Making the decision to leave my husband was the most heart-breaking, gut-wrenching decision I have ever made in my life. Figuring out if and how to leave my husband were dilemmas I could never have imagined when I made my marriage vows 33 years earlier in the presence of God, my family and my friends. I didn’t believe in divorce.  I didn’t want a divorce. I agonized whether to leave my husband for 3 devastating years.

Should You Leave?

If you are a woman who is trying to decide if you should leave your husband, you know how complicated and distressing that decision is. You ask questions like, “How do you know if you should leave your husband? What are signs that you should leave your husband? How do you make the decision to leave your husband? How can I support myself? What will it do to our kids?” Those may all seem like simple questions, but they absolutely do not have simple answers.

I prayed. I fasted. I asked for any direction I could get to help me make the decision about whether to leave my husband or not. I talked to my family, a counselor at church, a few close friends, a psychologist … all to help me figure out whether to file for divorce or not.

I wished there were bright blinking “DANGER” signs that made clear I should leave my husband. I wanted a “leaving your husband checklist” to clarify my thinking. I wish it had been that easy.

A divorce affects almost every single thing about your life. What you thought would be your future is completely gone. Life gets complicated, especially for your kids. You have to figure out how to support yourself … what to do about the holidays and vacations and weddings and grandkids. Divorce is a tsunami of change that you probably didn’t want and didn’t expect.

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Abuse Or Infidelity

I’ve read that there are three so-called “acceptable” grounds for leaving your husband.

  • Adultery
  • Abuse
  • Addiction

Some spiritual communities used to believe – and maybe still do – that there is NO acceptable reason for divorce. I do not agree with that thinking. That theology puts a big huge truckload of guilt, shame and sadness on any woman who has been taught that, but whose husband is keeping her from being the woman she was created to be. 

Along with struggling with our own sense of personal failure, we often feel like we have failed our family and disappointed God as well. That is too much to put on the shoulders of any woman trying to decide if and when she should leave her husband.

My belief is that no one should have to put up with ongoing adultery of a spouse. An adulterous husband flagrantly breaks his promises every day by betraying his wife. Most people from almost every culture in the world think adultery is wrong.

Adultery (Infidelity) is not only emotionally devastating, but physically dangerous as well. By the way, according to the National Health Statistics Report, midlife men are the demographic least likely to use protection during sex – no matter who they are having sex with … a prostitute or their girlfriend or their wife … or more likely all three!

Abuse is another situation that no one should have to endure. News stories are all too common about women who have been seriously hurt or died at the hands of the person who was supposed to love them most. Children are at risk in all sorts of ways if they grow up being abused or seeing their mother being abused. Leaving your husband for abuse is usually necessary to protect yourself and your children. But plan well, and get help. 

Here is the national abuse hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or www.thehotline.org.

In the same way, our spouse’s addiction can create a hell on earth for other members of our family. Staying with a spouse who is addicted to anything … alcohol, drugs, opioids, porn, gambling, work or anything else causes a family dysfunction that is hard to live with and hard to recover from. A RADiCAL woman once quoted the phrase: “Don’t die of another person’s misery.” Sadly that’s what often happens emotionally to family members of an addicted person. 

Leaving With No Money (Finances)

In our midlife divorce recovery work, we often hear from women who have been abandoned with no financial support at all. Money is a big issue when you are trying to decide whether to leave your husband or not. If you have been a stay-at-home mom; or if you put your career on hold to raise your children, you are at a huge disadvantage financially. Technology has rushed forward. Your credentials may have expired. You may have been out of the workplace for 20 – 30 years. 

If those realities describe you, it’s harder to leave your husband. When we’re facing divorce, almost all of us have this fear that we might end up living in our car or becoming bag ladies trying to figure out where our next meal is coming from. Here are some financial resources for divorced women to consider. 

One RADiCAL woman is trying to figure out how to provide a group home for other women going through divorce with little or no money. Some of our RADiCAL women have actually been in the situation of not having a roof over their head or enough to eat. I have examples of women figuring out creative ways to survive. Here is a link to one of our MasterPlan newsletters featuring an inspiring RADiCAL woman who started with nothing and how she ended up. 

Leaving With Kids

When children are involved, you need to find out the laws in your state before leaving with your child or children. Talk to a local attorney. It’s against the law in some states. If you are leaving because of abuse, the safety of you and your children is of the utmost importance. Have a plan. Talk to a women’s shelter. Make sure you have a place to go when you and your children leave your husband. See the abuse hotline information above.

How To Leave My Husband Without Telling Him

Sometimes we think that we should just leave our husband without telling him where we are or where we are going. If your safety is at risk, follow the rules above about leaving (either alone or with kids) in an abusive situation. 

Often, leaving without telling your husband is a bad idea. It sometimes sounds like the best option to avoid a confrontation or to keep yourself from letting him talk to into staying. You should contact an attorney because every state is different, and leaving the marital home without telling your husband can negatively affect your settlement. There are also laws about abandonment and the house. 

I Want My Husband To Leave Me

In our years of Midlife Divorce Recovery work, we have heard about husbands who want a divorce and who make things so miserable that their wife decides that she can’t stay in that relationship and survive. Often they want us to leave because it’s better for them for legal and financial reasons. 

If you’re saying to yourself, “I can’t stay in this marriage, but I want my husband to leave me,” you’re not acting honorably either. 

Usually, the right thing is to be upfront and honest about your marriage and why it is not meeting your needs. At least have a conversation about saving the marriage. I think it’s cowardly for either spouse to play that game of sabotaging the marriage just so he or she can say, “She left me,” or “He left me.” It tries to put the blame on the other person, when we ourselves want out of the marriage. 

If you want to leave, you should have valid reasons. If you do, stand up for yourself and say, like I finally did, “I cannot be the woman I was created to be and stay in a toxic relationship like this!” 

It was the most difficult and sad decision I have ever made, but it was necessary. For those horrible years of his adultery, I struggled to decide how long I was going to wait for him to come to his senses and come back home. To my utter dismay, he never did.

The choice to leave my husband came when I finally decided I couldn’t stay in a marriage where I couldn’t trust my husband. I couldn’t bear the thought of him wanting to be in someone else’s bed on those nights he was with me. Leaving was excruciating. But staying would have been worse. 

We know how difficult it is to leave your husband. If you have decided after prayerful consideration to end your marriage, we can help you grieve and heal and start you on the path to the life you have deserved all along. It’s a challenging, life-changing journey, but we have the tools and the resources and the connections to help you transform your life into something more fulfilling and fun and good than you can even imagine from where you are right now. Really!

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