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I want a divorce but can't go through with it and don't know if I should.

Published on March 4, 2014 by bluebird420

My situation is complex like most are. I will try to condense it the best I can. I got married young, I was 19, husband was 24. I was pregnant and we rushed into getting married because of that. I had doubts on that day but here we are 15 years later. We have two children, ages 15 and 10. After I grew up in my twenties I learned that I didn't want to be married to my husband. He is not abusive, verbally or physically, isn't a terrible father although can be a lazy one. However, we are a poor match. We have nothing in common, we are polar opposites in our views; I am a liberal democrat, agnostic, he is conservative, christian republican. He is an introvert, overweight, not active. I like to go out with friends, exercise, stay fit. I didn't know all of these things about myself at 19 and I grew into them like most 20 somethings do. However, my husband is pretty much the same as the day I married him. We were from a small town and I was going through a lot when we go together (stepmother passed away, mother and sister moved out of state) so I clung to him. It was a poor choice but I was 19. Over the years all intimacy has gone. We live like room mates. We used to have sex once a month or so but this is less and less. I hate it, not sex but sex with him. He is fat (clinically obese so don't judge me, I work hard to stay in shape) and it grosses me out. We have no emotional intimacy either to even help me try to get over his physical problems. We don't touch, talk much or spend much time together. When we have tried, we usually argue about politics, religion, or just can't agree on doing anything because our tastes are so different. We don't fight and are pretty cordial most of the time. About 4 years ago we did a year of couples counseling and it was the hardest year of my life. I became very depressed and went on an antidepressant. It helped us to communicate better but could not make me feel attracted to, excited about and "in love" with my husband. So I sound miserable and why don't I just leave right? Well number one is the kids. They are great kids and so well adjusted. I know people say kids can tell when parents are unhappy and maybe to some degree they can but really they are amazing. They are both getting great grades, are funny, brave, smart, social, and happy. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my sister was 12. It devastated us and my childhood pretty much sucked from then on. My sister never really recovered. So this is my frame of reference. Money plays a role too. I am a professional with a good job as he is but we don't make a ton of money. We have a nice house but I have researched separating and we could only afford a small apartment each if we were to separate, taking my children away from the home they love and the neighbors and friends they have. I have pushed down my feelings and dove into raising my children and developing my career to avoid my deeply hurt feelings over this. I long for a better relationship or even freedom from this prison, but push those feelings away. Now and then I am overwhelmed at the misery of our relationship. I think seriously about divorce around twice a year or more but can never even take the first step. I start to feel so guilty and like someone died and I can't go through with any of it. I picture telling my children and can't. My husband is no help. He takes the high road. He says he is not happy but unwilling to divorce or do anything else about this. He puts it on me to stay or go. That just sucks and isn't fair but after 15 years I know he won't change. I don't want to be with him but am scared I would screw up my kids and that my husband would fall into a depression and not function because he relies on me for a lot of stuff (bills, maintain the house, etc.). I know no one can give me an answer of what to do but I need help. I keep this inside and don't talk to anyone about this. It is a huge burden. I don't want to go back to a therapist as that didn't help. By the way I work in the mental health field so I know the strategies they use. Maybe someone else out there has gone through this too and found a way out to be happy? Thanks for reading.


Dear bluebird420,

I can honestly tell you that choosing to get a divorce, even when it is the right course of action, is extremely painful. I divorced my high school sweetheart after 4 years of marriage and it was by far one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my adult life. And the feeling like someone died is real. Something did die, your relationship. You know that ultimately choosing to divorce will dramatically change the course of your life forever, and there are a lot of unknowns in there that are pretty scary.

Divorce is hard on children, but not all children are devastated over it. Some children go through a rough transition but even out in the end. It all depends on how each parent handles it and how they co-parent post-divorce. If you're not going to go to couple's counseling ever again, you might try counseling just for yourself.

You have two alternatives. Accept your husband for who he is and that you are completely different, and learn to be happy, or continue to grow in your resentment and become a depressed, miserable person. Stay or divorce. The choice is not easy but is one only you can make.

There's a great book I would recommend for some food for thought: "Change Your Mindset Not Your Man" by Sally Watkins. Remember, "salt and pepper are completely different. Their makeup is different; their taste and their color. But you always see them together" (Fireproof).

If you do decide to divorce, take the time to mourn the death of your relationship and the life you thought you would have together. It is real. It is probably one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. But you can't keep spinning your wheels. Sooner or later, you'll need to decide.

Good luck.

I understand how hard it can be when you are trying to decide whether or not to remain in a relationship, especially when kids are involved. From my experience as a therapist and life coaching in working with many people (and divorcing families) I recommend the following:

  1. Since you're feeling confused and conflicted and not ready to take any final actions,

  2. Take time to focus on you and love yourself deeper. I truly would recommend the CDs I have below on self-love. We must develop this for ourselves and then we can make better choices for ourselves. I also do self-love coaching.

  3. And if you do end up moving down the road of divorce, I have a great book for parents that even parents considering it said was helpful: The 7 Fatal Mistakes Divorced and Separated Parents Make: Strategies for Raising Healthy Children of Divorce and Conflict. I also do divorce and parenting coaching, helping parent be the best parents for their children during and after divorce.

I know I have made it successfully through this journey of self-love. Relationships are our biggest teachers.

I have created meditation CDs The Healing Journey Within: Meditations For Abundance and Love, Volumes I and II to help anyone on the journey of taking care of themselves and loving themselves (see link below). I also have a new book coming out in a few months: In Love With Me: The Girls Guide to Self-Love and Relationships. The meditation link is below. It is a great resource for anyone who wants to have healthier relationships because it all begins with us!

I wish you all the very best success.

Shannon Rios Paulsen, MS Life Coach & Therapist