Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay – Help for Failing Marriages

Too Good to Leave or Too Bad to Stay Married

Not many marriages are all bad, or all good. Most are a little too good to leave, and a little too bad to stay. (image by kk+, via flickr)

Is your marriage is too good to leave, too bad to stay? This help for a rocky marriage is based on a reader’s questions – she’s a wife in an unhappy marriage. She doesn’t know if she should save or leave her marriage…

“My husband and I have been married for 10 months, and almost as soon as the ring was on my finger – our relationship changed,” writes Sarah in Is My Marriage Over? 7 Ways to Tell if Your Spouse is Ending the Relationship.

Many readers say the same thing: their partners change after marriage. This doesn’t necessarily mean the marriage is bad or over – which is what makes everything more confusing!

If you can’t decide whether to save or leave your marriage, read Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship. And, here are four questions to consider if you think your marriage might be over…

Is Your Husband Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay?

I can’t tell you if you should leave or save your marriage, but I can give you four questions to think about.

1. Is your husband willing to work on his issues? “I knew going in that he was jealous,” Sarah says, “but I was sure it would be something I could live with. He wasn’t over the top, but then that’s exactly what it became.” Her husband is now controlling, insecure, and suspicious. This isn’t the only marriage problem Sarah and her husband have, but a step towards saving their marriage is for him to talk to a counselor about his jealousy. Why is he so jealous — what is he afraid of? Is he willing to grow, change, and become a better husband? Then yes, the marriage may be too good to leave.

Fix Your Marriage

2. Are you both committed to staying married and working on your marriage? “Through our marriage, he kept his own place,” says Sarah. “He had taken the set of keys he had given me at our wedding and didn’t return them to me.” Being 100% committed to your marriage – saving your marriage – means you’re both willing to do what it takes to rebuild your relationship. I’m not sure having a second home is a 100% commitment to marriage! Your marriage isn’t too bad to stay in if you’re both willing to compromise, and put your spouse’s needs before your own. And, different couples have different types of compromise. For Sarah and her husband, it could mean giving up the second home.

3. Are you too tired, drained, frustrated, or empty to continue in a failing marriage? Sarah asked, “How do you know when it’s truly over?” There is no easy answer to that – it’s different for each person. But perhaps you know your failing marriage is over when you just can’t keep fighting to save it. Maybe your marriage is too bad to stay in when your children are stuck in the middle, or when you don’t want to role model a bad marriage for your kids. Maybe your marriage is over when couples counseling doesn’t work. If you don’t know where to start, you might find 10 Warning Signs of Bad Relationships helpful.

4. Are you in touch with your true self? I think the key to knowing if your marriage is over is knowing yourself: your life goals, your personality, your hopes for the future. The more in tune with your authentic self you are, the easier it may be to discern if your marriage is too good to leave, or too bad to stay. And remember: leaving a marriage – no matter how bad it is – will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. That doesn’t mean ending the relationship is the wrong choice! Separation and divorce is heartbreaking, even if the marriage was always too bad to stay in.

Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.

For more help for failing marriages, read Thinking About Divorce? 4 Options for Unhappy Married Couples.

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4 thoughts on “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay – Help for Failing Marriages

  • Laurie Post author

    If you’re fighting with your boyfriend or husband every day, then your relationship is failing. It’s not even a question of whether or not it’s to good to leave or too bad to stay — it’s a question of whether or not you want to live a life like that!

  • Perla

    I have read your article and i have defenetly been thru some of the things you have mentioned. Your articles are really helpfull. I should really talk to him about our problems that we seems to have like everyday. I would like for you to give me some advice please. So here are my questions. If we fight everyday does that mean i should leave him or should i keep fightin back? How do you know if he really loves you? What should i do if he insults me and calls me names like bad names? Should i tell him what i really feel and think about his attitude? If you can atleast answer me some of these question that’ll be great. Thank you very much.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Sarah,

    Congratulations for being strong and brave enough to leave your marriage! It sounds like it’s been a long road — and leaving your husband will also be a long road — but you’ll have more self-respect and happiness if you do it.

    You deserve better, my friend.


  • sarah

    Hi Laurie,
    Thank you for the article…I’ve read it, then reread it, then read other articles and am going to find the book “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay” but I believe my waffling is over.
    It comes down to talk being cheap. It’s been quite easy for my husband to say that he’s sorry, but when i step back, i see the pattern. : Here’s an example:
    my husband tells me that he loves me so very deeply, and that the times I have come up behind him, given him a caress, a kiss and a hug – he’s felt fantastic, that at that moment he would do anything for me…
    seems great, doesn’t it? but i look at it twofold – one, he only loves me if I do something first – and that’s conditional love. Second, it’s part and parcel to the pattern I believe we’re in. It’s the old ‘kiss and slap’ routine: I love you, even though you’re an angry, selfish woman. First the kiss (“i love you”) then the slap (“even though you’re an angry..”etc.)
    You are absolutely right in regard to your four questions – and he’s told me yes, but his actions say ‘no’. he has every excuse as to why he keeps his condo…and i understand that, because I’m at the end of my rope. I love myself. I really do – and I have made compromises and would continue to do so if I saw some ‘action’ that would show me he really wants this to work…but I don’t – and I can’t keep sacrificing myself expecting a different outcome.
    Thank you for pointing things out – it’s truly appreciated. thank you for giving me back some of my power and reaffirming what I already knew but was too afraid to voice.
    Blessings back…quantified three-fold:)

    1. willing to work on issues?