In an Unhappy Marriage but Can’t Leave? (What You Should Do)

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Sometimes we feel trapped in a marriage that just isn’t working. It may be because of the kids, or maybe you sacrificed a career to stay at home and have no income. So, what do you do when you’re in an unhappy marriage but can’t leave?

Focus on being the best version of you that you can be so that happiness and a sense of fulfillment aren’t dependent upon your spouse. But also try marriage counseling, or at least set clear boundaries and guidelines and have as much open and honest communication as possible.

It’s not as simple as packing it all up and walking away.

After building a life in a long-term relationship with someone, it becomes so hard to abandon the good times and all that there is and move on.

Although you may convince yourself that your happiness comes first, a challenge is a challenge.

Being in an unhappy marriage is a lot like being stuck in a quickly disappearing puddle of quicksand. At the center of that puddle, it’s you struggling to get out and struggling not to wriggle too much so you don’t sink further.

There might be lots of fights, feelings of resentment, deep unhappiness, agony, and much more. Sometimes, it’s the silent treatment and very little communication.

To deal with an unhappy marriage, you don’t know how to exit, and you’ll need to come to terms with all the facts – how and why you and your spouse got to this point.

You will need a solid exit plan for your life during and after your exit and a plan for your kids, if you have any. Along with this, there will be other realities to confront and many techniques to fight your way out to the top.

In this article, I will not simply give you a bunch of words to read.

This heartfelt piece will help you see clearly and get out of your misery as a strong, brave person no longer trapped in an unhappy union.

You CAN save your relationship and make it better than ever – even if you’re miserable now!

I feel your pain and I know firsthand what it’s like being in a troubled marriage.

It can be devastating to both of you also. And that’s on top of the financial burden, the stigma, the emotional drain, and the feeling of all those wasted years.

The turning point in a marriage is when a couple hits rock bottom.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse seems reluctant or unsure. Mend the Marriage is a course developed by renowned marriage expert Brad Browning who has well over half a million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

This quote from Brenda R. perfectly sums up the quality work Mend the Marriage does:

“Brad Browning’s “Mend the Marriage” program is easily the most comprehensive and most effective guide to stopping divorce and saving your marriage. After reviewing a number of similar products, I recommend “Mend the Marriage” as the #1 choice for anyone facing a marriage crisis.”

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to watch this free short video from Brad.

How do you leave a marriage when you have nothing?

You may worry about your finances if you need to exit your unhappy marriage.

A lack of funds is one of the most common reasons ‌many women stay in troubled marriages. Many marriages pool financial resources together, so starting on your own may be tough to face.

In some cases, being a stay-at-home parent means you have no income of your own. And it’s not uncommon, even in the current age, for women to sacrifice a career to earn the potential to raise the kids and run the house.

And 20 years later, if faced with being single, the job prospects can be few and far between.

How will you survive when you feel ‌you have no choice? Well, you start by having a serious talk with yourself about money, and then you make a plan.

Here are steps to start leaving your marriage when you have nothing.

Step 1: Get Back Some Control

When you’re in this position, it’s easy to feel like everything is spiraling out of control – and in most cases, things are spiraling out of control.

It’s up to you now to take back some of that control. Remind yourself that you are not a failure for having ended up here.

You take back control by understanding that you need to make a solid plan and some time to execute it.

This stage involves giving yourself the gift of self-reassurance and patience. This may be tough, especially when you have held out for such a long time.

Regardless, this will be crucial in staying level-headed and executing your plan smoothly.

It’s important to note that if you are in an entirely unsafe situation, it is most important to get out as soon as you can. Reach out to family members, friends, or a safe house as soon as possible.

Step 2: Assess What You’ll Need and Budget

Once you decide ‌to leave, you’ll need to envision what your life may be like outside your marriage. Consider the basics needed to stay afloat – essential monthly expenses should be prioritized. Start budgeting by keeping a detailed track of how you spend.

Keep these records safe in a book or on your phone. You may download a free app to connect to your bank account and credit card.

Step 3: Build Your Emergency Fund

Despite having nothing, you can find that squirreling away any extra funds will be crucial for building your emergency fund.

It may take weeks, months, or longer, but this is the best way to ensure that you make it out okay and the result will be worth the effort. Finding an emergency escape is also crucial – this will be the first place that you can flee to if you ever need to leave in a haste.

While it’s better to hope things never come to this, it can be a vital part of your escape plan.

Step 4: Ask Yourself the Difficult Questions

As you plan to escape, your plan will ‌fall into place. These are questions you should try to ask and answer for yourself.

  • Where will you go? (Consider homes of people who can support you, safe houses, or low-cost rental properties)
  • Do you have a job, and can you get a job?
  • What sellable skills do you have that could help start a side hustle?
  • Are there kids to worry about?
  • Do you have to be discreet?

How do you know your marriage is over?

It can be remarkably difficult to come to terms with the fact that the marriage you may have once enjoyed has become irreparably damaged.

Sometimes, you may see it but find it difficult to accept. Here are signs to look out for that may show that our marriage is well and truly over.

1. You feel more agony than peace

If your marriage feels like you’re always upset, angry, and distraught, it’s time to take out the emotional weighing scale.

Once you experience fewer experiences of joy and love and more agony and bitterness, it’s time, to be honest, and leave.

It might be gut-wrenching when you realize this, but the good news is that at the end of the day, the agony of a loveless marriage will fade.

2. Lack of intimacy

Contrary to popular belief, intimacy goes beyond sexual intercourse, and sexual desire will change over time for both parties.

Once you start to feel repulsed by the thought of any physical intimacy with your spouse, you should know that it’s a bad sign.

Non-existent sexual intimacy – no kissing, meaningful physical contact, sex – spells trouble for you.

3. No trust or respect

Trust and respect go hand in hand.

They are both vital building blocks for a good relationship. When you and your spouse do not trust or respect each other, your marriage is in a dangerous place.

It often means things are over, and it’s time to move on.

4. You’re the only one fighting for your marriage

You and your spouse are co-pilots aboard a sinking ship right now.

This kind of emotional affair takes all hands on deck to make things right. When it’s only one person fighting, that person will eventually burn out.

One person cannot carry the weight of a relationship while the other does not put in the effort.

5. Disliking your spouse and time spent together

Another telltale sign that your marriage is over is disliking your spouse and hating their company.

When you ‌dread quality time with your spouse and feel like you can’t identify good things about your marriage or their good qualities, this is the time to face some hard truths.

Feeling fear, anger, resentment, or anxiety when you’re with your spouse is also a sign.

6. Physical or emotional hurt

Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse are clear red flags that tell you to consider ending your marriage. The statistics have proved over time that if it happens once, it will probably happen again.

Is it better to divorce or stay unhappily married?

When faced with the daunting choice of staying or leaving, it’s tempting to try and stay. The answer will never really be straightforward – people and their situations are unique.

The fear of the unknown, budding hope, and good memories of what you once had may convince you ‌it’s worth staying back to fight for your union.

The bad things they have done may even seem “not so bad” when you weigh them against the good times you once had. However, the point of life is to live without a burdened heart. Above all, your happiness comes first.

“Till death do us part” may begin to haunt you, making you feel like you’re breaking a promise to yourself and your spouse.

You deserve to wake up in the morning without instantly launching into panic mode. Chronic unhappiness in a loveless marriage will not serve you, and pursuing your happiness is key.

The bottom line is that it is better to divorce when you see that your unhappy marriage is beyond salvation. Your future self will thank you for putting her first.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

How do you leave a miserable marriage?

1. Make A Plan

Suppose it’s safe to put your plan in writing and get ready. List each situation and its resolution‌. You will need everything, resources, people to reach out to, etc.

Making a plan is the first thing you need to do if you’re in an unhappy marriage but can’t leave.

You should record your spouse’s abuse as well, if there is any. Keep as much of a reliable record as possible – a timeline and proof of abuse will also come in handy.

Plan the logistics of your exit thoroughly during, before, and after. Where you’ll go, when, and how.

This is the first step in leaving a miserable marriage.

2. Start Budgeting and Saving

Breaking your life apart is no small decision, especially considering the financial aspects.

Start budgeting – keep track of your expenses, cutting back as much as possible. This is when you start saving up for your emergency fund.

Save slowly and master what it means to be independent.

In many cases, an abusive spouse may be financially abusive, using their access to more money than you to control you.

3. Open A Separate Bank Account

Create a checking account and a savings account with the bank immediately away but keep them separate.

You’ll need to become accustomed to managing your own money and setting a budget for your monthly expenses if you want to avoid getting into financial trouble.

But do bear in mind that in community property states, your spouse would technically be entitled to half of whatever gets put in there when the divorce happens. So while you may wish to keep the account a secret while you plan your escape, it will come out eventually.

4. Gather Important Records and Documents

Create duplicates of all the crucial papers you own.

Keep a record of everything, whether it be notes, emails, or text messages, regardless of how insignificant you believe the information to be.

The more information and records you can hold on to, the better.

5. List Property and Assets and Contact a Divorce Lawyer

You may soon be approaching that daunting crossroad – the divorce.

You’ll need to contact divorce lawyers, whether temporarily or permanently, separating from your spouse.

If your marriage is eligible, you may consider an annulment, the procedures of which you can find in this recent article.

Getting professional help will help you figure out your situation, especially if there are kids involved – custody and child support.

If you have a newborn or toddler who is still breastfeeding, do you even have to share custody?

Check out this recent article that discusses how to sort custody of toddlers and infants with their fathers. I cover both the legal rights as well as how to determine what’s in everyone’s best interest.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

6. Talk to Someone

No matter how lonely this journey might seem, you are not alone in this.

As sad as it sounds, many other women are in your position or have been there once. Speak to a trusted friend or family member.

There are also reliable online communities on platforms like Facebook, where women in toxic marriages share their experiences and helpful information.

The great thing about having support is that it will feed you strength ‌when you feel like you can’t carry on. Having support will be crucial in making your plan work. If you can, get professional help from a family therapist as well.

Your mental health will undergo a lot of stress during this period in your life.

7. Stop Protecting Your Spouse

Your vow to protect your spouse was once valid.

However, if any abuse is involved, they have already broken that promise to you first. Your priority is now to protect yourself (and your children), and an abusive relationship will make that nearly impossible.

8. Tell Your Spouse (And Children)

Telling your spouse and children can be nerve-racking.

If it’s safe to do so, discuss your exit with your spouse and children. With your spouse, it’s best to keep this news to yourself until you leave to prevent legal, emotional, or financial complications.

Ensure you are there for your kids and reassure them they are not at fault.

You deserve a healthy relationship, and they deserve to grow up with a happy mother. Do your best to comfort them, help them understand, and keep them safe.

It’s also best to wait until you’re sure you’re leaving to avoid confusing them.

9. Cut all Communications with Your Spouse

If you have kids, you can’t really cut ties with your spouse completely.

But you can and should keep communication brief, short, and focused on the kids. Unless the split is really amicable, avoid small talk and talk about future relationships or personal details about your life.

But should he try to leave with your children, you’ll need as much help as possible.

This recent article has crucial tips on stopping your ex-husband from moving out of state with your children. If you suspect he might try to do that, talk to your lawyer ASAP. But the tips in that article will point you in the right direction.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

10. Keep Hope Alive

It can be hard to stay hopeful.

Sometimes, it might be harder to get out of bed knowing that all this is happening. Try your best to keep hope alive. Hope for your new chapter, and things will get better, and I hope that one day, you will soon find peace.

It will give you the strength you need.

How do I live with my husband I hate?

Living together will be almost impossible if you have tried to make the marriage work without any luck.

But if you haven’t already, start with marriage counseling, a family therapist, or a relationship therapist.

If they won’t go, consider seeing a therapist on your own. While you could give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and keep trying, burnout is a real possibility. Sometimes, walking away immediately is not an option.

In this case, how do you live with a husband you hate in a loveless marriage you can’t stand? I have one word for you – detachment. If irritations and unresolved disputes plague your relationship, detachment may help.

It doesn’t repair the relationship problems or actions that make you furious, but it reduces their bad impacts

Detachment is a powerful tool that lets people be themselves without judgment, criticism, or requests to change. You leave without leaving and focus on your needs and salvaging your mental health.

When you become detached, you will finally be able to breathe a little – the fighting will reduce, and the agony and feelings of being overwhelmed with not being heard will too.

The agony of your bad marriage will no longer weigh you down.

What does this look like? Things become elegant, respectful, and polite. Yet, the marriage lacks the early love’s warmth and shows love; fewer relationship-related subjects are discussed.

Detachment may be a practical way to keep a family “together” despite barely feeling like you’re a couple. You and your spouse may communicate warmly, and the focus shifts to raising children and keeping the house “in one piece.”

You will need to work on yourself to achieve this completely.

At first, it’ll get increasingly harder to keep your mind in a “good place” despite your surroundings. Consider individual therapy to help yourself.

You have let go of trying to change the other person or the miserable situation. This might help you find peace and grow.

If your marriage is failing, then check out this quick video on the 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage that will help get yours back on track.

What are the consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage?

The consequences of staying in your unhappy marriage can be extensively damaging.

Research has shown that it can be immensely negative for your health – continued conflict in a union can cause adverse responses in your body, for both your physical and mental health. The consequences include:

  • Poor mental and emotional trauma
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • A withering social life
  • Low self-esteem

How quickly do I get money from my husband after a divorce?

Between filing the proceedings, court appointments, and hearings, it could take anywhere between 6 and 12 months from the day the divorce is final to reach a working divorce settlement.

But if you and your spouse can reach an agreement on your own and simply hire 1 lawyer together to file it, it can be very quick.

That’s what my ex-wife and I did. And we began to split our financial assets before the judge signed the decree. But we had both signed it, and it had been filed, so I felt very safe in doing that.

And unlike a contested divorce or one that goes to trial, doing a divorce that way can easily cost only $2,000-$4,000.

Contrast that with the alternatives, which can be between $15,000-$40,000.

Depending on you and your husband’s financial situation as a couple, the divorce will go in a few different ways. There are many options available to you when the court decides what to do with the financial implications of your divorce.

Conclusion

Deciding to leave a toxic relationship is an extremely personal decision.

At the end of the day, if you’re in an unhappy marriage but can’t leave, you will need to make a plan best suited to your unique situation. You’ll need to get your finances in order, gather support and information and calculate the logistics of your moves.

You CAN save your relationship and make it better than ever – even if you’re miserable now!

I feel your pain and I know firsthand what it’s like being in a troubled marriage.

It can be devastating to both of you also. And that’s on top of the financial burden, the stigma, the emotional drain, and the feeling of all those wasted years.

The turning point in a marriage is when a couple hits rock bottom.

Luckily, all hope is NOT lost, and there is something you can do, even if your spouse seems reluctant or unsure. Mend the Marriage is a course developed by renowned marriage expert Brad Browning who has well over half a million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

This quote from Brenda R. perfectly sums up the quality work Mend the Marriage does:

“Brad Browning’s “Mend the Marriage” program is easily the most comprehensive and most effective guide to stopping divorce and saving your marriage. After reviewing a number of similar products, I recommend “Mend the Marriage” as the #1 choice for anyone facing a marriage crisis.”

Serious about saving or improving your relationship?

CLICK HERE to watch this free short video from Brad.


Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I am a father and blogger and recently divorced. I love spending time with my 3 daughters and am still learning how to navigate life as a single dad and ex-husband; a life I didn't choose but have accepted.

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