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He doesn't want me to leave, but makes zero effort

Community Member

Hi All,

my husband and I have decided to separate because he needs to find out whether he wants to pursue his current idea of having children, which I never wanted. We are separating amicably and love each other still, but over the years, he has hurt me a lot with his dissatisfaction, rehashing the past and depressive periods. So I know, we need to go separate ways so he can find out once and for all what he wants from life, and for me to find back to myself and what may be the best for me.

We still live together while we are arranging everything and we decided to give this our best to cherish the last few weeks and months with each other before the separation happens. Now that the separation date is coming close, he often asks me not to leave him. And it breaks my heart. He also says that, maybe, after some time apart, we will find back together. But as much as I would like that, I cannot see that he is learning anything from this current decision and situation. As example, my birthday occurred recently and he made no real effort. He arranged a dinner a few days after, however, I told him explicitly that I didn't want that to be my gift (it's such an easy, one minute arrangement to make). He wanted to know whether I want a gift and over the years, I have told him so many times that the gift is not about the material nature, but about a demonstration of thought and effort going into it. He is super stressed at work which seems to be his priority a lot, and so he did nothing than write a little card and book in the dinner online. I came home after a full day of work travel and he'd had dinner alone. When I asked whether we should have wine, I had to clean out the glasses and prepare everything.

Please don't get me wrong, this is not about a gift. But I realized once again, like so many times, that he goes the path of minimal effort. He claims that he is scared of getting it wrong or busy but that is not an excuse for doing nothing. I thought that someone who wants to keep me in his life would actually actively try absolutely everything to achieve that, especially since I communicate my needs. I can't see any effort, probably because I am not a priority and because he just doesn't seem to get why I am leaving. Can somebody be so blind or is that a chosen mechanism? I was so disappointed, I told myself that this is why I will never come back. But it hurts me to think that way given I love him. How does someone finally learn and understand? Am I so wrong?

4 Replies 4

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello AussieGal
Welcome back to Beyond Blue forums. I can recall replying to you when you first wrote about the situation with your husband.

Thank you for updating us on what’s been happening. Making decisions such as you have is never an easy one. And continuing to be in love with each other makes it more difficult.

There are so many aspects to your relationship, that is you are concerned about his:

  • rehashing the past and depressive periods
  • birthday gift to you was disappointing
  • thoughtlessness and lack of effort/ minimal effort
  • wanting children

I’m no relationship counsellor so I’m unable to give you advice about whether you are wrong or not and how does someone finally learn and understand. If he doesn’t get why you’re leaving, then I’m not sure how you make him understand.

Have you tried to use clarification techniques in the discussions you have? Communication is never easy. It takes both sides to listen, to hear what the other one is truly saying. Sometimes, one or the other will not want to hear though. I maybe wrong but it sounds like there is definitely something getting in the way of your communication.

Maybe you can help me out a little here AussieGal - What is it you seek? Support for your separation? Or, do we think you are making the right decision? Asking if he will change? I truly wish I had the answers for you. Unfortunately I can’t because I don’t know.

However, there maybe forum members who’ll want to say one way or the other, because they’ve been there.

Kind regards


Community Member

I have not written in a while. I separated from my husband (amicably) in early August. It was sad but I went through a lot of the grieving cycle while we were still together but planning to separate. So I feel ok, despite the occasional meltdown. But he did not let anything sink in until the day I moved out. And even then I think he thought we would just be apart for a month or so. Now he is extremely sad and in pain and it is hard to talk to him (via facebook). We want to be friends once the worst is over but I feel talking to me makes things worse for him. He is in a bad state and he asks what he can do so we get back together. I told him numerous times that there will not be any chance to get back together. As much as I loved him, I am relieved it is over because it was extremely painful in the end. I do not see myself with him anymore. I care deeply for him but I would rather want to be friends one day.
I don't know what to do. When he talks to me about these things, I feel it is my duty to tell him the cold truth so that he does not get his hopes up. But that usually ends up in him asking more questions and I am giving him details on what did not work for me in the past. Which aggravates his pain. I feel like a monster to be the one telling him all the hard things, although we did initially make the decision to separate together and so we should both own it. But now, he believes it was a mistake and regrets the decision. It would not have made a difference because I could no longer go on this way but he believes he made a mistake in letting me go. I feel like I can only lose. If I do not speak to him, I am the cold-hearted monster that shuns him. If I talk to him, I am the harsh monster that tells him things about himself that aren't always favourable. Today was such a day and as a result I spent most of the afternoon and evening crying. Not because I miss him, but because I feel so bad that he is in pain. But a part of me thinks that is not fair. I went through a lot of my own grief. Do I have to carry his as well?
How can I manage this without completely writing him off because I believe that would not work well with him and we still share property together for now. I just do not want to be so sad because of him, although I generally feel my life is getting back on track and he is the only reason I get pulled back down. I want him to move on and let go of me but without breaking his heart even more. What can I do?

i wish I had an easy answer for you AussieGal, but I guess there is never anything easy about the break up of a long-term relationship. It sounds like your hub, while outwardly agreeing to the separation, was emotionally in denial about what that actually meant. Hence he didn't move into his grief until he realised you 'meant it', and didn't want your relationship anymore.

Now I guess he's in a state of panic/desperation. He hasn't had the time you've had to envisage a new life alone, because his denial didn't allow it. He's scared of the unknown, so he's not ready to move on, while you are, which puts you in two different timelines, so to speak.

I guess what he really needs is time. Perhaps it is best that you sever contact, at least temporarily. Explain to him that you think it's best for both of you to not keep talking about this, as it won't change your decision. continuing to talk it out seems to be opening the wound again and again. It will be hard, but it can't be much harder than what you're already going through. Your hub needs to start accepting that his life won't revolve around your marriage anymore. He needs to imagine what he will do now on his own, and he can't do that as long as he's hanging onto your every word re: what went wrong. I sense he is still hoping if he understands what 'broke' he can 'fix' it.

I guess cutting him off for a while falls into the 'being cruel to be kind' area. Unfortunately, he is not ready to only be your friend right now. You are right, it is not your responsibility to help him through his grief anymore, not if it is bringing you down. He needs to seek help elsewhere.

Sorry for all your pain. I understand the difficulty of feeling like the 'monster' bc you have to deliver all the bad news. So stop delivering it. You've said all you can say already. In your heart I think you know that.

Wishing you all the best


Hi AussieGal81,

How have things progressed? Are you still going through the same cycle?

I have a perspective that is very likely coloured by my own experience so may not be fair to your ex, but I thought if I shared it you could decide if it's applicable.

Is it possible he's falling into a pattern of keeping the relationship going by drawing you into these discussions? Breakups are never easy, but it concerns me that you are having to justify/explain repeatedly and that the result is that you feel bad... You've already said "no more", he does need to accept that your no actually means no. My concern stems from the fact that he didn't value you during the relationship, so is he continuing the same now where he is ignoring you and your right to say no? Have you heard the term "negative publicity and still publicity"? In this case, "negative contact is still contact".

The language you use is subtle but statements like "he believes he made a mistake in letting me go" is flawed thinking. He didn't give you permission to leave, you chose to leave. You are quite right to ask why you are carrying his grief as well... it may be simply that he is struggling to come to terms with this new normal, but his behaviour may also be a tactic of emotional manipulation.

I don't know enough about your situation to say what exactly is going on, but a suggestion would be to stop telling him what is going on with your life now. You are separated, which means the break has taken place where your life is now not shared with him. Practically this means it is none of his business where you live, how your day was at work, that your car broke down, that you caught up with your friends. These are things you share with someone you have a relationship with, and it sounds like he may use the "let's continue to be friends" as an avenue to avoid the change in your relationship from happening. Perhaps by limiting what you share may help the new status become real for him.

Take care of yourself,