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.
“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…
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).
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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
- 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
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.