Living without love feels hopeless, lonely, and desolate. To learn how to survive a loveless marriage, you first need to figure out why you’re still married.
If you’re stuck in a loveless marriage, read Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Susan Pease Gadua. The solution to your loneliness and other relationship problems is either surviving your marriage or leaving your husband. Sometimes it helps to have an objective perspective to help you decide if you should think about leaving your husband.
In this article, I describe five reasons women stay in loveless marriages. This may help you survive a loveless marriage because identifying the problem or reason you stay married can help you survive the relationship. You might also think about ways to get your husband to love you.
5 Reasons Women Stay in Loveless Marriages
Here are a few reasons why women live without love, staying with men they should have left years ago. If you know why you’re staying in a loveless marriage, then you’re more likely to survive it. Some of these reasons are directly from my readers, and others are what I know from my own experience in unhealthy, controlling “love” relationships.
Fear of what people will say. “I want to leave my marriage but the thought of that is too terrifying,” writes a reader on Controlling Relationships and Addictive Love. “I would be all alone and what would people say?” Let’s face it – we care about what people think of us. The opinions of our friends, neighbors, family members, coworkers, and even our hairdressers and manicurists matter. We’ve pitied couples whose relationships ended in divorce or separation…and we don’t want to be the objects of that pity.
Desire to be the “good girl” – don’t make waves. Girls are often taught not to make waves – to be demure, kind, polite, and avoid confrontation at all costs. Maybe this is the number one reason women stay in and learn how to survive loveless marriages: they don’t want to be seen as a troublemaker or a disrupter of the family. “I have gone back and forth so many times, I’ve finally realized it’s never going to work and I need to just stay away,” says another reader. “I always thought of myself as the “good”, “polite” and “cooperative” girl. That was the role I played in my family of origin.”
Hope that the relationship will go from bad or loveless to good. That’s one reason I stayed with a jerk: I kept hoping he’d get nicer, want to work on our relationship, and start acting like a normal human being. When I think back on the crap I took from that guy, I cringe! I’m embarrassed to admit how long I stayed in a relationship with someone I didn’t respect and didn’t like introducing to my friends. What kept me with that guy? He had a few good qualities…but mostly, it was my hope that our relationship would get better.
Women stay because they invested too much time in the marriage. I was reluctant to leave my boyfriend because I’d “invested” nine months with him, and thought that was a long time! I can’t imagine how it feels to be thinking about leaving a loveless marriage after 10 years, or even 40 years. Sometimes women stay in unhealthy relationships or loveless marriages because they think all the time they spent on the relationship will be wasted. But it won’t be! For proof, read Was My Marriage a Waste of Time? The Silver Lining of Break Ups.
Staying is easier than trying to survive a loveless marriage. Who wants to be alone? Not many women – or men, for that matter. It’s easier to stay in a bad relationship because you don’t have to deal with telling people it’s over, facing your own fears, feeling like the “bad person”, and being the one to rip the family apart. It’s easier to stay in a bad relationship than leave, just like it’s easier to stay in a bad job than uproot your life to find a new one.
If you’re thinking about leaving a loveless marriage, read Is It Better to Give Up on Your Relationship or Try to Make It Work?
What are your reasons for staying in and trying to survive a loveless marriage? What are your reasons for trying to survive without love, rather than leaving and starting over?
If your husband wants a divorce, read When Your Husband Wants Out of Your Marriage.
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.