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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

What about your vows? Love is selfless not selfish.

Community Member

Hi everyone

I wanted to provide an update.

I have since decided not to try to separate from my husband. Especially after TunnelVision's caution (towards the end of page 3), I thought I should slow down.

I was under enormous pressure from work, study, standard relationship issues, finances and general life things. I desperately wanted to be comforted and assured by my husband and he wasn't doing that much so it was easy to scapegoat him as being the main problem in my life. The day before a uni exam, I had an emotional/mental breakdown to the point where I had no willpower to physically move. All I could do was lay down. It lasted for about an hour and I managed to calm myself somewhat and drag myself through the rest of the day. I went to the exam the next day and it wasn't so bad which lifted my spirits. I had arranged to have more time off after the exam for a break so I had time at home with my hubby (since he has no work). One day, when the kids were at school, we were sitting around doing our own thing and it hit me again. I suddenly felt like I couldn't move. He tried talking to me and it was all I could do to say "I just can't move". He tried to take care of me and after about an hour, I felt better. I was acutely aware that there was no physical issue but my willpower tank had just completely depleted and I was drowning in overwhelm.

When he saw me in that state, it seemed to have an effect on him. That day, he took action to address an issue that was a sore point for me for years. And it was heartening to see that he took care of it completely on his own, without asking me any questions. (For those who have partners that are constantly asking "is this where we turn?" or "should I park here?" or "this or that?" will know how tiresome it gets to always be the one to decide. Just take control for once!) That also lifted my spirits. I then tried to take the time to really analyse what happened leading to the breakdown and I began to understand that, firstly, it was definitely not sudden. It was a gradual process and there were warning signs which can be picked up in hindsight. Second, while yes there were relationship issues, my husband was not the source of my anxiety. He was just the easiest to blame and the easiest to expect to solve all my anxiety. I realised that my anxiety is always there and I need to learn how to deal with it.

My advice: get support to help you untangle what's going on before making any decisions.

Community Member

@Goodwitch, I stumbled across your thread when googling “should I leave my husband?” I read all of your update posts and a few of Geoffs. Your post made me feel like we were on the journey with you since over a year ago!

I don’t mean to paint all over your post but yes I have been go through similar. Before our 3.5 girl was born I fell out of love with my hub, now I think those feelings have returned but many triggers from him make me retreat into not loving him again.

In January things got serious and i made plans to leave. I applied and had approved a 10k credit card which I planned to use to help me move out. 10 months later and I’m still here and have used the card for other things *facepalm*

There is far to much to get into our relationship more... but yup we just finished an embryo transfer cycle and have a pregnancy test on Friday to confirm if it worked. Our first was created through ivf and we froze 6 fertilised embryos

My feelings for the relationship are so up and down. I started on an antidepressant medication in May - mostly to help me cope with him. It is helping me personally a lot.

Anyway, this post feels like a bit of a mixed up rant. Sorry!

I appreciate coming across your thread and reading through your journey. You are strong and amazing to where you are now from the start.

Community Member
Thank you for your post. I am going through similar after 26yrs. It's been 2 months since we have spoken a word to each other and started sleeping in separate rooms. He won't leave. I am in the process of trying to get help from centrelink but he won't fill out his share of the paperwork. I feel like I'm in a well going deeper and deeper. My work is suffering as I am so tired. I think he feels this will blow over. I have no feelings for him at all and I get angry at the situation I've been put in. I'm 61 and too old for this. I'm also trying to raise my 14yr old grandson and keep things civil for him. I lay in bed most of the time and lately, I find I've been trying to fight off panic attacks. This is not me. I'm usually the strong one. Not any more.

Arnya, you are the strong one. I can see it clearly.

The fact you both have no feelings for one another is an indicator to me that things have run their course. I live in hope every day, I still feel for the person I am with, I still care for them– I can honestly acknowledge that is my problem. My 'partner' has moved on emotionally, but still wants me for day to day support and strings me along or controls me, it is a one way relationship.

If both of you have given up, and there is no feelings...

Old habits die hard, anyone that has been together for a while has seen troubles over the years. It is human nature to believe it will blow over if you ignore it. Not the case.

Community Member
Good witch, thank you so much for this post. I have just read through everything while my husband is sleeping on the couch and I’m in bed alone - which is actually a relief to be alone in the bed rather than awkwardly sharing with him. Your first post is basically my life. I’ve been in a relationship with my husband for 15 years and have a 3.5 and 2 year old. He is completely emotionally shut down and I just feel so alone and so rejected and neglected by him. Like many others have written, I used to be really happy and outgoing. Now I’m constantly feeling flat and I’ve become very self conscious in social settings and with friends. If my husband isn’t interested in me in anyway, why would other people? So I’m quiet, anxious, cautious and shut down with others. And now I’m finding I have become him, I just have zero interest in taking to him, listening to him, being near him. My heart absolutely breaks thinking I am going to take my kids dad away from them, but I just can’t keep going on like this. I just wanted to say thank you so much for this. It has given me some sort of hope and also made me see that I’m not alone in this.

Thank you all who have been posting about your situations. I've been reading all replies, keep thinking 'I should post an update', but I keep putting it off because understanding how I'm doing isn't that easy.

My hub did move out, finally. He's been gone almost 2 months now. At first I felt nothing but relief, then there was the frenetic energy of repainting the house etc. so that's kept me busy. We are doing week about custody with the children, not my choice as I want them with me more as they've always been, but that was the only way I could get him to move out. I'm not sure how they're coping. They get angry at me every time I have to take them back to their father. Last time my youngest hid in my car and tried to sneak back home with me. It breaks my heart, but none of this behaviour seems to make an impression on my ex. He wants his 50% share of his kids and that's that.

We've been to 1 mediation session were we agreed what to do about Christmas and other holidays. For the most part we can agree on things like that...or at least I back down and let him have Christmas morning, which might actually have been what happened come to think of it. I'm still not as strong as I'd like to be. Now he is pushing me to agree on the financial stuff, putting spreadsheets in front of my face and saying 'this is fair you should agree'. I went to a free legal service and that lawyer told me not to let him rush me, so I'm not dealing with any of that until after Xmas, which is going to start aggravating him pretty soon I'm sure. After he dragged his feet for a year on the separation now he's in a rush to get money lol.

This week has been a down week for me, just really missing the kids and the bills are starting to pile up and on my still part time income I'm starting to worry. Looking for f/time work but so far nothing I can actually apply for. A friend is going to help me get my resume in shape but it's going to take time and I'm trying not to panic as I watch the savings account drain to pay for the emergency plumber I needed this week! I figure though, that I can make more money, somehow. I can't put a price on my self respect and I do feel that coming back a little more each day.

I know this is the right thing, but there are still many bumps in the road to deal with.

Hope you all are doing well


Community Member
Hello! I see your post was from 2018, and I wonder- are you still with your husband? My situation is so similar to what you write back then, 20 years, three children, I don’t want to sleep next to him or even be intimate in any way as I’m just so hurt after years of him being rude and frustrated at home, and I’m even more stung by the fact the he will also go out of his way to be friendly and charming outside the home and I find him so insincere in this way! If I hear back I’d love to share more and hear how you are


I also too stumbled upon this post while I was googling. I guess I was looking for guidance. I have been with my husband since the I was 17 years old. I am now in my mid 30's and have two children, 11 and 8 together. Our relationship has always been rocky from the start, but I was young and madly "inlove" with him. Fast forward 17 years and I feel like i'm living in a hell hole. He is emotional abusive, he is a manipulator and very controlling. I am not perfect by any means. Everyone loves him from the outside and thinks we have this amazing relationship and he treats me like a princess. He is very likeable and comes across as a down to earth, fun loving guy. He isn't always bad to me. He is sometimes sweet, says that he loves me, "spoils me with letting me buy whatever I want and he is a good dad. However he is very controlling and very untrustworthy of me. If I want to go out by myself for a walk or shopping he will start accusing me of "meeting up with someone" he doesn't like it if I am on my phone too much and will ask "who am I talking to" and "why am I so secretive with my phone. I know he is very insecure/paranoid but every time he says these things, it just make me resent him and I actually feel hate towards him. I do care about him, but I know I am no in love with him and when I imagine my future, it's not with him. Even to make this account, I had to go in and delete all emails/history so he doesn't find out. I have mentioned before that I would like to separate, but he won't have a bar of it and says he will take the kids off me. I feel like I'm stuck. I'm just so glad I have found this post, as bad as it sounds, it's comforting to know im not alone.

Community Member
You have described my exact situation and I don’t know what to do either . I want my kids to be happy and my partner to be happy . I haven’t experienced affection in years and I have shut down that part of myself . It’s so hard. I want to be on my own but I don’t want to hurt my kids . I hope you are ok .