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Are You Staying Married Out of Guilt?

You feel sorry for your husband and you feel guilty, so you’re staying in an unhappy, unfulfilling marriage. You have good reasons for not wanting to leave: your husband isn’t physically well, or perhaps unable to support himself. You don’t want to break your marriage vows. Maybe your children are young, and you don’t hurt them or other family members.

“Marriage guilt” isn’t necessarily a sign your marriage is over….but it is a sign that something has to change in your life. You can’t change your husband. You may not even be able to change your marital situation or living circumstances. But there is one thing you can change, and that one thing can change everything.

The one thing you can change is you. You don’t have the power to change anyone else. Some of us don’t even have the power to change ourselves – which is understandable! Change is hard. But choosing to change something about yourself is the only way to deal with the guilt that keeps you in a marriage you wish was over.

There is nothing wrong with being unhappy in your marriage, for wanting to leave your husband and start a fresh life. There is nothing wrong with you. In fact, there’s a lot that is good and right about you! You’re caring and compassionate enough to feel guilty for wanting to leave your marriage. You care about your husband and family. You know how hard it’ll be to talk about separating or getting divorced. You aren’t a bad person for wanting to start a new life. You’re an unhappy woman in a difficult situation.

When Guilt Keeps You Married

Give yourself time to reflect on the thoughts below. You don’t have to make this decision right now, or even this month. You have time to think about your options, to explore ways to deal with your guilty feelings, and to find support in the right places. You might consider getting free divorce consultations, visiting “save your marriage” websites, talking to a relationship therapist.

Allow yourself to feel guilty for thinking about leaving your marriage while you explore your options. Don’t let marriage guilt paralyze you.

Give yourself time and space to breathe

When Guilt Keeps You in a Marriage You Wish Was Over
When Guilt Keeps You in a Marriage You Wish Was Over

You may have to wrestle with your guilty feelings for a long time. Divorce is one of the biggest decisions a woman can make, and it’s not something that should happen overnight.

Explore different ways to get good relationship advice; don’t rely on your best friend or family to advise you. You want to make the best decision for you, your husband, and your family…and that takes time.

Give someone advice about staying married because of guilt

What would you tell your sister, mother, or daughter about staying in a marriage out of guilt? What advice would you give someone you don’t know? Here’s a comment to think about:

“My relationship was over for three years, but I stayed because I didn’t want to hurt him and it’s hard to leave after an eight year relationship,” says J. on How Do You Leave a Man You’ve Loved for Years? “So we just kept being miserable, putting on a good show for friends…I found comfort in online chat rooms…met someone and had an online relationship for a year. I wanted it to be over with my fiancé. He found out and I feel so guilty for not dealing with things sooner. I don’t want to hurt him more. He wants to work it out, but we were over a long time ago. Plus I still resent him for the years of misery. My guilt keeps me in this marriage because I don’t want to hurt him more, and I still care about him. What do I do?”

Sometimes it’s easier to give other people advice than make decisions in our own lives. And, sometimes the advice we give is good, wise, and exactly what we need to hear.

Remember that guilt is for women who did something wrong

Guilt is an appropriate emotion for wives who somehow betrayed or purposefully hurt their husbands, children, or marriage. Having an affair, for example, is a common reason to feel guilty. It also makes leaving a marriage more difficult. If you feel guilty because you did someone wrong and you haven’t made things right, then it’s time to make amends. They call it “coming clean” for a reason…it hurts, but it will help you heal and move forward.

It’s important to figure out the source of your guilt. Is your husband making you feel guilty, or are you the sole source of your guilt? Have you talked to anyone about how unhappy you are? How are you working through your thoughts and emotions? These are difficult questions, but they will help you figure out what to do when guilt keeps you trapped in a marriage you wish was over.

Figure out what’s keeping you in the marriage

Women stay in unhappy relationships and loveless marriages for a variety of reasons. Something – or someone – holds them back from leaving and starting fresh. Sometimes the reasons for staying are good, sometimes they’re not. Are you staying married for reasons you think are good? If you feel stuck in marriage for reasons you believe are bad or unhealthy, then you have a starting point.

I stayed in an abusive relationship because I didn’t think anyone else would love me. I didn’t want to start dating again; it was much easier to stay in a bad relationship than leave and start over. I didn’t feel guilty and I wasn’t married to the guy, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. Ending any relationship is hard. Leaving a marriage when you feel guilty is agonizing.

Accept that even the “most right” decisions bring pain and heartache

“I’ve been married for 25 yrs and my marriage has been over for many years,” says Sara on 6 Ways to Deal With Guilty Feelings When You Move On. “I do love this man, but I’m not in love with him anymore. Our relationship has been one-sided and I was always trying to please him. My husband only thinks about himself and what makes him happy. I told him I want to leave, but he keeps saying he’ll change and never does. I’ve been trying to leave but he makes me feel so guilty. He keeps telling me to wait until after the holidays and it will be easier for him, but what about me? I know I deserve to be happy, but I can’t shake the guilt.”

Sometimes the healthiest decisions are the most painful ones. Even healthy, good decisions that are beneficial in the long run (exercise, eating healthy, going for regular pap smears) are painful in the short run. Your guilty feelings aren’t necessarily a sign you shouldn’t end your marriage. Your guilt just means you love your husband and you know how painful it’ll be to leave.

Talk to women who left their marriages

Here’s a comment from one of my readers who was stuck in a bad relationship for three years…

“I realized that this is not how I want to live my life and none of this is OK,” says Jessie on Should You Stay Married Even Though You Live Like Roommates? “Even if my husband changed he has already taken so many years from me…and I am taking the rest of my years for myself. I still feel immense guilt for ‘doing this to him’ which is what he said when I ended our marriage. I sometimes forget what it is that HE did to ME. We are now separated and it is still really hard. But everyday I wake up telling myself that I am worth it. I deserve to be respected and loved. Writing in a journal, getting family/ friend support, and a good therapist are the keys.”

Have you talked to anyone about how guilty you feel about leaving your marriage? Find someone you trust. Call a helpline, counselor or trusted family member. You’re facing a huge crossroads in your life, and you need support. Swallow your pride, and admit how things really are going in your life. You won’t regret it. The truth will eventually set you free…but it will hurt first.

Getting help with guilty feelings

When Guilt Keeps You in a Marriage You Wish Was Over

In Escaping Toxic Guilt: Five Proven Steps to Free Yourself From Guilt for Good!, Susan Carrell says your life should not be a massive guilt trip.

Are you staying in a marriage because you feel responsible for your husband’s happiness, health, and life? Do you value the feelings of others more than your own? Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself? If so, you may be trapped by toxic guilt.

Trying to win the approval of others – your parents, husband, colleagues, friends, children, or church – while being trapped by toxic guilt can strain your relationships, drain your energy, and dominate your life. The five easy-to-follow steps in Escaping Toxic Guilt can liberate you from these self-defeating patterns and put you on the path to living life fully, joyfully, and on your own terms.

Are you feeling trapped in a marriage because you feel guilty, or even ashamed to leave? Think of one small way to start coping with your guilty feelings today. Maybe you need to examine the roots of your guilt or the deeper reasons you’re staying married. Maybe you’re blaming your reluctance to leave your marriage on your husband or kids…but it’s really you that’s keeping you trapped.

Feel free to share your thoughts below. Writing is one of the best ways to figure out what you really think and feel, and can help you deal with the guilt you feel. What is holding you in this marriage? Who will be affected if you leave your husband?

If you already know you’re leaving your marriage, read 7 Ways to Deal With Guilty Feelings After a Breakup.

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.

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53 thoughts on “Are You Staying Married Out of Guilt?”

  1. I’ve been married for 2 years and 3 months. I felt like I was pressured into marrying him. I got out of a really bad relationship 4 months before getting together with him. I felt like I had to be with him. Last April, I went to meet my old store manager at a hotel , just to have someone to talk to, well things escalated and we kissed and got drunk and stuff happened. My parents drove to the hotel and got me.. Well I Honestly feel like my parents are controlling me and are making me stay with my husband. I won’t outta my marriage but I honestly don’t know how to do. I’ve been praying for ways to make it easier on myself and tell him I want a divorce, but I’m absolutely terrified. We have no chemistry anymore.

  2. I just celebrated my 22nd wedding anniversary this past July and I want out of my married. I am the mother of 3 children and there are days when I feel that he is my fourth. He does not take care of himself; never goes to the dentist; went to the doctor after over 20 years of never going and has not followed up with doing his labs etc. He works a mediocre job that pays him 18 dollars an hour despite him being a college graduate and does not seem motivated to look for something better. In the interim my salary sustains us. I started filing separate taxes 3 years ago and he has not filed his in 2 despite the obvious implications of not doing so. No gifts for Mothers day, Christmas nor my birthday despite me ensuring that those things are celebrated for him. I can go on and on and on. I no longer love him yet feel so guilty over wanting a divorce….

  3. I’ve been married for 43 years, a long long long time. He is a good man and good father. We have been together since i was 16. I have often thought that no one should be allowed to choose a life partner so young. I have changed so much that i’m not the same person i was all those years ago. Anyway, in the beginning, i felt sorry for him. His mom died when he was a junior in high school and i started dating him shortly thereafter because i wanted to make his life better. Looking back, i think i wanted to “mother” him. Unfortunately, I’ve never been “in love” with him, though i do love him. When we were married only 7 years, i had an affair. The slime i had the affair with called him and told him what we were doing. It was awful. Not that i blamed him, but he called me every name in the book and told me he’d kill me and that our two young boys would always hate me or if he didn’t do that, he’d take the boys from me and he’d make sure they knew what i’d done and again, they’d hate me. He said he’d make sure of it. So I stayed, terrified he’d take my boys from me. And i stayed and i stayed. And when my boys were in high school, i dreaded the day i’d have him all to myself. At the time i was still working and it wasn’t too bad. But then i retired and so did he and all this time together makes me crazy. While he is a good man, he does do things i absolutely hate, such as he is a little controlling. For example, i can do anything i want as long as it’s ok with him. i can’t just decide to do something to the house or yard or anything without asking. i can’t wear certain things because he doesn’t want me to “embarrass myself”. He always makes it so i constantly have to justify where i’ve been or what i want to do or anything that’s going on. He is the master of guilt. He has a way of saying things that are specifically designed to make me feel bad enough to change my behavior. For a long time I did as bid because it was easier than fighting about it. Now i see my mistake because recently i’ve been trying to stand up for myself and since it’s not usual for me to do this, suddenly i’m being selfish and hateful. He’s even called me a nasty woman. We have almost nothing in common except for our two adult boys and three beautiful grandchildren. Where he used to use the boys against me, he now uses the grandbabies. It sucks. He will still bring up the affair in a pinch. i’m so tired of being on the edge of my seat all the time. He is really a good person, but he knows just what buttons to push to get the result he wants. He seems only to be interested in how this affects him, not thinking about how it affects me. There are so many other things wrong with this marriage that seem petty i suppose. I know in my heart if we hadn’t gotten married the summer we did, we wouldn’t have married. i was barely 19 and even at the time i knew it was a mistake, but because i was young, i thought that since the invites had been sent, it was too late. Now i’m 62 and i realize that life has gone by and i’ve never gotten to experience true wild passionate love, the feeling of being at “home” with the one person i love more than anything. I want to know what it’s like to look forward to every day instead of the feeling of constantly waiting for…… not sure what. I’m always in a constant state of disapproval and waiting and i hate it. I apologize if i’m rambling. There are so many emotions and memories going through my head right now. It makes me sad because the length of time we’ve been married is important to him. It would be important to me if i wasn’t so sad all the time. In his mind, he does everything right and nothing i can say will make him understand that it is both of us. So now, i have to hold this guild and responsibility by myself. I hate that i can’t change how i feel.

    1. I’m taking you for your word… so here are my thoughts… if you have the financial resources – and it wouldn’t actually cost much at all – plan a 9 month journey for yourself away from your current situation and your spouse. Go somewhere out of your country, and be with others who actually care about personal development. I don’t know what that looks like for you but there are so many places that are relatively inexpensive or even net cost zero except for the expenses to get there. It may be a yoga retreat for a month or two to start, or a spiritual centre, and then plan your next move afterwards. Don’t be sacred. No need to feel you’ll be absorbed into some cult or other. Go be active. Go be of service to others. Go join a charity like Habitat for Humanity. But don’t be alone. You can get a room alone, but don’t sit alone and wallow. Get out of your situation. It isn’t healthy. You’re in your head. After 9 months away, you’ll be in a different spot. Maybe you’ll return to your marriage, maybe you won’t. Who cares. It’s your life. Not your spouses.

  4. I got married at 23 only 2 months after my grandfather passed away. My husband and I’s relationship was toxic from the start. When we were dating we were constantly on-again-off-again but he was persistent so I thought he just really cared about me. He’s 21 years my senior so age differences have played a huge role in the downfall of our marriage. He suggested marriage shortly after my grandfather passed knowing I was in a vulnerable place mentally. I was scared of being alone since I have lived with my grandparents since birth. My gut told me not to get married but my irrational fears outweighed any good sense I had. With in the first 3 months our marriage went from stable to chaos. We had a domestic dispute and the cops were called. The night of the dispute after the cops left and we were told to stay in separate rooms and let each other cool down my husband came in the room trying to have sex to smooth things over. I didn’t want anything to do with him and told him to leave me alone. That night he raped me. I was so confused because spousal rape is hardly ever discussed. (Prior to dating my husband I was beaten and sexually assaulted by an ex so rape has been a very tough subject for me.) From that point on I was disgusted by the sight of him. I tried to mend our marriage but arguments continued and my distain for him physically/sexually was over powering. He constantly accuses me of cheating to the point where I have to have my location on my phone visible to him 24/7. Even then he tells me I’m a cheater. We have been married for going on 4 years. We have discussed separating multiple times but he always says it was only for conversational purposes. I felt so guilty because he has helped me in the past with my finances and has been there for me when it comes to materialistic aspects. But in every other way he has done nothing but degrade me, break me and spit on any bit of self love I still have. He has told me during arguments that he hoped I was raped again. It wasn’t until last year after a ton of self reflection that I have finally swallowed my fears and have decided to move on. I’m due to move out the first of April and move in with a long time friend to get back on my feet. I still catch myself going back and forth with leaving him for good. I just hate that I can even conjure up guilt over someone who has beat me down mentally for so long. It’s one of my own personal biggest flaws. Divorce is something I never in a million years thought I would experience but sometimes it has to happen.

      1. I move out the end of this month thankfully. I’ve had to hold out until the lease is up on the house we have been renting together the past year.

  5. ive been with him for 17years, married for almost 13 with 2kids, fell out of love 2years ago, problems started 4years ago. when i asked him what changed, he said he was always giving but never got anything in return, i told him i always thought i was enough, so while i was floating in my happy bubble he wasnt happy, he told me atleast i was happy thats why he never said anything, so i asked him what changed, he said he just decided that he was not giving anymore as he wasnt getting anything back in return. what ive noticed is that he didnt want anything to change while in the meantime we werent alone anymore, there were now kids involved so obviously a lot would change, i have tried to make amends but it was still not enough, he kept on wanting more and i did not know how to be more, how to give more than what i was already giving. all this made him disrespectful towards me thats the time when things got worse. i now am sitting here not knowing why im still here and dont know how to move. always thought it was going to be forever but unfortunately forever does not exist.

  6. Everything for the first few years was perfect. When it wasn’t perfect, we worked through it. I was extremely grateful to finally be in an adult relationship. We were not without flaws, we had our problems, but we loved and respected each other enough to talk through things, work it out.

    Since we got married in 2013 everything has changed. He is emotionally distant and detached, withdrawn. When I try to talk things through, he becomes angry. I always end up apologizing to him, and he isn’t taking responsibility for his own actions or shortcomings. He lives on his phone now. If he is awake he is either working, or he is on his phone. We never go anywhere anymore, and when we do he complains the whole time. He doesnt like going out to eat now, even though we used to do it all the time. We used to have date nights, but that’s done and over with too.

    I have given up everything for him over the years; my work life, my hobbies, my parenting styles, my friends, my car, church, and quite a bit more. It’s not like he took these things from me out right, they were compromises I made out of love and respect to him. I stood by him, supported him in every way I could, gave him everything & expected nothing in return. I listened to him, helped him work through issues or problems with work, fellow employees, or with his family. I cleaned for him, cooked for him, did his laundry, stayed home to take care of him and my 3 children from a previous relationship.

    He stood up for me with my ex. He protected me and made me feel safe. I used to refer to him as my shining knight in a white truck. He saved me from a bad life. My previous relationship was nothing short of horrible, and took a huge toll on me emotionally, physically, and mentally. But here he was picking up the pieces, helping me through things, making me whole again.

    Now I am sitting here wondering how the heck do I move forward. I have no money to leave, I haven’t worked in close to 14 years. I have devoted my entire life to him and my kids. How did this happen? What changed? Where did things go wrong? How did I get to the point that I’m now trying to figure out why I should stay? I’ve heard the age old “I will change. I love you. I dont want you to go.” But nothing ever changes. He either attempts to change and gives up, or tricks me into believing he has changed, and just continues on behind my back.

    I dont believe that he has ever cheated, but there are things that raise some flags. If I cant trust him to be honest or truthful to me about the little things though, how can I trust him to be honest and truthful about the big things?

    I honestly think that he gave up on us a long time ago, but it’s only recently that he has stopped trying to hide it. He is secretive. Refuses to talk to me. He wont talk to me in front of the kids, but the kids are always around, so there is never any time to talk. He wont talk to me before work. He doesnt like to talk when he gets home from work. He doesnt like to talk during meals or when he is eating. He plays on his phone all evening, only stopping for dinner or possibly a TV show. He doesnt like talking during TV time either. Then when the kids go to bed, I only get maybe 10-15 minutes to talk to him before he’s closing his eyes and starts falling asleep. What’s the point of trying to work through anything like we used to, when he doesn’t have time for me and doesn’t want to work through anything?

    I went from being loved, respected, and cared for, to being ignored, neglected, and put off. I just dont think he loves me anymore and I’m so incredibly heart broken. I dont want to be where I am not wanted, and I definitely dont feel wanted. What’s the point of trying to work things out, if I’m the only one putting in the work?

  7. Thank you. I have been feeling trapped for 11 years past the date I wanted to leave. It may be longer, but I started journaling about it 11 years ago. I imagine that it’s longer. What really hit home for me in reading your article was when I read the statement “I realized that this is not how I want to live my life and none of this is OK,” says Jessie. “Even if he were to change, he has already taken so many years from me…and I am taking the rest of my years for myself. I too still feel immense guilt for ‘doing this to him.’ I sometimes forget what it is that HE did to ME. “ I am telling you, that’s how I feel. Some days I feel super confident about my decision to leave, and other days, I feel like my heart is about to come out of my chest from anxiety and worry. At least I know I am not alone. I do feel like he is sitting around, waiting for me to drop the ball.

  8. What about men? In an age of ‘metoo’ and the seemingly endless man-bashing that permeates our society, spare a thought for those of us who have been cheated on. Yet, with three beautiful children and guilt the only yet unbreakable reason I am staying in my relationship, I too am unable to break the cycle of guilt over-riding any thoughts of leaving my home and a relationship that has been ripped apart, I might have. Some of us are good men. Strong. Kind. Thoughtful. Respectful. Loving. Emotional. Empathetic.

  9. After 25 yrs of marriage I’m considering leaving I’ve thought of it a lot for the last 4yrs the guilt that I’m dealing with is crazy but this relationship has been one sided and draining once I turned 40 I realized just how much I had given of myself to my family , friendships and work but never once thought of myself I became pregnant at 40 my husband was not supported wanted me to have an abortion and never gave me emotional support he basically ignored me I ended up having a miscarriage more then likely from the stress I need to mention that I suffer from depression and anxiety and my doctor was helping me wean off my meds for the baby’s sake I’m was a basket case well and after thank goodness for my friends and my doctor because the one person who was suppose to support me wasn’t there only to take me to the hospital for my d&c my heart changed and even though I expressed my feelings I’m very verbal I believe in saying how you feel I never received any closure there are a few more stories I have but my point is I gave all my life to this man our children our home I’m not saying I’m perfect but where was my support when I needed it? I’m emotionally spent and know I need to move on so we both can live the rest of our lives hopefully living fear and guilt keep me I’m hoping to put on my big girl panties and move on

  10. I feel like I have always had to drag my husband along to make our family “work”. I have 3 children, and he is their step father. I was so excited to finally have what I had been dreaming of for so long…a stable marriage with a man who seemed to have a great deal of spiritual integrity and one who was willing and able to be the father my children needed (he’s the only father figure in the picture). In the beginning my husband would talk a great deal about how important it was to walk in truth and light. I thought it would all work out beautifully(with bumps of course). However, all the “rose color” began to fade and I found that he was not near the man I had hoped for.

    This was a complicated situation, as his “family” was a cult (I failed to recognize at the time). He joined when he was around 19 and had been in this love bombing “group” for many years. After many problem occurrences involving the “family”(to mention a few: he would put agreements with group “leaders” before our agreements, where he would leave me out on a limb to provide the “leaders” what they wanted to see or hear as opposed to what we had just agreed upon (ie. telling me we would get married on a particular date, then agree with one of the leaders that we shouldn’t get married yet), taking his hand away from mine when they would walk in the room, etc.) and during my own bout of illusion with this group (yes, I became a member as well), I decided this wasn’t the healthiest situation and began to back away. During this period, the “leaders” would set up meetings with my husband and he would attend without telling me. I found out about this and asked if this were true, he told me that he had only had lunch with one of them to “catch up”. I had already asked him not to speak of me with these people, so I asked if he was sure to leave me out of the conversation. He said he did not speak of me with any of them. A few weeks later, I received a call from the person he had lunch with. I ask what they had discussed during the “meeting’. She told me they had discussed the things I was going through and how they could help fix it. I felt sooooo betrayed by my husband. My heart was ripped out, and all my expectations of who I thought he was, who I thought we were, had been shattered. I had a severe anxiety attack. It felt like my whole body was shutting down; it felt like death.

    After that incident, I realized, even more so, that this was a controlling, manipulative cult, and I tried to convince him of their ways, but he never would accept, or admit that things were a little off with the whole situation; they could do no wrong. He wanted to keep contact with them, and I was fine with that as long as he could be honest and put our relationship first. Similar situations continued to occur. I would find out he would visit everyone without telling me. He would try to avoid being honest until I would present proof of what I knew.
    As time went on I found that he would even lie to me about things he would watch on tv, because he felt I would get mad (I have made comments about too much nudity in movies and how they target the audience, etc.), but even after I explained that I wouldn’t get mad and even after I started purposely choosing movies with sex scenes to show him I would rather for him to be honest and me accept him for who he was, he still would lie to me. If I asked, “watch any good movies or shows lately?”. He would tell me that he didn’t watch anything, anymore, only sports. He lied about this many times. Even when I would present proof. I explained it wasn’t about what he was watching, it was about him lying, but he would not acknowledge that. He would always make it seem like I was making a big deal out of nothing, and that it shouldn’t matter what he watched. I would agree and direct him back to his lies and how that was the problem.

    I then found out that he was hiding alcohol because he didn’t want me to say anything about his drinking. We are not just talking beer here people, oh he would have that too, but he would hide bottles of tequila, whiskey, etc. When I would confront him, he would lie, until I presented proof. Then he would tell me that he wouldn’t lie again, and the same thing would happen soon after. One day, I heard a car pull in our driveway, I looked outside to see who it was. It was my husband. As I stood there attempting to wave from the window, he was occupied with walking to the trash can. I watched as he placed a very large beer can in the trash. When he came inside. I asked what was going on and what was up with the beer can. He denied having it at first, I told him I saw him put it in the trash. Some how I was able to get him to admit that he would often go to the local gas station to buy a beer, and would then go sit in a park, etc. to drink the beer, and then drive. I expressed how this was concerning, as we only had two cars at the time, and if one were to be impounded, he would have to take the only left over (if he still had a license) and I would have no transportation to run the kids where they needed to be, go to school, etc. He said he would never do it again. Yes, you guessed, that was a lie. It occurred on several occasions, and he denied it each time. I finally decided to accept this about him (as much as I could), and tried to not say things that might make him want to be dishonest. I began to notice a pattern.

    Not only have we had the dishonesty issues, but he seemed so emotionally stumped. He never thought about the importance of a couple spending time together (he would never seek to spend time alone or suggest a date night). Also, he would say and do things that gave me the feeling he did not respect or believe in my intelligence. For example, I wanted to talk with my child’s bus driver about a complaint she had with a student displaying bullying behavior. I tried to communicate with my husband about my concerns. He assumed I was going to confront the child, and (in front of my children, as he often did) told me that was a bad idea. He would do this frequently, assume that I would do something stupid, or that I didn’t know how to do something, and then he would try to be the “greater” one, the “smarter” one. It was so bad that while playing a trivia game with the kids, he let everyone know that he felt it was unfair to play us because he knew so much more than we did. He was serious.

    I felt like his mother. I felt like he was incapable of thinking on his own regarding what a parent should do, what a husband, or even a respectful, thoughtful human should do. I felt like I had to train him how to treat me and the children, how to be savvy and aware in the world we live in. He seemed to not mind sitting in a room by himself, not making much contact with me or the kids. He would make small talk with the kids and be their buddy, but he did not do what a involved or determined father would do.

    I would have to beg him to be with me on the same page regarding raising the children, what they could and couldn’t do, etc. I would be the one making the rules and he would be the one trying to be their friend, undermining what I would say or do with the kids, basically making comments in opposition to what I would suggest or request. An example: my 17 year old daughter was attending music lessons, and needed to brush up more on her music theory for college auditions. One of the music teachers offered to give her free private lessons (he is a man). I told my daughter to expect that this is a wonderful thing the instructor is offering and that she should trust the person upfront, unless he gave her a reason not to. I felt that we had to remind my daughter of the predatory behaviors out there, not that she had to be on guard, but if something funny happened, she needed to be aware and ready to walk out. Instead of my husband supporting what I was saying, or offering some wise words, he said “no, this guy seems like a good guy, I met him. He wouldn’t do anything like that”. AAAAAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! I felt soooo angry. In a world where teenage athletes are molested by their doctors, where priests are molesting children, you pose opposition when I try to make sure my daughter is armed with awareness???? And how comfortable would she feel telling if something did happen when you just sat there and told her that you wouldn’t believe it because “he wouldn’t do that, he’s a good guy”??? WOOOOOWWWW!!!! That was a straw that helped to break the camel’s back.

    One of the most hurtful things was when we agreed that we were starting a “new Family”. We had separated from “the group”, so he did leave that behind for me (which he brings up often when I express my concerns of the destruction that had been caused my all the other things, pointing out that if he didn’t love me he would not have left the group and he wouldn’t go out and work for us to have what we have), and my physical family was pretty dysfunctional, so I had decided to separate from them. Our new family was going to represent functionalism, healthy communication and boundaries, faith in the future and journeys of success and happiness, and healthy support for each other. We would symbolize this by establishing a new family name. All the kids were excited and we all voted. However, no mater how many times I would mention it, he would not take the initiative to change his name. He finally did after I told him that I wouldn’t be concerned with it anymore and that the children and I would do it alone, and that I would only be concerned about the relationship I had with my children; no longer would I try to give them the impression that this man was every bit of the father and family man that they may have always wanted. My faith was slipping.

    Each time I expressed my feelings, even with the softest voice and touch, he would respond(mostly after sitting quietly until I beg him to speak) by either turning himself into the victim by picking out something I had or had not done recently, and completely diverting the conversation to my “issue”, or he would victimize himself by saying what an awful person he was and how he was sorry and he wouldn’t do it again. In these situations, I would start defending myself instead of addressing his issue, then feel guilty, or I would buy his BS and feel guilty. I caught onto this eventually, and asked him to work on changing it. He began to get a little better, but it would always revert back again.

    With each incident, I would convince myself that it was all worth it. I had faith that we could build a stable family for the kids, and I felt that him providing for us financially and allowing me to stay home with the kids and finish school was all worth it in the end.

    Anyhoo, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to break free. No matter how scared i was to be on my own, I had to let him know that I would be leaving after the kids go off to college, and before then if he became passive aggressively abusive.

    I have written this in past tense, but I am still here, waiting for the kids to go off to college, wondering if I will be able to make it another 9 months.

  11. 35 years married to a man that I don’t even share the same interests with. Why? I’ve been so guilt ridden for so long and for so many reasons that sorting it out has taken me as long as I’ve been in this sad relationship. I believe I was broken when I met him. Broken by bondage from my life prior to meeting him. However, his control issues and insecure brokenness that he brought to the table also was the glue that held this sad relationship together. I finally left for the second time and now I desperately want the knowledge, strength and ability not to give in, give up and go back to him. I’m very happy to have found your web site.


  12. I rushed into my current relationship on a rebound from my 22.5 year marriage. I was happy someone could love me. He has provided me with financial security that I lost when I was let go of my last job for no reason given to me. I think my job didn’t want to deal with the drama in mylife and my son who was getting in trouble with the law. I married my husband to regain financial security. As many times I have wanted out, my husbands health has deteriorated to the tune of not being able to drive, handle his finances, or run his business without my healt 24/7. Help! I want out, but will destroy his life, if I leave. I am not attracted to him or have had sex with him for years. I don’t want another man, I just want my freedom.

  13. Honestly I feel as if you are encouraging divorce. I am in a emotionally abusive marriage with an adulterer who could never change. After much toil and prayer k believe God has asked me to stand away. A marriage under biblical reasons can end in the case of abandonment or adultery. Not because you don’t like someone anymore. As far as having an online affair like the woman above; she should be asking her husband for forgiveness and working on why she did that. I feel this article was very counterproductive. If you leave a marriage because you’re unhappy and those are the ONLY grounds? Eh, you aren’t speaking with God’s heart. You’re encouraging selfishness. God HATES divorce unless it’s an abusive, adulterous or abandoned marriage. I seriously am rethinking subscription to this email. Unless you can clarify? Divorce rates are high enough as it is. To say. Hey if you’re unhappy, don’t feel bad! Just leave! Is Definitely not God’s will. And “hey you had an affair? It’s Ok! We all make mistakes!” Your wording in this was very poor. How about, hey you had am affair? Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness and understand the reason that relationship is ending is your fault, since you chose to seek adultery. Not your husband. This post really really bothered me and I think your message is all wrong

    1. I disagree .but if that how you understand the article i get why you still in a relationship with your husband..
      First why would someone stay in a loveless marriage or someone who constantly cheats(you) or abuses you of any kind mentally ,emotionally(you) or even physically. Do you really think God wants that for you ..No he wants ( US ) his children to be happy.

      As for me i want to divorce my husband because hes a liar and really good at pretending to be someone he’s not. Had me fooled but when confronted said he’ll never change..i feel guilty because i feel like i can help him and im just giving up easy.. But the truth is i try over and over and he wants to stay the way he is..
      He also dont believe in God which i strongly do ..and he had me fool by pretending to.God would never want his child with a non believer who has no intention to change.. thats an insult to God.
      So what you’ll tell me to stay God want tha and divorce is wrong..ugh please i think you need a divorce also especially since you are aware of you husbands deception..you are as guilty as him because its like you are condoning it. You know he’s not going to change..im not happy and it bothers me deeply that he dont believe in God but pretened to only to find out after marriage he dont.. He was a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing..devils work!! Im not happy i would love for him to change and i would pray again for God to lead me in right dission with strength.. Because i feel like being with a non believer is blocking my blessings because i know better.

  14. Hi, I have been married for 9 years but have been with mt husband for 11 years. I too am not in love with my husband anymore and recently wanted to leave him but keep changing my mind, Why I keep asking myself but never seem to get any answers back. My husband has cheated on me so many times but now seems changed however I cant stand his touch or even his presence for too long yet I cant seem to make that final move. Please help me understand why I struggle to let go?

  15. I’ve been married now for 24 years. Over the past few years, everything has been tough financially. My husband and I have absolutely no relationship and haven’t for quite awhile. When he’s home, he’s always reading books, in fact, he’s constantly bringing home more and more religious books. I keep feeling, that he has more of an interest in his books than he does with me. Whenever he comes home, he’ll say hi to my son’s guinea pigs, feed them and virtually ignore my existence. When it’s time for bed, he’ll say, be up in a minute, two hours later he comes into the room after watching all his recorded shows. No cuddling, no feeling of even being married, we just share a bed. We haven’t had sex forever, I feel so alone.
    When I’m home, even though I work, I make crafts to try and make extra money, cook supper, clean the house, do the dishes, clean up after the children. Whenever I say any words, it’s always the wrong ones. I feel so much that I want to leave him and be just a million miles away. We just don’t gel anymore, we are so distant. I don’t even go to church anymore and becoming more and more despondent, with my marriage, church, and God. He is more religious than me. Always going to church and prayer meetings, always talking religious to the kids. He’s even told me, that my attitude towards not going to church is influencing the children the wrong way and I’ll stand in judgment before God. I’m always made to feel guilty that I’m not doing enough, I keep feeling, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. It’s frustrating and very depressing. I enjoy writing music and playing guitar, but he never wants to hear anything that I’ve written. I write lots of poetry and songs about how I feel in my marriage and also how I feel towards God. I keep feeling, that if I met someone else, or someone showed some affection towards me, I’d fall straight into their arms.

    1. Chrissy, reading this post made me feel so sad as you sound so lovely. I hope you are now on a path to finding the happiness you deserve. It’s so good that you keep feeling your feelings, not blocking them out, and writing and playing the guitar. I am really inspired by this. Wishing you all courage and good things, Joanna

  16. We’ve been married 18 years together for 24. We have 2 teenage kids, a dog, 2 businesses & 8 properties. We are considered a successful couple. We get on well, like business partners I guess, he’s been the grafter & I’ve been the money girl who makes things happen. But I’ve known from day 1 that he loved me more. I married him for security as he was a good hard working man but I felt no spark. When we married I followed the mantra of love the one you marry don’t marry the one you love and I’ve spent all those years trying to make him happy and always having a smile on my face. 12 months ago I started questioning my whole life, I felt unloved & started craving affection (we’d had a virtual sexless relationship down to me & i’ d told myself I didn’t need or want love). Then I began talking to a guy and basically fell in love before we’d even physically met. I realised where it was going and I knew I didn’t want to cheat on my husband but the fact I was considering it meant we had to split as I shouldn’t be feeling such things. He took the news really badly & doesn’t want to split. He cried but I remained completely emotionless. 6 months later we are still living in the same house as our finances are so entangled & I’m completely confused as we get on great but I just don’t love him. I’ve realised today that it’s guilt I’m feeling not love. We’re in our mid 40s & I feel now is the time to make the move. It took so much courage to admit I was unhappy and it’s come as a massive shock to everyone as I’ve put such a great front on all these years but am I heartless enough to put myself first & let him & all my family down. Oh the guilt. Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories they are all so relatable & have made me feel that I’m not alone :)

    1. Hi Louise,

      As I read your story I found myself in shock because your situation virtually mirrors my own.

      I have been married to a nice and secure man for 10 years. We have two young children, I help to run his business and also run my own and we have 3 properties together.

      I fell out of love with him about two years ago but everyone (my mum included) cannot understand what is wrong with me. We are looked upon as very successful with the world at our feet and the opportunities to be financially successful are so great. I don’t come from a family of money and although I totally agree money is not everything, I still always wanted complete financial security for my children. However, the last few years that has come at the expense of my happiness and I can’t do it anymore.

      My husband, like yours, does not want it to end. He is in bits and I feel so guilty, like it is my duty to forget about my own feelings because he has been such a ‘good man’ to me and our children.

      It’s so so hard :(

      How are you getting on?

      1. I’m sorry. The both of you…need to look at yourselves. You’re not in love but your husband is secure, loves you provides Etc? I wish my husband did. My husband is a liar and a cheater from day one. So how about this, maybe stop looking at your blessings as a burden and look at what you have. I’m unsubscribing from this letter email. In the eyes of God, adultery and abandonment are the grounds for divorce and abuse….not, I don’t love my good, caring, providing husband. Perhaps you need to look in a mirror?

    2. Louise,

      This was as if I was writing this reply…only difference is, I’ve been together with my husband for 18 years, married 9. We have twins, 4 years of age…I already know I’m staying out of guilt, out of being scared of people judging. I told my husband 4 months ago I want out, he cried, begged, I gave it a chance…nothing changed. Everyone was so shocked because we’re the perfect couple! I’m the bubbly, outgoing, successful woman, he the introvert, creative, extremely clever one!

  17. Hi. Just wanted to share my story. My marriage was great for the first few years but then my husband became selfish and also started commenting on my weight. He once told me he was going to move out because maybe then that would motivate me to lose the weight. After dealing with this for a few years, I leaned on a friend which ended in an affair that I wasn’t looking for. I ended it immediately and told my husband all about it. He wanted to work things out with me and stay together get back into church and go to counseling. So while we were doing that, he was cheating on me behind my back. I didn’t find out until a year and a half later. I had my suspicions because he was being so mean to me all the time. Anyway I discovered he had a year and a half relationship with one woman while periodically having sex with a few others. To make this story short, we dealt with it, he told me he was so remorseful and would never do it again. So I forgave him and we started over with a fresh new start. Then, a year later I found him in another year long relationship with another woman also while pursuing a few of the other women from previous affairs. I had had enough and told him I wanted a divorce. That’s when things seemed to really sink in for him and he made some real inner changes. I thought things were amazing this last year, until just the other day I came home from work unannounced only to catch him watching porn on our tv. I was devastated and shocked to say the least. I told him I refuse to live with a man that’s going to continue this and that I am worth more. He apologized for hurting me. I love him and want to believe him but I honestly have no trust once again and don’t think I really will ever trust him ever again. He’s a great man and husband in many ways and even a great best friend. I can’t picture my life without him and our beautiful family. But honestly, I don’t think deep down I will be able to trust him ever again. I don’t feel guilty. Because he’s the one that put me here. I just feel sad. I just really truly feel so very sad. We have years of amazing memories. We do have such good times together too. It’s a lot to walk away from. I am trying not to resent him at the same time. I do know that when there are so many mixed emotions it’s not time to go. Right now I’m just praying for true repentance from him. A true once and for all inner change for him. Oh, did I mention we just renewed our vows in June in front of our three beautiful kids and their significant others:(

  18. I have been with my husband 25 years almost, and married for 22. For the first 7/8 years everything was great. But then 14 years ago, we went through a very bad patch in our marriage and I think that was the beginning of the end for us. If it wasn’t for our daughter who was only 4 at the time, I think I may have been tempted to walk away. Anyway, I threw my heart and soul into rebuilding things between us, and a year later, our son was born. He was diagnosed with ASD at age 4. It’s been very challenging at times, but we both love him dearly and our lives revolve around him. However, over time, I began to realise that things would never be the same for me, that I could never feel the same for my husband as I once did. He’s a great father, but can be very lazy and selfish. He’s got a social life, I haven’t ( not his fault I know), but when he is around, he hardly does anything around the house. I cook, clean, and even do the decorating as he says he hates doing it! He sits in the same spot on the sofa, playing on his iPads and phone, watching what he wants on the tv, whilst I’m sitting there bored! We don’t have the kind of conversations we used to, and if we do, I can never have his undevided attention. I finally admitted to myself about 2/3 years ago that I didn’t love him anymore. Anyway, I ended up telling him six months ago how I felt. I was dreading the day I would tell him, but he took it pretty well. So we agreed to “separate”, but carry on living under the same roof, for the sake of our son. My husband is a keen golfer, and when we first spoke of separating, he said that he would like to spend more time playing golf as this was his way of dealing with it. That was fine with me as the less time I spent around him the better. It got to the stage where I couldn’t look at him, without wanting to throttle him, and I loved it when he wasn’t around. For the last couple of years, he’s gone to play golf in Spain for a week in September. I loved this and realised that maybe I could cope without him after all. When he got back from Spain this year, he wanted to have another chat about our split. He told me he still loves me and that he’s hurting, but he hasn’t asked me to reconsider things, which I thought he would. I think he’s accepted things as he knows himself how miserable I am, and that our marriage died years ago. I’m too scared to go our separate ways as I’m scared I won’t cope financially. I spend a lot more time with our son than he does, so I think I may just be ok if we both go it alone. My son was absolutely fine the week my husband was away, and the same goes for last year too when he was away. Our daughter is now 18 and wants to go to university next year. We haven’t told her about the seperation yet. We’ve planned on telling her today but I need a few more days to get my head around it all. I think my husband is keen to get things moving on, but the guilt is eating away at me like you wouldn’t believe! I’m scared it’s all going to go wrong, and ruin all our lives from the separation, just to keep me happy. But my husband doesn’t want us to carry on living together because he’s afraid I’ll grow to hate him. I do love him but am not in love with him. The guilt is making me want to try again, but I know deep down I don’t want to. I don’t want the physical side of our marriage anymore, and if I tell him I’m willing to give it another go, I know I’ll seize up when it comes to sex. And that’s just not fair on him. I don’t want to give him false hopes. If we sell the house and split the proceeds, then my half will go on rent on the next property I live in, and that saddens me, as we wanted to leave the house to the kids when we die. Now I feel I’ll be spending their inheritance on dead money like rent. So then I’ve got that to feel guilty about. It’s killing me all this. And I can’t find anyone other than family that I can talk to about this, and I really don’t want to talk to my family about it. I’m not interested in meeting someone else. I just want to concentrate on my kids and myself. My head is all over the shop, and a new relationship is the last thing I want and need. I dream of living in a little house, just me and my kids. But I’m scared that when my daughter eventually flees the nest, I’ll be lonely and broke.

    1. Mandy, that sounds so similar to me! I have an two daughters, one with ASD. I have been miserably married for 9 years. I wonder if my husband has covert (or cerebral) Narcisstic Personality disorder. Ive been balancing his moods against hers for far too long and I’m drained and exhausted. Something snapped about 3 months ago and I set about researching my options for leaving such as, secretly seeing a divorce lawyer, visiting schools in a new area, viewing houses to rent in local area if I stay, working out tax credits and benefits, looking at house prices if I were to get xyz after the house was sold etc. I also see a therapist who’s been guiding me through everything. HOWEVER, he got suspicious and confronted me angrily. Then he started on the guilt trip. First he said he was going to kill himself, went awol for hours and came back with cuts on his arm. Then he sobbed and said he would change. Then I caught him trying to cut his wrist in the kitchen one evening so I called 999 and paramedics came, but he refused to go to hospital with them. Then next minute he’s acting like nothing has happened, while my head is all over the place. So now I feel obliged to give him a second chance, even though I don’t think I’m in love with him anymore. I feel he has robbed me of years of happiness. I don’t know if I can forgive him for that. The guilt of tearing the family apart is killing me. I’m damned if I go, I’m damned if I stay. The children love their daddy, but they too are affected by the constant arguing. He is refusing to leave so I would be forced to borrow money from my parents and rent somewhere much much smaller for me and the two kids, while he lives in a massive house on his own. I’m basically waiting for a sign, then I’ll take the plunge. I’m getting everything in order so I know what to do when the time comes. The minute he slips up I hope I have the strength to go. It feels like jumping off a cliff, but I am teetering on the edge. Good luck Mandy. I feel your pain!

      1. Hi Pippa.
        I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a similar situation. Well here I am, a few months on, and I’m still in the same predicament. We talked and decided to give it another go, but I still feel the same about things as before. However, I’m too scared to take the plunge, and I worry for our son, so purely for stability reasons, I’m staying put. I’m suffering with depression at the moment which is down to the menopause. I’m scared of being alone, especially the state I’m in. I’m waiting for my menopause to be over or to at least feel better mentally before I make any decisions. You’re right about the argueing not being very good for the kids. My daughter is fed up of it and my son puts his fingers in his ears, which is a trait of his autism. However, it’s your decision what you do, and I think he’s very selfish to guilt trip you the way he has. I admire you for seeking out your options. I wish you all the best and hope you do what’s best for you and your girls.

  19. I’ve been in a relationship with a man for 15 years. He is not the biological father of my teenager, but is the only dad she knows. He has been on disability all this time and I’ve been the breadwinner. Years of arguing and dealing with his criticism and contempt and me turning into a person I’m not proud of when we argue, plus his undiagnosed OCD issues – left me finally wanting to leave in Oct 2015. He is very private and estranged from his family and has few friends or any social network and has guilted me this entire time telling me that not only am I destroying our daughter’s life by doing this, but he will die without me because he has no one else and is nearly 50. I moved out in July 2016 (delay due to financial reasons) – now here I am in April 2017 and I’m still spending every day at his place because our daughter wouldn’t move in with me out of guilt and I didn’t force her. She is now struggling with her grades and behavior and I’m trying to be present and supportive. I’m also out of money due to a recent neck surgery and am in severe financial distress. He is trying to get me to move back in. I love him, but have too many resentments from the past. I just want to move on and I want him to let me go. I’m scared and don’t know what keeps me from completely moving on other than the guilt that he will be homeless at 50 or might hurt himself.

  20. I am 100 percent sure that I am ready to leave. My husband and I have stayed married. We have separate friends. Separate vacations. No common interests. He drinks and is a dark moody person when he comes home. I do my own things and he doesn’t care. I have reached the end and met the love of my life. I plan on telling my husband on the phone Monday night. He is on Florida playing with the boys. I am agonizing over telling him but it has to be done. I hope I can do it. So scared. He is going to freak. How do I call myself down?

  21. I’m in such a weird place right now. I genuinely feel in my heart that I don’t have intimate feelings for my husband. He drinks heavily on a regular basis, but says he does not have a problem because he doesn’t drink when he is on shift for work, however, he will drink a whole bottle of crown in one night or go through a six pack of heavy beers. Last month, we went wine tasting with our friends. He proceeded to get black out drunk and when I told him I was going back to our friends house to call it a night he said “Well I’m just going to sleep with her then” (this was a woman of one of our mutual friends). I didn’t know what to say and stood outside the bar to wait for my ride. This isn’t the first time of his black out drinking in public. When he woke up, he didn’t realize what he had said. I think I would divorce him immediately if we didn’t have a daughter together. Shes 3 1/2 and I couldn’t imagine putting her through this. Breaks my heart just to think about it. He’s always drank heavily and told me if I can’t accept it than I should break up with him (this was before we were married). He has agreed to see a marriage therapist which we have not done yet, in contrast, I don’t know if my feelings will change. I’m scared to even go down the road of divorce, but have heavily considered it the last two years. It also feels like he looks at the negative side of things, he will say “well you haven’t taken care of this around the yard, etc.” he nitpicks at everything! He is so uptight and anal about everything it is difficult to go out and have a good time (that is, unless he’s had a couple of beers then he is more relaxed).

  22. I have been married for almost 28 years. The 1st three yrs weren’t too bad. Fast forward 10 years, our relationship was rocky, he would blame me for having to selling things, we had different interests and he loved to spend money. A year later he retired from the Military and became a contractor. I found out that I was pregnant again a month later-which was a shock. After he had been at the job for 6 mths, he told me how much he hated it and broke down-I told him that if that he should quit if it was making him that miserable. So he did and stayed at home to take care of our son. Money was SUPER tight, we were sinking further and further in debt. So we decided to move to where his family was from so we could be closer and have some help-I found a job before we moved so we would still have income. He stayed back to sell the house and I took the kids with me so they could start school. I ended up having to work from home-with 4 kids and my husband, I was very nervous. He was the worst though, he was loud when I was on the phone, cussed and totally did not take into consideration that my job was how were able to live. There were a lot of bad things said to each other-I lost trust, completely fell out of love-actually I really didn’t like him at all. We have had a lot of issues financially-to the point of bankruptcy and emotionally. I just thought that being miserable at home was part of life. I finally got the nerve to ask him for a divorce-he said that he knew it was going to happen and that I hadn’t been happy for at least 15 years. I met a guy that actually made me feel good about myself and it was wonderful–it didn’t work out, but I had gotten a taste of happiness and it was great. Then my husband (because we were only separated) started telling me how he wished he would have done this-that differently. We decided that we would try it again…The thing is that I do love him and probably always will-I just don’t want to be with him anymore and I DO feel guilty because I know he doesn’t make enough in retirement to make it on his own and I DON’T want him to feel bad…but I am tired of trying to fulfill his dreams and put mine to the side while I work 50 hours a week and he doesn’t do anything to help finance his wants.

  23. I don’t think you can end any relationship without hurting someone.

    I suppose it’s a question of “what’s worse?” Is it more harmful for you (and your husband) to stay in a marriage held together by guilt, or is it worse to be honest and end the marriage? Staying in a guilt-ridden marriage may be more harmful in the long run….and ending the marriage may be painful in the short/medium run.

  24. Ive been with my husband for 10 years. Married for almost 6 years. We started dating when I was 17 and became pregnant 3 months later. Ive always had a feeling of doubt and that I was stuck. I just dont know how to get out without hurting him. Ive always had a feeling something was missing. Im not physically attracted to him anymore or emotionally connected either. I recently started talking to an old crush and we connect in so many ways. But the guilt is overtaking my mind and he also keeps threatening to take my kids because I dont have a job right now. So the reasons Im still here are because of guilt and fear.

  25. I have been married for 11 years. He has two children and I have one. Our blended family has worked out so well and was so blessed for the first 5 1/2 years!! Our kids love each other so much. Our marriage started out with God as the center. But a few years later my husband stepped away from his faith. Infidelity then began with online stuff and then full blown multiple affairs with multiple women for the last 4 years. He has lied to me so much. And promised to stop and to get help but never did. This last affair that I just caught him in 5 months ago I told him I wanted a divorce. But he begged me to stay and said he’d get help. Again, never did. He has been mean and degrading to me during sex and cold with communication and blames me for our marriage problems, communication problems and has even said he lost some of his desire for me because I’ve gained a bit of weight. He has become selfish and self centered. Just a few days ago I realized I am not in love with him anymore and told him I want a divorce. And now that he has beaten this horse to death, now he wants to revive it! Now that I am serious about walking away he has started counseling and going to church with me. To be honest, he can get all the help he wants and should so that he can change his ways and become a better man. But I honestly don’t know, even if he does change, if I will ever be able to trust him again. He tells me I am giving up on us. He doesn’t realize that he is the one that gave up on us. He keeps trying to date me and reconnect with me. But I am so wounded I just don’t even want to be around him. Why would I want to reconnect with someone I can’t trust anymore? He makes me feel guilty for the lost love I have and for wanting out of this marriage. I stay because I have a hard time letting go of what we used to be. And the pain our kids will bear from the divorce. They are all grown and are in college. But being a mom, I’m still gonna carry my pain and my daughters cause that’s what we do. I will be hurting for two people. And even for his kids because I love them too. This is so hard:(

    1. The devil always goes harder for the God centered unions so he can break them up so both partners have to be on alert 24/7 for the whole marriage. But unfortunately not every person is strong enough to resist the devil. You are lucky at least in that infidelity is the only valid reason for divorce in Gods eyes. If you have forgiven him and made and honest attempt to save it, I say run and don’t look back. If you do decide one more go, do it on a trial basis with him understanding if he goofs up in the first 3years, you’re gone. This ought to endear him to you and give you a way out if he decides to back out of his promise to do better.

  26. If it’s just guilt that’s keeping you in a marriage you wish was over, maybe the short-term pain of divorce is better than the long-term pain of staying when neither of you are happy.

    Or, maybe it would be worth the effort to save your marriage. Maybe you’re both trapped in a downward spiral, and you need each other to get out of it. One of you can’t save your marriage…but together, you can be happy.

    Who will make the first move towards divorce or more effort to save your relationship?

    1. Your blog is encouraging affairs and seeking happiness elsewhere. This blog, is not of God and I won’t be reading anymore. Affairs are not ok. Leaving someone because you’re unhappy and that’s the only reason, notok.not of God. Your blog mascarades as a Christian blog but it is of the world. I would encourage you to stop telling people it’s ok to leave and cheat becvause they’re unhappy. It’s one thing to be in a loveless marriage with a cheater who won’t change, like my husband. It’s another to be with someone who provides and you’re unhappy because, he gained weight or you’re not in love. Look at these posts? Affairs and affairs and leaving for someone who made them feel good? Shame on you. This is not founded in God.

      1. Elyse, I feel what you’re saying about the sanctity of marriage but consider this… there are many ways of being abandoned in a marriage. Most of these women have mentioned alcoholism, emotional abuse, pornography and physical neglect. I don’t have to agree with the way they coped with it to support their need to move away from a bad marriage. They are struggling with guilt already and you have repeatedly judged them. My pastor told me I had grounds for divorce MANY YEARS ago! Yet we are still ‘together’. He did not cheat on me. He did not beat on me. He has no addictions. But he refused to work which caused extreme financial difficulties and abandoned his responsibility of providing for his family. He refuses to see a counselor. Since then he has proceeded to abandon me physically and although he is faithful (to my knowledge), he confessed that he is bi-curious. He moved me far away from my family and when I made friends and started a business he again quit his job and we lost everything in less than a year and had to move to a Reservation (where his family lives). So there is no infidelity or physical abuse and he has been a great companion which is why I feel guilty for thinking about leaving. However the depression and anxiety that result from this slippery slope of abandonment are affecting my ability to be kind and loving rather than resentful. The Bible doesn’t speak to any of these things specifically but I feel that I am justified biblically for walking away. If I don’t my son will learn these habits and will be affected by my depression (I cry constantly), anxiety (I have panic attacks frequently), and my consumption in this loveless marriage. Sometimes things aren’t black and white like the text in he Bible. But even so, you need to ease up a little. We all fall short and someday we’ll answer to God for all of it. ✌🏽💔

  27. I have only been married for three years, we had only been together a year when we got married, it was a spur of the moment thing, and stupidly didn’t really think about it (I am very impulsive due to having borderline personality disorder) I have already left him twice. He is lazy and doesn’t seem to care about anything other than sitting watching TV. He doesn’t shower, doesn’t make any effort in the relationship and If I try to talk to him he walks out of the room and gets in a mood and then there is an atmosphere for days. He told me last week that he worries in case I leave him again, but to be honest, he doesn’t seem very happy to me, and is always miserable and moody. I know I am not happy, and regret going back last time, but feel guilty about leaving him as he has no one else. He never had kids and doesn’t have any family locally and the ones he does have who live miles away he doesn’t have any contact with. I am in my mid fifties and really don’t want to spend the next twenty years with this man, feeling this way. I don’t feel like I am living, just existing. I am thinking of writing him a letter saying how I feel, because I know that if I try to talk to him he will just walk out of the room. I do love him, and I know that if he made an effort in the relationship it could work, but I make all the effort and he just sits watching TV. I know love is not enough if the relationship is unhappy, we don’t go out because HE doesn’t drink. we don’t have a sex life because HE has a low sex drive, and life consists of going to work and then coming home watching TV. How much longer can I go on like this, I don’t know. Feeling really low.

  28. Hi. I’ve been in a 4.5 long distance relationship that turned into 11 years of marriage this month. It’s been an insane, mutually abusive struggle to grow up, grow at all. I’ve recently become I’ll and have been out of work. I don’t earn the money, so I get nothing but food and the shelter he provides for me, since he provides all and I’m nothing. I ‘ve finally fallen out of love with him. He’s fairly high on narcissistic tendancies, refuses dic, though in 2010 we went to a psychiatrist and he got better…then spent thousands of dollars behind my back or even if I said no. I’m not allowed to leave to go foe a walk, or get out of his rages. He follows me from room to room lawyer arguing until I scream. I’ve been suicidally depressed. Sick, no real saving of my oen, no escape. I talked with a friend online about the abuse and he just kept saying you’re human, you deserve to be happy. You’re beautiful (spouse said no one would ever want me again). I of course really felt this and things progressed to video chat. I tried to transfer these new steamy feeling to my marriage, and it worked, but now Internet guy say he loves me. *sigh* I’m hurting them all with my selfish need for validation. Don’t know what to do now.

  29. Dear Peter,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience. Yes, marriage guilt definitely applies to men, too!

    I don’t think killing yourself — or her — is a healthy option that will bring long-term happiness and peace in your life. I know it seems like there is no other solution….but it only SEEMS like there is no other solution.

    What are three other ways you can take control of your life?

  30. Can the above article “When Guilt Keeps You in a Marriage You Wish Was Over”
    Apply to a man. I want to leave a unhappy marriage 39 years,
    My wife will not let me do anything [I don’t mean sex] but take up outside interests. Even to going for a walk or make use of my bus pass.
    I am rapidly arriving at the end of my tether. I can;
    a] Kill my self, but why should I.
    b] Kill her, but that would only lead to prison. [I feel I am there now]
    c] Simply walk out, rent a cheap flat on one of the Spanish Costas and see what happens.

  31. I have been married to my husband for 7 years now. Shortly after our marriage, i realized how emotionally detached we were. It was a night mare. I never had the chance to be with my husband and feel loved. I began to think if we had children, he will come home more, love me more and be emotional. We coukd not have kids. We could notcommunictae effectively with one another. I began seeking mediacl help, went to several specialist who told me i was alright. My husband went for a test and he was diagnosed with very low sperm count. He argued with the doctors and told me how he had impregnated several of his girlfriends. I felt guilty and resdponsible for our childlessness. After 3 years, in the course of my grief, i met as guy who listened to me and talked with me ofte. I felt some relieve. We were friends. Some day, i decided to give him a try. We had sex, one time and i was pregnant. From the moment i realized i could be pregnant, i began to dislike and feel so decieved by my husband. If only he admitted his problem, we would have sought better solutions to our problems. Now i have t deal with having another man’s child in my husband’s house. We lack any emotion or even passion to have an effective communication, always raising our voices and fighting in the presence of our son.
    We moved to Texas in 2011 and my son was two yrs old. He statred accusing me again of not wanting to have more kids for him. Then i told him to go get checked. He went but kept lieing to me. At that point, i told him that he was not the father of out son.
    Since then, i feel so guilty, and i can not stay in the marriage any more. Our son is 4 yrs now and i want to leave. He says I want to leave him beacuse he cannot get me pregnant. He makes me feel guilty for his predicaments which i feel if he had accepted the doctor’s advice, we could have salvaged some of his sperm.

  32. Dear Candace,

    Thank you for bravely sharing your experience. It takes alot of courage to be honest about what you’re going through in your marriage – especially when you’re dealing with guilt that is keeping you in a relationship you wish was over.

    Have you talked to a counselor? You are going through so many emotions and experiences, and it’s very difficult to sort through and process them on your own. You have made an amazing first step in writing everything out and getting it off your chest! But you need to sit down with someone in person, and talk everything through.

    There are certain things that need to be worked out in your heart, mind and soul. I believe that the best way to figure out what to do and how to proceed is to take a deep breath, find a counselor that you connect with, and start with the emotions that are overwhelming you.

    You will never find an article online that can meet your exact needs. That’s why I encourage readers to use online resources for love and relationships as a starting point, and then go deeper in person with a counselor.

    My prayer for you is that you find peace. Whether you separate or divorce, stay together or go to marriage counseling — I pray you find what you need in your life. May you be filled with emotional freedom, acceptance, forgiveness, and strength as you move forward in your life. May you find the right people to help guide and lead you. Above all, may you hear the voice of God. He loves you and wants you to be happy and healthy. No more suffering is what He wants for you! May you reach out and grasp His hand, open the door, for He is knocking. Amen.


  33. I need help.
    I don’t know what to do. I have read sssoo many of your articles and I want to thank you for the help that they have given me. Yet in all my readings, I can’t find a article that can relate to my situation. So any articles that I read talk about a husband, who is no longer the man they married. Their husband is cruel, or lazy, or broke or cheating. My husband has done none of those things. He’s never cheated on me. Supports me through all my choices. He’s a good man.
    Why do I want out of this marriage… ?
    It’s exhausting. We have always had a relationship where we are away from each other for long periods of time. Since we got together I have cheated on him 4 times. One of which he knows of. And every time we argue it is brought up about how at least he’s not the one that cheated. I feel so guilty, I hate myself. I don’t want him to spend the rest of his life with a girl who at so many times in our marriage saw him as replacablr. He deserves so much better. I didn’t take his name for a year and a half of our marriage (we’ve been married two). Simply because I didn’t want to. Not because I didn’t love him but because I was so attached to my old one. I’m selfish. It’s disgusting.
    But yet, I love him. There’s nothing better than just being around him. I love his company, the way we spend time. I adore the way we joke and laugh with one another. He’s sweet. When things get bad, and our arguments spiral outta control, he is raged. Yells and screams, curses, calls me names, hes never hit me. The out burst bother me. But I feel entitled to them, after everything I’ve done that he doesn’t know about. He’s controlling though. But in a way I don’t notice. Everyone else says it though.
    I know he has issues of his own. When we first got together I had a little dog. He absused it viciously until I decided to give it to my mom because of the guilt I felt. Fast forward a year. We move to Texas, 16 hours away from my family. We take the dog. And three months later I’m forced to get rid of it. Or else it had to live in the basement.
    Of course that lead to my parents. Furious over my decision. To get rid of the dog and not leave the man. My parents have never liked him. After finding out about the dog, they must of thought one day he would release that rage on me one day. Like I said he never has. My parents forbid us to get married. Said they wouldn’t allow it. Not till I was outta college. We didn’t listen. We married in a courthouse 5 months later. We’ve been married for two years. It really really deeply and truly bothers me, that I have a husband who my parents refuse to be around. Hes not welcome in my parents home. Only me. The tension that creates between my husband and I is immense. My parents and my husband each want me to choice one and not the other. I can’t. I won’t. I need both. Its so hard. I know I should’ve thought about
    That when I got married. But I didn’t. I didn’t think about much of anything besides what my husband wanted. HE wanted to marry me. HE wanted to be with me forever. I wasn’t thinking. About how truly serious a marriage was. Even though he had asked me no less than twenty times before hand if I knew waso was getting myself into. Sigh… I thought I did.

    My marriage has been a lie. Both from choices I’ve made, and from things I’ve had to hide from my family and friends in hope that they would approve of the man I married. After being married for two years I’m realizing how long forever is. Forever is so long. Forever isn’t something that can be built on what our marriage already has. I can never look at my children when they ask me if I’ve ever been with anyone besides their daddy and truthfully answer yes. I guess thank goodness we have no kids. I cannot be 80 and married to a man, my parents never got to meet because they despised our decision.
    I want a divorce. Not even a divorce. A separation. He’s done nothing to cause this. I mean in a snowball effect he has. But I can deal with that. I need a divorce for me. I’m a monster, yet I STILL FEEL LIKE LRSVING IS JUST AS BAD. If I stay I’m a terrible person because of everything I’ve stated. If I leave, I abandon him. I break his heart. He believes he will spend the rest of our lives together. I don’t know if hes imagined and alternative. The guilt it’s so overwhelming no matter what. I don’t know what to do. Obviously you can’t tell me no one can. But is there any insight, similar experiences. Anything you can help me with. I hope you see this comment…

    1. Your husband needs work but you don’t respect authority. You rebelled against your parents and your husband. There may be some resentment going on between him and the in laws which might fuel his behavior toward you (in anger) and the dog. You should have listened to your parents instead of rushing to rebel when they said no marriage then you could have weeded him out. But since you chose him, you’re stuck. God said that you leave your parents to become one with your husband. He has authority, no longer your parents. Your parents will have to grow up and respect your marriage. Then since you rushed it, you will have to pray up on God putting His hand in your marriage. Stop thinking about how YOU feel if you go or stay and go with what God will think. His word is clear, you marry a man for life unless under the case of adultery. Since you cheated, you can leave on the basis that you didn’t honor your how to God or you can separate and do some God work on your soul and pray for the desire to respect him more and repent for the cheating so you can wipe out the guilt and move forward. God bless.

  34. Dear Lookingfordirection,

    Thank you for being here! My answer to both your questions is “Yes.” Yes, your guilt is justified because you want to make a choice that will cause your husband pain. You feel like you’re doing something wrong/painful/hurtful, so you feel guilty. This normal. This means you are a loving, warm, caring, compassionate human being. Guilt is part of the package you’ll create when/if you leave your marriage.

    But does guilt mean you have to stay married to a man who makes you unhappy? I don’t think so.

    I wrote this for you:


    I welcome your thoughts.


  35. Lookingfordirection

    I am having a problem overcoming my feeling of guilt when it comes to leaving my husband and am at a loss as to how to overcome it. I am in therapy, but it hasn’t helped my strong feeling. My husband was diagnosed bipolar after we married he hurt his back several years ago and rarely attends 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. Whenever we get in a fight where there is a hint of leaving he brings up the fact that his mother passed and he has no one he also makes the comment that he “almost died” from a seizure he had several years ago. Is my guilt justified? Is it okay to leave someone who has medical conditions?

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