Q&A: Ending a marriage

K writes:

"I am exhausted from trying to hold on and keep everything together. It feels like I'm the glue, and I'm not even attached to anything. How do you know when it's time to walk away and hope for a better life by yourself?"

I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.

And I know that exact exhaustion.

I would suggest that everyone who is feeling like ending a marriage read the excellent Uncoupling by Diane Vaughan. It is NOT a book that will make you feel bad in any way about "what you're doing" or your kids, so I consider it a totally safe book. (Also safe for same-sex couples.)

What it does is it goes through the entire emotional process that happens when a couple separates, starting from the very first inkling one person has that things aren't right. It talks about all the places the mismatches happen, and who tends to feel what when. It also talks about points at which the relationship could be saved if the partners are both willing and able to identify that and change behavior.

It's really just a timeline of how things unravel, from both sides, of the person who leaves and the person who's left. I found it invaluable.

Now, from personal experience, I had all sorts of different points of knowing. Everything from realizing that when I imagined myself at the age of 50, he wasn't there in my vision, to sobbing through church every week because my life was so wrong, to thinking Nora Ephron's Heartburn was the best book I'd ever read. (It's a good book, and the recipes are amazing, but I don't think people in healthy marriages identify with it as completely as I did when I read it.)

The bottom line for me, though, was that at a certain point leaving was the only thing that made sense. I knew it would be hard (I thought of it at the time as chewing off my own foot to get out of a trap), but it was the only path I could imagine. Staying seemed impossible, and like sickness.

Anyone who left, how did you know?

Anyone who fixed it, how far did you go before you pulled it back together?

61 thoughts on “Q&A: Ending a marriage”

  1. One day we just looked at each other and both realized that we could imagine possible futures without the other person. “He could be happy without me, and I could be happy without him, and we could do this without hating each other.” But it was also looking at my own life and finding a vision of myself, in the future, who was happy and fulfilled without this relationship, and that getting there was going to be easier than fixing things here. But when there’s some love left, and you can find a shared vision of a future where you aren’t married to each other…well, it worked for me, but then again I’m kinda crazy, and there were no kids involved which makes the details infinitely easier.

  2. We pulled it back so with that at the top so people know to skip if necessary, here’s what IMO we still had going for us:We hadn’t crossed any completely final lines: Infidelity, irrevocable attacks on each other, substance abuse, using the baby against each other.
    We still had respect for each other. Not in all things at our most apart, perhaps. But in enough.
    We could still laugh together – not so much the shared joke model, which is how we knew we were okay again. But we could watch a comedy together and laugh in each other’s presence.
    If any of those hadn’t been the case I don’t think we would have made it.

  3. I kept trying to make it work & consciously make some of the changes asked of me. Finally, I faced the fact that I was the only one trying to change, and, when confronted, my ex admitted that, and said he didn’t want or plan to change. I had to face that I would never be heard, prioritized or happy if i stayed. So i left – kids are doing pretty well.

  4. First, I loved Heartburn. I was separated from my husband when I read it, and it rang so very true for me :-PSecond, my marriage is on the mend. We’ve come back, but we went to the very edge before doing so. He admitted to an affair. We started counseling. I got pregnant. We finished counseling. He had another affair. We separated. I had the baby. We decided to give it another try.
    From admission of the affair to now, it’s been 3 1/2 years. While our marriage is better than it’s been in our almost 15 years together, it was a ROUGH road, and it continues to be hard work. Coming back from that type of hurt takes a LOT of effort from both parties, and more patience than I ever would have believed was possible.
    I’m not saying that everyone can (or should) ‘fix’ their marriage. I do believe that you know in your heart what is right. I completely agree with Moxie about envisioning your future – it’s one of the main reasons that I stayed. When I pictured my life down the road, I always saw him in it – no matter how bad it got. It wasn’t just that I saw myself married. I saw myself with HIM.

  5. It wasn’t so much that I could imagine my life without him, as that I really couldn’t imagine a life *with* him. I’d held on for almost two years after a huge betrayal (not an affair, but what I consider the emotional equivalent of one) when I realized that the kids and I weren’t enough to make him want to change. It is easy to demonize him for this, but I’m just glad I saw it and was able to (had the means to) leave when I did.

  6. I’m pretty flatlined on this topic right now. I was at the gym the other night, on a treadmill, idly watching tv and an ad came on for one of those online dating sites. The writing across the bottom scrolled, “1 in 5 end in marriage!” And, I swear, I was confused for a moment about if that was meant to be a *good thing* or maybe a warning, or a deterrant. (“1 in 5 end in measles!”). I think a lot about the (very little) Kierkegaard I read in college–he said, “Marry, and you will regret it. Do not marry, and you will regret it.” (Think it’s from Either/Or) His point, as I read it, is, “Meh, it’s hard either way, so you may as well learn to live with it.” I’m wandering a little here, sorry. Just–I guess where I’m at is, life is hard (at times) no matter how you slice it. My husband is a good person, and I do love him, and I believe he loves me. So. I guess it’s also like the Dread Pirate Roberts–we didn’t kill it today, we’ll let it live to see tomorrow.

  7. @giddy–yeah, thanks!Hope it doesn’t seem flippant. We’ve pulled it together, kept it together–I don’t necessarily know how, or why. Marriage seems so odd to me, like such an odd endeavor.

  8. Not to derail this good and difficult thread, but I also thought of Kierkegaard when I read this post like @ Rudyinparis.And I loved Heartburn despite being still married happily after twenty-five years. Hmm, yes, we have a three year old doctors said would NEVER happen. But I love the book, identify with much and find it comforting.
    Sorry aboutthe tangent. My heart goes out to anyone being at the splitting up and parting ways stage.
    From growing up with warring parents looking perfect I do think parting ways is better than staying together while hating each other but it’s very difficult and painful to do. I’m just amazed and grateful we’re still going.

  9. I have nothing to contribute to this conversation {although am thinking lots of good, strong thoughts for the OP and others in this situation} but just need to say: @Rudyinparis You are my hero.

  10. I personally haven’t pulled it together nor has it (to my knowledge) yet fallen apart. But I will say I have as much respect as is possible for my mother for not leaving my father when she found herself in K’s situation. Not because that was the right thing for her (or him) — it wasn’t. But because the damage he would have done to us kids in fighting her leaving would have been so profound. It may not seem to make sense to say “he’d have torn the family apart” relative to the context of divorce but oh, he would.I don’t know that it’s possible to say that what my mom did was “right” or “wrong.” It was right for us and wrong for her and I don’t know how you trade those things off. She did (thank heavens) leave my dad once we kids were grown and gone, and relative to when she’d have done so otherwise that was “only,” oh, I don’t know — 5 years? 8? A lot, but a lot fewer than, say 20. And seeing her thrive in her post-divorce life has been a joy and a blessing (watching his decline, not so much, but it’s a plummet he could have stopped at many points had he taken responsibility for doing so.).
    I don’t believe that it’s always “right” to “stay together for the kids” (quite the contrary, actually, in cases of e.g. physical or sexual abuse), but I do think that with kids involved it’s important to consider not just what the final outcome looks like but also how the path to get there, including factors outside the departing parent’s control, will affect innocent bystanders — the children. Though, again, I don’t know how you weigh the different costs to the different parties involved or what tradeoffs are permissible. It’s tough. I wish K luck, and strength.

  11. The question Ann Landers always had people (usually women) ask themselves was, “Would you be better off with him or without him?” No one can really answer that question but you.And I’m glad @Alexicographer brings up the related but just as important question, which is, “Would the kids be better off _at this stage in their lives_ with us together or apart?” The answer to that question may change over time–at some point it might not make such a difference to them.
    Hugs to anyone who is in the position of asking herself these questions. I have asked them myself a couple of times when I was really angry with my husband, and was relieved to find out how strongly I felt that we were all so much better together.

  12. I ended it. I probably should have seen the warning signs and sought counseling, but in the end, I was so angry at him for not seeing the signs and insisting on help for both my mental health and for the marriage. We fell into roles of me being depressed and him trying to hold onto the shreds of everything. In the end, it was me that had the affair, me that sought help, me that ended the marriage, and me that became the mom and person I wanted to be.

  13. I ended my first marriage, after a whole series of events that culminated in realizing I was expected to make all the compromises, to let go of my dreams to permit my husband’s to flourish, and that I (or our marriage) would never come first in my husband’s priorities. Divorce remains one of the most painful and brave things I have done. My second marriage hit a rough period right after our (colicky, never-sleeping) baby was born, and it declined for the next 18 months. We saw a fabulous couples therapist, and I think we’d be divorced without her. She helped us in so many ways, to learn skills to move forward and also to revisit many unresolved issues that were festering after 18 months. I remember vividly daydreaming (wishing) my current husband would die in a car accident so that I would be free to move on, and free of the guilt & responsibility of divorce. It’s a terrible thing to admit (wishing he’d die), but to me it reflects how trapped and miserable I felt, and how I wanted to escape without paying the price over and over. It’s a hell of a lot easier to divorce without kids, IME. But I will say, our child strained our marriage initially but also served to keep us working at it when we wanted to bail. I do not have that daydream anymore. Marriage is hard! I would never have believed how radically we could turn our ship around. It’s good now, and good enough.

  14. Whether to “walk away” or not, no one can know, except for K. It is such a difficult decision, because it will affect every aspect of the future.My only suggestion would be to weigh everything. To be realistic, you will gain things, but lose other things. It is important to realize that you will be trading marital problems for post-divorce problems (ie. financial, legal, possible blended family issues down the road, etc).
    Depending on your circumstances, you may be very willing to endure these problems to begin a new life. Some relationships are unworkable and need to end. It is just important to be realistic. Many people think that if they leave a bad marriage, all of their problems will be solved. If you have kids, though, you are simply trading for a different set of problems.

  15. I left. I guess I knew I needed to go when I would hear people referring to “the love of their life” and I became keenly aware that I was not married to mine — or, alternately, the thought of my ex being the love of my life was thoroughly depressing to me. I guess I could picture my future with him, but in it I was never, ever happy.It was nothing he did. My ex is actually a wonderful person, and part of my impetus for leaving was knowing that he deserved someone who could love him fully, and knowing that I wasn’t that person. That makes me sound quite selfless, when really leaving him was a very selfish (but, you know, a *good* kind of selfish) act — it was mostly about my long-term happiness and mental health.
    It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, with no doubt (and I just survived 3 months of a preemie with colic and reflux). It involved many hours of sitting on my therapist’s couch and weeping with guilt over the pain that I would cause my ex-husband, who thought there was a chance that we could work it out. I knew there wasn’t. At one point my therapist told me, “It sounds like you’ve already made the decision. Now you just need to find it within yourself to get rid of your guilt and grab your own happiness.” It took months, but when I finally did it, the relief was instant. I cried in sheer joy as I drove away from the house.
    In my case, our two years of infertility, so often painful and terrible, became my saving grace. I really don’t know if I could have left if a child was involved. I feel guilt very keenly for some reason (my therapist again: “For a non-Catholic, you sure are good at guilt!”), and dealing with the guilt of leaving my ex and severing a family might have been too much for me at that point in my life. I’m not sure.
    I’ll end this with this post-script: I’m not happily remarried to the love of my life, and after an additional year of infertility, have 7 month old daughter. And the tears now are joyful.

  16. @PiquantMolly – do you mean you are “now” happily married to the love of your life? I hope that’s it!I love what @RudyinParis said: It’s hard either way. I look forward to my future with him, and he makes me laugh like nobody else — in the good shared-comedy way.
    Marriage is so hard. They say it, but I didn’t really believe it. It is SO. HARD. I’m a believer.

  17. “My only suggestion would be to weigh everything. To be realistic, you will gain things, but lose other things. It is important to realize that you will be trading marital problems for post-divorce problems (ie. financial, legal, possible blended family issues down the road, etc).”They don’t necessarily have to be post-divorce problems but they will certainly be issues.
    The person you have difficulty communicating with *during* a marriage doesn’t suddenly become a reasonable, level headed, open to your ideas new person.

  18. @Elle and @PiquantMolly – I think anyone who has wanted out of a relationship has had that thought…not that you want them to die, per se, but that you want that person to disappear.

  19. Struggling with this in ways too, although I’m not at the point of (seriously)contemplating actual separation. The thoughts that come to mind, in my situation, are that we would get along better if we didn’t have the stress of kids or if we lived somewhere I could actually tolerate (Of course I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything. Our house, in a NY minute. But not the kids.).But, as I think about it, realistically there will always be problems and stress. It’s how effectively a couple is able to deal with them that makes the difference. And it does take committment and work on both sides. And willingness. And compromise. And change.
    As usual, I think Moxie hit it when she said: “The bottom line for me, though, was that at a certain point leaving was the only thing that made sense.”

  20. A blogger who writes about divorce relayed a conversation she had with a friend about how *frustrating* it was to STILL be constantly dealing with her ex all the time and her friend so wisely said something like, “Honey, you still have to deal with him. You just don’t have to f*ck him anymore.”Divorce (with kids) does not remove this person from your life anymore, it simply redefines their role in yours. And in some ways, that role is more intrusive, more stressful because you can control so much less.
    I knew I was done with my marriage early on, yet was not ready to end it until…..I was ready to end it. That point is different for everyone. I had many conversations with Moxie about this fact, and while she (probably) knew it was going to end before I did, she also understood why it was taking me however long it took me to get there. Because that’s just how long it takes, and when you get there you know you’re there and you’re ready to do something about it.
    Full disclosure though: I did not respect my ex husband on many different levels. He was not there emotionally for me. He emotionally abused me with cycles of verbal abuse alternating with cycles of over the top affection (which made me very uncomfortable). He had anger issues that impacted our marriage, his professional life, and friendships. This in turn caused me to lose even more respect for him. I could in no way, envision a happy life with this man, and I could see him verbally abusing me in front of our children which was unacceptable to me. He was not a kind man with whom I had just gotten bored with, or fallen out of love with. He actively eliminated any ability I might have had to love him.
    The many different reasons for divorce could fill pages and pages – and they are all valid to the people for whom they apply. For me it was a matter of respect and emotional safety. He was not a safe place for me to fall at the end of the day. To add onto Bitesizedtherapy above, the problems I have added to my life with this divorce are numerous. However, I feel that even with these problems, my life is 1,000 times better now than it ever was when I was married to him because, while I have to deal with him and his temper still, I can close the door after a negative interaction and have a happy place for me and my kids to call home.

  21. What’s so great about the internet, and about Ask Moxie in particular, is that I have seriously learned so much from total strangers! I owe you all so much. @Rudyinparis, @MrsHaley – I seriously heart you so much, because you are totally feeling me with your comments today!This site was the first one that introduced me to the concept of “Survival Mode” – the 12 month period of unbelievable stress and upheaval accompanying the addition of any new child(ren) be it through birth or adoption, etc. I think it was @hedra who once shared about it not being the ideal time to make any permanent decisions about your marriage. (Unless you have already been *knowing*, like *really knowing* you married the wrong one from the get go, etc, and your life is a sea of red flags..) I’m talking instead about people who think they married the right person, then went and had a kid or two, and everything suddenly started sucking. Been there, lived that! We pulled it together. Therapy. Reading Harville Hendrix and John Gottman. Then the kids became easier to care for as they started getting older. We found more breathing room, and some good babysitters, so we could go off and do fun couple things together. Eventually we remembered why we fell in love in the first place. I’ve blogged about this at length, so feel free to read if you want more specific examples.
    In July 2010 (9 months postpartum with my 2nd child) I thought I wanted to leave:
    http://husheveryone.blogspot.com/2010/07/its-been-bad-day-please-dont-take.html
    But by February 2011 was (and still am!) so grateful I stayed:
    http://husheveryone.blogspot.com/2011/02/working-on-my-marriage.html
    Best wishes and peace to all of you.

  22. ‘I’m talking instead about people who think they married the right person, then went and had a kid or two, and everything suddenly started sucking.’This is me – off to read these links in a moment! I think without the wise comments people have made on this blog I might already have given up, because I feel that since we had children we’ve done better than we might have thought as parents, yet totally, spectacularly failed as a couple. But hearing others say that the first years with small children are always going to be tough makes me think it is worth sticking it out to see if the man I married is still in there somewhere under the sleep deprivation, stress, emotional turmoil and general failure of kindness to each other that in our case results from being very busy full-time professionals and parents. I hope so, because frankly I really miss him.
    Unfortunately I also married the kind of British man who doesn’t do therapy and has no interest in talking about what might be done to sort out our marriage (as this might actually involve discussing his feelings). At the minute I have very little idea what his feelings are, and I’m not sure if it would be better or worse if I knew. I worry that because I’m generally optimistic and tend to fight hard for what I want, I’ll keep fighting long after he has given up on us. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that for me the thought that I might one day leave is a lot less scary than the thought that maybe nothing I can do will make him stay.
    And I have to say that _Heartburn_ has been my relationship guide since I was a teenager, though I’m not sure this is a good thing. I don’t even need to reread it any more because I pretty much know it by heart.
    Good luck to K and everyone else in the same dilemma.

  23. @Kay- I am married to a Kiwi man who doesn’t do therapy and isn’t generally interested in talking about feelings. What works for us is Friday night beers. Seriously. Something about sitting on the sofa drinking beers makes us able to talk, bond, and figure things out.This only works if we both drink. I have no idea why, but the lack of real Friday night beers sessions was a major stressor during my second pregnancy. (And it is not like we’re getting hammered- I have one beer, he might have two.)
    I don’t really understand why this works. I think it taps into the pub mentality, and so maybe it would work for you, too.
    We’re by no means perfect, but we’re hanging in there and I’m fairly confident that we’ll come out the other end of the major life rearrangement that is having children still thinking we married the right person. This, even though we are currently working through some division of labor issues that left me so mad Sunday night that I couldn’t really even continue the conversation.

  24. And I’m glad @Alexicographer brings up the related but just as important question, which is, “Would the kids be better off _at this stage in their lives_ with us together or apart?”I don’t know about this – my parents split up when my sisters and I were all in our 20s and had left the nest, and it was still horrible. My dad seemed to think he’d made some great noble sacrifice by sticking around until we’d all left home, but if anything I think I was even angrier at him for that – not only was the family I’d known and loved gone forever, but it turned out that it had never really existed in the first place.

  25. @Alexicographer – yeah, fair enough. For all that I can see how much more destructive it would have been if we were still minors, though, I can’t find it in my heart to be grateful for it…y’know?

  26. @Anonanon don’t worry: ours was pretty horrible while we were living it, though we knew that. Had my mother tried to divorce my dad while we were minors (and could he have made custody an issue, and he could) it would have been still more horrible. I know no one has a crystal ball, making this hard to do, but I do still believe that a parent considering divorce should generally consider not only what post-divorce (and custody battle) life is going to look like, but what during-divorce (and custody battle) life is going to look like, too, and to think through the implications of both.

  27. Hmm. I spent over a year fantasizing daily and at length about abandoning my family, child and all. Sometimes the fantasy was divorce, sometimes faking my own death. It cleared up when I weaned the child. Hindsight suggests to me that it was a weird PPD manifestation, and the divorce fantasy was more similar to suicidal ideation than something rooted in a relationship problem.Ask me again in five years, how it turns out, but my guess is that we’ll stay together.

  28. Several years ago someone told me that I would know that I really wanted to end my marriage when/if the only relationship I could imagine having with my husband was with him as my ex. For a long time this didn’t make sense to me because I was always, optimistically, imagining that if only a few things could fall into place, we would be o.k. Then, eventually, it did make sense and–more importantly–it continued to make sense and seem true. That’s when I knew I was ready to end it. We’ve been separated now for 9 months and we, and the kids, are really o.k. Best wishes to anyone in a similar situation. It’s very difficult, but you will know if and when you’re ready to make a change.

  29. My marriage is good. Right now, I don’t see a future without my husband, I hate it when he leaves for business, and I’m always happy to see him when he returns. But, of course, our marriage is not perfect and I have low moments when I ask myself if my life is actually better off now than it would have been if I had not chosen my husband.I must remind myself of how torturous dating was and how deeply I wanted that ONE truly deep connection. It would be great if we could bottle those feelings and re-feel them once in a while to compare how it measures to how we feel now. I gave up A LOT to be my husband’s wife and I have become the “trailing spouse,” which I never intended for myself. I still hold out hope that, by sheer will and hard work, I can pull myself up to a place that surpasses where I think I would have been without him.
    I also know how truly difficult it is to be a single-mom since I have to be one frequently during my hubby’s long business travels. It sucks pretty hard. I want to give him, our marriage, and myself everything I’ve got to avoid single parenting, especially since I know that it is an absolute impossibility that another man, who may love me better than my husband does, could love my son as much as his dad does. I know my son would survive and thrive despite a divorce (I did) but the thought of sharing child rearing with someone who doesn’t feel the passion for my son that my husband and I feel just seems sad.

  30. I once heard an elderly Italian refer to marriage as a drive down the Reggio-Calabria Freeway, which is basically 200kms of twists and turns, pot-holes and detours, inter-spaced with straight carriageways with breathtaking views. Sounds like a fairly accurate analogy to me.

  31. We saved our marriage through therapy and a lot of hard work. I got to the point where I was researching lawyers and the legal mechanics of divorce while crying about not ever seeing my nephew again. I don’t know where he was at this time, as one of our key problems was his complete inability to interpret and respond to his own emotions.It wasn’t a straight and easy road. I still had doubts when I got pregnant but that ended up being the “honeymoon” period we never had (our first year of marriage was a living hell). The pregnancy hormones that had me on a permanent happy high and anxiety free for the first time in my life coupled with his realization that he wanted to be a good dad and going back to therapy alone and for him only made it the best time in our marriage.
    Things got rocky again after our son was born because we fell back into old patterns, plus my anxiety went through the roof and I hit a PPD wall when our son was 9 months. Our son is 5 now and after more individual therapy and meds for both of us we’re so very happy. I can’t believe how happy and content we are together and how little we fight. We argue, sure, but out and out fights? Rare.
    We were 23 when we started dating and we’ve both just turned 40. It hasn’t been an easy road but I’m glad we decided to travel it together.
    The reason I stayed? It was something our marriage counselor said to me once. That my husband had the worst case of arrested emotional development she had ever seen, but he still tried as hard as he could in our relationship. It wasn’t his will that was lacking, but the tools he had available to him. Tools can be learned. The love and the wanting the marriage to work, they were either present or not. That made me realize that as long as we both wanted it to work, we could make it happen.

  32. @cloud, kay and hush – thanks for validating what my husband and I have been going through. Fortunately for me my husband is willing to do therapy. We did it when our first was 14 mos but had a shitty therapist who I felt did not take us seriously so we only went once. It was also at a time when I had just gone back to my career full time. Things got better for the most part.We started going again recently when second child was 12 mos and once again I started back at work full time. This time we found an excellent therapist who took us seriously and was genuinely interested in helping us.
    My husband and I have been married for 6 years but have been together for 14 years. There is a lot of stuff that has happened over those years that got us to where we are – not just the addition of kids.
    After talking to our therapist we realized there was a lot of hurt from past things that we weren’t even really aware of. It resulted in us looking to people outside of our marriage to feel close to (no actual infidelity). But you know something’s wrong when you stay after work to talk with a co-worker instead of going home to talk with you husband. Or when you get a text from a co-worker at 10 p.m. on a Friday night and engage with a conversation with them instead of your wife.
    We started not being very nice to each other and stopped having sex. He wanted me to see a therapist for what he perceived as sexual dysfunction. I told him that it was a relationship issue, he didn’t believe me but came to therapy anyway and low and behold it was a relationship issue.
    We are on track now, are treating each other like we used to (nicely) and can communicate with each other so much better just by having aired some of the issues we were both holding on to. It’s not perfect, but I don’t believe it will ever be perfect. Or maybe my definition of perfect should change…
    we are working on it and are willing to always work on it so maybe that’s perfect.

  33. yes. no one can make the decision but you nor know the situation but you and your (ex) partner. i also always try not to make general or blanket statements about what is best for whom or what is most right. there are so many variables and so many ins and outs and ups and downs. and so many different versions of people and partnerships. things could have been very unconventional and outside of the mold from the start for a troubled relationship which means a separation can mean many different things and look like many different things. i speak from experience and i know that taking a big step away from a loving but unhealthy relationship can be a very, very difficult thing. sending love and support to everyone in a partnership and to those stepping away from one.

  34. For me it wasn’t a big aha moment where one thing happened and I realized that was it. It was more that there were lots of those moments and each one pushed me a little ways down the path to leave and when I finally got far enough down it, I saw the way out was pretty clear. I finally realized that I was married to someone who was not a happy person and would never be happy and I would never get any level of support or intimacy from him. I figured I had a lot of years left to live and I wanted them to be happy and he was holding me back. My only hesitation was that I was going to cause pain for my 3 year old but I figured if we stayed together she’d have long term issues related to seeing a bad marriage every day. We’re in the midst of it now, he’s moved out and we are trying to work out a settlement. We’re in a low point now so even though I see the worst of it, I know each day will be better. My daughter is doing fine and I’m seeing a therapist which has helped immensely. Divorce isn’t the easy solution but sometimes it really is the best and only solution.

  35. I just wanted to chime in on the issue of marriages on the rocks when small children enter the scene. I remember when my first child was four months old, I went to visit some (childless) friends, who asked if my marriage was better or worse since we had the baby. I laughed, and said “Worse! Way worse!” They both almost fell off their chairs, because they were so sure I’d so “Better!” I think a lot of us ingest this cultural idea that babies bring couples closer together, but it really isn’t the case for many of us. My husband and I have a fantastic relationship – I think he’s the best person in the world, and we rarely disagree about anything important, he does at least 50% of everything, parenting and otherwise. And I could not believe how distant and irritable and alienated from each other having children made us. For us, the reason was simple – we could not bear the sleep deprivation, and it brought out the worst in us and made us turn on each other. Started sleeping regularly – it cleared up. My point: having little kids can be really hard on even the best relationships. Knowing that can help you understand what’s going on and why. We didn’t need therapy, we needed dates, and sex, and sleep.

  36. In reading through comments, I am seeing a theme. It would seem that if your difficulties are with the relationship itself, therapy or just patience until the kids grow up might be the ticket. (Learning the “tools” @Ally mentioned.) But if your problem is actually with the person you married, then no amount of work is going to remedy that.For those seeking therapy, consider looking at aamft.org. They have a terrific locator tool to help you find someone suited for you. And don’t assume that if the first therapist can’t help that means you are beyond help. It took us 4-5 to find a good fit.

  37. i am very confused by the “you are a fraud comment” written yesterday evening. maybe this was an existential crisis or blurt out. not sure.

  38. I thought it was directed towards Moxie, and I immediately pictured Austin Powers announcing, “She’s a man, baby!”If it didn’t think about it that way, I got too irritated for words.

  39. @Katie the fraud: Don’t be mean and don’t be a coward. I don’t care what you think about me, but don’t say nasty things about readers.

  40. Someone must have struck a nerve of truth with Katie, or held up a mirror to her face and she didn’t like what she saw. Too bad she is unable or unwilling to back up her opinion with some reasons. Differing opinions are valued on this site – cowardly venom is not.

  41. we are in couples therapy and both in individual therapy. by the time we started couples I was done. i feel strong, healthy, and, mostly, sure it is the right decision, but I feel like this is part of the process, too. we are unearthing layers and layers, slowly but surely, that are explaining our relationship: “oh the hostility I’ve been feeling for the last 10 years, that you have denied, is real. Ah.” As painful as it is to hear, it helps.My husband started meds, and our co-parenting is going really well. that is what it is. we are co-parenting an almost 4 year old. but we don’t have a marriage. and for all the reasons above – thank you so much for the support I’ve found here – this is not the time to leave. It would not be good for me financially – for either of us, or good for our son right now. my husband is a very broken man. the anger is all but gone now, thanks to the medication and therapy, but the hurt and pain he inflicted on me over so many years is so deep, I don’t think I can ever get over it. I don’t have any anger or judgement towards him, just sadness and compassion. his mother left him when he was six. he never in his 40 years dealt with it, or even saw it as a problem until I made him go to therapy, because it was so obvious that it was coloring EVERYTHING. And I think it’s possible that he will be a good husband to someone someday, but I’m not willing to stake my happiness on it and wait – what, 10, 15 years? Mostly when I think about ending it i feel a great sense of relief. And hope. I just want to be in couples therapy longer to get him closer to the idea and emotionally healthier.
    Some days I feel like a huge wimp, like I’m not taking a step that I should out of fear or selfishness. But thanks to everyone who has written – I can see that it is valid to wait, even if you know the what, for the when.

  42. I like the “chewing off the foot analogy” – which is why I’m still in a marriage that is mostly functional but had to survive (with some major scars) a devastating affair. Ultimately it’s best for my kids that we’re together. We’re not so toxic to each other that we infect an unhappy household, and that’s important to me. I decided it’s better to “live within the trap” as it were, rather then hobble around, and have my children hobble as well, with a chewed off foot. That said, the marriage has scars that may never be healed. I don’t believe in ‘love of my life’ or other cliches. I believe in work and partnership. As long as you have that, or some of that, then it’s worth it.

  43. the Kiwis and the Brits aren’t the only ones who have a hard time with their feelings. I like the beer night idea, and have something similar, being able to talk about things (sometimes good things, sometimes shitty things) is the primary reason I’m still married. We’ll go threw a really nice stage, have some shitty times, a big blowout, and then finally be able to talk. Sometimes when the blowouts have been particularity bad I fantasize about my escape, but at the same time I know that I don’t really want to go. Thankfully I can honestly say I’m mostly happy, mostly content, the bad is yucky but not overwhelming or often.

  44. Really this is the condition which is produced so much pain to both husband and wife. End of marriage is really unusual situation in happy marriage life.

  45. I have read some of this post proper here and discovered the idea fascinating and it tends to make numerous sense. As properly as i adore your theme proper here. Thumbs up! Maintain on sharing!

  46. I want to end my marriage but I have many fears. I’ve imagined my future without him but dreaded my future without my children. I have four kids and I can’t imagine what my life will be without them. I’m sick and tired of my marriage because of the physical abuse and emotional abuse. Sometimes, I wish I could just crawl into a safe haven with my children but I know that he will fight for their custody because he loves them so much. I’m enslaved and I hope for my freedom very soon but how do I endure while it lasts?

  47. From these minuscule shifts, the team estimated that the planet is about three times the mass of Jupiter, and orbits its star at a distance slightly greater than that between Mars and the sun.

  48. Agreed, Bob Lesson is a unique bloke. I don’t think I have ever seen him without a smile on his face!The one saying that he shared in my birthday card many years ago has stuck with me ever since……..”you don’t stop playing when you get old, you only get old when you stop playing!”
    I now write this in everyone else’s birthday card instead!

  49. Thank you. This article, and the comments have helped me immensely. I certainly haven’t made any decisions, but I think it’s time for me to go. My husband has noticed that something is not right, and he’s acting over loving and clingy ….I’ve wanted to leave many times in the past but always made the decision to try again, this time it’s different. I’m not happy, and haven’t been for a while. I’ve been slowly suffocating without realizing it and then 2 weeks ago I suddenly had a moment of clarity. I need to talk to someone .. preferably my mother (but she’s 6000 miles away and currently moving house so is offline). Going to find a therapist I think, someone neutral. I’m just scared because I have no job, am totally dependent on my husband financially, and if I leave I’m going to have to eat my pride and ask friends for help. I’m also slightly concerned for my husband who has a history of mental illness (bipolar/depression/anxiety etc…) that this will cause him to do something stupid. He’s been divorced two times before (this was my first marriage in comparison). But at the end of the day I think I need to start thinking of my own health.

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