Sticking to your decision to leave your marriage is almost as difficult as deciding to end the relationship in the first place! These tips for letting go of an unhappy marriage will give you strength and courage to stay the course — even when it gets bumpy and scary.
Before the tips, a quip:
“Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than hurt yourself trying to put them back together.” ~ Unknown
Sometimes we know a relationship is over, yet we try to force it to work against all odds. If you don’t know if your marriage really is over, read Should I Leave Him?: How to Decide Whether to Move Forward Together — or Move On Without Him.
And, here are a few tips for letting go of an unhappy marriage…
How to Stick to Your Decision to Leave Your Marriage
Here’s what one of my readers said on my Is My Marriage Over? 7 Ways to Tell if Your Spouse is Ending the Relationship article:
“I’m not happy with our marriage and I haven’t been for a long time. I don’t believe we should ever have gotten married but at the same time I love him and I’m so scared that I will change my mind,” says Whitney. “How do I prevent him from talking me into staying with him, especially when I KNOW that it would be bad [to stay married]?”
Here are my tips for leaving an unhappy marriage and sticking to your decision…
1. Let go of guilty feelings. Sometimes women don’t leave unhappy marriages because they feel guilty, or don’t want to leave their boyfriends or husbands in a bad financial, emotional, or social situation. This is misplaced guilt and faulty reasoning! You are not responsible for your husband’s living accommodations, bill payments, or life. He is a grown adult, and if he’s not capable of taking care of himself, then he needs to learn independence and self-sufficiency. Your job is not to make sure he has a roof over his head, his relatives think highly of you, or he feels taken care of. Your job is to make the best decision possible for you and your kids — which includes sticking to your decision to leave your marriage.
2. Deal with the fear that you’ll never be loved again. I’ve been stuck in bad relationships because I was scared nobody else would love me. I was insecure, didn’t realize that there are plenty of good men who would love to love me — men who would be good for me! My self-esteem and self-confidence was rock bottom, and held me back from moving on to bigger and better relationships. If you feel afraid and insecure, you need to build self-confidence. Surround yourself with family and friends who support you, who help you feel strong, self-confident, and powerful. Keep making decisions and taking steps — even the tiniest steps — that make you feel strong and courageous.
If you’re not sure about divorce, read Should You Leave Your Husband? 3 Signs It’s Time to Go.
3. Picture yourself a year from now. Where do you want to be living? What do you want to be doing? Who do you want to be loving – and who do you want loving you? Often, focusing on achieving our goals – visualizing our wish list as already a reality – can give us motivation and strength to do what we need to do. If you want to stick to your decision to leave your marriage, stay focused on your ideal life.
You’re not alone if you need help sticking to your decision to leave your marriage! Read my Most Popular Breakup Articles – From Cheating to Closure.
4. Ask yourself questions about your life, goals, personality, and future. Take a cue from Gloria Steinem: “God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions,” she said. “Once we begin to ask them, there’s no turning back.” Asking questions opens up new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new ways of being in the world! Ask yourself the following questions, and answer them in a notebook. Write down your most wildly improbable goals (our goals have a way of coming to life after we write them down).
Questions to ask about your life:
- Who am I now…and who do I want to become?
- If not now, when?
- Who do I admire?
- What did I want my life to be like when I was young, naïve, idealistic, passionate?
Questions to ask about leaving an unhappy marriage:
- What am I getting out of this marriage, which I know is bad for me?
- Who is watching and learning from me in this marriage – my kids, nieces, neighbors, family members, friends?
- What am I saying about life, love, and choices by staying in this marriage?
- What would I do about this marriage if I knew I would not fail?
- How would I act — what decisions would I make — if I wasn’t scared or burdened?
You don’t need to know the answers to these questions right now. Just sit with them. Let them simmer in the back of your mind. One day, you’ll decide to be strong and leave your husband…maybe that day is today, maybe it’s next year.
You’ll know when it’s time.
To find more strength to stick to your decision and leave your marriage, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.