Considering Divorce? Signs You Should Leave Your Husband


One of the most common questions I get is, “Should I leave my husband?” These signs for women considering divorce may help you decide if you should stay married.

Considering Divorce? Signs You Should Leave Your Husband“Anyone who has had to grapple with the unfortunate choice of whether to stay in a troubled marriage or leave knows that this is not an easy place to live from,” says Susan Pease Gadoua, author of Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go. “And those who have been in this place of indecision for a while know that it becomes increasingly draining the longer you stay in this middle ground.”

And yet, some married couples remain undecided – unhappy in the marriage but unwilling or unable to create the change they need to improve or to get out of the marriage – for years. It’s difficult to know if divorce is the best decision, especially if you have children, complicated financial arrangements, or own a business together. Is this you – are you caught up in a cycle of confusion, indecision, and hope that your relationship will somehow change? If you’re considering divorce, here are a few signs you should leave your husband…


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According to Susan Pease Gadoua, some couples get caught in what she calls the Marital Indecision Cycle.

“Anyone who has been in that place for over 24 months needs to know that it’s probably not just another ‘rough patch’ that every marriage experiences,” she writes in Reasons to Solve or Dissolve Your Marriage This Year. “It’s in your best interest to get out of the indecision. Being in a place of nuptial neither here nor there (considering divorce, but not sure if you should leave) causes stress and a reduction in productivity and presence. It is the equivalent of a ship sailing the ocean trying to stay afloat with a gaping hole in its hull. Additionally, anyone who has ever said or felt, ‘this indecision’s killing me,’ should know this may be truer than you realize.”

The stress of long-term indecision and confusion is taking a toll on your physical and emotional health. Nobody can (or should) tell you if you should leave your husband and get a divorce. But, you can get an objective perspective from an outsider – which is what the following tips are all about. They’re from the book Contemplating Divorce, which is a great resource for unhappy wives and husbands.

Signs You Should Leave Your Husband

“There are certain factors that suggest a relationship is workable and salvageable,” writes Gadoua. “There are other factors in marriages that, if present, indicate a low probability that the relationship will be healthy or fulfilling. I call these workability factors.”

Here’s a list of Gadoua’s indications of unhappy marriages, specifically related to safety, love, and esteem needs (based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).

You might consider divorce if your safety needs aren’t being met because of…

  • Lack of trust
  • Pathological dishonesty
  • Lack of mental, emotional, physical, or financial safety
  • Abuse (read Stages of Leaving an Abusive Relationship for more info)
  • No communication

You might work on saving the marriage if trust was broken but is reparable, if there’s a mutual desire to create a safe environment, if there is care, concern, and communication.

However, deciding if you should stay or go is difficult even if it’s clear to you that your needs aren’t being met. One of my closest friends has been struggling in an unhappy marriage for four years. She’s been considering divorce and she sees all the signs she should leave her husband, but she can’t bring herself to let him go.

It may be time to leave your husband if these love needs aren’t being met:

  • Absence of mutual love
  • Infidelity
  • No shared interests
  • One or both spouses aren’t fully committed to the marriage
  • One-sided relationship

If you’re considering divorce, you might think about saving your marriage if there is a foundation of mutual love, if both partners are willing to work through physical or emotional infidelity, and if both spouses are willing to recommit to staying married.

But remember: love doesn’t conquer all! You can love your husband with all your heart, but not be able to build a strong, happy marriage together – especially if you’ve lost your personal identity. The lack of romantic love may not always lead to divorce, and the presence of love doesn’t lead to a happy marriage.

As Zsa Zsa Gabor said, “Getting divorced just because you don’t love a man is almost as silly as getting married just because you do.” Sometimes we refuse to consider divorce because there are other factors that are tying us to the marriage.

You might consider divorce if your esteem needs aren’t being met because of…

  • No esteem from self or spouse, and no desire to change
  • No respect at all from your husband
  • No common goals
  • Unwillingness of at least one spouse (you or him) to work on marriage
Signs You Should Leave Your Husband

How Do You Know if You Should Leave Him?

Does your marriage have a foundation of respect, some common goals, and a willingness to work on esteem and marriage issues on the part of both partners? If so, it might be worthwhile to try to save your marriage.

There are no quick and easy answers for women considering divorce – and even the surest signs that it may be time to leave your husband can be complicated and confusing. Even leaving an emotionally or physically abusive relationship can be difficult and scary.

“I’ve had countless clients tell me that they don’t want to divorce because they are afraid of losing the co-parenting relationship or their spouse’s income, only to eventually realize that they alone already carry the load of responsibilities,” says Gadoua. “The spouse doesn’t contribute to the marriage but, rather, takes from it.”

Is your husband taking more from your relationship than he’s giving?

In an ideal world, he’s willing and able to work on your marriage with you, to solve problems and reconnect as a couple. This is the best way to resolve an unhappy relationship because no matter how bad your marriage is, getting divorced is never easy.

As Margaret Atwood said, “A divorce is like an amputation; you survive it, but there’s less of you.”

If you have any questions or thoughts on these signs it’s time to leave your husband, please comment below. I can’t tell you if you should get divorced, but you may feel better if you tell your story. I can’t give advice because I don’t know the whole situation, but often women find that writing about their reasons for considering divorce helps them see their relationship more clearly.

xo


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21 thoughts on “Considering Divorce? Signs You Should Leave Your Husband

  • Anonymous

    Next year we will be contractually married for 30 years, much of which has just been co-existing in the same house. We have two daughters together, tboth now on their own as well as two grandchildren. He says he loves me but never holds my hand and has never initiated any affection. He just does the perfunctory kiss on the cheek goodnight, anniversary card, says ‘love you’ at the end of phone conversations. We haven’t had a single argument in 30 years either. He is calm, kind and generous, supportive (primary breadwinner) and I can predict his verbal response to any situation. Ten years ago, I told him how depressed I was about our relationship – or lack thereof – and I said that we needed to go to couples counseling. His response was that it was a good idea, but he didn’t know where he’d find the time. Consequently, I have gone to counseling myself where my counselor surmises that he’s probably high functioning Aspergers.
    At this point, the thought of going through a second divorce is overwhelming but the thought of 30 more years of this half-life is debilitating, Aspergers or not.

  • Lorna Storey

    My husband and I are miserable. I tell him why I am and what he can do to help but he always chooses not to. He doesn’t tell me what it is I do besides beating him over the head with why I’m so unhappy.
    He’s a recovering alcoholic, clean for just 3months. The worst times have been the last 2.5 years. We only married 3 years ago. Because of the drinking I don’t trust him. He always lies to me. He doesn’t make me feel loved or appreciated. We rarely have sex or even a proper kiss anymore, maybe 3 times in the last 6months. I’m currently 8months pregnant and really struggling with my mental health. He is a total head f*+k. I think I still love him, must do to have stayed with him this long, but do question why I’m putting myself through this anymore? We have good times, can be genuinely happy for weeks at a time but I guess unresolved resentments and a lack of interest, I feel, on his part always bring me back down with the slightest wrong doing from him. I’m so confused!

  • Caitlin Hogan

    My husband always brings up divorce but I know he doesn’t mean it hes a war veteran and has tbi and PTSD we have separated for a while and we just had our first child. Hes a really good man but when he has his bad moments they see bad. I know he wants to protect me and does care for me. I really need help

  • Anonymous

    We have been married for 9 years and dated for 5 years. We are totally different personalities and have nothing in common. We do a lot of things together to make the other perso. “happy”. Now I don’t feel like doing that anymore nor do i want him to sacrifice his time and interest for me. This has made me very aloof feom him. I don’t feel the love or passion anymore. I don’t feel desired or wanted. We are 2 people livi g under one roof doing our own stuff. He is the earner in the house and i am the trailing spouse. I have 2 kids who he adores. Its so difficult to decide of i should gwt out of this relationship or stay just for the sake of my kids. He is a nice person but i just don’t feel the spark anymore.

  • Bobbi

    I have been wondering if my husband and I should continue to stay together. It is me who has the problem. I am the one who feels I cannot provide enough love for him, physically and mentally. Also, I feel as though I have changed a lot now since kids are practically raised, and my needs are different now. I feel badly that I don’t desire him as I used to, and think maybe I never had desires him enough as I should have. We have been struggling to keep each other happy for over 5 years now (24 years of marriage). He is a morning person, I am not. He has a really big hang up on this. He wants to do projects together constantly, I don’t want to anymore. I feel he feels my anxiousness and I can feel he is insecure and needy, which I would be too if reversed. I am getting more tired. I love him so much. We have 2 amazing children which we’ve raised together and have accomplished so many feats. We are best friends. We still love each other deeply and I can’t imagine breaking his heart forever.
    I don’t know what to do anymore.
    Thanks for your time 💙

  • Nicki

    We have been together for 9 years, married for 6, and have 2 children. After years of emotional abuse, i have finally decided to leave. But i am finding the decision so hard to put that foot forward. We have been coexisiting peacefully(ish) for the last month or so, no real blow ups, but my heart cannot be repaired as I believe the damage is done. He says he loves me, and he has changed, and he will do anything, and its a mistake for me to ruin everything by leaving. Why do i feel so guilty in leaving? I have found the perfect rental, which i have been accepted, but i am riddled with anxiety about taking that leap. I care about my husband, but i am not inlove with him and i find it hard to see myself growing old with him or even being intimate.

    • Lisa

      I can completely idenify with this. I have been married 13 years, and we have 3 children. He was very emotionally abusive and a bit physically abusive for the first 7 years. He has made a lot of great changes (after being arrested min you), but I can’t make myself love him in that way. We have a pleasant friendship at times, but so often he makes my skin crawl. I’ve suppressed my needs for so long. I want to do what bus best for my kids, but I feel like I’m dying inside.

    • Ms.RosyCheeks

      Your heart can always be repaired. Think about the damage you’ll be doing to your kid’s hearts should you choose to leave. Remember your wedding vows? For better for worse? These aren’t supposed to be taken lightly. He says he still loves you? Will do anything? Girl, you don’t know how good you even have it. I wish my husband told me that. Married 11 yrs and 11 yr old son. My husband got addicted to his cell phone. I’m ignored, rejected, worthless and unloved. He tells me to shut up and get out of here when I ask him to bring the dinner I made for him out to the living room where we can eat together. Instead he eats on our bed, watching some dumb video on YouTube. He’s a self centered, selfish, mean and cold hearted man. NOT the person I married. I left him a note yesterday, before I went to work. Telling him my heart is broke. He’s even a bigger jerk to me after I get home. Won’t look at me, won’t speak to me. Would you like this kind of marriage? What I wouldn’t give to have your “problem”.

  • Mikia

    I’ve known my husband for 5 years, we’ve only been married for 2. For as long as I remember, he always had an addiction to bad things on the internet. I’ve caught him numerous of times trying to hook up with prostitutes and messaging other women on dating sites and cheating sites. I always confront him with proof but he lies straight to my face, even when it’s obvious cause I’m literally showing him the proof I found. Everytime he swears he’ll stop and do better, but he never does. He’s pretend to for 2 weeks then it’ll start again. It happens so much, our arguments of him cheating are predictable. And when he’s caught he always tries to turn it on me and try and make me feel bad. When I say I wanna leave and go back home (he’s in the Navy, so I’m away from everyone I know) he tells me no, or Comes up with a lame excuse on why it’ll have to wait some months. We have two babies together, ten month old boy and three year old boy. Everytime he talks to these girls a part of me dies. I’m not the same person I was before, and I’m more broken then ever cause he’s supposed to love me, we are best friends, and I hate that I feel everything is perfect cause we clean,we laugh, we cook together, but it’s not perfect because he can be paying a prostitute and come back and smile in my face like nothing’s wrong (he has the ‘ what she don’t know, won’t hurt her’ mind set) I’m a housewife,I don’t have my license, I’m miles away from everyone I know. I set myself up for failure. I was so willing to give up everything for this man, and he can’t even stay faithful to me. I love him, and I know he loves me, he just want ready to get married and settle down. He was 16 when we got together, I just hate we already started a life he wasn’t ready for yet, and now we can’t let each other go cause we can’t stand the thought of setting each other move on

  • changing wit age

    I don’t want to start over. I don’t want to learn another man, I’d rather keep the husband I have. 11 years our 12year will be in in two days never have he said Happy anniversary, never, he don’t listen when I talk I don’t care what it is I’m talking about he just put in his imaginary earplugs and say mm.He have a son 14years a daughter 22 that’s in Africa he have to support 2 Kids his mother him and me. He sent his car to Africa to sell never sold it, took my car and know I’ve been taking public transit for over a year. I will ask him for a ride in my car that I paid for, now he make most of the money so I figured he should drive and I’ll take public transit. I have over $2000 in unpaid bills the money he give is small compaired to what he makes, I’m just lost I don’t know what yo do I try talking to him it’s not working because of the imaginary earplugs.

  • Laurie Post author

    Hi Sue,

    It sounds like your marriage has hit that lull of boredom and “taking each other for granted” valley that all relationships go through! Marriage really is hard work, and I don’t believe boredom is a good reason to consider divorce or leave your husband. Divorce is painful and expensive, especially if you’re considering getting divorced because you’re bored.

    If I were you, I’d find ways to reconnect with your husband and make life interesting again. Life can get dull and boring…and if you don’t have any passions or interests, you may mistakenly blame your husband or marriage. I would actively work on making my marriage better.

    But I’m not you, and you’re searching for help because you’re considering divorce. So, here’s one of the best ways to make a decision about leaving your husband:

    How to Make a Decision by Looking Forwards
    http://www.theadventurouswriter.com/she/how-to-make-a-decision-looking-forwards/

    I hope it helps, and wish you wisdom, peace, and joy in your life and marriage.

    – Laurie

  • Sue

    I’ve been married over 10 years with two adult children. This is both a second marrige for each of us. We reconnected years ago & it good for a number of years. Now it’s boring & my husband isn’t the greatest communicator. He did everything to woo me, now that’s changed. I blame myself for dealing with it this long. No birthday, xmas or date nights anymore. All I am is his maid/cook. I’m not appreciated & feel like a servant. I’ve told him numerous times how I feel, only to be met with a blank stare. For some reason, I’m hanging on to a small glimmer of hope, but I am tired. Should I leave? Please help me..

  • aneesah

    Hi, i just read your article earlier. I am facing a dilemma. I have been married for 10 years, with 2 sons aged 8 and 9. Husband and i were initially happy. But i guess he has self- esteem issues and puts me down always. For the last 6 yrs, he has had a string of affairs. He is very intimate with all the women. He openly posts pictures of them on social media. I cannot trust him anymore. I dont want to get physically close to him as i cannot forgive the fact that he has slept with other women. I feel betrayed and want to leave. As for him , he cites my flaws and says he dont feel loved by me and looked for love outside. He tells me to disown my parents if i want him to leave his affair which i find ridiculous. But i feel i cannot make a firm decision and am worried about the consequences. I need some advice. Pls help.

  • Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen Post author

    Thank you for being here, and for sharing how you’re feeling about your marriage. Considering divorce is a huge step. It’s scary and painful, and there are definitely no easy answers. Even if all the signs there that you should leave your husband, you may still find it to be the most difficult decision you’ve ever made.

    Here’s an article that may help:

    3 Things to Consider When You’re Questioning Your Relationship
    http://www.theadventurouswriter.com/quipstipsrelationships/questioning-my-relationship/

    Also, have you talked this through with someone objective and wise, whom you trust? I encourage you to see a counselor if you don’t have someone to talk to. If that idea doesn’t appeal to you, start writing in your journal. Just freewrite how you feel about your marriage, why you’re considering divorce, and what signs you believe are leading you to believe you should leave your husband. That may help you decide what to do.

    In your heart of hearts, what do you want to do with your life?

  • mayah

    I married someone from different country, having a different religion. He asked me to convert but did not do anything to assist me in learning about my new religion. Instead I have learned thru the years in our marriage that
    1.) I am his third wife
    2.) he has fathered 5 children from 5 different women, my son is the fifth
    3.) He don’t give any financial support to any of those children including mine even if we lived in the same house and looked like a perfect family all these 5 years
    4.) He’s been having affairs every now and one of them even tried to marry him. God knows if all of them tried to marry him.

    You might ask, why I did not leave from the start? We were already married and I was pregnant when I confirmed that he was married to the first one whom according to him does not want to get out of the country after being pregnant, unlike the other 2 ladies he impregnated who agreed to get out of the country to avoid complications as this is an Islamic country. He never live with the first wife. That time, I was thinking about my unborn child, I want the baby to have a complete family. And that time I know he loves me and I love him

    On my son’s 2nd bday, a knock on my door shattered my dreams once again. A lady claiming to be his second wife. She was married to my husband months after I was introduced to the family as someone he would like to marry. Against his will, his mom asked him to marry her. Few months after their marriage, she and his mom visited the country for a month and he got her pregnant. Just like the other wife, they never live together. The reason why she knocked on my door is to clear things up because even if she was in the country, my husband never slept nor stay longer in the place she and their child was staying. All the while I have no idea because everything was normal. I begged that he divorce me after learning about the second marriage. He swore she never loved the second wife which everyone in his family can testify. Even the second wife knows that he loves me more than any woman in his life that he goes against his mom’s will not to marry me coz I’m from different race. After two days, she and their child was sent back to their home country. This time he asked for forgiveness and told me he will never leave even if I wished to leave him. To the point that one time I got scared coz he said he will kill me if I try to leave him.

    After 5 years, I realised what you have said on your article ” he is taking more than he is giving”.
    Divorce has been on my mind since the first year of our marriage. It never left my mind. I have trust issues and he keeps on playing with it. What’s holding me back is our son and the fear of not being able to cope up with the aftermath of a divorce. I’m not in my country and honestly coz of him, I forgot to build a strong support group. He is the only one I have since I came to this country. My family don’t even know my real situation. Love? I don’t even know if I still love him but I only know one thing, that every night I sleep next to someone I can never trust.

  • Tinalee

    My husband doesnt show any interest in ys at all he goes to work in ths morning and when he returns in the evening he go deal with the dogs then eat watch tv and go to sleep by 7 if we do comunicate its to have sex which consist of no romance

    also when i try to talk about our relationship problems he would get mad and walk away i dont think its right no goodmorning goodnight thank you nothing what you think i should do. should i consider divorce, are these signs i should leave my husband

  • Albina

    My husband is emotionally illiterate and anti -social . He doesn’t know to consider other people’s feelings; absolute lack of empathy or sympathy. He hates my side of the family and is ruthless when something doesn’t go his way. When we have arguments he is just so cruel in his words and expressions – I feel like an enemy of the state. No, I don’t just sit quite; I argue back and it doesn’t happen too often. Yet, it happens enough that my heart feels tired of all of it. We have two kids and I am just not ready to give up yet, but I am tired. We have been married for 5 years now.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Rachel,

    It might help to make a list of pros and cons for leaving your husband. Write down 20 reasons you want to stay married, and 20 reasons you want to leave him.

    This might help you see your marriage – and fears of leaving him – more clearly.

  • Rachel Green

    I’ve been married to my husband going on 12yrs… He doesn’t trust me with money, because of what happened to him in the past… And he tells me that I should be quiet until I’m spoken to… And when I tell him how I feel, He tells me to shut-up woman!!… I don’t know what to do… I clearly want my marriage to work out… But I don’t know how much longer I can take it… :-(

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Jennifer,

    Do you have anyone to talk to, about your wish to divorce your husband? Sometimes that’s the first step: talking about the changes you want to see happen in your life.

    Who do you trust to talk to?

  • Jennifer

    My husband drinks alot and i go see all the above signs and i want to divorce him. i want to let him go how do i make him not to love me and just walk off my life