Overthinking When to Leave Your Husband
You have a bad fight or a bad day with your husband—or more likely, you’ve had a series of them. So many thoughts race through your mind, but there’s one that stands out the most: I want a divorce. Sometimes this thought surprises us so much that we can’t be sure we really had it at all. We push the thought to the back of our mind and bury it deep. We smile and pretend, and everything goes “back to normal.” But because our normal means being unhappy, the cracks appear again. We have another bad day. And when it rains, it pours. All those emotions and moments we buried rise to the surface in the storm.
You are lost and stumbling through the fog that is Considering Divorce Syndrome (CDS). All you seem to have are questions and no answers. I want a divorce, or do I? I want a divorce, but should I? How do I even begin to leave my husband*?
When you find yourself searching for instructions on how to leave your husband, it’s the beginning of a long and confusing journey. We know that you are in pain and emotional turmoil right now—that is why you’ve found your way here. Our job is to help you break the cycle of wondering that’s associated with CDS with points you should be thinking about and considering.
As you’re considering divorce, keep your marriage in context
So, you’re thinking to yourself, “I want to divorce my husband.” Did this thought just come out of nowhere? Or has the idea been a living and breathing” thing” lurking in the back of your mind for some time now?
Did you and your husband have a blowup? Are you still seething? Do you feel depressed? Are you reacting from a highly-charged or frustrated place, typing “Should I leave my husband?” into the search engine?
“Early on in my marriage,” Sally told us she and her husband went to a couples’ therapist. “At the first meeting, the doctor said, ‘Why did you react that way?’ when my husband described a story about me. Without waiting for my response, the doctor asked me more, ‘Were you menstruating?'”
We’ve all experienced a moment like this, haven’t we? We’ve been told that our “issues” or “moods” are related to our highly emotional states, which must be a function of our biology. And because we are women, when we are feeling things outside a man’s comfort zone, we are “crazy” or “PMSing” or both.
For the sake of this post and our sanity, let’s set that experience aside, and ask, How long have you wanted to leave your husband? Or if you don’t really want to leave your husband, why is it that you think you should?
If divorce has been something more than a random thought but a persistent idea that’s been circulating in your head for a long time now, you’ll need to ask yourself even more questions.
How committed are you to divorce, on a scale of 1 to 10?
If you’re a 10, you are fully committed to divorce—you’re OUT the door! If you’re a 1, you’re happily, even blissfully married.
But it’s not just about how you feel right now, at this moment. Today could be a 10 and the rest of the month a 1. You need to check in with yourself over the course of the month and keep a private record (somewhere safe, somewhere secret) to see the ebb and flow of your happiness over the month. If the numbers are 5 or above most days, it’s time to seriously start looking at ways to change your relationship. A divorce coach is a great, safe person to talk to if you’ve started seriously thinking about what else is possible for you.
Wait, there are still other reasons to stay married, right? I don’t need to talk to a divorce coach yet
So, you look at your commitment chart and see mostly 5s, a couple 3s, and even some 10s plastered on the page—but then you think of the kids. Divorce will be hard on them! There’s always a chance your husband can change, right? And who knows, you might even change too. Things can get better. There’s always hope, even the hope of finding hope when confronted with the reality that hope may have fled your marriage long ago.
There’s this voice inside your head that’s saying “If I talk to someone, I might have to act on what I’m feeling. I might have to do something about this truth,” or “No, I can’t talk to anyone yet. There’s still hope I can turn things around.”
“I want to leave my husband” suddenly becomes “we’re just having a rough patch.” Only the rough patch never ends.
The truth is, many women find themselves circling a 5 on that scale. They are halfway out the door, while the other half isn’t sure exactly what they want, except change.
Listen: living in this stage is purgatory
Revisiting the question of “should I…or shouldn’t I divorce” keeps you unsettled and compartmentalizing ( — on one level functioning, on another level wondering if your world is falling apart). This is one of the insidious and oddly, paralyzing effects of CDS.
Maybe you think you are fun and easy to live with? On some level, you are being cruel to your husband, your kids, and yourself by continuing to live in such a hovering and non-committed place.
You may think you are fooling everyone, but it’s more likely you’re only fooling yourself.
Luckily, we know this syndrome of divorce ambivalence acutely. We were like you, sitting on that pointed, painful fence called “considering divorce” for far too long.
So, allow us to deliver the sometimes brutal truth that will save you time: nothing is going to change unless you do something.
Did you go to marriage counseling and find it didn’t stick, with you and your partner ending up in the same old dysfunctional routine? Do you complain to your friends regularly about your husband’s behaviors but never do anything to try to change things? Do you withdraw from your marriage or the world or act out in various ways but still find yourself at home or in bed next to the same man night after night?
It’s time to break this pattern.
How is your health?
CDS, the constant cycle of considering divorce and not following through, can take a toll on your health. This repetitive and constant stress is going to wear on you, no matter how strong you are.
You are not living your life authentically. Your body might be showing you the signs through symptoms that range from feeling tired all the time no matter how much you sleep, a loss of appetite, a sense of being removed from things you once enjoyed, disconnected to your friends and family, constant flu or cold-like symptoms when doctors say there’s nothing wrong with you, and so on. These are all signs of depression which can be linked to stress.
You and I might look around and see marriages with similar or even more dysfunction and stress than yours—some of your best friends might be living with CDS and seem to function fine between complaints about their spouses—but you are not them, and they are not you. And every marriage, even in its dysfunction, is different.
If you are feeling burnt out, done, and you have decided you can no longer live in the purgatory of waiting for change or trying but not fixing the dysfunction in your marriage, you need to own where your marriage is right now. You need to face the possibility of a future as a divorced woman, and you need someone to talk it out with. Right now.
If you are in an abusive marriage, read this article right now.
If you are in a relationship where the pressure is “manageable,” you can prioritize the time to figure out if you should or should not divorce and what would be the healthiest way of doing it. If that’s you, then you are the woman we are talking to right now. Our critical suggestion is that you get educated on what your choices are. Get ready. Because the truth is if you’re constantly considering divorce, there’s a reason and you owe it to yourself to stop thinking about it and take action. The right action is talking with someone who can help you figure out what your independence might look like.
Whether you are considering a divorce, navigating it, or already rebuilding after the overwhelming experience, one thing we see making a significant difference for women is the conscious choice to not do divorce alone.
Since 2012, smart women around the world have chosen SAS for Women to partner them through the emotional, financial, and oft times complicated experience of divorce. Take advantage of our free consultation we give every brave woman. Schedule your FREE, 15-minute consultation for support. Whether you work with us further or not, we guarantee you will learn a new resource, a piece of information, or an insight that will give you a next step or help shift your way of thinking what is genuinely possible for your life.
*We support same-sex marriages. For the sake of simplicity in this article, however, we refer to your spouse as your “husband” or a “he.”
I was all set to leave my husband then he begged me to give him a chance and actually showed some change. Things started slipping back a little. Saturday we had a blowout and now I’m feeling closer to wanting to leave again. We’ve been married for 20 years and it’s always been up and down to the point my daughter wants us to divorce.
Where are you now in your marriage? This is so me. We just had our 27th anniversary. I feel as though it has been up and down for years. I can go back pretty far to where I can remember using the “d” word. He begs me every time not to do anything. Things will be good sometimes great then something sets me off again. Lately just seems like a lot of things are setting me off. I can’t take it anymore. I just started seeing a counselor. I just don’t know what to do. I have two grown children…my daughter. I think gets it, cuz she has seen and heard it. My son not so much. He doesn’t understand and thinks I need to change how I react to him. I have had a fear that the kids will hate me if I divorce him. Which deters me a lot. I’m stuck ?
Hi, I would so like to know what you eventually did. I have been with my partner for 33 years. I desperately want to leave. He is a good man but not for me. He works, loves his grandkids but —-my son gets married in july and Im finding it so hard to carry on until after that. The same as you, its always “I’ll change” but I cant carry on. Please get back to me.
How do you handle it when the kids want you to leave?
Listen to the kids. They are always the voice of truth and reason. Leave now
You leave. At that point the kids are also being emotionally and psychologically affected. I was that child. After many years of hearing her say she was “staying for the girls” and me hoping things would get better between my parents, I told my mom we had to go. So she packed up all of our belongings and left.
I am right there with you. 11 years with my husband and 4 children later and no change. We are currently separated and still no significant change on his part. He does the minimal. My children also are ready for me to divorce him as he has been emotionally
abusive to us all.
Im a teacher and during break summer break my husband had ankle surgery. He is non weight bearing so im doing everything. Shopping cleaning taking care of the vehicles etc. I handled it now im back to work and it is getting tough. His attitude sucks and he expects me to be wonderwoman. He always says rude things to me and acts as if he can manage without me. I dont get a break and at night I habe to get up with the dogs at night!! I feel unappreciated and like im running myself down.
I’m young and newly married. Only 11 months tomorrow. We’ve already gone through a time of separation about 4 months ago when I found out he cheated on me when we were boyfriend and girlfriend. It’s all been downhill since then and it’s so hard to see any future. He says he’s changed but I don’t see any changues. The same attitude the same patterns that’s all still there. He respects me more now at least. He’s been good about that. But it just doesn’t feel good. I don’t know what to do or what to think. He says if I leave is my decision but that he’ll have piece of mind that he tried everything he found for our marriage. I personally don’t see that and the only reason I would leave would be because of him. I can’t believe how hard and awful this year has been. Is it too soon to give up? We’re going to marriage counseling. And even our counselor told me that if he can’t change that I should leave him. He thinks he’s doing so much more though I don’t understand! He thinks cooking every now and then and complimenting me more and going out on dates is gonna fix the problem…. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to think. Are we just too young? I need help….
Divorce him now. Read what you wrote – “it’s all been downhill” and “it just doesn’t feel good.” That’s not going away. Don’t waste your time or your life like I have being in a 20-year marriage that shouldn’t have happened.
Dear ladies, for those of you seeking help, please know SAS for Women offers free 15-minute consultations to any woman who requests one. If you’d like to learn what next steps to support yourself might look like, so you can take steps to support yourself, we encourage you to visit this link and find a convenient time for us to talk. We look forward.
Might have to take this offer I’m so undecided, and I don’t want to break his heart. I love him so much. I don’t know what to do anymore.
Ana where are you at? did you leave… I feel like you did. You don’t want to hurt him but you are not happy.
I feel for all of you after reading your posts. I am in the same situation. Married 20+ years in which most yrs were terrible. He was always in trouble with the law, abusing drugs and alcohol, partying night and day. I put up with it even though I hated it ! We had fights almost daily, some huge blow ups a lot. Long story short….he has changed somewhat, but now it is me that has so much resentment and anger toward him for all that he put me thru, that I think it is too late for him to try and make things work.
For those of you seeking help, please know SAS for Women offers a free 45 minute coaching sessions to any woman who requests one. If you’d like to learn what next steps to support yourself might look like, we encourage you to visit this link and find a convenient time for us to talk.
Hi J. Ritch, I know it’s been a while since you’ve posted, but I too find myself dealing with the same. How are you dealing today?
Hello , I’m wondering how both of you are doing ? I’m going through the same thing . Please reply ??
That is the way I feel.
My husband is on drugs and has been for years Iv took bout all I can but I can’t seem to make myself leave him , I hate coming home and hate seeing him what can I do?
Dear Lisa, the best action you can take is to spend time speaking with someone who has seasoned perspective on divorce, and who can help you understand what your choices really are. We’d welcome talking to you if you choose.
SAS for Women offers a free 15 minute chat with any woman who requests one.
Use this link: https://sasforwomen.as.me/?appointmentType=12273718
But above all, don’t give up on yourself,
Liza @ SAS
I have been married for 26 years to a good man but I just do not love him anymore. I know how devastated he will be if I leave him but I also know I cannot spend another 26 years married to him, I just can’t.. I carry this constant pain and anger inside me because I want to leave.. it’s not a bad life, 2 fabulous children and he is a decent man, just not the life I want anymore .. I dream all the time of being free, I look at little houses to buy, plan how to decorate them, etc., I can see the life after divorce and I can see me happy, even if I am alone. I just don’t seem to be able to make the crucial step. I just talk and think about it ALL the time. I had an affair for 15 years.. awful I know but it actually kept me married, my lover has now found himself another girlfriend, bit devastating and taken me a while to come to terms with the fact he does not want me, but even so the desire to leave my husband has not changed.. I really need help.
Dear Natalie, the best action you can take is to spend time speaking with someone who has seasoned perspective on divorce, and who can help you understand what your choices really are. We’d welcome talking to you if you choose.
SAS for Women offers a free 15 minute chat with any woman who requests one.
Use this link: https://sasforwomen.as.me/?appointmentType=12273718
But above all, don’t give up on yourself,
Liza @ SAS
I am in the exact same boat, except the man I am having an affair with is still with me. I know I need to leave I just need to be an adult and talk to my husband. I’m scared. How are you holding in? I’m so scared of the confrontation and going through the process and knowing he will hate me.
Melissa, do you have an update?
Did you ever leave him?
Hi ! I’m struggling, we have been together 4 years & married for nearly 2 years. Beginning of the year everything was great, we had decided to try IVF then adopt if it didn’t work out. Lockdown kicked in & IVF wasn’t successful. We hadn’t been talking at all during the month after, I didn’t have work, he did. We finally sat down & he said that he was glad it hadn’t been successful & that he didn’t want to adopt ! It was so painful & embarrassing, I had to email both the clinic & adoption to let them know we weren’t proceeding at this time. We spoke again a month later & he said that maybe 5-6 years time we could reconsider. Also I suggested moving somewhere smaller so we could save money. I have been looking for a job & just keep getting rejections. It came to a head when he didn’t want to celebrate our first year anniversary & said that he was thinking of leaving. We finalised the details, giving it two months in case we changed our minds. The night he was to leave, he decided he didn’t want to go. We did the garden up as a project & ever since then I’ve just felt like we have been in limbo. The final straw came when we went back into lockdown & I asked him to try to make me understand why he changed his mind about children & moving to help with our finances. He doesn’t want the responsibility of bills/rent, wants it to be just us, we have a dog. That it would be easier if I was working too. Obviously now I don’t know what to do, l love him but I don’t want to lose myself. This is my second marriage, I was married for nearly 10years, I did what he wanted & became a housewife, thinking that we would start a family. He repeatedly cheated on me & drank to excess & blamed it on me. We had counseling, we even separated for a year & started IVF, I realised that it didn’t matter how much I loved him or how much money we had, he was never going to treat me with respect. Divorcing him was a breath of fresh air & I should have done it sooner ! What I’m afraid of is that because my new marriage is having difficulties, that I will have to sacrifice myself all over again & then in 10years time resent him or he will find someone else who can give him kids. I’m just fed up of starting over again & again, losing my house, my self worth & my dog. Any advice would be greatly received & appreciated ! Maybe I’m just over analysing & I need to give it more time ? Thanks for listening !!
I’m wanting a divorce because after 15 years, nothing has changed in our relationship. I signed a stupid prenup because I didn’t think I needed HIS money. Well, two kids later and terrible health, I need it. I take care of the kids 24/7 and the sick elderly family members (even though I’m sick). He doesn’t give me any money. Occasionally he will give me his debt card for the groceries. However, I buy everything else. He is close to being a millionaire. He goes golfing and comes home drunk at least 3 times a week. He has cheated on me. What more can I say? When I’ve threatened divorce, he threatens to take our kids. I’m so tired of this. I can’t handle him anymore.
Hello monika . Any update ? I’m in a similar situation . Thank you
I dont want to break up any marriages BUT, ask yourselves this question:
Would you put up with the same situation if you were not married? If yes just get on with it.
It’s what standard you have chosen to live by. If not, then why put up with it now?
Stop using your children as an excuse.Your children have gone through enough if they have had to live with the dysfunction. Would you want your children to put up with the same in their future relationships? Either work it out or get out.
And let No Man put Asunder!!
I am here because we had our 14th wedding anniversary August 11, 2021. I cried realizing we are in the same spot we were at 7 years married when I left for several days and he didn’t understand why. I’m in this head space of I need to find me again after being his wife and mom of 3 (13,10 and 3). The issues have been the same since day one. It is his way only. My education and work experience have kept me here. I am putting on a mask every day. It isn’t healthy for me. I don’t know how at 36 to find a way out.
Hi, Alisha, thank you for being brave and writing. At some point, if you really valuable your precious life, you have to do more than just read about your situation or post about your circumstances on open forums like blogposts. You’ve got to talk with someone who can help you understand your specific life choices and possible steps. It could be a good friend who has faced similar circumstances or a professional who has seen many women in your place. You are welcome to take advantage of a free consultation with us, starting the beginning of September. We’ve been where you are.
So how long do I wait before starting the process? Was told in June “he no longer wants any part of the marriage.” Do I wait for him to get his finances together” or do I pull the “D“ cord now and start the proceedings???
Attorney fees are astronomical!!
Appreciate any feedback
Hello, Lis, so very sorry to hear what you are going through. Our suggestion is that you not “wait for him.” You should start getting yourself educated and informed now, because chances are he’s going to come back to you with how you both “should split things.” Do you want him to dictate everything? Get educated. At least have a private education/consultation with one divorce attorney to find out what your specific rights are and what you are entitled to after X number of years married. Do this work behind the scenes to get yourself organized and protected. Check out this post, “Best Questions to Ask a Divorce Attorney at a Consultation.” https://sasforwomen.com/questions-to-ask-a-divorce-attorney-at-a-consultation/
I have been with my husband since I was 13, I am 25 now. We have been married for 3 years living together for 4. He is an amazing husband, cat dad, and life partner. He is kind, supportive, understanding, loving and in my eyes perfect. When we were younger we both did shameful and disrespectful things to one another but it made us see that we loved each other and we didn’t want to be apart. Ever since moving in with each other I have been happy. Although a couple months ago, someone close to me ended a very long marriage that I looked up to. This made me constantly think/worry that my relationship would also fail. Now I cannot stop thinking of either working through my dark thoughts and fighting for my marriage or ending it and moving on. I am in limbo and it is affecting me very negatively. Why can’t I choose? I love him with all that I am, but I am scared of being happy on my own. Should I end it even if it kills me or should I stay and fight?