Why remain in a loveless marriage?


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Caucas’

My mother called last night to tell me that one of my dearest cousins has finally filed for divorce.

I say finally, because this break up has been in the making for the past twenty five years.

What caused her to take the plunge?

Her youngest finally moved out of the house.

Are you kidding me?

It’s situations like these that make me question why people stay in loveless marriages.

In my cousin’s case, she stayed for the sake of the children.

You’d think she would have the sense to understand that most of the time, it’s better for kids to go through divorce, than to witness the lack of affection in their parents’ marriage.

Marriage.
For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.

But what do we do when being married is what’s making us poorer, sicker, and wishing we were dead?

Many men choose to stay married because “it’s cheaper to keep her.”

On the other hand, some women remain because the men they can’t stand, give them a lifestyle they can’t afford on their own.

And others stay because they’re too tired to start over.

When we add up the parts, I think it’s safe to conclude that everyone who stays has a motive or an excuse.

I want to leave him but …
I want to leave her but…

Yet the fact remains they stay.

They stay out of a sense of obligation, fear of the unknown, or simply because they don’t believe they have what it takes to begin a new chapter in their lives.

Ironically, what a lot of people don’t realize is that in remaining in a loveless marriage, their lives turn into the very hell they’re trying to avoid.

Exiting a relationship can be scary, especially when you’ve been with the person for a long time, but isn’t it better to face your fear than to stay with someone you’re indifferent to?

As spectators to such tragedies, we try to not be judgmental.

We try to believe the person when he or she says, “It’s just a phase. The love will return.”

You want to be supportive of those choosing stability over the unknown; of choosing to remain even if it’s making them hate themselves and the life they lead.

And for the most part, you sit back and say nothing. Do nothing.

I wish I could turn back the clock and tell my cousin, pack your things and leave.

Life is too short to spend with someone who doesn’t make you smile, laugh, and who gives you goosebumps every time you hear his voice.

You don’t have to stay with someone you don’t love for the sake of the children, or your financial situation, or to avoid disappointing your family.

Instead, you can choose to live life.
Your way.
On your terms.
Alone or with someone who sets your world on fire.

Life is too short for you to wait for your children to get older, for you to save up money, or for a spouse to change and become who you want him or her to be.

Love doesn’t return.

Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Once the fat lady sings “love don’t live here anymore,” it’s time to call it quits and move on.

Move on to a life that makes you happy to be alive; to a life filled with hope and expectations.

Yes, that’s what I would tell her.

It’s what I would tell anyone who’s in a loveless marriage and doesn’t know what to do.

Would you remain in a loveless marriage?

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62 thoughts on “Why remain in a loveless marriage?

  1. It’s almost as if I wrote this over 2.5 years ago. This was me…. living in a loveless marriage, trying to stick it out for the kids. Then it hit me. Life is too short! I would rather live alone, than stay. I don’t want my boys to think that this is how a husband and wife treat each other. They shouldn’t see their mom cry every day. I don’t want this to be their memories of their childhood. So I left. It was the toughest and BEST decision of my life. It’s not been easy, emotionally or financially. But we are making it. And smiling. And laughing. And I know, we’ll be just fine. I’m glad your cousin finally took the leap. Tell her, there are sunnier days ahead!!!

  2. Sometimes a marriage is more like a business than a love relationship; if that’s the case and the both of them agree, it’s fine. Other than that, I see no reason for staying in a loveless marriage.

    • Ivana, personally, I can’t wrap my head around a marriage that’s like a business relationship. Or at least, it’s not for me. If that were the case, then why be married at all and not just be friends?

    • It’s not for me either, but there are some people who treat their marriage that way. If they’re both adults and nobody forces anyone into anything… *shrugs* Then again, I suppose there is some love in that too — love for their business, whatever that may be. :)

    • Ivana, I’m sure there are people who have this type of arrangement, and like you mention, if both parties are willing, then I would imagine this is what accounts for the success of this type of arrangement.

  3. Bella,

    Hear! Hear! My answer is hell to the no. Been there and gratefully escaped from that. Why waste your life struggling along under the pretext of happiness? To do so inidcates that you lack belief in the movement of life. Life is a journey and part of it’s joys and sorrows is that you NEVER know what it will bring. The only certainty is change and if you don’t believe things can change for the bettter…you might as well like down and die. I have too much faith in myself (at a minimum) to squander the time granted to me in such a way. Only by dropping baggage can you pick up the next blessing.

    I have many friends in the same situation and in the name of friendship I always feel compelled to speak out but in the end people do what they want. It makes me sad to see that many of us, women in particular, are the architects of our own unhappiness. Great post!

    • “Women are the architects of their own unhappiness,” Coco, I love this! And ain’t that the truth! I’m glad you are now living a rich, deserving life, without the baggage that holds one down. Here’s to picking up many more blessings! :)

  4. Oh boy. Bella, you are speaking to me in this post. I am sad to admit I am that woman. Been married 16 years. Staying for all the reasons you mentioned. HOWEVER….I finally woke up to this message and am on the path of leaving. It’s scary as Hell. What am I waiting for? A full-time job. I teach preschool part-time and make zero money, certainly not enough to support myself. Yes, I could just leave now but would probably have to go on welfare. I know many women do it but that is not for me.

    All the divorced women I know, have good jobs and finances were not a factor for them. Truly, a woman who is dependent on her husband has a tougher time leaving a bad marriage. I would like to know how they do it. Plus, my husband’s parents own our home, so I am the one that would have to leave. Everything in MY life would change. I have seen a lawyer and have been told that my husband does not make enough money to support two households (he is a teacher). She advised me, if it is not “intolerable” to take this time to “get my life together,” so that is what I am doing.

    I have a college degree. I am capable of moving forward. I used to have a great job at the local university. Am trying to get back on there. It’s harder than I thought. I want the benefits and retirement that I will need for my future. So I have a plan. It’s just really scary is all.

    It’s easy to sit back and judge what others should do. Overall, I totally agree with what you have said here but it has taken me a long time to get to that point. When children are involved, it’s not so easy to see it in black and white.

    Yes, and at my age (46) I am tired and don’t want to start over. But I realize I have to if I am to find the happiness I want and deserve. You mentioned fear, and that is huge. But now I realize being afraid is just part of life. I have let fear be a reason not to change. Now I know you have to plow through those fears sometimes to get to a better place.

    • Michael Ann, I’m sorry you find yourself in this situation. However, it seems you’re on the right track to getting your life squared away. You’re right, it takes time. This is not something you can do overnight. I hope that you count with a net of support of friends and family that can help you through this difficult transition. I would dare say that in your case, it’s baby steps. Rash decisions, given your living and financial situations should not be taken. That said, know that you’re on the path to making changes and obtaining the life you deserve to have, friend. And that’s a first step. Hugs to you, lady!

    • That was so kind, thank you Bella. Baby steps. Exactly. I feel that is best for me. I do have a good support network but it is hard for me to ask for help. I have to get over that. I just emailed someone I hardly know, to ask about the low-income housing she lives in. That was hard for me but I did it.

      Your post here was divine intervention for me today ;-) I hope that makes you feel good to know. Even though I know my plan, reminders of why I’m doing what I’m doing, are always a good thing. Support, inspiration and encouragement!

    • Michael Ann, it does make me feel good to know you’re working toward your goal. Just remember to go at your own pace and think things through before making any life changing decisions. Thank goodness for your support network since they can help you through the process. Support, inspiration and encouragement is what all of us need more often than not. Without them, I feel we’re stuck in a rut, afraid to move forward. Kudos to you for taking your first baby step! :)

    • Michael Ann,
      I did it. I had NO job. No income. Just another stay at home mom at the time. I took in a roommate to help with expenses. And I took temp jobs to help me make it thru. Waiting for the right moment is like waiting to have enough money before having kids. If you wait, you could be waiting until your retirement years. Listen to me when I say: Start Your Life Now. No more excuses. Just do it. It so so much better, Bella is right about this and I can attest to this. It is so much better than staying in a loveless marriage. Those excuses are going to strangle you, snuff out any life left in you. Jump, take the leap out, and you will feel so much better in the long run. I didn’t go on welfare. I made it. My first real job after leaving was a low paying one, but we muddled through. So don’t hold on to something that’s not working, don’t allow yourself to be held back by it. Please listen to two women (me and Bells) who have been there, done that and moved on. Life is so much sweeter without an albatross around your neck.

      Bells, thank you for this post. It’s very important to remind women of this.

    • For Monica. I know it sounds like “excuses” to some but I don’t see it that way. Everyone has to do things in their own way. Your experience was different than mine in that your husband made the decision that the marriage was over. For me, I am the one making the decision. It is a very different thing to go through this side of it. I am on my way to a different and happier future. It has taken me years to finally decide to leave, so the leaving has to be done in my own way too. I know you just want me to be happy and I feel that support!

    • Michael Ann, I believe that what Monica is saying is that any woman can break free of the emotional ties and resistance that oftentimes keeps them from reaching a better future. I think it’s wonderful that you are accessing your particular circumstance before making any decisions. You’ve got a game plan and you’re on your way, Michael Ann. We’re cheering for you no matter what you decide or however long it takes! :)

    • Monica, thank you for adding your voice. I think it’s so important to talk about subjects that affect us not only as women, but as human beings. It’s tragic to sit in the sidelines watching life pass you by as you get older; feeling the frustration and resentment with every day and every minute. Indeed, you are living proof that it can be done and I couldn’t agree with you more when you say, “Waiting for the right moment is like waiting to have enough money before having kids. If you wait, you could be waiting until your retirement years.” How right you are. There are times that you just have to take a leap of faith. And I’m certain you agree! :)

    • Yes, I know you are doing, in your heart, what is best for you. I know it often takes time. It took me a whole year before I finally realized the time was right. Kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, when Glinda the good witch, told her, you have to figure out how to go home for yourself. It wasn’t Glinda’s place to tell her.
      So I apologize for calling them excuses. For everyone it is different. I hope you find your way back to happiness soon. :)

    • Monica, if I may interject. I don’t think you were assuming the role of Glinda, the good witch. :) Instead, I think you were saying, “Go forward! You can do this! We’ve been there before and triumphed, and you can too!” Am I right? While everyone’s experience is different, I think as women, as sisters, we can benefit in learning from what others have gone through. I think in learning what you went through, Michael Ann is able to view one of the ways you can get through the storm. Yes, it’s a different storm for everyone, but at the end of the day, we’re all still picking up the pieces. Thank you for your input, amiga. It means a lot to me. :)

  5. Like you, what kills me are the miserable couples who stay together “for the kids.” Like the kids are benefiting from this! I also think finances are a huge factor. I know many women who are trapped because they just couldn’t support themselves, especially if they’d also responsible for the kids. In a few of those cases, the women are somehow disabled and unable to work. It breaks my heart. I would never want anyone to stay in a dead or miserable marriage if it could be helped.

    • June, tragically this is the case of many women, and like you mention, many of them have health issues or handicaps that prevent them from exercising any positive changes. I really wish there were support groups that would not only empower women, but assist them with the help that is necessary to get their lives on track. It makes us take a step back and realize that it’s not easy being happy, doesn’t it?

  6. I’m not married and have never been but I’ve been in some long lasting (8+ years) relationships. I agree with what you said however, I believe very strongly in making sure you’re done. I hate leaving a relationship and wondering if it could have worked if only I had done xyz. Every couple, eventually, will have their issues be it small or big.

    In the aftermath of relationships, I’ve looked back and evaluated what went wrong, what was my part in it and whether I was an enabler. Commitments made before God make me want to make sure there is nothing worth salvaging and that means I’ll try couples counseling if their up for it, personal introspection (can I be less critical), what can we change together, etc.

    I think the relationship, marriage or otherwise, is dead when you’re not willing to try anymore and you’re just roommates or you’re at a stalemate you can’t get past. At that point, finances, kids, length of time is no longer a good excuse. You’re just damaging each other and the whole point is to be happy together isn’t it?

    • Erin, absolutely, when you’re just living with a person and your status is that of roommates, it’s definitely time to move on. Like you mention, it’s wise to ascertain that the relationship cannot be “CPR’d” back to life. However, I would first ask myself if I truly want to stay in this relationship. Many times people waste valuable time and money going to counseling, seeing a therapist, priest, and so on, when in their hearts they know they want out. This in turn, works against any progress the couple can achieve and gives false hope to the person who’s interested in saving the relationship. I feel this is not fair to anyone involved and prevents the individuals from moving forward.

  7. As someone who left my marriage twelve years ago, I totally agree that people should not stay in an unhealthy and unhappy relationship. But I would argue that the other side is not always greener. It has been better for me and for my kids not to be with him (and he has nothing to do with us now), but monetarily, it has been, and continues to be, an enormous struggle. I managed to get through university and at 38 finally started to try to make a career for myself to support my kids. I’m just a decade and a half later than my peers. Thanks to that and the economy, we continue to live under the poverty level, even though I’m working full-time.

    Finances are a real reason for staying in a roommate-style marriage. It’s also a reason to hunt for another roommate to live with (we share a house with another single mom). Just don’t imagine that getting out of marriage is going to be the magic moment that makes you happy. It’s a struggle either way if you’ve got kids.

    No kids? Hell, yeah, get out now. :)

    • Teresa, thanks for pointing out how having children makes a big difference in the decision a person makes to end a marriage. Given the world’s financial state, it’s even harder to make it when you have kids and like you mention, exiting a bad marriage doesn’t guarantee happiness. That said, having gone through the experience, that it’s better to live in poverty with your children than to live in wealth but in hell. I was happier eating grilled cheese but being able to smile and exhale, than eating steak and living in a perpetual state of misery. Easier said than done, I know, but it can be done. It just means you’ll take a little longer to get where you need to be. But you’ll get there nonetheless!

  8. Marriage is a concept that is constantly being redefined. For my parents, I think a lot of it has to do with the religious idea of uniting a man and a woman to produce children. Of course there is love there, but a love that often includes God. For me, must to my parents’ chagrin, children don’t have to have a place in marriage.

    Before I got married, my husband and I talked about what that actual institution meant for us. We’re both not religious, and so marrying was more of a formality than anything. We assessed that being married would give us a lot of tax breaks, so it made sense that if we were living together, we might as well get benefits from it. But more importantly, we also decided that we wouldn’t want to be with anyone else. The wedding rings on our fingers signified our love and exclusiveness to one another.

    I suppose we’re lucky because we don’t care to have children, so we wouldn’t have that complexity. If we do have kids (much later on) it will hopefully be only when we both are settled down career-wise. Writing this down, it seems like my marriage is so stiff and regulated, but it’s not. My husband and I depend on each other and love each other a lot, like till death do us part kind of love. But we also want to be happy.

    • Laura, you have a great head on your shoulders, lady! I love how you think! I agree, marriage is being redefined, every day. I think it’s wise to delay having children until you’re certain that’s it’s what you want. Much as we don’t want to admit, children change everything. And I’m not saying it’s for the worse, I’m just mean that many considerations have to be taken before carrying out any life changing decisions. Here’s to many, many more years of happiness in your marriage! :)

  9. It’s easy, from the outside, to see that somebody really needs to get the hell outta Dodge – because a relationship is abusive, or loveless, or unfulfilling, or so many things.

    What’s hard (and I know from personal experience) is the relationships never started out that way, so you keep on hoping, keep on working at it, keep on *trying.* Usually it does take some jarring or milestone event, to realize that the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain/fear of making a change.

    • Absolutely, Beverly! I think we condition ourselves to the mediocrity of it all and as a result, are numb to everything around us, including the pain. When one is in an abusive relationship, it’s easier to come to terms with the need to end it. However, when the situation is one where you go from day to day in the company of someone who’s not making you happy, you have a harder time leaving because the risks can outweigh the outcome. Like you mention, sometimes it takes a jarring event to set the wheels in motion. Amen to that!

  10. You’ve certainly started something here, Bella!

    I wish it was that easy to cut bait for the sake of happiness. I did…but it was difficult and I can definitely say that it took a toll on my kids. It is one thing to say that as adults we would rather live in poverty and smile more, but for children who don’t have a choice in the matter it is not always the best for them. All three of my kids struggle with relationships. Not having a father around while growing up, they don’t necessarily trust men and a guy has to go through real hoops for them to get serious. They also saw me go without food to make sure there was enough for them. Years later they told me how painful that was and how they cried often, but never wanted me to know. Sure, they will be fine, but I just want to make the point that kids should be considered strongly when thinking about leaving. You don’t have to become a martyr, but I would say that if you are just leaving because someone doesn’t make your toes curl in bed, think twice. If someone believes a new mate will be waiting in the wings, that may not be the case, and more important to the equation, chances are unless you do the inner work on yourself you will meet the same type of person as your ex. If your goal is to have a loving relationship, be prepared to take the time by yourself and maybe accept some therapy in order to not make the same mistake. You mirror your partner so you want to make sure that you are feeling strong and independent when you go back out there in the dating world. Also, keep in mind that if you have kids, you never really lose your ex…you may think you got rid of them, but now the things that you couldn’t stand about them have been pawned off on your children and they have to deal with it. Also, just remember that if you want a partner, chances are they have children…and that is a whole new ball game to navigate!

    Sorry to be a downer…I used to be that person who sang the praises of leaving for the sake of happiness. Had I been told the honest true about what raising three kids as a single mother would entail, at least I would have made the decision from an educated point of view.

    • Annie, I hear you. I really do. However, I believe children are resilient and capable of bouncing back from even the most traumatic of circumstances. As women and as mothers, I believe it’s important for us to be role models for our children; to exhibit the conduct we want them to emulate. You are right in the sense that it is extremely difficult for children to assimilate something that turns their world upside down, but long term, your children will value you as the strong woman you are. They will see in you a fighting spirit who had the ability to overcome financial and emotional difficulties. As mothers, it’s natural that we want to shield our children from circumstances that can cause them pain, but it is also our responsibility to show them that we can triumph over adversity. The decision to exit a loveless marriage is not just about the willingness to survive poverty for the sake of smiling more or even of being happy. It’s about being able to living a life you can be proud of and sometimes that’s comes with great sacrifice. I think you’ve touched on some very important points. Women should not just abandon a relationship because they’re feeling dissatisfied, and the reason for this is that you should not have to rely on someone else to feel fulfilled. If you’re feeling like this, more than likely, you’ll feel the same way in another relationship. Hence, it’s crucial to identify what’s making you feel this way. Like you mention, spending time on your own is the best thing any woman can do. It provides a woman with the opportunity to stand on her own two feet; to feel a sense of accomplishment as she achieves goals. Another great point you make is seeking professional help in order to learn from past mistakes and prevent yourself from repeating them in the future. Annie, thank you so much for your input. I think it’s helpful to see the different ways people respond to this type of subject. I hope you agree!

    • I do agree, Bella. This has been a great post to generate a lot of different opinions and a common thread among all of us to live happily, be resilient, independent and strong.

    • I’m delighted you agree, Annie. I feel your contribution has provided great insight concerning how this type of decision is not to be taken lightly and how certain factors, like children, should be given careful consideration. I’m grateful for your sharing the long-term effects of your decision as well as your suggestions of those matters that should be assessed before entering a new relationship. While it’s important to reach a state of fulfilment and contentment, it’s equally important to do so in a responsible and careful manner. Thank you, Annie!

  11. I agree with your post. To keep this comment short, I’ll just say that I, personally, would NOT stay in a loveless marriage. That’s just me. Everyone has to make their own decision for themselves. Best wishes to your cousin.

  12. All marriages go through good times and bad. I left my husband because I didn’t see any way forward, but if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have. You are always connected through your children and your history together (which in our case was mostly happy). We have worked through so much stuff as parents since we divorced and still respect each other as people, friends and the mother/father of our children. To this day I know he’s the one person I can always count on no matter what.

    • Elizabeth, I think it’s wonderful that you still have this connection with the father of your children. It sounds to me that both you and him assumed very mature attitudes and acted in the best interest of everyone involved. I wish this would always be the case. Kudos to you for being able to cultivate such a respectful and caring relationship.

  13. Bella, after reading your post I decided not to comment on it, then at the end of the day I revisited again and I’m so taken by all the women here. I got married when I was 19 years old and yes it was love! Marriage and love goes up and down throughout the course of life. I’m not sure that we love our partners at 40 the same way we love them at 19. I wish your cousin all the best and I hope she is doing the right thing by leaving her partner after 25 years.

    • Ariana, I’m so glad you came back for another visit! Yes, it’s incredible how we can initiate a subject of conversation that allows us to bond and exchange experiences. Wonderful, right? I have to tell you that I agree–love undergoes changes and it’s definitely different from 19 to 40. It’s only sad that sometimes the emotions undergoes changes that aren’t always positive. I wish this weren’t so.

  14. Wow, talk about a discussion! The comments were nearly as good as your post. This topic is so interesting. Before I had Sophie, I would have said that leaving was the only way out. And it was easy for me to say this considering I am the primary breadwinner in my family, so I was financially stable. And now, after having a daughter, I do think if I were faced with this situation (which I am not) I would seriously think about whether I would leave because of my daughter. Your perspective changes so much after having children. Yet I know it does nobody any good not to be true to themselves either. I agree with Ariana that love does change over time and hopefully it doesn’t change for the worse. I am grateful that I am not in that situation right now and don’t have to make the decision myself. However my heart and prayers go out to Michael Ann, your cousin and everyone else facing this dilemma.

    • Leah, thank you for your kind words. I’m happy you liked the post and comments! I think this discussion has served to make all of us ladies aware of the difference in perspectives of women. And the fact that this perspective changes depending on the person’s situation. I’m with you and Ariana–love does change. Sometimes for the better, other times for the worse. That said, we can only hope that the person who finds him/herself in the situation will not postpone making a decision to the point where all that is felt is regret.

  15. Did you hear about the elderly couple who went to marriage counseling?
    The counselor, after many sessions, was shocked to hear they were finally getting a divorce!
    “Why are you getting divorced NOW, when you’re both in your 90’s?”
    “We were waiting until the the children died.”
    :-)

  16. I want to echo what Erin said: ” I believe very strongly in making sure you’re done. I hate leaving a relationship and wondering if it could have worked if only I had done xyz.”

    I began wanting to leave when my youngest daughter was 8. I did leave when she was 14, because by then I was working full-time. This was the week before 9/11. Talk about crisis within and without. I’d do it again if I were to live through the same experience. But here’s the thing—when I left, I didn’t immediately file for divorce despite the advice of the three family counselors, two attorneys and 100A% of my friends and family. Adultery was not in the picture, and that was biblically the only grounds for divorce (although I think abuse is also valid as grounds).

    I believe in living my life without regret and as the best possible example I can manage for my three daughters, so I wasn’t going to be hasty. I went to counseling by myself every week for two years without fail. Those first two years, he and I got a lot of our yelling, blaming and hating out of the way (without knowing that’s what we were doing.) He dated someone else and I couldn’t care less. The third year, we relaxed into our new separateness and started dating—each other! I hadn’t dated anyone else by choice through that time, and I only consented to see him once he broke off the other relationship. We fell back in love, slowly this time, and in a much more mature manner than when I was 21 and he, 31. (We had dated a year before we married.)

    I moved back home five years after moving out. It’s our silver anniversary this fall.

    So I have to disagree, Bella, when you say with certainty that when love is gone, it’s gone. You just never know. But you do need to know when to cut your losses, and this is what I advised my youngest when her four-year relationship fell apart. She had wanted to hang on, using my example as the reason. It’s not a mold that will fit another relationship. It’s almost like a personal miracle I didn’t ask for but I will always treasure, especially because midlife has become the happiest time of my life. I can afford not to work, without worry, and I can enjoy the grandchildren with him.

    Michael Ann, I am sorry you are going through this difficult time. Bella, thank you for opening up this discussion, and I hope your cousin sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Scrollwork, thank you for sharing your story with us. And what an incredible story it is! I’m happy that you were able to find happiness again with your husband. I have to say that perhaps your story was able to take place because the love never truly left. It was there; waiting to be rekindled, but there nonetheless. You felt it and your husband felt it even if he was a bit misguided at the time. I truly believe that when an emotion like love exits a relationship, there is not getting it back. If one of the partners decides it is over, the other can love him or her to the moon and back and it won’t make a bit of difference. I feel that this wasn’t your case and hence, you’re now living the life you deserve. How utterly wonderful! Thank you for your well wishes and for your valuable feedback.

  17. As a child of (an UG.LY) divorce, I still think it’s ludicrous to stay in an unhappy or unjust or unfair marriage, especially if you have children. Unfortunately, kids learn by example more than anything, and watching their parents stay together despite grave unhappiness sets them up for failure in their own adult relationships. I was thrilled to see my mother, a SAHM with four kids, fight for herself despite the difficulties she faced when my father left, because she believed she ought to be treated better. It gave us a decade of poverty and difficulty, but I grew up watching her self-belief and I think that was a more important lesson.

    • Kario, you’ve echoed what I believe in my heart. I raised my children as a single mom and was much happier doing so, no matter what the outcome. No one says it’s going to be easy, but it can be done. I’m so glad you were able to give us your input since it sheds light on how a child of divorce sees this type of situation.

  18. I’ve been in a loveless relationship before so it really depends on why a woman would stay in the first place. Financial security? The kids? Afraid of starting anew? We all have our reasons so each to her own. The most important thing in my book is to still be your own woman and not let one man’s heartlessness reduce you to feeling worthless. Frankly, that’s where having dogs as pets come in, they love you unconditionally, and if I had been able to keep dogs in that other relationship, I would’ve told the S.O.B. to shove off even sooner.

    • Oh Rowena, where would we be without our furry friends? I hear you and I second you, woman. Absolutely, they are unconditional. Roxy’s a pal and a true comfort when I’m not feeling quite myself. And if I’m sad, she senses it and gives me even more love. You can’t get that kind of unconditional love from humans!

  19. —Bella,
    My sister stayed. And when She decided to leave, it was too late. Too late.
    I am so incredibly sad & fucking mad about that. Our lives will never be the same because she stayed.
    xxx Kiss for you, sweet B.

  20. This is a question (as noted above by the responses) where there is not a clear cut answer. People stay for reasons beyond understanding and leave similar. Love is a complicated emotion, which goes beyond the passion sleepless nights. What is love? Why do we look for it? What does it mean, to me, to you, to Kim, to Annie? We’d all have a different answer to the question as each of has to this answer. I can’t you answer your question, but as you know, the subject itself is of great fascination for me. It’s a mystery I never tire of writing about.

    • Brenda, I know the emotion of love hold an unexplained fascination for you. You’ve explored new love, past love, love that hurts, and present love. Something told me you would find this subject interesting as well, and like you mention, no one has a definite answer to this complex emotion. Nevertheless, it makes for a good subject to explore. I’m certain you agree! :)

  21. I left my marriage when my girls were 3 and 5 yrs old. It wasn’t easy, but it was for the best. My ex and I are best friends now (20 yrs later). Our kids are well-adjusted and stronger for what we all worked through. Staying for the kids is not really for the kids; I think it’s b/c you just don’t want to make the move and the kids are a ‘good excuse.’ Just my opinion.

    • Shelley, I agree. Sometimes this is the case. However, I think if a man wants to stay in his children’s lives, he will find a way. Most of the time, like in your case, the relationship between exes can be an amicable one and long term, it’s best for the children. I’m glad you and your ex are now best friends! :)

  22. I tried to when I was younger and passionate about “making it work” – and it ended up being the worst thing ever for me. Getting out hurt; staying was killing me. But now, Alpha Hubby and I really do everything in our power to keep focused and continually celebrate the reasons we married. Two dirferent people/marriages – one not in it forever and one where forever is the only option.

    • Nan, “one where forever is the only option,” that is simply beautiful! You know how in awe of you I am when it comes to matters of the heart. Ah, were I to be so committed! :) And regarding your first marriage, the phrase, “staying was killing me” is so true for some women. It’s a wake up call to anyone who’s in a bad marriage. Don’t you agree?

  23. I know this blog applies to mostly women getting out instead of the other way around…or so most of the responders appear to be women. But my male friend married his wife at a very early age, due to pregnancy I fear. Obligation and expectations. Not a good start to a healthy marriage. 10 years later and they were seperated briefly last year, and decided to get back together for the childrens sake. Both young, 2 and 10. I fear he will be like the majority, and stay for fear of loneliness, financial reasons, and he would do anything to keep his children with him. Neither one of them hurt financially, but as many have posted above, it would appear easier (for now) to stay in a loveless, doubtful marriage, when life is good, money is coming in, friends and parties keep them happy. On the outside he pretends to be happy and fulfiulled, but on the inside, he hasn’t found his hapiness. It is sad to watch so many people depend on external sources for their own happiness, stay for the children, and stay until it is too late, and stay for fear of loneliness and fear. He is not the first friend I know personally dealing with this issue. He wont be the last. Very few of my friends bit the bullet and took that leap. Very few. And when they did, a couple did it when the kids were grown, and some did it when they were still young. I applaud those greatly who have the courage to stand up and face their fears. Its a good feeling to know you got through it. Blood, dweat and tears!

    • Allie, hello and welcome! You bring up the other side of the coin to this problem, and that is that this is not a problem that is exclusive to women. Men can also find themselves in loveless marriages and where for financial and personal reasons, can’t take a step to end the relationship. Yet like you mention, a lot of people “depend on external forces” for their happiness and become frustrated when their actions are not successful. I hope your friend will find the strength to confront his wife and explain his change of feelings. Only through open communication and honesty can they hope to find a solution to their problem.

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