Should I Leave My Husband?

Question: “I can’t make the final decision to leave and divorce my husband. It is gradually affecting my whole self and making me very unhappy. I feel I need to leave. I make the decision to do it and then fall back into indecision and just continue with him. I am very unhappy most of the time. I only get relief when in church or in the temple. We are both temple workers. He is passive aggressive. He is a faithful home teacher. He spends all his spare time in the evenings watching television downstairs and I spend my time vegging out on the computer upstairs. We don’t express much love and affection toward each other although we exchange a hug or two during the daytime hours. I moved out of our bedroom into the spare room in October. It’s been over a year since we had sex. In fact, it was a year ago in October. He calls himself a “loner” and doesn’t seem to need family. We both were married twice before we married each other six years ago. Our spouses both passed away years before we married one another. I have two lovely daughters and nine grandchildren. He also has two children and they are grown and have grandchildren, as does my oldest daughter. My husband is 16 years older than me. Why can’t I make a decision and stick with it to divorce him? I’ve left him twice. The first time was for a period of a month. The second time was for a period of two weeks. I feel I need to leave and get a divorce. Why can’t I just DO it and get it over with? I’m 68 and he is 84 yrs. old. He is active although he does have the slow moving disease of prostate cancer. The doctor said he won’t die of prostate cancer but it will gradually lead to some other type of physical problem, maybe bone cancer…..which he thinks he already has. But he doesn’t complain hardly at all about it. I don’t want to inherit his home and properties. They belong to his and his second wife’s children (she had 7 kids and she divorced her first husband and left him and their half grown family to marry my husband. That was back in the 1970’s.) I have a home which my youngest grown daughter lives in with her husband and children. I think I should leave my husband and move into my home when my daughter moves out of it, soon, into their new home. How can I make the final decision to do it? My husband doesn’t seem to really care what I do or if I leave or not. It’s all the same to him. His words say otherwise but his life and actions say he wants to be alone. I can’t go on much longer like this. I need to make a decision to leave or stay and make the best of things and determine to be happy in spite of it all. I’m very confused. I don’t like this back and forth decision making and always second guessing myself. Can you please help me? Thank you. I will be waiting for your reply.”

Answer: I appreciate your inquiry. It sounds like you are living in an emotionally distant marriage and that you would like to leave the marriage. From the details you provided, it appears that you are really not seeking to leave your husband but to have some emotional closeness and companionship. Your discussion above about feeling unhappy and the separate worlds each of you live in is a clear indication that the friendship, the bedrock of a marriage, is dwindling. You also mentioned that you have not had sex in over a year, another indication that closeness and intimacy are lacking as well.

A few things for you to consider. You mentioned, “I feel I need to leave and get a divorce.” My reply to that would be in the form of a question, a question of why did you marry him in the first place? What was it that you sought or were drawn to with your husband? Leaving him won’t in fact foster the closeness and peace you are seeking. It will help you rid yourself of feeling like you are married to a man that does not cherish and long to spend time and engage emotionally and sexually with you. Have either of you seen a therapist? Is he aware of the issues and is he willing to work on them? You are finding it hard to leave permanently and divorce him, what is holding you back from doing so? What are you willing to do to make it work? I realize these are some significant questions. I have attempted not to allow his age and yours to play a role here or his cancer. These are important facts but ones that I don’t feel will help you make the decision as leaving or divorcing a spouse based on those factors does not seem feasible or rational. I do hear your pain as you talk about his being emotionally distant and checked out from you.

Have you discussed with him your desires for intimacy and closeness? I realize that it is difficult to open up emotionally when you don’t feel safe or close to him. Asserting yourself by discussing your needs and pain is key prior to making any decisions and working through regarding your marriage and its future.

I recommend your reading a book about bonding, friendship, and intimacy called Hold Me Tight. It will help guide and sort our what it is you need and want with your husband.

Recommended Reading: Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love