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I want to separate from my husband but don't know how

Community Member

I've been married for 20yrs and we have 2 healthy children. We are financially stable. I know I should be happy but I feel depressed and stuck. I no longer want to be married.

I care deeply about my husband, and he is a good man, but he has always been totally closed off to his emotions. Since the beginning I felt rejected and alone when he wouldn't talk to me. After we had our first child I asked him to come to marriage counselling, but he refused. Then I asked him to read a book I’d found helpful, but he was offended that I was 'picking on him' and very angry about it. He said hurtful things I’ve never been able to forget. I think it was then I started to shut him out the way I had always felt shut out by him. That was 8 years ago.

He finally agreed to counselling about 2yrs ago but I feel like it's only scratched the surface. I've asked him to do extra reading or even his own therapy but he refuses. I’ve tried to initiate some fun activities for us but we don’t enjoy the same things and neither of us end up having a good time.

Intimacy is also a problem. For years I was having sex in order to keep the peace and now I just feel used up, like I’m not even capable of enjoying it anymore. The idea of having sex with him makes me so anxious I feel physically ill. It’s been months since I’ve tried and I don't want to again. I've read about sexless marriage, but I know my husband wouldn't handle that. Sex is very important to him. but the real problem isn't the sex it's the lack of connection. I don't know how to feel connected to him anymore. I don't think I want to.

I dream of asking him for a separation, but how? I only work part time, and I don’t want to move the kids even if I could afford to. And it seems too cruel to ask my husband to move out. Should I stay until the kids are adults and waste another 10yrs of both of our lives? The alternative is to break my husband's heart and break up my family. But staying is just adding more layers to my resentment and I'm scared I'll end up hating him.

Has anyone been through anything like this? I’m still seeing my own counsellor, but I think it's gotten to the point where more talking about the same issues won't help. I need to take some action, because I can't stay in limbo. I'm not living just existing.

Thank you

126 Replies 126

Hello again (I ran out of characters lol)

If you are happier when he isn't home that is you screaming at yourself that things need to change, it is not selfish to look after yourself first it's called self care and is very important if the mothership goes down what happens to the rest of the family.

Also you need to think about the relationship you are modelling for your and they start to think that the it is okay to treat people the way your husband is treating you or I think worse that it is okay for other people to treat them like that.

I have recently started dating an awesome man, I have a connection with him that I never had with my ex and have realised that this is how things should be if I don't like something I tell him I don't have to keep my true feelings hidden out of fear of upsetting him and I've finally realised that I deserve more than what my ex gave me I only wish I'd woken up earlier and done something about it.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

thanks tnb2910, that was really helpful. My kids are 13 & 10 so a bit late to say they're young they'll adjust and not old enough to handle it with total cool. I do know I'd be financially ok if I did leave as there is assistance and I could probably start working full time (though I worry about the kids being on their own too much), but there's also a part of me that's thinking I contributed 20+years to this life, the house, the savings etc. I should be better than 'ok'. We were working towards eventually being comfortable and on a practical level I'd be looking at starting over. I admit that's part of it. I'll probably have to rent for the rest of my life as single women on basic incomes don't get loans, not that I hear about. is it worth it?

I don't know. Things have definitely improved but there are still moments when I think what the hell am I doing? I do worry a lot about what I'm showing my girls by appearing to cave on issues or worse let them do stuff they can't do when dad is home because I think he's way too strict. I need to actually fight him on some things like that but my habit of trying to keep the peace for everyone's sake is so ingrained I almost don't think I'm capable of fighting him.


Community Member

Hi Goodwitch

I am a husband of a wife that i think would like to say the things you've said, but doesn't know how to say it.

i am looking for answers on how to fix our lives, and even though we have all the material gains, comfort of life, our relationship has gone out of the door.

if my wife told me your words, i would remove myself from her life as i cannot see her suffer anymore.

i totally feel for you and sympathise with the situation.


I am glad things have improved for you hopefully you can figure things out with your husband.

If you decide you can't do it any more know that it is not impossible to avoid renting ,I have a friend who split from her husband and while they were negotiating a financial settlement she maintained the mortgage payments on her own and was able to get an increased mortgage to pay him out (though house prices were a lot lower 7 or 8 years ago when she did this) and keep the house on a part-time income, I was not so fortunate and thought I'd be renting for the rest of my life however I have been able to buy with a friend so you never know what's around the corner. Your kids will adjust it will just take them a little longer just make sure you are and your husband are there for them and get them all the support they need especially in the early days.

Two bits of advice I can give you is to get a parenting plan drawn up and stick to it (there has to be some room to change days etc for family functions holidays and even to re-negotiate down the track if situations change) so everyone knows what is happening, this is actually a legal requirement which I wish I had known as my ex refused to be told when he could see his kids and we have never had a plan in place and my girls do as they please my oldest has been with me pretty much 100% of the time since we split but goes to her dads for dinner once or twice a week she's now 19 and my youngest now 15 was with her dad 1 night a week until 15 months ago then changed to 50/50 but has discovered the art of playing us off against each other and my ex lets her get away with it especially if it means he has to pay less or no child support or I have to pay him child support and I have no legal recourse.

Take time to be on your own it's amazing how much stronger I've become having spent most of the first 2 years after we separated single I've dated a few guys but nothing serious until the guy I met about 5 months ago I think he might be a keeper.

Finally is it worth it I can't answer you and you will only be able to answer that if you try it, but for me ABSOLUTELY, I am not in the greatest financial situation but I can cover my day to day expenses and I am happier in the last 2-3 years than I was for 10 or 15 years before that (I was married for 21 years and we split Dec 2014) and that to me is a million times better than having money for things like holidays.

Well 2 weeks ago I sat down with hub and told him it wasn't working out, that we tried as hard as we could but I don't think of us as a couple anymore, we are co-parents that's it. I wanted my independence and a life of my own. I think it's time we went back to counselling to talk about the possibility of separating. It was awful, but I was glad I finally was clear with him--at least I thought so. Hours later though because he was upset I asked him how he was, we had a good long talk. He said he thought I was going to up and leave any minute so I said I wasn't packing a bag 'right now' that we had time to regroup and think about how we move forward. I think he took that as hope that I was going to keep trying. Maybe move forward was the wrong term. Yes we are finally saying a lot of things that have needed saying for a long time, but my feelings haven't changed. I don't love him romantically. I said as much and that I didn't hold out hope those feelings would return. I mentioned being separated under one roof, which is something you can do without moving out, but I didn't go into it more because the word 'separate' just seems to make him agitated (understandably). I said we could put off going to the counsellor for a bit, talk about it again soon, as I could see he was distraught and I didn't want to hurt him anymore at that point.

Now he seems to be acting a bit like it never happened. Talking about how we're improving in our communication and 'working on things'. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing left to work on. I think he's in denial. I don't know what else to do. I don't really want to pack up and move out, that's more disruptive for the kids than if he moves out because they would have to come with me due to our work hours, but if he's going to stick his fingers in his ears and pretend he can't hear me, I might have to. I really wanted this to be easier on the kids though. ugh.

I think I'm going to set up a separate bank account and get some legal advice. This denial is just starting to feel like yet another way he is refusing to listen to me because he doesn't like what I'm saying.

Anyway...just updating. Still struggling with this but trying to move forward (or away..?).


Hi GoodWitch,

Sorry to hear that. I hope everything works out for you (i.e. the way you want, and you are happy/ier again).

thanks for the advice you gave me too.

I'm in a similar position feelings wise. I think my actions have caused me to rethink everything and I'm in two minds about staying married. I think I've just realised that maybe she isn't right for me and I definitely am not right for her with my past indiscretions. Problem is it will be totally out of the blue for my wife and I just don't know how everyone will cope, particularly in the early stages. Our kids are young so will adapt, but the thought of part time custody and other partners in the future etc is just all so overwhelming.

I think the realisation of shattered dreams and future plans is possibly the toughest part too. You think everything will be perfect and plan the future and then somebody changes (me in this case) but I guess you can't help how you feel and can't go on unhappy to keep others satisfied.

All the best.

Community Member
I can relate to this on so many levels. I have stuck it out for the children and feel like my soul has been sucked out. I have repeatedly told my husband what I need from him but he is incapable of putting in the hard yards. We used to be best friends but now I feel no connection and feel like we are house mates. There has been a lot of issues that have arisen throughout our marriage that I have just tried to work through but unfortunately now that has turned to resentment. My daughter's are 18 and 20 now so will be able to deal with anything that happens but my son who is 12 does not handle change and will be devastated. 2 years ago I worked up the courage and said I wanted out. When I told the children my son was so distraught I back tracked. I thought I could stick it out until he is older but the more I wait the more resentment and soul destroyed I feel.

Community Member

Thanks Trybe, I'm so sorry you're feeling so awful. It is precisely as you say, soul destroying. I am so scared of telling the kids and my little one (10yo) gets easily anxious, I'm having nightmares about how it will go down. Also having nightmares where my hub is holding onto me and I'm screaming for him to let me go and he just stands there not reacting. Doesn't take a therapist to work that one out. Like your hub I feel mine is simply incapable of doing what I need. I've talked to my individual counsellor about it too and from what I tell her she seems to agree that emotionally he isn't mature and has always let me do the work there and always will unless I make a drastic change that forces him to confront his own issues.

I don't have any hope for us but the reality of doing what needs to be done is just devastating.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi I just want to say you're amazing and I understand how hard that is!

its so difficult to have someone blame you for them pushing you away. It's too hard to exist like that.

there's options:

(You may see more here but...)two I can see right away are:

you discuss it and ask for changes in the relationship, continue to go to counselling together, talk, compromise (as you seem to have been doing anyway) and understand that many men find change difficult and grow at their own pace, (no offence guys- women seem to expect men to grow with us quickly lol), challenge him to help the both of you if he wants a family.

or take a short break and see where that goes. (Even take your kids for a holiday or something, if that's possible).

i wish you all the very best!


I admire your strength in you and finally having the courage to move forward. What was the final break for you and interested to know how things are goin now.

Has the separation been ok living under the safe roof?

I wish you all the best and please keep me updated. You are giving me strength too.