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Husband of 17 years leaves. I’m a mess

Community Member
My husband dropped a bomb on me and has moved out. Decided on Monday and told teen  kids on Tuesday and was at an air bnb wed. I am an absolute mess. He said he hasn’t been happy for a long time( I call bullshit because we have had some amazing times) but he’s been so stressed at work and become antisocial and works from home and is worried he’s almost 50 and his body isn’t what it used to be. I’ve tried so hard to fight him to stay and I love him so much. He floated this idea before Christmas and I went above and beyond to try and help him and change things and he seemed happy and responsive and intimate to even holding hands a few days before. But he said his heads a mess and he needs space to breathe and feels suffocated
wtf can I do I am an absolute mess trying to understand this.
I have noticed the last 12 months he started to become antisocial and drink more and work a lot. He refused to speak up when work got too much and has bottled up a lot of feelings and I feel like all of a sudden they have blown up and he thinks this is what he needs to do. Since he’s been gone I’ve taken counselling advice and given him his space and wide berth despite it absolutely killing me because I want to help him. I’ve suggested counselling ( he said “what can they do to help me I need to sort myself out first and not waste their time) he’s even mentioned stopping drinking did it a week then got angry at me when he slipped up and decided to walk. I am a fighter in relationships I told him I am going to fight for us because we all have hurdles and we get through and build foundations and get better than ever but he is saying he’s done and he doesn’t like being robotic and just existing. He doesn’t love himself anymore. I see him as depressed ( not sure at what level) but it kills me now I am only communicating about kids . He now is starting to bring me coffee and offer to cook dinner. It’s like he still have one foot in the door both ways and i am struggling. I have cried for days since he left Wednesday. Today has been the worst being a weekend. Some hours of the day I feel ok and I am trying to get on with my life but then I see him come in all chirpy and humming to himself and smiling and it’s ripping me to pieces .
6 Replies 6

Community Member

Hi fflove5,


I am sorry to hear of your situation and I know things must be overwhelming right now. I have yet to experience marriage so forgive me, but I will attempt to offer some support if I can. 

First of all, know that it’s ok to feel how your feel and it can be helpful to let the emotions come and go naturally. So for instance if you want to cry, cry. If you feel angry, that’s okay, too. But during this time please take care of yourself on all levels physically, emotionally and mentally beat you can. 

How are you coping with your children? Forgive me for assuming, but from your story, it sounds like you are acting as a single mum now? Is your husband still having any interactions with your children and how are they coping with this separation? 

Everybody has different coping levels and some people don’t know how to speak about what they are feeling let alone deal with those feelings with themselves. Perhaps your husband is having trouble expressing what is going on for him and he’s pulling away because he needs time to understand and process his emotions with himself first before he can come to you openly and honestly? He may also feel like he doesn’t want to burden you or your kids with what he’s going through? Sometimes pride can become an obstacle, too. 

You say he admitted to being unhappy but also that he didn’t think therapy could help him. Is he a little stubborn by nature? Or maybe if he’s confused and unsure and unable at this stage, to understand what’s going on himself, he’s finding it hard to see how somebody else could? 

I applaud you for being so strong during this time and not giving up on him or the relationship and I cerntainly hope things turn around for the better in the near future. Just remember to look after yourself and if he keeps pushing you away, perhaps you just need to do your best to give him the space he needs and see what happens. 

Take care.

Community Member

Dear fflove5,

I am so sorry to hear about your husband. 
I’m no expert but, I have been in your shoes this time last year. In the space of 2 weeks of my husband dropping the “I don’t have feelings for you” he had a conversation with our children and then moved out. We have 3 young kids. It’s such a shit situation to be in. Best thing I can say is - everything you are feeling is valid and it’s not fair. Don’t hold your feelings in. Speak to someone to support you through it as you feel. It took my 5 months to seek the help of a psychologist that suited me and helped me move forward with supporting my emotional health, my children’s well-being and also navigating the ever changing communication problems with my husband who doesn’t think he needs help or support. 
Hang in there - one day at a time. I do hope you are as ok as you can be. Take care.. big hugs to you.. 

Community Member

I found out 3 days ago that my husband of 17 years is leaving me. Reading your story was so similar to mine. We have 2 children and I have no idea what I'm going to do. My stable life with a man that I love is gone in the blink of an eye. I don't really have any idea how to deal with this and have never felt so sad and lost and hurt. I think there might be some one else and he is just getting on with life where I can't eat sleep or leave the house. He told me he has been thinking about this for a long time and now I have no idea what my future holds.

Community Member

Just my opinion to possibly help you understand that it's not you. It sounds like he's having a mid life crisis. The withdrawal from social contact indicates depression. It's what I used to do when I was drinking alcohol. I'd often drink by myself. Stopping drinking is a process. It's often quite hard to do by yourself. I went to AA for a while.

The low opinion of himself is another symptom if depression. It sounds like the dreams of where he wanted to be in life (body image, job, etc.) haven't matched reality. Which is often the case. Some of us find it harder to accept.

A good counsellor will help identify ways to cope with his erratic feelings. Find a hobby for example.

When I was at my lowest point in life, I had an engineering degree, future job prospects, financial security. But because of a stupid head injury, couldn't hold down a job in that field. I had to find other pastimes which were rewarding nevertheless if I ever wanted to enjoy life again. So I used to help dad build his wooden canoe. Something as simple as gluing 2 pieces of wood together could be so satisfying because it felt like you had accomplished something. Maybe that's what he's looking for. And because he hasn't been able to find that contentment in his job or his spare time, he takes it out on you.

Community Member

Just to add a bit more. Guys aren't very good at dealing with emotions face to face. That's why they have men's sheds. We can talk about cars, the footy, the latest low carb beer. But when it comes to how we are feeling... we are hopeless. Having said all that, look after yourself.

Community Member

I’m so sorry you’re going through this confusing and hurtful time.


I am in the same boat with my wife after 25 years together - married on Friday, separated on Saturday, not willing to attend counselling or consider reconciliation.

Decision made.

Marriage over.
That was 8 weeks ago.


I wish I could give you a better answer than it does get easier as time passes.

I felt like I couldn’t even breathe for the first two weeks.

I still cry a little bit most days.

Try and let the pain out.
it does not serve to make you a better person or parent.

it’s OK to not be OK. 
take small brave steps to put yourself and your life back together.

Eat well, exercise, and all that 

I’ve come to accept you cannot control what others do

you cannot live your life wishing for someone who chooses not to be part of it 

As horrible as it is, this is a setback

you are not broken

you are not defined by one event or choice 

and you are not alone 

life will be different, but it isn’t over 


sending you strength in a troubled time 

- Mister J