Your husband says he wants out of the marriage, but he won’t move out. Here are a few steps for wives whose husbands say they want a divorce, but don’t leave.
Jill’s husband wants to divorce her, but he refuses to leave the house and kids. He wants her to leave – he has nowhere to go, no friends to stay with, and no family to rely on.
She wants to go to counseling and perhaps even save their marriage, but he refuses. Jill doesn’t know what to do – she feels stuck, anxious, isolated, and scared for her kids. Not to mention unloved, betrayed, and confused.
When did her husband stop loving her? Why? He’s not having an affair, he’s not gay, he’s not any different than the man she married 20 years ago.
If you’re in the same boat, you’re not alone.
When Your Husband Wants a Divorce – But Won’t Leave
My first tip for wives whose husbands want to get divorced – but won’t leave the house – is to learn as much as you can about the legalities of separation. Books like Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce are priceless – and so is talking to a divorce lawyer in your own city.
Talk to a divorce lawyer
Before you take any drastic steps – such as leaving your home because your husband won’t – talk to an attorney! I’m not a lawyer – my tips are based on creating a better, happier life. This is not legal advice.
Jill refuses to talk to a divorce lawyer, because she’s scared. Calling a lawyer makes the whole situation more “real”, and will force her to move forward. She’s not ready, even though her husband has repeatedly told her he wants a divorce and that she has to leave the house.
But, part of getting over the pain of an unexpected divorce is taking action – even when it hurts.
Take care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health
Jill’s way to cope with her situation is not to eat. She’s not sleeping, either – and she feels exhausted, stressed, sad, and lethargic. Other wives whose husbands want to leave them may turn to food for comfort, pills to zone out, or shopping to escape. While these coping mechanisms may seem like they’re helping, they’re doing a great deal of damage in the long run.
If you’re unhealthy, you can’t think clearly. If you can’t think clearly, you won’t make the best decisions for you, your children, and your finances. It’s really difficult to stay healthy when your husband wants a divorce and won’t leave the house – but it’s vital that you take care of yourself.
And, start thinking about how to let go. My most popular article has always been Letting Go of Someone You Love – Freedom From the Past.
Write down everything that happens
What date did your husband first tell you he wants a divorce, but doesn’t want to leave the house? Who have you confided in? When did you call a divorce lawyer? Have you tried marriage counseling – if so, who did you contact? How much money do you have in your joint accounts? What transactions have occurred recently?
The more details you have, the better off you’ll be. You never know when those details – even the seemingly inane ones – will make the difference between making or breaking a custody battle.
Consider making the first move
Jill has been stuck with an unhappy, unmoving husband for five months. Neither of them know what to do: he wants her to leave her home and children, and she wants to save their marriage. She feels like she’s starting to lose her mind, and thinks she’s close to a nervous breakdown. They sleep in the same bed but aren’t intimate. Her husband says he loves her one day, and denies it the next. She feels like he’s driving her crazy.
I think Jill should take her kids and leave her husband – but first she needs to talk to a divorce lawyer! Do not leave the house without talking to an attorney first. The reason I think Jill should make the first move is because her health is deteriorating and she feels like she’s losing her mind.
I’m not telling you to take your kids and leave the house. If your husband wants a divorce but won’t leave your home, you need to seek professional, legal advice. But I do think that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to start rebuilding your life and moving on.
You may find Thinking About Divorce? Options for Unhappy Married Couples helpful.
Be prepared to make sacrifices
Why should Jill leave her house? It’s not fair! HE’S the one who wants a divorce. HE’S the one who is ruining their 20-year old marriage. Why should she have to uproot her life and children, just because her husband has suddenly decided he wants out of the marriage?
The thing is, it’s not about what’s fair, right, or how things “should” be. It’s about knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to just pick up the pieces of your shattered marriage, and move on. You need to rebuild your life – and it won’t be as neat and clean as your husband suddenly decided that he wants to stay married, or that he should be the one to leave the house because he’s the one who wants a divorce.
I think that if a man wants a divorce, he should have the balls to walk away. But some men are too weak, indecisive, stubborn, and selfish to do more than say, “I want to end our marriage – so you have to leave the house.” So, it’s up to Jill to screw up her courage and start moving forward…even if it means making huge sacrifices.
Sometimes you have to take care of your future self – and that means making painful decisions right now.
Start looking ahead – because good things ARE waiting for you!
I know how bleak life seems right now. It’s awful, painful, shameful, embarrassing, and terrible that your husband wants a divorce. It’s a nightmare come true, and you didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t deserve to be treated like this.
While you’re going through this, try to give yourself glimpses of a happier, brighter future. Remember that there was something wrong with your marriage or husband – otherwise he wouldn’t want a divorce. Remember that millions of women have survived divorce and are now thriving, happy, and fulfilled. Some wives don’t even realize how unhappy they were, until their husbands left.
Read books like He’s History, You’re Not: Surviving Divorce After 40, to set yourself up for a positive, happy future.
What do you think – what would you do if your husband wanted a divorce but won’t leave your home?
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.