Are You Confused About Your Marriage and Unsure About Divorce?

How do you cope with an unhappy marriage when you don’t want to get divorced? It is a confusing, difficult question for many couples. Even unhappily married husbands and wives are reluctant to seek or even talk about divorce. Not only is getting divorce emotionally and spiritually devastating, it’s also financially and socially costly.

You may see your confusion in this reader’s struggle with her marriage: “My husband and I have been married for almost six years, together for eight,” says Angela on How to Leave Your Husband When You Have No Money. “We’ve been through a lot over the past year and almost divorced, he then changed his mind and wanted to stay. It was all a sudden surprise, and since then it has been a struggle. He loved me and doesn’t want to leave me but he wants to be with other women and can’t decide. I can’t trust him any more. Our sex life doesn’t exist. I can’t take the going back and forth about what he wants. It’s crushing me. Part of the problem is I can’t afford to live comfortably on my own as a divorced woman. Financially it’s easier to stay married even though I’m not happy. I’m confused. What should I do?”

Nobody can tell you what to do when you’re confused about your marriage. Even if the best marriage therapist or most insightful couples counselor advised you to get a divorce, you won’t be fully convinced it’s right unless you yourself come to that decision within you. It’s the same with the opposite decision: if a marriage counselor urged you to stay together and try to save your marriage, you wouldn’t be as fully committed as you would if you made the decision together, as a couple.

Still, it can be helpful to seek help from a marriage counselor. Not for answers, but for clarity into your own experience. Getting an objective perspective on your relationship, history, and life as a couple can help you decide what to do – especially if you’re confused about your marriage and unsure about divorce. If one of you isn’t happily married, chances are both of you aren’t. This means you both might benefit from talking through your marriage with an objective therapist who can help you see your blind spots.

4 Things to Consider When You Feel Confused and Unsure in Marriage

Here are several things to consider when you’re confused about your marriage. You’re unhappy married but not sure divorce is the right decision.

Another reader shares her experience: “I have been married for almost 6 years and we have 2 children,” says Hilary on How Do You Find Happiness in a Loveless Marriage? “My husband has a 17 year old daughter from a previous marriage. We have lost all intimacy. I am a law student and a stay at home mom. He wants me to quit school and not work and he also doesn’t like ANY of my friends or relatives. I have no social life and have lost my sense of self…I feel very alone and like he is trying to trap me. My husband breaks every promise he makes to our kids and me. I don’t want to give up any more of myself and I shouldn’t have to. I want to stay together for our kids and because I think I still love him. I am very lonely and confused, and this makes me scared to leave him because I don’t know if I can do this by myself. I also don’t want to take away the only father figure my kids have just because I’m lonely. I don’t want to punish them for my feelings…help!”

1. Try to get a “reality check” on your feelings

are you confused about marriage

Sometimes we feel and think things that aren’t true. Sometimes we feel and act like our partners are fighting against us instead of working for us. Sometimes we believe myths about marriage, such as the idea of “happily ever after.” This is one of the blinds spots about being married. We think or believe certain things are true, but they aren’t. How do you know if your thoughts and beliefs about your marriage are true? Get a reality check by reading a good book about relationships, confiding in someone wise and trustworthy, or talking to a marriage counselor.

“Marriages today are in trouble precisely because of some misleading, even damaging advice that’s been foisted on couples for way too long,” writes Hal Runkel in ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer. “…our families hand down these false truths, teaching us that ‘finding someone’ is the key to having a full life.”

2. Expect your feelings to change as your marriage matures

One of the biggest marriage myths is that the wedding is the biggest and most exciting part of being a married couple! After the wedding, life is easy breezy, right? Wrong. Happy, healthy marriages take work. The pastor of my church is also a marriage therapist; he often talks about how confused and unhappy he and his wife were before they went to couples counseling. He learned that relationships are always changing, growing, maturing – especially marriages. As a young husband he didn’t realize that he wouldn’t always feel the same way about his wife. Marriage counseling taught him that feeling confused or even unhappy in a relationship doesn’t mean divorce is the answer. It just means there are feelings that need to be aired out.

Today, this pastor therapist and his wife visit their counselor ever few months for a “tune up.” Why? So they can air out their relationship under the guidance of an objective, trustworthy eye. Are you unsure about but seriously considering divorce because you don’t feel happy in your marriage? Give yourself time to explore your confused feelings, examine your beliefs about being married, and even examine why you’re unsure about divorce.

Remember that this may be a temporary season of unhappiness in your marriage. Seasons change. This stage of your marriage may end, bringing fresh new life for you and your husband.

3. Explore the expectations you have from your husband

 One of the most difficult things to accept about marriage is your responsibility for your own health, happiness, and well-being. You are a grown-up who has to learn how to meet your own emotional needs through a variety of relationships, activities, and pursuits. Your husband can’t be the sole provider or source of your happiness and well-being. If you feel confused about your marriage, consider what you expect and think you need from your husband.

Are you asking him to fill your need for security, self-worth, community, or connection? He can’t fill those needs for you. Especially if he has the same expectations of you. If your husband expects you to be the only person or thing that fills his needs for security, self-worth, companionship and connection, he will be disappointed. And you’ll both end up feeling confused about your marriage and unsure about divorce.

4. Still confused about your marriage? Consider a different perspective

Here’s a lovely perspective from Runkel in ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer:

“We found a hand-carved statue in Siberia. Viewed from afar, it looks like a tall, singular person with a leather belt around his waist. Upon closer inspection, however, you see that this singular person is actually made of two individuals, carved to fit together so closely that they appear as one….these are two separate statues, two whole people. They are completely capable of standing alone…or together.”

Are You Confused About Your Marriage?
Are You Confused About Your Marriage?

What do you think about this image in relation to your own marriage? Are you and your husband healthy as a married couple? What about as two separate individuals? Talk to your spouse about how you feel. Express your confusion, doubt, questions and insecurity.

You can’t change your husband, but you can change how you respond to him. You have more power than you think to change your marriage! Plus, you owe it to yourself to be honest with your husband. Get as clear as you can about your confusion and uncertainty. Tell your husband you’re not happy married but unsure or confused about divorce. Take a risk; it may be scary and even cause conflict right now, but your honesty might help save your relationship.

“Self-respect and self-representation, at the risk of rejection, are the essential qualities that can actually lead to a growing, vibrant marriage,” writes Runkel in ScreamFree Marriage. “Every step toward your spouse is a huge risk on your part – whether it’s a step expressing negative feelings about him or a step expressing something positive.”

Have you been feeling confused about your marriage and unsure about divorce for a long time? Read How to Stop Going Back and Forth in Your Relationship.

“The world is round and the place that may seem like the end may be only the beginning.” – Ivy Baker Priest.


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17 thoughts on “Are You Confused About Your Marriage and Unsure About Divorce?”

  1. My husband of 14 years left me unexpectedly. Our marriage had been up and down for a few years, but I always thought we could make it work. He said he couldn’t take it anymore. We have two kids and it broke my heart to lose him. For the first six months I cried all the time, I can barely sleep or eat. Some days I thought I was ready to accept that my marriage ended, but then the pain started up again. I kept playing the same things in my head, over and over. How did I heal? Eventually I got tired of being heartbroken, of crying all the time. I decided to take some painting classes, which I’ve always wanted to do. I met a man there. We’re just friends, but I feel attractive and happy when I talk to him. I’m not ready for more than friendship but I feel alive again.

  2. 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 “ScreamFree Marriage: Calming Down, Growing Up, and Getting Closer. ” 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 him differently. I was confused about my marriage but am seeing the pattern now. I am still uncertain about divorce but feel more clear about him. 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. I’m not as confused about our marriage and I see my husband more clearly. I think!
    Blessings back…quantified three-fold:)

  3. My parents had a big argument. My mother said my dad is having a affair with his auntie’s friend.His aunt is like 40 45.I do not know how old the lady is but I bet she is 40 45. Me and my little brother was crying.My dad was crying to.She was telling him to leave but we didn’t let go of him.Then he left.My mom started to cry and she felt bad that she brought us into it.He came back though like he said he was so as my mom did.Then he left again to help his friend move.Then he is going to take is to his auntie’s house to spend the night.

  4. hi
    I did love marriage and I had good friend circle and social life.
    this is not accepted by my husband family.
    there are misunderstanding and lack of communication
    we don’t share emotional support and I feel mentally upset due to this
    we don’t talk on our issues and future decisions
    his family hates me and I feel mentally exhausted and not able to decide to leave him or not

  5. I am a stay at home mom of 3 energetic kids 5,7,9… with a husband of 10 years. We are from very diffrent family styles and beliefs. Relgion has never been an issue for me and i am willing to keep my promises the the church. My husband and i have turned each other into unrecognizable beasts. I am sad to see the man i fell for turn into someone i dont know and dont want to know. His actions and choices with drugs and porn addiction… and an old school thought path that women should be gratfull for everything they have…
    I am nothing like the person i was. I am angry and sad and full of guilt all the time. I am sad that my children dont have much of a chance to know me as the happy life loving person i am ..somewhere jnside. This marriage has broken us both. My husband blames his work for everything. No time no energy no interrest.
    I can see my emotions are deiving him to act in ways he never had before. I am so confussed about doing the christian thing or “right thing” and stay together for the children but this was my chilhood. To angry parents who could stand each other. I do not want that for mine. But i think maybe he is still the man i married and just needs time. But i have no energy to wait any longer i am not going to be helpfull… we have so much going on in our lives with sick parents and a home renovation that has lasted 8 years off and on for diffrentt reasons. It is so over whelming. A therapist i seen said i have un rightious anger. Our issues do not seem to be the ground reasons for most. Distrust and adultry ours pale in comparisson. But to me this marriage os breaking my soul and his also.

  6. I’ve known my husband for 8 years but we haven’t been married a year, his very distant, no physical contact, no kind words. He just lays on his fone whole day and don’t give me any attention whatsoever. I had a stillborn baby a few weeks back but my husband didn’t even ask if I’m ok or how I’m feeling and hasn’t given me any support in coming to terms with my childs death. The day I came out of hospital he told me he wants a divorce but doesn’t tell me why, I don’t want to leave cos I love him but I don’t wana be in a loveless marriage either. I’m so confused

  7. Marriage counseling isn’t always the best solution when you’re not happy married, but not sure about getting a divorce – especially if your spouse doesn’t want to go!

    If I were in your shoes, I’d go for counseling on my own. I’d figure out what I need to make me happy, and I’d pursue that. I’ve been reading a variety of “Should I Leave or Should I Stay Married?” books, and the advice I like best is to find ways to get as emotionally, spiritually, and physically healthy as possible.

    When you’re healthy, centered, and grounded, you’re in a better position to make a decision about your marriage. One of the best books I’ve read so far is The Heart of the Fight by Wright and Wright.

    I’d also try to find out why my spouse doesn’t want to go to marriage counseling. I remember when my sister refused to go to back to a couples therapist after one session with her husband, because all my sister could do was cry throughout their hour together. Sometimes there are issues that are deep-seated that need to be worked through – and it’s not a simple as going to marriage counseling.

    There are no easy answers, but the best thing you can do is take time to look upwards and inwards. Figure out what you really want out of the short life you’ve been blessed with, and pursue that. Listen to that still small voice, and reach for your Higher Power – whatever you might conceive Him to be.

  8. 30 years of marriage and a handful of kids I work hard to bring in the money we need. But our marriage has slowly eroded away over the last 5 years or so. I’m so confused over what to do, there’s little communication somedays, hardly ever any intimacy let alone sex. Hard to think you can be so lonely in a house so full of people! I’ve fallen heavily for a colleague at work which doesn’t help, they have expressed the same feelings for me. So far we have resisted but they have now split from their spouse.
    Just don’t know what to do or where to turn, asked about marriage counsellor but the answers no. We’ve spoken about our marriage many times over the last year or so, it gets better for s while then drifts back into unloved apathy. Don’t know what to do for the best ? Btw I’m the husband in this case, so very very sad by all of this. Lead me to paths & thoughts I thought I’d never go to.

    1. Its so hard. Sometimes.its best to just walk away. My marriage went a similar way. But i took the extra step and had the fling. Only lasted 2 months then he chanhed his mind . Left me so confused. I am at decree nisi and at this point me and soon to be ex hunny getting along . Its so nice not to fight. He has asked try again but i am single in mindset. of the good for a while then turns bad again. I find the old life so boring yet crave the security of it. And scaresdof being alone. Be careful , if you leave for the flings sake, make sure your marraige completly dead first.

  9. Hi My Name is Stephanie,

    I’ve been with my now husband and I’m 21 years old . He’s a great guy other than the fact that we have no physical relationship hardly . we haven’t for two years and I’ve been unhappy with him for quite sometime. I’ve done something really stupid and have been unfaithful to him and I’ve never done that before so I’m having a hard time coping with it myself. and I’m unsure whether or not I want to stay married. I love him so much but I’m not happy and I cant force myself to be . Every time I do I end up back where I began. He thinks the idea of buying me flowers is stupid and he hasn’t taken me to movies in the three years we’ve been together. We are totally different people but yet a lot like at the same time. He’s so wonderful sometimes and I feel like he deserves so much more than what I can give him and he cant give me what I need and I don’t want to live the rest of my life regretting anything or being without him should I discover he is what I want. What should I do ?

  10. I’m sorry I haven’t been here to respond to you. I can’t give advice about being unhappy married but unsure about divorce, but I should have at least acknowledged your comments! That was wrong – I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you.

    I hope you are happier now, and have made a decision about your marriage.

    In peace,

  11. IM a mess. I’ve read a few of these and can relate. Specifically to the control from my husband. Why would it matter finding out who is to blame for the end of a certain aspects in a relationship. Like trust or support or caring. Just fix it. I guess if i dont do the work to find out where it all came crashing down then it might happen again? I cheated on him but only after feeling (blank) . It is my fault that we didnt fix that original problem.Wait no, its not totally my problem. I made the appointments to go to counselling. Which we went to 3 and stopped. Then I found what i need in other Men. It sucks knowing sex is better somewhere else. But i did learn you cant compair the sex you have thats taboo to what you have with your husband. More often you try harder to make it good …..geez.when i stopped cheating the sex at home got better. The emotions returned again also. He still controls me. I dont want to give my husband another chance to control my life. My relationship with him has changed the way i interact with other people. Im a mess. Weve been married 15 yrs. wow… ignorance is bliss

  12. we have been together for 16 years. I recently found out he’s been having an affair for around 2.5 years with a friend. He says he broke it off, and he’d been trying to end it for months. We’d had troubles a few years ago when it started, but have since improved dramatically and that’s why he was trying to stop. He’s now cut off all ties with the friend, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the lies, or whether I’ll ever trust him again. he’s given me all his passwords and such so I can feel better about knowing what he’s up to, but it takes 2 seconds to start a new email address. I recently found a cache of his old chats with her, and realize he lied more than i ever knew, and there are still things he hasn’t told me. I do love him, and we’ve been good again lately. His love for me I don’t doubt, but there is no longer any trust….we also have 3 kids…what do I do?

  13. Kathy,

    I am in the same boat. I’ve been married for almost 12 years & I have a great (almost too perfect) husband. He would NEVER cheat, he’s in the ministry, he can fix anything, is good at any sport, impresses me left and right – the only problem is that he’s sexually dysfunctional and so am I… but in different ways. He grew up exposed to porn & perverse friends & lifestyle before (almost)completely burying that side of him… i was sexually abused and find that his “Godly” protective biblical controlling ways PLUS his sexual desire for me – always touching me and cracking crude innuendo type jokes makes me feel like an abused prisoner – and I havent really had a desire for him sexually since the day we were married (he wouldnt sleep with me beforehand). The problem is that I dont WANT to be faithful to him, I want to find someone who I am sexually attracted too and can be intimate with, but I also dont want to lose the best person I have have ever met because I know 85% of him is better than any guy out there. I dont want to hurt him or our child either – i am just so unhappy and constantly looking for happiness thru men who will give me attention and pleasure and yet arent close enough to me to control me or criticize me (which my H does a lot)… anyways, not sure what I am going to do – looking at apartments today just for the heck of it.

  14. Ive been married for 10 years all together we ve been together 21 years.Im not happy and havent been for a while.I did have an affair for12 years and the sex was soo much better.I think this affair made me realize i didnt really love my husband i think i may have gotton married to soon.I really enjoyed being with this guy and sex was so great but my husband started catching on to what i was doing.I ended the affair,i still see him once and a while when im out but thats it.A few years goes by and i met another guy who is just a doll,we would talk and text but nothing happened,my husband found out i was talking to him and became furious,he busted my cell phone and tried to jump on the guy,i just got another cell phone and we still talk and last week we went out to eat and had a few drinks,im so turned on by this guy hes all i can think about my husband doesnt even enter my mind when im with him id like to date this guy but its all the drama from divorce and my husband jumping on him that keeps me in this marriage any advice would be helpful