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Escape or survive a loveless marriage?

Community Member

I'm 45 and my husband is 49. We've been married 11 years, with two kids aged 8 and 6. We haven’t had sex in more than 6 years. We’ve slept in separate beds for at least 5 years. There is zero affection or physical contact. (Before we had kids, no real issues.)
Over the years I have tried to address this many times. My husband was diagnosed with depression and low testosterone, but stopped taking his medication as he insisted it didn’t work. I’m not sure if he is still depressed - he seems content to live in this loveless and sexless marriage.
I begged him to try counselling, which he did for a few sessions about 2 years ago. Then I joined for 2 sessions - before he refused to go back. He didn't tell me - he just didn’t go back, despite me asking him to go several times. In the sessions I attended, he asked me not to nag him about our relationship and give him space. I did this and nothing happened. He has never once in all these years instigated a discussion of these issues.
At least on three occasions, having lost patience, I told him I wanted a divorce. He just says ok, then jumps into action, looking for somewhere to rent, etc. After me venting, he agrees to couples counselling - but never goes through with it. He just carries on as usual until the next time I get angry or upset.

Apart from this, he has not lifted a finger to save our marriage. He just says we should stay together ‘for the kids’. I really don’t matter to him at all. In my darkest moments I feel he also wants to stay together because I brought a lot more into the marriage financially (he had nothing).

I can barely stand to be in the same room as him now and avoid conversation. It’s hard to describe just how humiliating and lonely it’s been. He knows I’m very unhappy, but never asks me about it. Instead, he commonly treats me with disdain, rolling his eyes or dismissing anything I say. The therapist even pulled him up on this, but he doesn’t get it. If I raise I’m unhappy in any way whatsoever, he’ll turn away, raise his hand up to motion me to stop speaking and yell, ‘Get a divorce then.’

I'm being forced to accept this loveless, sexless marriage - or else. I’m heartbroken because I really wanted my kids to have a stable, ‘normal’ family life. I never wanted a divorce, but what choice do I have? How do people stay married just ‘for the kids’?
I’m so very lonely and tired of keeping up appearances. I’ve kept all of this to myself all these years and it has truly become unbearable.

53 Replies 53

Community Member

I separated from a man I had been married to for 30 years. Our decline had been so pernicious I hadn't even realised how dysfunctional and full of hate our relationship had become.

I recall one night getting up simply to get a glass of water and he screamed at me to go back to bed - which I duly did, without responding or getting upset. I was like a zombie. It's bizarre to me now that that was my normal and I let a man treat me that way.

Like everything in our lives I had to facilitate our separation. Year's of sitting on his bum had rendered him incapable of doing anything for himself. I even did a week's shopping and put it in his fridge and hung his clothes in his wardrobe. He acted like a teenager moving into their first flat - jubilant at the thought of life without a 'nagging wife' spoiling his fun. But that's not how it worked out for him. Without the safety net I provided he spiralled - but that's a whole other story.

For me on the other hand it's felt like I've stepped into the light. I didn't realise how bad things were until I was free. I've bought new clothes and too many shoes. I rearranged the furniture and threw out boxes of junk - I don't know where I got the energy but I've channelled it well. I eat what I want and I can bloody well get up and get a glass of water anytime I like!

My regret is that I didn't do it sooner but I think it was a process that needed to play out until I was ready. But now that it has, I feel great and so can you.

Wishing you luck!

Community Member

grt123, thank you for sharing your story. It does sneak up on you and I try and think of the moment when the love disappeared completely. I don’t know which reasons were legitimate and which were just excuses. I guess it doesn’t really matter now. I suspect my husband may be similar to your ex, as when we discussed divorce previously he kept asking questions like ‘so what am I going to do about x, y, z’. I’m so glad you’ve managed to turn things around and enjoy life again - after 30 years is incredible. I can’t remember the last time I felt truly happy, to be honest. I’ve just been blocking things out and then every couple of months I get angry and upset. This time feels a bit different though; i feel like I am grieving. I don’t think there’s anything left to say to my husband. I’ve repeated my request for counselling quite a few times now, so it’s apparent it’s being ignored. I have noticed he’s been doing a bit more around the house, because he’s realised I’m quite sad. But I believe that’s because he wants the facade to continue. He certainly won’t ask me what’s up or address the elephant in the room. He wants to be able to see his kids all the time. He wants his kids to have a ‘normal’ family and to present this to the world and he wants a nice lifestyle. He regards doing these practical things as ‘trying’, I know that. And no doubt I don’t act like I appreciate them. Because after all this time, I really don’t. I used to feel sorry for him that he was trying, just in the wrong way - but now I feel his motivation is just to continue the status quo, not to actually resume any kind of normal relationship. It must be so nice grt123 to have your own place where you can feel comfortable and just be yourself. I will keep it in my mind!

Community Member

HI CathyC.

Thank you for sharing your story and your feelings. I have found that this is a great forum and has helped me to realise that I am not on my own in a loveless marriage either. Like you I am in my mid forties, my husband is 53, we have been married for 25 years and I have been so unhappy for years. It is only recently that I have realised what has been happening to me for many years, which is emotional abuse. Sounds similar to grt123 with some of the many examples that I have. Anyway, if it helps, you are not alone. I am working through a plan to exit my marriage which I know will be painful but after 30 years of looking after him and bringing up 2 kids (who are young adults now) I need to think about myself. I have been undecided for at least 18 months, living in limbo, but there seem to be more and more incidents happening. I am tired of living on eggshells, not able to see or do anything without getting permission, and being told what I can buy (even though I earn more).

Lets see how we all get on over the coming months. My plan is that by the end of February I will be able to put the house up for sale, but it may happen sooner than that if the incidents continue.

Keep us informed of your progress x

Community Member
Hi, I’m also experiencing difficulties/unhappiness in my marriage. We have been together since I was 17 (im now 53) & married over 30 years. I feel trapped ..... too scared to leave but don’t want to stay 🙄 I’ve never been on my own before & it’s seems very daunting & overwhelming to make the move. I’m not attracted to him anymore & I am craving love & attention & intimacy. Our kids are 26 & 21 still living at home & they will be devastated along with friends, but I guess I need to put myself first. Never had to budget or deal with finances. It all seems too hard but I’m so unhappy ! Just need some advice please. Thanks

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello Cazza, and those above, and very sorry for how you are feeling.

Can I say that your children maybe upset, but how do they feel now, in the long run, they and you yourself will be much happier, because it's better to have separate parents who are much happier than two who are living together and loathing it.

Your kids are adults and will adjust to the change, don't worry about them, you come first, find the love you're craving for, you will adapt to the finances and in fact, that's what could be one thing that's been out of control.

We will help you to get organised if you want, plus your kids may also chip in and know what to do, but please get back to us.

Take care.


Community Member

Hi Geoff, thank you for your reply & also for your encouragement & understanding I’m very appreciative.

I’ve been struggling with my depression & more anxiety actually so it’s more difficult to make a logical decision with the way my mind is ATM. The ‘what ifs’ are taking over .... what if I don’t cope on my own, what if I’m lonely, what if I don’t meet a new man. It’s all soooo overwhelming & daunting it makes me feel sick 😥

Also, I’m so very ashamed & feel so very guilty as I have had an affair. I know it’s very wrong & I’m not sure I should reveal that to the readers here 🤭 but I just needed to get that off my chest & vent. The craving for attention, care, love, intimacy was extremely strong. I still think about the guy I had the affair with, we had a good connection but I know I need to forget him.

Hope you don’t judge me 😥 I’m also sorry if I’ve revealed too much about my life.



Community Member

Hi Sophie,

Thank you for your message yesterday; I was feeling pretty low and it came at the right time! I’m finding it almost impossible to motivate myself to get things done at the moment. I also want a plan - but I can’t seem to push myself into action. I did do something today, however - I went and spoke to a psychologist. I’m pretty exhausted from it, but I’m hoping it will help. I’ve kept all this to myself for so long that I’m not sure what is acceptable or unacceptable anymore.

One question, if you don’t mind - why do you think your husband has stayed in the marriage? Has he ever shown any interest in improving things? Does he know that you are unhappy? Being this disconnected is intolerable to me and I just don’t understand why it isn’t for my husband. Except that it’s just easier financially and practically to stay.

Please keep in touch, it’s a great comfort to know I’m not alone.

Community Member

Hi Cathy, I’ve been reading your posts with interest & sadness. I’m so sorry you are having a rough time. I’m in a similar situation .....loveless, no sex, no intimacy marriage 😥 I can understand how you feel & want you to know you aren’t alone. Try to remain positive & hopeful as that’s what keeps me going & I know somehow things will work out 👍 I’m feeling daunted, scared, nervous, anxious about separating too but it’s all about our own journey in life, no one else’s & we have to make the most of it as we only get one shot at it! It’s so important to be happy. Also remember - you are doing the best you can in a difficult situation & don’t let any one put you down. Hang in there


Carolyn 😃

Community Member

Hello Cazza,

Thank you so much for your messages of support and I’m so sorry you are going through similar. I started a reply to you yesterday, but ran out of time to finish it. I wanted to share with you something someone told me when I was a teenager about ‘what if’ questions - and that is to always answer them. Sounds too simple, but I find it works for me. So ‘what if’ you’ve never managed your finances? As Geoff said, you’ll just have to learn. ‘What if’ you never meet anyone else? Well, for me, living alone would be better than this - at least I’d feel comfortable in my own home. And I don’t know about you, but much of my loneliness stems from living this ‘pretend’ marriage, as I avoid social events where I have to keep up appearances.

I completely understand why you had an affair. If anyone showed me any attention I’d have a very tough time resisting it, my need for any kind of affection feels overwhelming.

Wishing you all the best and please keep us updated.

Community Member

Hi Cathy, wow thank you so much for your message! That’s actually made me feel better already 😊 I really appreciate you replying to me. I felt like I was the only one experiencing this sadness, unhappiness but since reading some posts on here & listening to other people I truly realise I am not alone.

What if’s answers were helpful thank you. A lot of my other what ifs (usually experienced only while I’m depressed) are a bit deeper eg what if my son died in a car accident & what if I lose my job ..... I try & rationalise they with the probability of that happening is low.

look after yourself & feel free to chat anytime, I’m here. Things will get better.

kind regards,