevention Hotline
    Phone Number: 800-273-TALK (8255)

    National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    Phone: 800-273-8255

    Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
    Phone Number: 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)

    Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
    Phone Number: 800-826-3632

    I hope one of these organizations is able to give you the help you’re looking for.


  8. I’m a stay at home dad. My wife doesn’t love me but she doesn’t want a divorce. She’s never home, I’m sure she’s cheated on me though she won’t admit to it. I have a 6 and a 3 year old that she has no interest in. I have literally no friends or family. I have no idea what to do but I can’t stay with my wife. I’m so tired of being alone. I’ve been with her for 11 years-since I was 19. I don’t know what to do. I just want to die.

    1. Greg, WOW!! It was like reading about my life, but I choose to stay and nothing has changed. Wish I left when my kids were 6 & 3, that was my mistake and I’m still lonely but older. I have no relationship with my husband, we have no social life, no marriage, no family life and he’s just as miserable with himself as he always has been, and I have to live with that. Every day I think of the opportunities I missed because I stayed with him. Wish I had the courage to get out and who knows where I would be today. I’m focusing on getting out of my marriage regardless of what he says and promises. Wish you lots of luck :))

  9. I have been married to my husband for 13 years and I feel I should leave but we have a home together and a child.
    For years I have been pleading with my husband to show me that our marriage is worth it. If I tell him that he doesn’t make any effort in our marriage he always tells me to leave if I’m not happy but he knows I don’t have the means to do it. He will sleep on the sofa for weeks unless I beg him to talk to me. I tell him that I’m so lonely in our marriage and he just mocks me and says “I know because I’m such a terrible husband” and then tells me I can always leave. I have asked him to leave but he won’t do it. I feel so depressed, I get tired of crying and I don’t like my son seeing me unhappy. He is a good father to our son and that would really hurt me to see my son away from his father but I just don’t know what to do.

  10. After a formal separation – and so many problems (alcohol, other women, nervous breakdowns) – I think I’d wait for a long time before taking my husband back. I know leaving a marriage is crushing when you have kids, but you have to consider the long-term consequences of reconciling with your husband.

    I don’t know if your husband is a complete psychopath or “just” had a nervous breakdown and is recovered. Is he in counseling? How do you know he’s resolved his problems? What actions has he taken to heal and get back to normal?

    Thank you for sharing your experience, because I know other women are wondering the same thing after going through a marriage crisis. You inspired me to write this article:


    My prayer for is that you take time to seek wisdom, clarity, and insight. May you find the answers you’re looking for. May God grant you strength, courage, energy, and hope as you decide what to do about your marriage. May you feel His presence and guidance, and may you move forward without fear or insecurity. Amen.


  11. Hi there I was just hoping for some insight to male behaviour.
    My life and marriage went through a very bad patch the last two years. Unknown to me my husband found himself in financial difficulties and went to huge efforts to hide it from me. In doing this his behaviour became increasingly nervous and od and as I didn’t have a reason for it and being under huge stress myself looking after the kids, house and working I became increasingly impatient and resentful. When we came head to head my husband’s behaviour became unacceptable. He would threaten suicide in front of the kids shouting at me in a rage that it would be my fault that the kids would be fatherless. He was taken into hospital once after policemen had to get him down from a tree. After formal seperation he went to his solicitor to get the kids on Christmas day and through every weekend, even though he never asked to see them usually on weekends since that would allow me some freedom. He would watch me through windows and then run off when seen. He would always deny doing so even though he knew I had seen him! He would threaten me with social services even though he knew I’m a good capable mother, just out of spite!
    After all this though and heavy drinking and sleeping with another woman he contacts me begging to come home and says he loves me and that he wants to be with me and the kids. Is this behaviour typical of a man having a nervous breakdown? Or is he just a complete psychopath? I need to know. I need to decide. The kids desperately want him back

  12. My prayer for you – for all women who need to know how to leave a marriage when they have nothing left – is for strength, faith, wisdom, and courage. May you connect with God as your source of power and love. May you realize how valuable and loved you are, and may you connect with other women who started over when they had nothing left. Your marriage was a stage of your life….I pray that you can move on to the next stage of your life with hope, faith, and trust that you WILL be happy again.


  13. Been with my husband 11yrs this your we have two children,but he constantly cheats on me websites,facebook textes all to other women.But finally blow was 3yrs ago when he slept with a 19yr old girl who ended up getting pregnant,but she miscarriage and since then I’ve tried so hard to keep my marriage,but I just cant seem to forget what he did,its still hurts like it was yesterday.And he doesn’t understand that I cant cope with it and he has asked for a divorce.lucky my house is mine and I work part time.But I still do love him ever so much,But just so hard it hurts so much I just can’t cope with it anymore. Thanks

  14. What if your separated husband is a good guy. But a damaged guy? (Very damaged – by life’s circumstances, and still suffers PTSD). Do you move on anyway? Or do you have some kind of botched, half together existence for the good of everyone – all blurred lines? Is this better than a more formal arrangement? Or do you work on yourself, and hope that one day, someone with a short fuse will have developed patience (because good men are capable of change, but it’s slow). In the meantime, raising kids and juggling work and motherhood is a tough act. Aaaaagh. It’s all so hard!

    1. I’m curious how it worked out. Thinking of separating from a husband with ptsd and manic depression. He is a good guy also but I am being suffocated.

  15. Dear Tammy,

    Have you called a crisis line, or contacted a women’s shelter? I work at a transition house, and we offer housing for women who have nothing. Surviving a marriage crisis when you have nothing left is not fun or pretty, but you CAN do it. You need to dig deep into your core, and find the strength and courage you need to move forward.

    My prayer for you is that you connect with the right resources in your area. May you find a help line, women’s resource center, or transition house that can help you through this. May you connect with counselors and other survivors of bad marriages, and may your kids be well taken care of as you move forward. I pray for faith, peace, strength, and even a miracle or two! I also pray for energy and wisdom, as you decide what to do. Amen.


  16. I am in desperate need to leave me husband, but we have 5 kids and I have nothing. I don’t know where to begin or how. I need money and I need a vehicle as well. My marriage is emotionally abusive and devastating! I can’t keep doing this its killing me!

  17. I wish I hadn’t missed your comment on surviving a marriage crisis, Steve. I hope you’re doing well, and that you and your wife reconnected and now have a healthy marriage.

  18. My Situation:
    Married on Oct. 6,2012
    Todays Date: Oct. 26,2012
    After a major fight my new wife said to me that when I die she will “remove her ring, throw it into my coffin, and spit on my dead body” What is your advice???

  19. Samantha,

    Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts on surviving a marriage crisis, for abused and heartbroken and no direction!

    I had to turn it into an actual article, so other readers will benefit from your insight and experience:

    How to Break Free From an Emotionally Destructive Relationship

    I hope you don’t mind. If you’d like me to credit you in any way – your full name, a link to your website, blog, Facebook page, etc – please let me know! I’d be happy to.


  20. Dear abused and heartbroken,

    I don’t know why you can’t get the courage to leave this man, when he is so unhealthy – and you know how unhealthy he is! I do know that it’s really hard to leave the prisons we know, because the unknown is so scary and threatening.

    I also know that men who are controlling and abusive are also extremely manipulative. They brainwash women into believing they can’t leave, that they can’t survive without the man.

    But those are lies designed to keep women trapped.

    You are a strong, healthy woman who can survive this! When the time is right, you will leave him. This marriage crisis won’t be the end of you.

    I think the first thing you need to do is make a list of the things you fear will happen if you leave your husband — but only use half of the page. Leave the other half of the page blank. It can be list-in-progression – you can add to it as you think of things.

    As you make your list of things you fear, include the worst case scenario. Be as crazy as you can be! For instance, if you fear leaving him because you won’t be able to support yourself financially, then take it to the extreme: you will be unable to work, unable to buy groceries, unable to pay rent, and unable to live anywhere but under the bridge. Hopefully you’ll see how your fears can grow monstrously — and yet be totally ludicrous! Our fears paralyze us, but they don’t come true 99% of the time.

    Then, on the second half of the page, write down the solutions and best case scenarios. So, if your fear is financial ruin in one column, write your best case scenario opposite it: you win the lottery! your teaching job nets you enough to pay the rent and buy groceries! you have a nest egg saved up! you can ask your parents to lend you money! you can steal money from your cheap husband!

    I’m a very practical person, so my advice is usually very practical. I love Samantha’s advice below – I turned her advice into a whole article! She’s obviously suffered a marriage crisis and come through the other side….and I bet you will too.

    I hope this helps, and hope you come back and let us know how you’re doing.


  21. @Abused, Heartbroken, No Direction: You’re living in a loveless prison, but you already know that. Every day I want you to get up, and in the privacy of your own space (even if it’s the bathroom) I want you to click your heels together 3 times, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “I KNOW my way home, I KNOW my way home…” You DO know you’re way home — your “true” home, the home that’s screaming within your soul, but you’ve lost your emotional ticket.

    I’ve been there. No judgment here friend. Fear is the greatest obstacle in our lives. Fear does have value; it can help us from harming ourselves in unsafe situations, but for the most part, the fear we feel in our hearts about ourselves and taking a risk, is imaginery. It’s put there by the spiritual-enemy to stop us from living the best life possible, and to enjoy the blessings that God equipped us for.

    What would I do if I were you? … well, I “was you” at a different point of my life and broke free! I’m still a work in progress (smile), but the life I’m living now is light-years ahead of the one I had when fear ruled my thoughts. First thing my friend — act like the General of your life and formulate a plan, military style. Make a list of what pragmatically needs to be done, check– check — check — and work down it. Start with finances which are the MOST important thing for women who are trying to break free. We all need a roof over our head and food in the fridge, those things aren’t free. Second, try and get your “army” in place … recruit friends or people in the community who will be there to help you, even if it’s with a supportive word of empowerment. But, if you can get someone to help you more, GREAT. Having help is important.

    Why am I taking the time to respond to you in this manner? Well, as a spiritual counselor, writer and media consultant myself, you said something that went “BINGO!” in my mind, I nodded and said “Ah, she’s one of us … she’s my compadre, gotta help a fellow traveler…” What was it you said? “I LOVE TEACHING!”

    You, my friend, were put on this earth to do a great and worthy job and we’re not gonna let this controlling creep keep you back. Teachers, well the ones who truly love it, have deeply emotional connections in this world to people, but unfortunately having that emotional sense can make them HARDER when it comes to being good to themselves. I know, I’m also a “creative emotional” as you are. The truth is there is a well of strength inside of you, right below your rib cage in the core of your energy, and in your heart valve, your mind … it’s there screaming to get out. LET IT OUT MY FRIEND. You have no idea how happy and contented you’ll feel once you do.

    Things will start to flow like water … it will all come together. Now, that’s not to say you won’t have challenges and adversity like the rest of us humans, that’s part of the life game, but … the beautiful life that you know if inside of you, the one that has your true sense itching to burst forth, will become a reality.

    You’ll leave the controlling husband…You’ll continue to teach or go back to teaching …you’ll start to see life will get better, more enjoyable… you’ll develop greater self-esteem because your power will start to be released … and in time, you’ll meet someone else to love, someone who LOVES YOU …

    …he’ll let you touch the remote. He’ll let you touch him! He’ll listen when you talk and support you with your dreams. You’ll nourish you with physical and emotional love. You’ll think, “Oh heavens, why did I waste so many years not understanding what a real, balanced relationship is?”

    But, regret not — you’ll have it now. Everyday is a new page in our lives. Grab it Abused and break free! Trust me. Good luck my friend.

  22. abused, heartbroken, and no direction

    I have been married for 14 years and I know it is time to leave, but I can’t seem to find the courage. My husband is very controlling and verbally abusive. I know that I’m not perfect but a day doesn’t go by that he is not yelling at me or complaining about something. I’m only allowed to have pictures of out family in one room. He locks the theater room and other areas of the house and equipment. His reasoning is that when he was working on it and putting money into it I did have any money and I didn’t help. Oh did I mention I’m a teacher and he makes three times my salary. He says teaching is a waste of my degrees and why don’t I have goals and want more for myself. He doesn’t understand I LOVE TEACHING!!!!

    We have two SUV’s that I’m not allowed to drive. My house has to stay perfect at all times. For example we have hard wood floors he declares that someone is dropping something on his floor causing dents in the wood. I can’t seem to find these dents but of course there my fought. He actually put pledge ( to make it shine) on the floor so when you walk you slip and fall 80% of the time. The sofa pillows have to be fluffed and the kitchen chairs have to be checked for spots and spot cleaned. If there is a spot you clean it and dry it with a blow dryer. The same goes for the carpet. All remotes have to be placed in a certain place and God for bid if you turn it on the wrong side. Buttons must be facing up at all times. He doesn’t think you should drink anything in the bedroom not even water or a book on your nightstand. All electrical cords such as the house phone cord, cell phone and headset chargers are not allowed to be seen the have to be tucked away behind the nightstand out of sight. Not one item can be placed up under the bed. Oh did I mention he is never wrong.

    These are just a few of the house rules. I feel like prisoner in my own home. But why is it I can’t get enough courage to leave, when I know it isn’t right? I am completely broken. What can I do and how do I do it??? Heartbroken and lost without direction.

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