Need advice: I don't whether to stay or go

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    I’m new to this site and this is the first time I have posted a topic. I’m looking for some support or guidance regarding marriage. For quite some time, I have struggled with whether or not I want to stay in my marriage of 18 years.

    I have been in counseling working to overcome co-dependence and a low self-esteem. I have learned so much and have new techniques to help me. I know my self-esteem and codependent traits stem from neglect and emotional abuse I had as a child. I’ve learned how to overcome the guilt I’ve carried throughout my life. I can shut off the negative voices in my head by staying present. I use visual meditation to bring me current. More importantly, I have learned that I can’t rely on someone else to make me happy; happiness comes from within. I have to love myself. I’m still working on that last one! Overcoming 40 years of negative programming takes some work. 🙂

    I am an outgoing person who loves helping others. My love language is affection and positive affirmations. I’ve tried explaining to my husband that I need to have more of an emotional connection with him. I have moments where I would like to experience a little more intimacy maybe a little more passion. I am also a very communicative person, so I like having conversations that go a little deeper than “how was work today?”.

    As a child, my husband and his sibling were not allowed to voice their needs or feelings. There was a lot of anger in their house and I feel that my husband still carries a lot of anger inside. My husband tends to be very negative and his attitude is very similar to his fathers. He tends to hold things in and (I feel) he doesn’t know how to convey his wants or feelings. Needless to say, we don’t communicate very well.

    Our time together is spent sitting in our recliners, focusing on the TV or other electronic gadgets with very little talk or touch. I know I need to develop my own interests and start doing things on my own. My problems is, I want a companion. I want a partner in life. Right now, I feel like I am existing. We have had some counseling, and he said he would go again, however, he doesn’t believe in it. I know this because he has told me many times.

    I know that I need to own my own shortcomings and make sure I speak his love language as well. Unfortunately, I have lost the desire. I’m to the point where I don’t even want to discuss our marriage anymore. The conversations have become too hard and painful and usually end the same. Not a lot changes.

    I don’t want to paint my situation as all gloom and doom. We are great as a family. We have a mutual respect for each other. We don’t fight, or say hurtful things. However, I go through a cyclical pattern where I will be fine with everything for a while, and then I come back to the same internal struggle. I’m starting to believe that I don’t love him anymore. The times I do feel love for him are few and far between.

    My biggest concern is our daughter. She has a tender heart and I don’t want to cause her pain. She is close to both of us and we love her so much. We still have quite a few years left before she is grown and I’m not sure that I am up to sharing custody, dealing with child support, or her having a new step mom at some point.

    I know I shouldn’t care what others think, but the majority of my friends don’t understand. They think I’m lucky and I’m told that I expect too much. I think they get see the pleasant funny side of him, so they don’t understand. Lately I feel like everyone gets the pleasant side of him…except me.

    I’ve read many articles on Tiny Buddha that have been so helpful. I know I can’t change him. I need to accept him for who he is. The only thing I can change is how I feel about the situation. I feel so empowered when I stop wishing he would change and I focus on improving myself. It’s amazing. I know that learning to love myself is the key. I want to continue to grow as a person. I’m on a wonderful path that I really enjoy. It has brought me peace and I want to learn more. I’m still learning however, because I continue to have this same issue.

    Thanks for listening. I appreciate you for your time.

    Red Roses

    I am going to ask you a very personal question because,with out this information I don’t think I can give you the advice you need.It is up to you whether you answer.Are you and your husband still intimate?? If so how do you feel when you’re with him now? Does it make you sad?Do you feel romantic about him?I am so happy that you are finding yourself and your truth and brave enough to ask for advice.


    Yes, we are still intimate, however the frequency is down to once a month or longer. I will say that is one area that has always been very good in our relationship (aside from the frequency). However, there are times when I’m fine with being intimate and other times where I don’t want to have sex because I don’t feel emotionally connected to him. To me, there is no attempt to connect. I rarely have romantic feelings for him and there is no romance in the relationship at all. Occasionally I feel sad but usually it’s anger or resentment that I feel.


    Hi there, reading your post I felt like I had written it myself.I am in a very similar situation. My relationship is half the time of yours, 7 years, and we do not have kids, but we do have two dogs that are just like kids to us. I honestly don’t have any advice to give you since I myself have been dealing with the same questions and doubts that you have. I guess I just wanted to let you know you are not alone and I absolutely understand the part that you say people dont understand cause they all get his “best” side. Its the same in my case. Our friends and the people around us think I’m justgoing through a phase and I will get over it. But the truth is I don’t think I love this person as my partner anymore. I love him as family, as part of my life, but not as a man. I wish there was a clear way to make a decision in this kind of situation…. I dont think we are asking for too much. I think we deserve to have that companion to experience life with…or maybe I’m just a hopeless dreamer…
    Wish you the best


    There’s a wonderful book called “Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay?” that helps people in your situation make an informed choice It doesn’t espouse one particular course of action over another, just has some very helpful questions in it.

    Good luck with your decision.


    Hi guys, I just found this site and feel the need to chime in. I am that husband that you are discussing and my wife is a lot like you. However, unfortunately my wife ended up having an affair over the past year in order to fill her emotional void. I have always been a great guy…a hard worker, make good money and think of myself has attractive, fun and loving. All of my friends can not believe this happened. However, I have realized that I have been going through the motions by putting on the suit everyday and being the “provider” but I was not truly happy with my life and that caused me to be distant. I was feeling under-appreciated and felt like I was not being made a priority. After having the atomic bomb dropped on me two weeks ago when I found out about the affair I was devastated. I have loved my wife with all of my heart for our entire relationship. But I will admit I was not the best at showing affection. Our sex life had gotten routine, despite attempts to spice it up and we clearly fell into that rut you described. While I understand that it is not my fault that she had an affair, I am beginning to understand that there is a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done on my side of the street. I was definitely co-dependent on her. We are now separated and I am realizing how much I was depending on her to do things for me and make me happy. We have a 2 year old son and I have been taking care of him full time while we are separated. In the short time that we have been apart, it has been extremely eye-opening, and if there is any type of a silver lining from the horrible pain I have felt, it is that I now have an opportunity to think deeply about the man I want to be going forward. I have always suppressed my emotions and held a tough exterior because I thought that was the manly thing to do. I allowed myself to get distant from my wife because I was secretly unhappy with other factors in the relationship. Specifically, her not prioritizing me over her mother and sister. But I was not being honest with myself or with her, so I just got distant. I thought I was doing the right thing by just riding it out. I realize now that it is my responsibility to make myself happy, just like it is her responsibility to make herself happy. We can only be good for each other if we love our individual selves first. My point in sharing all of this is not to say go out and have an affair, but maybe think about spending time apart to see how you both can grow independently. That time apart may provide some clarity for you and for him.

    I know that for me, this has been an extremely eye opening experience and whether or not we stay together, I will end up being a better man as a result. There is always hope and time away will make it clear if you should be together or not.


    Mctmdream: Thank you! It does help knowing that I’m not alone. I used to feel like I was asking too much, but not anymore. If you are hopeless dreamer, than so am I!

    Anne: I have heard of that book, thanks for the reminder. I will take a look at it.

    Hurley: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I appreciate hearing it from a mans perspective. I’m very sorry that you are going through such pain. My husband is like you too in the sense that he is a hard worker, a care taker, attractive and funny. And that is exactly what we are doing, going through the motions. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I didn’t appreciate having a great husband. Unfortunately there is still a void. For me, all it would take is something simple, like a kind word now and then and my heart would soar. I’ve learned that I need to speak my truth and say it with love. I know that I am not responsible for how he chooses to feel about it. I have been open and honest about what I need. I’ve asked if he is happy, or is there something I could do better to improve our relationship and he says no, there’s nothing. It would mean so much if we could converse on a deeper level, however, he gets defensive. Things might change for a little while, but it always goes back to being the same.

    I really commend you for looking inward and acknowledging why you became distant were unhappy and for being able to find that silver lining. That’s great work that your are doing. I have thought about a separation, but I don’t know if he would go for it. During one of our conversations, he said he would rather we end it on good terms before we ended up hating each other. He had a pretty bad divorce once, so I understand where that is coming from. Unfortunately I’m to the point where I think we would be better as friends. I have a feeling we would treat each other better than we do now.

    Marriage is hard work as we know. I certainly wish you the best and hope it turns out the way you want. Take care!


    Wow for me too it feels like it could be me writing that. I have struggled with this for years, while also doing a lot of “self” work and really growing as a person, knowing I’m much more than my ego. And what Hurley said, I really appreciated his candor I agree with that you really can’t give yourself to someone if you don’t have your own “s*it” together. Sometimes it’s possible for people to grow together but it sounds like you and your husband are on different pages, like me, or not even in the same book. We have a beautiful, loving 10 year old boy I’m scared to death of hurting, but I know he is already. I think we are probably codependent, and I have not yet found the courage to believe I could take care of myself, financially etc. Yes on the outside things look great at times I feel guilty for feeling so unhappy when objectively there’s no “problems.” I feel like I failed in life even with all I know and the knowing that’s its just my warped perception. There is no real intimacy of any type. Sorry not helping but I was really amazed your story is so similar to mine.


    Hi Kerri, once again, it helps knowing I’m not alone. My child is close to the same age too and I believe we are both codependent as well. My counselor has shown me the difference between my codependent traits and being my true self. One time she asked what I was afraid of and I said I’m afraid if I continue to grow as a person, I’m afraid he and I will grow apart. I can’t see me progressing in a positive manner while staying in a negative sitution. I dont feel we share the same values either. I want to learn how to love and accept people for who they are and it’s challenging when your partner is the opposite. So you are right, we aren’t on the same page and I don’t see us growing together. Can I ask what it is that you are unhappy with? Just curious.


    Oh Elsie! it is nice to know we are not alone. I am also new to this site, and came up on it to try and help myself deal with the same issues you describe. Great husband, great father. I am completely in love with him, and very attracted to him. Our relationship goes in cycles. Sometimes we are great and others not so much. I just would like for things to stay one way. He can be very loving and sweet, but then, he gets tired and seems to forget that we are supposed to be a couple. I try to give him his space, but then is like he does’t feel like coming back. The only way to get him to notice me again as something other that another body living in this house is for me to become distant, and then he realizes that something is wrong. Then we talk, we make love, and then go back to normal, until it happens again. I want this vicious cycle to end. I know I am the one to blame, since this is what I always do, and he knows the routine.

    Anyways, I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.


    Thanks Azul, I appreciate your response!


    Elsie – I wanted to follow up and let you know that I have continued to work on myself during this painful time and I have realized that I became distant because I was not being true to my inner soul. I had basically sold my soul to earn a living and was dead inside. The truth is, I love my wife more than anything and I was not able to give her what she needs because I was not giving myself what I need. The only person that can make you happy is yourself. I realize now that my wife is a lot like you and she just needed me to acknowledge her and say some kind words in that genuine manner that would make her heart soar. In fact her affair started because some jerk approached her at a bar and said she was hot. She was so empty that those words where all it took. Look, I understand that she made some very poor decisions and she is going to have to own that. However, if we had just been honest with each other then we could have had something very beautiful. Since this has all happened, I am feeling more alive then ever before, like I have been awakened to the real me. I am feeling things and experiencing things I never did. I am reading the essays on Self-Reliance and Love by Ralph Waldo Emerson, I am reading Eckhart Tolle, I am taking long walks and trail runs and swimming in the ocean. This is allowing me to be in the present and be fully alive. I have to say, it has been amazing. I feel bad that I was not able to share this true self with my wife when I had the chance, but at least I am finding it now! At this point all I can do is work on my self. We have not spoken for one week now and I sincerely hope she is working on herself as well.

    Maybe your husband is beautiful inside too…he just needs to be awakened to let it out. Unfortunately for me it took the reality of losing the women I love in order for me to awaken. You will never know how amazing your relationship will be until you are 100% honest with each other and stop relying on each other to make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy. You cannot be afraid of losing something.


    Hi Hurley, I’m glad you are discovering your true self. It is an amazing feeling. I need to continue doing the same work. I have often felt that my husband won’t realize how serious it is until it’s too late and I decide to leave. He seems to be content with the way things are now. I don’t expect him to make me happy, but I would like to have a deeper connection with him. There are many times where I dont feel loved and I’ve noticed my feelings for him are not very strong. Unfortunately, I don’t see things changing. I don’t plan on doing anything right away, however. I’m not ready.


    Hello all,
    This situation is similar to mine.Getting stuck in the rut going through life on auto pilot becoming more and more disconnected and dissatisfied with the relationship. She had shut down and moved on (emotional affair (so she said in marriage counseling) communication was nill and I was losing had lost my wife. It started with a 6 month trial separation. I can see how it works if the other person isn’t in an affair! As you never know what you have until it’s gone. She had left me with the kids. at the time they were 8 and 3.I shut my business down and gave them my full attention. I took on a fast that lasted 3 weeks and everything became very clear and vivid. And I faced the fact she wasn’t ever coming back. With a new sense of clarity I was able to go back in time (and I started to see the flags) lessons learned. As a man I think if it’s not broke why fix it? But maintenance is always better then a catastrophe! It’s allowing coming back to the reason your married…love and connecting On many levels! And to start learn and try new things…New language, yoga, tantric retreat, dancing, fishing, camping anything to get out of the norm and brings laughter! I’m sure you’ve had lots of suggestions. It might be hard now but divorce is even harder! it may take him falling down before he can stand up.
    I wish you all the best


    Have you tried yet to get some romance going yourself? Maybe, considering growing up in a household where you can’t voice your own opinions, maybe he wants the same thing but is scared to go through with it? Just a thought

    Have you tried going to couples counseling?

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