Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go - when it's time to leave a relationship

I used to be a master of distraction (weight loss was my favourite diversion) so it took me a long to realise my marriage had disintegrated while I hadn’t been paying attention. I remember sitting in front of the computer late one night Googling “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

I wanted a check list, or a quiz or even a free psychic reading to tell me what to do.

When I finally made a decision and mustered up the courage to tell my husband I was leaving him, I still wasn’t certain I was making the right choice. It wasn’t until that first night sleeping alone in my flat that I knew for sure I’d done the right thing. I felt as though I had been holding my breath for years and I had finally exhaled.

For Better or For Worse

I was brought up an evangelical christian and although I had long since given up going to church, deep inside me I still carried the imprints of religious indoctrination. My vows remained sacred and not negotiable. For better or for worse is what I had promised.

I struggled to justify the urge to leave my husband because the ‘worse’ part wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t as though he hit me, or controlled me, or expected anything from me. He was simply indifferent. And while I was in the middle of his indifference, it didn’t seem like reason enough to leave. He did occasionally get angry of course, but most of the time it was my fault — well at least that’s what I thought.

In hindsight I can see how dysfunctional and destructive our relationship was, but in the centre of the mayhem I had no idea. I assumed it was the kind of stuff every relationship went through.

So from off in the future I’m writing the post that I wish I had found that night I sat in the darkness and Googled “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Should I stay or should I go

The Questionnaire

1. Are there many more bad times than there are good times?

2. Do you cry in the shower or other places where you won’t get discovered?

3. Do you feel nauseous, or vaguely sick most of the time?

4. Has it been more than six months since s/he has said I love you?

5. Do you eat too much or not enough?

6. Do you stay late at work to avoid going home? Do you have a hobby that keeps you out of the house most of the time?

7. Is your sex life infrequent or unsatisfying?

8. Has s/he laughed at or dismissed your suggestion that you might need couple counselling?

9. Do you share your secrets with someone outside the relationship?

10. Have you forgotten how to laugh?

11. Are you worried that when you go out in public with your partner that s/he will do something to embarrass you?

12. Do you drink or take drugs alone?

13. Do you want the next ten years of your life to look nothing like the last ten years?

14. Do you keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself so as not to cause trouble?

15. Would you be concerned if your daughter or son was seeing someone similar to your partner?

16. Are you in tears answering these questions?


The Results

If you answered yes to some, most or all of these questions then it’s probably time to go.

It’s risky and frightening to contemplate leaving your marriage, but in my experience it is better to be single and happy, than to be bled dry in a broken relationship.

You are brave and good — you can do this.

stay or go T

Have you left a relationship that wasn’t that bad? Do you have any advice for someone who isn’t sure?

★ Ready to leave but not sure what to do next? Click here for how to navigate ending your relationship.

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

122 thoughts on “Should I Stay or Should I Go?

  1. Wow Katie – so very to the point and such very real questions. I have always held No#1 as my defining point with our marriage. There are always crap times but if the good times balance or outweigh the bad times then it’s worth hanging in there. If not, then maybe it’s time to go. Marriage is a tough calling now days! ~ Leanne

      1. If i answered yes to a lot of these…. is there any hope for my marriage? I still love him, but its so hard…..

        1. I can only answer from personal experience. There’s always hope, but you can’t save the relationship alone… it takes both of you working together, striving for a common goal. Otherwise you will be fighting a losing battle.

          1. Sadly, I have been fighting a losing battle for many long years now. I keep holding onto G_D’S promises! Not sure if I can nor do I have any fight left in me…. ???
            I love my husband but does he really love me or does he love the fact of not being alone! BROKEN!

        2. Mady…your relationship does not have to end. I was in a miserable situation and then my husband left. It was the most painful experience! I asked God to restore us and He did. God can heal your marriage 🙂 I know because I’ve lived it. Blessings!

          1. I prayed for years that God would restore our marriage too, but he just got more abusive. He still goes to church and tells everyone he doesn’t understand why I left him. I’m much happier now than I was in the 21 years I was married to him. Prayer is essential but if the heart is hard God doesn’t make people be nice, we have to choose to be nice and do right.

            1. I always prayed to be a better wife because I felt all our issues were my fault… took 26 years to get courage to leave.

        3. I stayed 57 years, and it wasn’t till after he died, that I fully realized how emotionally and physically unfaithful he was.

      2. This is exactly what I have been looking for. Thank you so much for writing this. I have gained more insight by answering these questions in 20 minutes than I have after a year of individual therapy trying justify staying with my husband.

        1. The questions are the easy part. It is what to do with the answers that scare me. I have so much guilt, this isn’t how I want to feel. How do you find the strength to make such change that will hurt others. What are the next steps in this process. I am there with you, now what?

            1. Hi Amanda. I wish I could tell you something really positive that would help. However I am still struggling with the same issue. I confront my husband, tell him I want him to leave and he just makes me feel like it me with problems and then dismisses me. I need to find my voice but to scared and worried about how I will make out financially. I know what I need to do and just can’t find my voice.

            2. I would suggest reading “Healing from Hidddn Abuse” by Shannon Thomas that may shed some light on your situation.

      3. I told my husband to leave… I have a 1 1/2 year old and a 2 week old baby. I’m afraid of what will happen in our future and I feel like I can’t breathe most of the time. I’m tired of feeling alone and being treated like I don’t matter. His indifference and emotional/verbal abuse was too much for me to continue handling.

        1. I hope you and the kids are doing well. You are brace, a great mom and I hope you are happy

        2. You are smarter than I was. I suffered many years of verbal and emotional abuse. I should have left a long time ago. I was scared to leave until I finally realized the pattern would not end. I felt very alone and stayed only for the financial support. Aside from our kids, the marriage feels like I wasted 20+ years of my life. Best wishes.

    1. God says we must honour and obey our husbands but God also says our husband’s must love and adore us. It is an agreement. If husband doesn’t love and adore you then you have no reason to honour and obey him.

      1. Hello claudine, I want to believe your husband proposed to you before you agreed and both got married?! If that be the case, my argument is that he saw something you were exuding, something good and likeable, something he wanted to be his forever and he decided to marry you. You on the other hand saw a man you want for the keep. Cling!! You were both married. If you now feel he doesn’t love you or maltreated you or just ignore you and it hurts. Then, it is most likely you are exuding those attractive traits anymore. If on the other hand you were the neglecting or walking away from the relationship emotionally, I want to believe that you will agree with me that it is most likely that he is not showing to attractive qualities you once admired in the beginning. The moral of my story is that commitment is required from both parties to make any partnership, marriage, joint ventures etc work. Self exam cannot be overemphasized! Any party who is not willing to this is the one who “worked”away not the one that later realized that he or she is being abused and unhappy in a marriage.

    2. Katie Paul…God “is” love. He does not set us up in awful relationships. We all make decisions without His input and then suddenly its His fault when a mess occurs. It’s sad that you have endured what you did, but its not Gods fault and He doesnt expect us to live in misery – but that doesnt require breaking up the family unit. I had been in a bad situation and my husband left. We were both unhappy. I asked God to intervene and He walked me through a process that opened my eyes to His way of doing things. My husband returned and our marriage is stronger than ever. Through it all. We are both different people from those two who hurt each other so deeply. Gods love healed our marriage. It was tough but totally worth it. I hope you find healing.

      1. I prayed for yeas to be a better wife. I took a lot of emotional and verbal abuse. I felt like I deserved it because I couldn’t keep the house clean enough for him. We went through years of counseling. I read Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly and realized I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I was. Maybe God’s answer was that I didn’t need to stay in the relationship anymore. I felt peace once I made the decision to leave. Divorce is not easy —he is still a bully yet I don’t have to live with him anymore. Now I’m focusing on ignoring his insults and threats by not letting him have control of me.

    3. I’ve been married for 46 years & now I’m 70 years old & I had to answer every question with “yes”. If any of you younger women are reading this I can guarantee your marriage will get worse. Leave while you’re young!

      1. Dear Gina,
        I didn’t cry until I read your comment because it made me think of my mother and also how I am repeating the cycle. I hope that your blessed in other ways and that you feel it. Sending you warm hugs.

      2. Gina my heart goes out to you. I am sending you a big hug. I’m 50 and answered the first question with a resounding YES, not financially where I want to be but am so very unhappy and thinking of leaving. Thanks for the comment and Wishing you all the best

  2. There is a great misconception out there that those of us that take the steps and leave have “taken the easy way out”. From my experience, with children, it most certainly was not. It was far more easier to stay in a loveless marriage years past when I should have left. Great list. Life is too short and if anything I hope your list invokes deep thoughts and conversation.

  3. Bloody hell that’s a hard-hitter, and I’m nearly in tears…partly of sadness because I could answer yes to so many, and partly of relief for having already come to the conclusion it was over, and having DONE that bit already.

    But yes – I WISH I had had this list when I was in a tangle, all throughout those long years of nothing but bad with a few tiny crumbs of good to keep me going.

    Good grief.


      1. I feel stuck and afraid I have 5 kids I don’t know anything else. How do I leave where do I go how will I be able to do it all on my own. I’m paralyzed with fear of leaving and of staying loveless isn’t a way to live with a spouse. Thank you for this quiz…

  4. Excellent article, Katie. I also asked similar questions…twice….and filed for divorce. I’m not proud of two divorces, but the experiences made me a better, happier, more productive person. Please continue to share your writing.

  5. These are great questions to ask. I think that each person knows what they need in a relationship–one person’s boredom is another person’s comfort.

  6. This is great! I’m so fortunate to have a husband I love, but I have so many friends struggling with this. The questionnaire is perfect. I will share it in hopes others find it helpful.

  7. I read the book entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” about four years back, and I decided I needed to go. I had three little children, and my husband was struggling. Our relationship was a mess. And my parents–they were on his side when he told me I couldn’t go. And I stayed. It was hard, but I did it.

    I felt like everyone was against me, but I stayed with him, and for two years we hated one another. We barely talked. We raised the kids. But something changed, and we both started giving to one another again. The kids have gotten older, and we are doing date nights and spending time with each other, and we spent two years focusing on ourselves as individual people instead of the relationship and that made all the difference, because we both grew individually during that time and were at a point where we could give again!

    Anyway–what I’m saying is if there’s an inkling left in the relationship then give it a shot. The grass looks greener sometimes when it’s really not.

  8. So good, this is so good. I “passed” but it’s still close. Wake-up calls are good. I love the way you can cut through the bullshite. Anita xx

  9. I’m in tears now after reading this and my bad marriage is over–some retroactive grieving for so much time lost because I didn’t know the right questions to ask myself and because there would have been no support for me even if I had known to ask them! Wow, powerful truths here that aren’t always acknowledged. Thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Lee. I too feel I wasted way too many years. We can’t get them back – all we can do is seize the ones we have ahead of us.

  10. Amazing, as usual! A friend of mine asked me only one question: “What are you waiting for? It is SO over.” Twelve hours after she asked me that question, I told my first husband I wanted a divorce. It was that one question that freed me and allowed me to stumble upon the best man in the world. We’ve been married for 15 years.

  11. I was in a marriage with a guy that was very controlling and I knew I should have ended it much sooner rather than letting him ultimately tear me down and end it for me. Had I seen this list back then I might have acted upon it…or not. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I have no regrets now…like others I moved on and am now very happily married. Even if I wasn’t married at this point, I promise I would still be very happy! Thanks for sharing via #Midlifeluv

  12. What a great list of questions. I’m sure many people can relate to at least some. But when the bad overpowers the good in a relationship, it’s time to leave for the sake of your soul.

  13. I love how straight forward and honest this article is. You can feel that it’s written by someone who’s really been there and done that and… felt that.

    My question to you is would you ask your partner to honestly answer these questions, in addition to answering them yourself?

    – Tara

    1. Hi Tara.
      In my situation, communication wasn’t one of our strong points. Whenever I tried to raise my concerns I was told to stop being ‘needy’ or ‘causing drama’. I suspect if you could sit down and discuss these feelings together then you’d have a good shot at sorting things out.

  14. I’ve been married for 23 years next month. My husband has always been a little “mean” and controlling but I just let it go. I’ve had enough now. I answered yes to every single question. I figured out about two years ago that I was actually in an abusive marriage. I didn’t even know, sad to say. I told him about four months ago I didn’t want to be married anymore and he starting acting like the nicest guy. That lasted about a month. We are back to the verbal abuse, indifference, controlling, snooping, critizing, yelling, condescending…. did I leave anything out? I’ve no family close to me to help me. Financially I am unable to support myself and I do not trust him to help me out, even though we have children together. It’s so hard to go out on your own when you’ve been “stuck” for so long. Every day I say Im going to do it. When someone tells you and treats you like your worthless for so long, you believe it. I have no confidence to go without fearing the repercussions. Hopefully one day soon….

    1. Wish i could find the right guy. I seem to be a magnet for men with issues. I should have given myself time for me and time to heal after my divorce. I’ve been in a relationship for two years and should have run like hell but I feel so weak after all I have gone through the last twenty years.

    2. Run while you can, with what little confidence you have left, before you are too low to climb back up!! I FINALLY just did after 25 years. It’s financially tough as well as emotionally, but I knew if I didn’t do it now, I would be too worn down to have the energy to bother. Hold your head high, you don’t realize the friends and support that have been waiting for you to do this!!! More than you’d ever expect!

  15. Great article! So perfect it gave me chills. I am in the EXACTLY same place Missy is. Abuse is abuse. 7 days I asked him to leave. I know nothing will ever change. And even if I’ve been brainwashed to think I will never make it without him, I know God will get me and my cjdtem through it. We must be strong Missy!!! Even though we’re told everyday we can’t do it, we effing WILL do it!!!!!!

    1. You CAN do it!!! You will be amazed that it is sooooo much easier than what “he” told you. You will feel so much better about yourself, feel sexier, attractive, confident, energetic etc. After 25 years, I’ve only been free for 3 months and just the instant relief, weight lifted from me, not having to keep my mouth shut, opinions to myself and tiptoeing around… It’s amazing how much better I feel. There are still many days that I need to be strong and remind myself that I’m so much better and that I, indeed…. can and will do it! Be stubborn!!! and show them that you damn well and will, make it!!! 🙂

  16. I feel this is relevant to me right now. I am in a relationship of 4 years and I do genuinely lovd this guy. I cannot fault him. He is so kind, so giving, thoughtful, honest, trustworthy. I get told I am loved every day. That I’m beautiful. I know for a fact he has never looked at another woman since we got together. We connect and laugh. We chat and our friends love how happy we make eachother.

    What’s the issue you ask? Sounds like a dreamboat!

    Well, despite all of this… I’m not happy. There’s no intimacy. I went 8 months. Before sending him to the docs. He doesn’t go out. I never get any alone time unless I go out. There’s no goal. He would be perfectly happy with life going the way it is with no progression. I make all the decisions, even the mundane what are we having for dinner tonight. It’s… overwhelming.

    Yet I look at his face and I am overwhelmed with love and sadness at the same time.

    This post gave me more to work with. To be realistic about this. I need to look after myself, but the thought of losing him… I couldn’t do that to him. Or the fact I’m questioning… has he already lost me?

    Thank you for this honest read, I very much am enjoying your posts

    1. I am in a relationship like yours. My husband lives and adores me. He tells me every day Joe special and beautiful i am. The problem is….he comes home from work everyday and just vegges out on sports. He is a counselor, so he hears people’s problems all day. So when he gets home he can’t connect with me cause he’s on overload. It’s sad, because I really do love him, but I know I deserve more. This isn’t the life I wish to live any more.

    2. I am in a similar boat. I want to leave. He loves me, adores me but my heart just isn’t in it. It kills me to say, I want a divorce.

      1. Similar to you girls. I got pregnant and had a baby when I was 20. He asked me to marry him a few months later. I didn’t want to say yes but when you put him on paper, he was a great catch. It’s so hard to describe but I just never felt that connection or really attracted to him even though I recognize he is attractive. I distracted myself for years. We had another baby. After that, I felt unsettled. I told him I wanted to leave after I spoke with a counselor. It destroyed him. He stopped eating and became very depressed. I couldn’t watch that. So I went back to college and got a advanced degree and had another child. I’m now almost 14 years in with three kids and still feel the same. He’s amazing on paper, but I just don’t feel it. I believe life is too short to not take the risk of maybe finding something better. I also believe that I have lost my ability to trust myself. I am not honoring my true self and listening to my own needs. After much counseling and reflection, I believe leaving is what I need to do. BUT holy cow….how do I actually do this? I don’t know if I can follow through and watch the pain in him and my kids. I will feel selfish.

        1. I read this and I feel such an utter sadness. The first time i thought I will break up with my then boyfriend was just within months into relationship. Didn’t do it because he somehow convinced me not to. I had been in such a bad place before and his calmness and love made me more stable. During our 14 years together I had countless times when I wanted to end this but there was always something, the financials, the small kids, living in his country. Then I persuaded him to move to my country, hoping this will help reduce the emptiness inside. Instead the closeness of my friends and family lessened my ties to him and his overbearing dependence (financial, linguistic, social, emotional) started to wear me down even more. So many times I had wished things were different, he’d be more independent, so it wouldn’t hurt him so much if I’d go. From the start he has been telling me how I mean the world to him, how his life had no meaning without me, how lucky he is to have found me. And while he has tried to leave me some liberties I still feel like I’m choking. A few years ago I started cheating him. I had been playing with the idea and fantasising about others since the beginning but I always thought if I lapse once then we’re through and i didn’t want to destroy us/him. Then, about 4 years ago I kissed an old fling of mine and 2 years ago went as far as build an elaborate affair behind his back. When my lover left me I was heartbroken and told my husband what had happened and that I wanted to go. That I had been so dead inside for years that I had actually fallen in love with someone. Someone who didn’t want me in the end, true, but still those brief months had been utter bliss. Again, after hitting him so hard, he went into a depression, lost a lot of weight, changed a lot of his habits and I stayed. Stayed because the kids were small, he was so utterly broken and I felt so guilty and sorry for him, but mainly because having an affair had broken me. I hurt so much that I couldn’t do anything just cry for months. A half a year later I started to have nights with panic attacks, bad dreams and excessive sweating. That too passed. And now, about 6 months ago, I finally knew that I cannot go on. The emptiness will never go. I am grateful for him for all these years but I simply feel that I have nothing to give him back, no love, no desire, no sympathy… I feel for his pain, he is a wonderful father and I wish we can continue co-parenting peacefully. I have cheated and would do it again without any regrets should an opportunity present itself. I have told him that. He thinks I need psychiatric counselling for not being able to commit as a grownup mother of 2 should… it has been 3 days of talking now. Yesterday was the first time i moved on the couch which shocked him speechless. And i don’t fear falling asleep alone while next to him I would feel suffocated and and nauseous when he leaned over for a goodnight kiss or wanted to hug me. It is a very long road ahead me. Everyone, my family, his family, the kids, our friends – everyone will blame me. I will lose my kids (half time at least) my flat that I love. I know I will be financially worse off, and even then I need to worry how he gets by. But I simply cannot breathe. I need to go.

  17. I have been with my husband for 14 yrs. 2 yrs ago when I got divorce papers and filled them out, he ripped them up. One side of thought how sweet that was. Knowing that he is just a mean man did not even enter my mind. He is not physically abusive. He is extremely verbally/emotionally abusive that I WISH he would just hit me because I know it would feel better. I beg him to leave. He has a home to go to. I do not. My home IS my home. His home is his mom’s home. He will not leave. How do i get him to leave?? Please tell me! I have begged, I have cried, I have bargained, but to no avail. If anyone has any suggestions, please tell me. I truly need help. I am not that strong of a person even tho I act like it. I just need help.

  18. I can answer yes to about 5 of them. What holds me back is fear. Fear of hurting his feelings. I worry, where will he go? I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I have serious guilt. I’m counseling, and know that I need to just say it, I want a divorce, but I think I’ve talked to myself so much in my head and have read so much, I’ve driven myself nuts. Everything will be fine once I open my mouth to say I’m no longer fulfilled. I don’t want to say happy because finding my happy place is for me, not him. He shouldn’t be responsible for my happiness. Please pray that I find my voice! Thx!

    1. Hi Kim. I feel as i am in the exact same place as you.. I am so sure of what i want however can not utter the words. It consumes me. Wishing us both the strengh to express how we feel.

      1. I too was in the same position for approx 8 years. The emotional abuse that no one ever seen, the unhappiness and guilt that I felt consumed me and has physically affected my health. Please don’t waste anymore time. I came up with every excuse possible as to why it wasn’t a good time to do it. Even tho I wasn’t happy and knew I was “done”. I had done all my research, had my legal questions answered. I just needed a little push. Find a friend or someone that you can trust to talk to, that will give you those little nudges or deadlines to move you along. Someone that will boost your confidence and make you feel like you are worth it. Once I had found someone I could confide in, that was a huge support system and that told me I was strong and that I could do it and that “I” needed to make myself happy, I was able to do what I had to do within 2 months. All I needed was for someone to tell me that there was nothing wrong with me wanting/needing to get out and that I had done my best to try to make things work. It takes both people to make the relationship work and if the other person isn’t interested in putting in the effort, then get out while you still have the energy. I only wish that I hadn’t put it off for so many years.

    2. I’m in the same position. So worried about hurting others I put up with not being happy. 23 years is hard to walk away from

  19. I’ve answered yes to 6 or 7 and I’m not crying… What does that say? He’s a great dad, but a lousy husband. That is what is sad. I’m no saint either, and I know I’m independent to a fault. I’m neglected emotionally and he is completely checked out emotionally- I suspect from years of neglect he reciecved as a child. If he can’t argue it he doesn’t want to discuss it, and you can’t argue a person’s feelings. So therefore in his opinion there is nothing to discuss.

    1. It’s only 5 years of a relationship 3 being married. But my husband can’t understand my feelings and therefore doesn’t want to argue or see my pov. This week has made certain things clear. Now if only my head and my heart could get on the same page.

  20. Thanks Katie for your insight and this list. It has been a helpful tool in determining the outcome of my decision! I made a mistake in getting Married when I never really wanted to get married at all! Dated my Husband for 2 years. January 1st 2011 he gave my an ultimatum even though he knew I did not desire to Marry! I was under pressure! And said I would, ” my fault”. He is a nice Man but more of a date guy than a relationship guy! He use to pour romance on thick, and then after the ring went on the finger everything stopped. “And I mean everything”! This is what I feared in marriage ! 15 months ago he was diagnosed with a disease that has altered his life and is now disabled. He has turned into a person I wish not to know. I was ready to leave before he got so I’ll . But I have stuck it out to help him through. I answered yes to all but one question, …. I do not share my feelings with anyone else in our inner circle. For it would not be safe for me to do that. So I hold it all in. I am dying inside and now know what I need to do. Thank you for empowering me with more insight to the hell that I’ve been living … Is real.

  21. I think your article is wonderful in helping women re-evaluate their situation, and maybe helping them to realize that they deserve more. Unfortunately, having been in previous abusive relationships, it’s not always that easy. I would love to see you maybe share the ways in how you found the strength – for me personally, it was very difficult. Especially when we have lost all confidence in ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing this, and I look forward to reading more of your articles!

  22. Wow this was interesting to read. I am not married, let me say first off. I just never met anyone I thought, I could spend the rest of my life with. That’s a long time.

    I don’t see the benefits making it worth the trouble, other than obvious reasons. Companionship and perhaps, making babies. I knew as a child marriage was not for me. I am happy with me and throwing caution to the wind.

    I didn’t need to share everything with a man to have a child. I didn’t want the opinion of a husband influencing my decisions. I wanted my own child without financial or any other help from the father. Which in retrospect is an error after my son’s first, penis question. I am not a man or father.

    So I had a baby by myself. Played around with the idea of being with the father. I didn’t want him so, I didn’t stay with him. I don’t want to be stuck with someone; I don’t love or I resent for a number of reasons.

    I can take care of myself, I never pictured a white picket fence around our home with kids playing in the yard. Yuk! I felt I could be a good mother. I didn’t need help with it.
    I guess, I’m a little crazy not sure why.

    I am older now, and would like companionship sometimes but not everyday lol. I honestly don’t know, if there is a man who would put up with my lifestyle. Here today gone tomorrow, literally to another country if I fancy it.

    I don’t believe that is fair to anyone. I like being that way, I have wished I met someone like me before. I won’t lose sleep over it not happening. I like to share my travels and discoveries with others but, it doesn’t have to be a husband.

    I have found that the loneliness I have experienced is temporary. I would not marry someone, I don’t know well enough to decide if he is for keeps and be confident he feels the same way. I am giving you the benefit of doubt, you felt the same way before taking marriage vows.

    In sickness and in health, I know, if he got hit by a train and lived. Divorce would be around the corner. I have to be honest with myself. Lol, I am not kidding. What’s Love Got to Do with It?

    I would probably, have to move on to a more rewarding relationship for myself. I would ask him to do the same, if it were me in the train wreck.

    My son is thirty now, I probably wouldn’t have him either in retrospect. I hated everything about being pregnant. I don’t know how anyone does that more than once. “Did you forget what happened.” I have asked others.

    Whatever the case.
    Get happy with you and the rest will fall in place. You can see from my story it’s not greener on the other side of marriage. It’s simply the other side of marriage. What can you live with, I guess.

    We do the best we can. ♡

  23. And that is not to say if you are in an abusive relationship, that is a different circumstance. But what I’m saying is that if you are “not in love” anymore, you can get that love back through prayer and asking to see things in a different light, or if you just aren’t happy. I promise love can come back stronger than ever before but it takes work and it takes two.

  24. I think giving up on the person you once loved, should be the last resort. I believe marriage is sacred, and you should give it all you have before you walk away. Everyone has faults including ourselves, but deep down, if you fight hard enough, you can find the love again. Life is challenging and it’s going to throw a lot of stuff at your marriage, but if you love the person you’re with or have loved the person you’re with fight for your marriage, it’s worth fighting for I promise.

    It took my wife leaving me, for me to look at myself and realize what I could have done differently. I believe that after going through this I can be a better husband than I’ve ever been before. The only reason why I feel I can do this, is because I know that I love my wife more than anything in the world and want her to be happy. I would do anything to make her happy. We are work on oir marriage and I hope it works out it would be a shame to see it all go down hill.

    Remember love is a choice, not a feeling. You made a promise to someone, try to keep it if you can. I understand that sometimes the hurt is too deep and you gotta do what you gotta do.

  25. Weird thing as I read this article it felt like I penned it ….every thought…my belief system and regelious beliefs about marriage were identical but the clincher was when you described that first night in my new home the peace of mind knowing I made the right choice gave me chills. Guess my experience isn’t as unique as I imagined. Thanks for this article that brought me needed reassurances even after 11 months post separation.

    1. Me too! I am so looking forward to getting to my own home. Living together until all the legalities are done. Hoping just another month and I will be out of here!

  26. I feel like I could have written the opening paragraphs of this post. This is just what I needed to read. I answered YES to 70% of these questions (and a NO for me on number 12, but a YES, HE DOES). It feels silly that a random questionnaire I found online makes me feel better about my decision, but it does. (Also, I am also a former stage manager, so I know you are one of the best kinds of people around.)

  27. YES! I am finally leaving a marriage that sounds very similar to what you describe. We made it 26 years! Most not happy. A few not bad. I felt selfish thinking that I deserved to be happy. I felt such peace when I finally mustered the courage to see an attorney and tell my husband that I thought we would be happier living apart/not married. We actually get along much better now. He shows more respect for me and our arguments are much easier because I am no longer trying to make things right and I know it won’t be much longer that I have to live with him. I have started a second (private) blog about the process which I hope to share once we are past the legal issues and I am free. I am glad to see I am not the only one. Will follow you now.

  28. I prayed long and hard for so long. Sometimes things got better. Years of therapy, etc. This past year, I received the book “Resisting Happiness” by Matthew Kelly. As I read, I felt God was talking to me. I cried when I finished the book at the possibility that I could be happy. WE do create our own happiness yet it is hard when we are with someone that sucks the life out of us. The peace I felt after my decision confirmed that I am on God’s path, as crazy as it seems. It is hard to understand God’s ways, is what my priest told me. Way too much Catholic guilt kept me in the relationship for so long. I didn’t want to wait another 20 years to see if things would eventually get better. At almost 50, I am too young to not live.

  29. Oh how I wish I had found your article 30 years ago. I’ve been married 34 years. He’s a great guy and would give anyone the shirt of his back – except me of course. I don’t keep my house clean enough, I don’t (fill in the blank) and that is why he drinks himself stupid every night. The first 10 years I walked on eggshells believing I was what set him off. Then 10 years of sobriety. Then back to drinking himself stupid nightly. He had a heart attack at 49 and 7years later abuses himself worse than before. And I have emotionally left. Is it terrible to say, I am just waiting. I don’t engage anymore. I refuse to take the responsibility that he tries to place on me – it is NOT my fault. And through counseling I have found a way to cope and be financially protected – for now. Doesn’t mean things won’t change – but for now, this is the wise decision. Thank you so much for that checklist. I truly do wish I had found it a long time ago. Through my experience, I inform every young mother who uses my excuse of “I can’t do it alone” — you already are ! They are not present. They are simply another child you are taking care of. I wish someone had told me that.

  30. I feel silly because I have only been married for 3 years and have answered yes to just a few (6,7 and 9). For me, it is a hard decision because I feel unsatisfied and don’t have kids so it feels like a friendship. I struggle to leave because he is a good man but just doesn’t seem to understand what I need. He seems content with the marriage even after knowing that I am not. I feel he sees it as my problem and not his. As I read all of these responses and see all the years women stay in relationships until finally being ready to leave and I fear staying unsatisfied for so long.

    1. You should do everything you can first. Start seeing a marriage counselor, and ask your husband to join you. Let him know how you feel and that you on the verge of ending your marriage and if he doesn’t work with you as a team to save it, it will end. But at-least give him that opportunity. I would also say that both of you should read a book called “The Five Love Languages”, if you haven’t done so already.

      Side note: I believe that marriage is more about commitment than it is about love. In a long lasting marriage you will fall in and out of love, as well as happeniness. But the commitment to your marriage is what will get you through it. It will get better, as long as both of you are commitment to the marriage and each other.

      Happeniness start a with in you, I had to learn this the hard way. I’m no longer with my wife, but I miss her every single day. She left without giving me that chance, but I noticed that she lost her commitment to our marriage. At that point it was pretty much over.

      The whole point of marriage is the commitment. You can do everything you’re currently doing while marriage when you are just dating. But marriage say, I also want to go through all of the bad time with you and I’ll be here when we get through it.

      This is just my opinion on marriage. The best thing that I’ve heard about relationships is, to not be in love with temporary things (looks, job, money, cars, gifts, etc), you have to love their soul. Unconditional love is where it is! It’s not what they can-do for you, but what you can do for them because you love them.

  31. most of the answers are yes for me , and i already got divorced ,trying to move on but it’s still difficult

  32. I’ve been fighting with my husband to change and be a part of things with me for so many years and he never sees it. Nothing ever changes, he still goes and does whatever he wants. Now I’ve hit my breaking point and told him I’m done, I’m no longer in love with him and I want a divorce. I’m tired of telling him everything I want to see, everything I need, not just for me, but for our son. Now that I’m ready to leave, he promises change. Again. I can’t stand to look at him or let him touch me and his sudden wanting to change just makes me angry. Is it wrong to still want to be done when he finally wants to change? We’ve been together 16 years, and I’ve been waiting for him to respond to my needs for most of it.

  33. The challenge I have is when you have 3 small children with someone angry, reactive and controlling, I stay because I feel l protect our children from him. If we were to divorce I fear how he would treat my children, our children when I was not there. At least now I can take them away when he gets upset and step in if he is upsetting them. The hard part is I am teaching my children to be in a marriage with someone who is hurtful and angry, who you can’t be who you are, say what you want, and with someone you are walking on eggshells with. What is better, being subject to the anger without me or setting an example of a crappy marriage? Plus the financial piece would add another huge strain. I feel like either way is a loss. It sucks to regret your marriage and feel your life is screwed either way. We have gone to counseling and it doesn’t seem to work long term. It’s beyond a tough decision. And I have been going back and forth in my mind “should I stay or should I go” for 5 years.

    1. I could have written this. What have you decided, Kate? I’m 10 uears in, and threaten to leave when things get bad with he and our oldest daughter. Only teen does he take me seriously and starts giving her a bit of a break. He is SO HARD on her. Then there is our own relationship. I’m severely neglected emotionally. We haven’t had a date in 6 months. He has low testosterone, so our sex life is crap, but he won’t do anything about it. I’ve tried counseling. I’ve tried “speaking” his love language, I’ve tried giving him space…nothing seems to work. I’m pretty close to throwing in the towel.

  34. I’m tired of talking. I have talked about what I need and want till I’m blue in the face. And he gives good answers, he says everything I want to hear. Then nothing changes. He’s a good dad, provider, and man. I could do a lot worse. I’m unhappy and not sure of thr cause. And by the way I answered yes to alot of those questions.

  35. Thabkbyou recently reposting this. I really needed to see this. I love my husband very much, but these last few years, especially since having our second kid, our marriage has really gone down hill. Not for lack of either of us trying. It’s just like we never try at the same time. And even when we are in bed for the night, I have noticed a distance. Not even a hand hold any more. I use to believe that as long as the kids are happy, that I would stick it out. But lately I have wondered what am I teaching my 10 year old daughter?

  36. I was there 2 years ago, OMG I couldnt believe what I just read, i was a ditto to my relationship with my 15 years of marraige. I left and knew I did the right thing. He wanted me back, I wouldn’t give in. I saw other people, he never gave up on me. 2 years later we both realized that we love each other and mean the world to each other and we are doing our best to try and workout what went wrong and hopefully some day we will remarry. He has always meant the world to me and visa versa but we took each other for granted and had to be wakened to see what a catch we really are for each other, we just need to learn how to treat each other. I am hoping eventually we will be able to say we had a nice life together. Tbe first half was hard but we are learning from our mistakes.

    1. Be careful! Remember the reasons why you left before. I was sucked back into my marriage after warning to leave many time. I stayed 26 years and through therapy with one of the docs who saw us both and many books, realized I had been being abused by a narcissist. Verbal and emotional abuse. Each time he seduced me back, I thought things would be better. Each time they got worse. Multiple therapist, for years of counseling. Before you consider going back read up on this personality disorder. It’s scary.

  37. Married for 2 years. I answered mostly yes… My husband suddenly turned into a cold, distanced man the moment we got married. We have not consumed our marriage… he says he doesn’t want to do it “mechanically.” He has anxiety… i feel stupid for staying by his side. I love him. I want to be there to support him… but as days go on, i keep on questioning if this is okay… how much longer can i stay? I hope he would change… but every day i see the distance grow apart between us… finding your article makes me think I should go… but i’m so afraid to walk away…

    1. Hi Dee, woow. Just when you think you are the only one going through an experience, platforms like this prove you wrong. Your story is exactly mine, word for word only I’ve also gone through other things as well. Been married for 21 months, I’ve suffered physical abuse twice and continue to suffer verbal and emotional abuse.

      He wants out at every slightest misunderstanding we have. I’ve been really hurt. I make excuses for him sometimes but for how long?

      The only reason I’ve held on is because of my committment to marriage covenant and my believe that God can heal the marriage. Reading the book ‘The Marriage Covenant’ also influenced my hope for change.

      I broke down 2 days ago. I’m losing the will. This cannot be my story. He blames me for everything wrong with the relationship.

      For once, I think its time to leave. There’s more to me than this. I keep holding on to a picture of a happy me and so shall it be. Ive been afraid of disappointing God but my strength can no lo nger carry me in this relationship.

      What next Lord?

  38. Katie, thank you for the article & sharing. Clearly, this subject shows serious torment for many good people. I like the interplay of comments from those still trying and those still deciding- especially the gentleman who is recovering but still has faith to advise we try to the extent possible. The decision to leave for me was easier than saying it and it was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. EVER. Despite still being in guilt, fear, and worry after several months —- I realize all this has been based on stepping closer to honor truth. Deep inside me I know I was lying and embarrassed to admit I did not trust him. I hid my inner secrets, and instead of being a good partner he became my hero and protector. 17 of our 19 years we lived with his mother, after his father tragically died 2 yrs after our wedding. After this mourning period, the mother in law (who to this day has treated me better than my own family in many ways) went through yrs of medical issues that we supported. Intimacy was very difficult until it disappeared. Slowly, I stopped making suggestions and asking how to help or for help. I found my journals 5,7,12 years old outlining requests for help at the house, or seeing rejected ideas that were overlooked while other things got finished. He said I didnt speak up. I didn’t want to push him when he was trying so hard to keep so much together. He was never violent to me, no drugs or gambling. I still think he is one of the best men I’ve met. He managed our finances while I worked. He treated others well, and put up with my family’s quirks. He worked when he wasn’t with his mom at a dr’s appointment. I prayed and tried harder via therapy, hobbies, and inviting others over to be a better wife that would earn the emotional intimacy and time from him that I was looking for. To the neighborhood, we were a perfect couple. As sad as it is, I am SHOCKED how much more fulfilling life is now. a wet burden lifted. Not him, but my lies. I left with a few hundred dollars, and found a job 200 miles away for $hr when I made 6 or 7 times more before. Friends shared they thought I was having an affair, going mentally ill, being ultra selfish or breaking under work pressure. I have learned despite all this and the other commitments and values we are engaged in—- truth reigns if we let it in. I committed to truth. Now, I refuse to live as a liar while at the same time becoming exhausted, confused, and fatigued in a primary relationship that for years helped others but not us get better. We passed this off as Christlike service when in reality our home was crumbling. Many things are different but I trust truth as a beacon and … has certainly set us free (luckily we are working on our new friendship). !

  39. Great list. I recently decided to end my marriage. It was a very, very difficult decision, and I stressed daily thinking it was bad, but not “bad enough” to leave. The more I found out, the more I realized things were far worse than I even knew. Once I got out, my health problems I dealt with for years suddenly improved. I realized more and more each day just how terrible things really were.

    You’re absolutely right- it’s better to be single and happy than to allow someone to treat you like you don’t matter.

  40. Read the questions and was shocked how many rang true. All I always do is be sad and cry. He’s always angry and always blames me for everything that goes wrong in his life. I need to be away from him, but financially at this moment I can’t and I think he knows I’m stuck for that reason.

  41. OMG! I am at this door right now. We met the 1st weekend in April and got married the 2nd weekend in August of the same year. We have been married for 40 years. We married when I was 17 and he was 21. I just knew I was in LOVE! I was pregnant and and the following March our baby girl was born.

    Things were great for many years. Our daughter grew up and married. And things were still great. We went through so tough times in life, but we were always there for each other.

    Then……I guess it was about 17 years ago. My husband started coming home from work, and just vegging in front of the TV in the bedroom. I got home about 2.5 to 3 hours later. He would only come out for dinner and then he would return to the bedroom to watch TV and snooze most eavnings, leaving me alone in the livingroom by myself. Then it got to be on the weekends also. Slowly he added Saturday and Sunday to this ritual. Until it became his ritual. If he was at home, he was in the bedroom laying on the bed watching TV or snoozing. We hardly ever went anywhere unless I planned it. He was so depressing, soon our friends didn’t want to spend time with us. So there we were. Him in the bedroom, me in the livingroom. Intimate times became fewer and, shorter and further apart till they were pretty much nonexistant.

    I filled my time reading books, magazines or watching TV.

    I was lonely. I was starting to get depressed myself. He still told me he loved me, but he never spent time with me. Then I began to resent him. Soon I began to fall out of love with him. We became like room mates instead of Husband and Wife.

    Then my 3 younger sisters got me hooked up with Facebook on my phone. It gave me an outlet to past and new friends.

    Things rocked along for a couple of years on Facebook. I then found out about other websites where you could sign up to see old friends from high school.

    I went straight from being a 17 year old teenager, living in my parents house to being married, then a mother. All within 8 months. I had the marriage that everyone said would not last, but I was the only one of the 4 of us that had been married only once.never divorced. It never crossed my mind that I could leave.

    I have told him for at least the past 10 years that I am not happy and that I am lonely.He thinks that I am being silly because he says he is right there at the house. I asked him to go to marriage counseling with me. He said absolutley not.

    Then last July, I received a message from an old friend I had in highschool. I answered him and he sent me his phone number and I sent him mine. He called me and we talked a little about the children we had and what we had been doing in our careers for the last 40 years.

    We began to talk. I began to be happy. I had someone to talk to. We began to talk more and more over the next month. It got to where we were talking everyday.

    His marriage is in about the same place as mine. They don’t even share the same bedroom anymore. We live in different states, but we

    We decided to meet up in person just to have dinner. Well…one thing led to another and we wound up in a hotel room. We then began to meet once a month for the weekend together. I don’t remember ever being this happy.

    I started going and doing things and enjoying my life while my husband still sat at home, in the bedroom, watching TV and snoozing.

    I stopped complaining to my hubby about him not spending time or doing things with me.

    Finally my husband began to notice that I wasn’t complaining and was happier. He noticed that I wasn’t sitting home all the time. He started questioning me about what I was doing and where I was going everytime I left the house. He wanted to know where I was and what I was doing and when I would be home. He began to want me to call him and let him know when I left work and was headed home. If I wasn’t home by the time he thought I should be there he would call me. He started compaining about me not being home with him. But, when I was home he was still in the bedroom watching TV and snoozing.

    He then decided that we should go to marriage counseling.

    Funny how when he didn’t know where I was and what I was doing he began to worry about loosing me.

    Well, we went and the therapist told him that I had been right in what I was complaining about. So then he said he would start spending the evenings with me.

    He started coming in the livingroom with me. He did it for about one week. Then he started spending a few nights with me then back to the bedroom for a night or two. Slowly he started back doing the same as before. And when I complained he would come back out a night or two and then back as before.

    I have had enough. These questions have helped me to decide, TIME IS UP! I AM GOING TO LEAVE!

    But, I am not going to live with my friend from highschool. I will continue to see him, but I want to be on my own for once in my life.

  42. I fell out of love with my husband of 25 years…due to many years of no communication, no affection (only when he wanted the 3 minute sex) two times a week…
    I tried to get him to go to see our pastor..a counselor…he refused!
    Then he did something to me that no husband should ever do to a wife …and my parents gave the strength and support to leave…
    I left him with the house…only leaving with a bed..and a lot of debt..but I did it!
    I did not love him for at least 3 years before I left…I stayed for our daughter…
    After that one horrible night I knew I was leaving..and I did!
    It hasn’t been easy …but I have peace of mind that he will never be able to touch me again…ever…

    AND I am happy and blessed.

  43. Thank you for this. So refreshing to read and know there are other women like me out there. I am a catholic who just left my husband because of emotional abuse and neglect. A long road ahead but feeling stronger after reading this.

    1. Same. Being Catholic seems to make it really hard to leave. I had a friend who didn’t help at all. She told me we’re not on earth to be happy. And it was my job to get my husband to heaven.

  44. Im a fellow stuck in an unhappy, loveless and abusive marriage. I too answered yes to all those questions. I wish there was some help for guys stuck in this situation but there is not.

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