Emotionally I have left my husband. I even went and stayed with my sister. But I felt too guilty and afraid, so I went back. That was 2 years ago. I still am emotionally unattached to him. We do not have sex, nor do I want to with him. We are cordial to each other. He is not abusive but he does intimidate me. We tried one session of counseling; he will not go back. So most of the time I just think, just make it through today and maybe tomorrow things will be better. I find it easier to stay and avoid all confrontation than to put the effort into leaving. If I were to hear some other woman say what I just wrote, I would wonder why is she there? So what is the matter with me?
Our Clinical Psychologist’s Reply
What’s wrong with you…probably not a lot. You’ve made a decision to stay for several reasons:
- to avoid the trauma of leaving,
- you don’t have a good exit plan prepared,
- you are afraid to be independent, and
- the situation is not that uncomfortable — Yet.
In many marriages, an emotional divorce exists months or years before the actual legal divorce.
You and your husband have created a situation where the emotional divorce is recognized and accepted by both parties. You have agreed to be cordial to each other and live like roommates. This is a misleading environment. While you have resigned yourself to making it through the day, your husband may not continue to support this arrangement. While you are hoping tomorrow will be better — he may be planning for a totally different tomorrow.
I would recommend identifying skills you will need for independent living. You returned because you were afraid. You’ll need to work on improving your social confidence and independent living skills. You need to prepare an exit plan — what would you do if the marriage ended today? Do you have social support? Do you have your own source of income? What are your legal rights?
You need to either work toward repairing the relationship or assume you will eventually be divorced. While the current marital situation is acceptable to you — if may not be to him. While you may not want to put the effort into leaving, you should begin putting effort into planning and preparing. Like you, he has the option of ending this roommate marriage at any time. You can’t assume this cordial situation will last forever. If you decide to work to improve and repair the relationship, consulting a marriage counselor would be helpful.