Should I Stay or Should I Go

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Anonymous writes, “I’m struggling with something and I have no one to bounce it off of…

Has anyone ever left a long (35 years) mostly-ok-marriage just because you feel like life was passing you by? And you felt like you and your spouse didn’t want the same things for your future…
We got married young, because I was pregnant. He was everything I wanted. We have great kids and grandkids now, but I feel like I’m on auto pilot.

I still love him, but this is not about him at all. It’s about me. I’m in my mid-50s and feel like I have lived my life for everyone else. I have never ever lived on my own. I have willingly and lovingly put all of their needs before my own. I feel like I need to do this for me, but I don’t feel like I can do what I need to do while still married and living where I live now.
Is it wrong to leave a pretty good marriage, just to see what it is to live my life for myself? I feel like time is slipping away and I’ll blink and be in my 70s, still living this same life. It’s a good life, but I feel like I have outgrown it. I’d love to hear the thoughts of other women.”

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48 thoughts on “Should I Stay or Should I Go”

  1. I am in the same boat dont find these comments at all helpful in trying to decide. No family to hurt if I leave. This is a plus, but realize at 71 I too might like a kiss good night and a hand to hold. I have moved for work to try and figure it out we see each other on weekends – when we do get such a bad pain in my stomach I cant bear to be touched and it hurts to move- then it goes when hes gone. In my head I know he is a good man, that does care for me. But my body is not happy.

  2. I went through the same thing. In the end I moved out on my own to clear my head and decide what to do. I realized after 3 weeks that I loved my husband too much to put him through the pain of separation or asking him to cope on his own. We talked and I moved back home again and never looked back.

  3. Several people have said it. If it’s mostly OK, don’t throw the baby out with the dishwater. Talk to your husband and family. Being alone out there sounds wonderful, fun and exciting. Until you are. Dating in your 50’s is difficult. You find a lot of people who are selfish (men and women). Certainly, explore new things for your life, set boundaries for your family, do things for yourself. Just be careful. Lots of good wishes your way.

  4. Remember when people started saying “I will love you the rest of my life” that they didn’t live much past thirty.

  5. I left my husband after 21 years. We hadn’t had sex in 11 years and got to be platonic. I got cancer and I reevaluated my life, wanted to do things, go places and I left. It was difficult but worth it. He recently died, about 5 years after I left. I felt horribly guilty.

  6. Two things come to mind.
    First thing, talk to him. Tell him what you’re feeling. You say that the marriage is generally OK, so with understanding you may be able to do what you want within it. You might find he feels the same! And at least he’ll have a heads up if you decide further down the line that it’s still not working.
    And second – many people have mentioned getting a job. I did a University degree instead, with a reputable correspondence university (the OU in the UK).
    I was warned at the start that often women in particular will be with a different partner at the end of the degree – either because they change and grow, and recognise that there is more to their life, or their original partner can’t handle the ‘new thinking and confident’ person you have become. They were right. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  7. After 20 years of being a stay at home mom and several deeply hurtful unfaithful acts by my husband in those years, I went out and applied for a job who was willing to train me. I made new friends and felt l had some worth. After that, my husband changed, respected me and in the next 30 years had a loving and wonderful marriage. We became mutual partners. He has been gine for 20 years and I so miss the companionship. I have a good life now but am so happy I didn’t rip our family apart.

  8. I went through the same thing a few years ago. Feeling like I’d always lived my life for other people, and never doing what I wanted to do. But as it turned out, I needed to set stronger boundaries. I needed to tell my husband and my grown children, “No. I won’t. I can’t. I need time for me and I’m going to take it. I need to do things for me and I’m going to do them. You’re an adult, stop trying to make me responsible for your choices – I’ve never asked you to be responsible for mine. Figure it out without me.” It took a good year but gradually their attitudes began to change. Then I got a job, and the extra money really freed me. I had money that I’d earned to do whatever I wanted with. I feel like I’ve grown within my marriage. I find that as I focus more on myself and less on everyone else’s problems, I’m able to focus anew on all my husband’s and children’s wonderful qualities, instead of what is wrong with them.

    1. This is so good! You recognized you needed boundaries and put them in place. Wish I had been able to do that. Me stopping being a doormat was to a big tear in our marriage: he couldn’t adapt and I couldn’t go back

  9. I did it after 40 years of marriage. I loved my husband but I wasn’t in love with him anymore. All but 7 years of our marriage he abused drugs and then added getting drunk every night towards the end. That was 3 years ago and I’m not going to lie, I grieved, I struggled and even still I have triggers. But I am happy. I have a great apt and have made some really great new friends. I get lonely sometimes because I am also estranged from our 33 year old son now too, not from my doing. I think you should talk to your husband about how are you feeling because that might give you your answer, it did for me. There is a book called “Too good to leave, too bad to stay” by Mary Kirshenbaun that could possibly help you too. I didn’t read it until after I left but it helped me realize I made the right choice. There is a new generation of people our age called “Gray divorce” because many are deciding to seek out what they want in life, mostly women, instead of settling for a marriage you really aren’t happy in. Good luck to you and keep us posted…..God Bless you

    1. I read that book, too, and it saved my life, gave me clarity and answers. It was too bad to stay so I left! Life improved immensely!

      1. I think you should talk to your husband about how you are feeling maybe the two of you need to relocate somewhere new on an adventure together,it may breathe new life to your relationship, good luck no matter what you do

    2. I hope you will consider joining a group for parents of estranged adult children. I found it very comforting to know I was not alone with my heartache for estrangement I had no control over. Wishing you blessings and strength.

  10. Whether you stay or go is ultimately your choice, however, consider what may be underneath your struggle: the knowledge that if you begin to live for You within this marriage that the entire family dynamic which has defined You will be upended and what you may be struggling with is That dilemma. When we look at the truth of our situation often the answer becomes clear.

  11. well you dont miss your water till the well goes dry ,if he is good to you an you have a nicde place to live you have children why in the world would you want to leave , if life is that good to you why take the chance of never going back because he may not let you come back an the world can get rought out there for a middles aged woman !!oh you will have new sexual partners but you can also get deiseae, an they wont care about you lik,e that husband !! does now when it is all said an done it is your desician but i have been out there after my husband died an let me tell you it is different out there than you think !! dateing is not like it was way back men are not the same as the guy you are married to

  12. Think hard about this decision – you may never be able to turn back. Have you talked with your husband about this? Have you tried doing things on your own while still in your marriage? Do you have girlfriends that you can talk with? Try spreading your wings within the confines of your marriage. I did that about 15 years ago – best decision. Now I’m still in my marriage and enjoying it, because I also do things that my husband doesn’t want to do. And that’s OK – we realized that we are 2 personalities enjoying life together & individually. Whatever your decision – the best of luck.

    1. exactly! well put! its what ive done too..I mANDade the choice not to disrupt our family..AND we live parallel lives and connect in some places. i think this is healthy and if im occasionaly sad that we dont share as many things as when we were first married, i remember that we were young then with unformed minds. We have each grown and developed and do not agree on many issues..but there are no guarantees when we marry early that we will still be the same people as e age..for me, thats not a reason to bail. Live your best life on your own within the framework of your marriage!

      1. Stay married and live your best life. If that doesn’t work out and you want to leave at least you gave that option a chance.

  13. 32 years of marriage and 3 children. Married a man and his mother. Won’t go into all the tales here but it wore me down. I had an affair after 12 years but we reconciled, but I never got over it. After another 12 years started to have anxiety problems & couldn’t stand him near me. He drank too much and had a violent temper & would never apologise for anything he said or did. Got to the stage when I had a breakdown and told him I wanted to end it. The children were adults and just had to deal with it. His mother died 3 months after we separated and I was blamed for that. 10 years on I have since remarried (the one I had the affair with) and have found peace, but there are times when the guilt gets to me still. However it is getting better and I think I will live longer.

    1. I’ve been divorced for 20 years but I have just had my last child leave home. I raised my four, two of my brothers children and a grandchild for several years ago. I know this is different. But I do know I have hungered for freedom and responsibility for so long. I’m not looking to date or remarry, I just wanted my freedom. I dont cook unless I’m hungry, and then its food I want. I go when I please and dont carry the burden of managing anyone else’s needs. It’s not selfish to have what you want.

  14. I was in the same circumstances. I left after 26 years because I believed that I could not ever become and grow within the marriage! Amazingly enough it worked out. I am still friends with my X and we both have now had other relationships. We do family events comfortably so yes it is possible and I have never regretted it. I am authentically me not just a Mother and a Grandmother. Search your heart and don’t worry about everyone else’s needs. You have done your Mother , wife job well. May be time to move on.

  15. We got one life make a bucket list and just leave and live live the rest of your life…explore, dare, experiment,just live…call do things to surprise yourself.

  16. I went through this. There had been a couple of separation periods and many arguments. Those problems came from having married too young and not having let my own dreams and desires develop sufficiently, and the challenges arose when the person who shared my life with me saw life in a whole different way. In almost everything in fact: politics, finances, having children or not… and we both had strong personalities that did not submit easily to what the other thought. I discussed it with friends at the time and also went into therapy. I also made sure that I would be able to live my life independently, so it took me some time of preparing for the final break. My son didn’t really understand my position when it happened, and that was hard. But in the long run what I realized was that I should have made a decision sooner. When I did, I began to find myself again and in that sense I have not regretted it.

  17. The safety and security of a home and a husband to share life with is a rare privilege which only a few have these days.Dont lose it for something you are not sure of or just because you feel like experimenting something new.Instead ,focus on all that you have in hand and add new experiences to it without breaking free of your marriage.Thete is nothing to stop you from making life exiting within the folds of your marriage.Loneliness ,as you grow older can be really hard to deal with and you can really experience it only when you are in that hole.Think carefully Dear,and I wish you good luck.

    1. ex,cty..well said! I agree and after exploring honestly what you want out of life..live it within the structure of the marriage you have.

  18. I too feel exactly the same way. I appreciate all the comments left. It will give me food for thought.
    Thank you! ❤️

    1. Me too. I am happily married, but we are all complex. Nobody gives exactly what the other needs every time. If someone is abusive…physically or mentally, I think it’s somewhat easier. Will they accept help? Do they express desire to be well? If not, go! But a loving union is a real treasure. Exhaust every avenue to change your situation before you cross the line. There are many who can be hurt. Not easy.😕

  19. I am on my own.
    Yes it can get lonely.
    However it is still not just about you.
    This will split your family, which child will refuse to talk or see you …?
    Are you ready to be blamed for the breakdown?
    Christmas and birthday, you may not get the family invitations.
    My suggestion would be, chat with him, perhaps get some counseling.
    Is it possible to do all the fun things,leaving him at home, etc

    1. I agree with you wholeheartedly. My overseas journeys were done alone. Join clubs that interest you, go places you have always wanted to visit. Don’t bank on the adult children and grandchildren seeing your point of view.

      1. Another book suggestion. I have read this twice and continually open it to read snippets. It is full of wisdom about your dilemma and allows for a gentle exploration of what you want and need. The title is “A Year by the Sea” by Joan Anderson. You won’t regret reading this before making a decision.

        1. I hv lived alone almost 30 yrs after 2 failed marriages. I decided to fix me. I love who I am, the friends I hv made. I wd never go back. Maybe I was selfish, maybe not. I am just one of those people that like being alone.

  20. I am not sure what it is you want to do, but can you talk to your husband about your feelings? Last year informed my husband I was going on vacation without him and taking my grandson on a trip. He was mad at first but then he decided it was an opportunity for him too to do some things he wanted without me. I do think eventually you would get lonely as years go by.

    1. Why not try spreading your wings and trying new experiences, while still married. Join community clubs that interest you, travel with a girlfriend or by yourself. Join a book club or movie club. The opportunities are endless. You can dip your toes into the pond of independence, without creating such a fracture in your family life. While you are trying new things, you will still have the security and warmth of your husband and family. As you try new things it may lead to a hobby or even something you may like to do for a business. You could even get a ‘girls shed’ or space of your own where you could decorate and design purely for your own taste. Leaving a good marriage at this time in your life, to pursue your own interests, seems extreme. You can do whatever you want now, married or unmarried. The choices we make when married to put children and family first, are also our decisions. Made usually, because it is so difficult to do things for yourself when raising children. Especially when you are dividing your budget between children, home and husband. However, it’s no ones fault this happens, it seems to go part and parcel with raising a family. I don’t think your husband had to be left behind in order for you to ‘find yourself.’ He may even be encouraged to try new things after he observes you spreading your wings.

  21. Oh, my dear. Don’t. I am 71, divorced and suffer bouts of great loneliness. I long for undivided Holidays, someone to talk to, a movie date, a kiss goodnight. Everything I do as a single could have been done as a married.
    I agree with the advice of others. Take some time alone and think about what a divorce would do to everyone especially you. It’s not pretty.

  22. I felt the very same way.I was married for 35 yrs.We to married young.Im like you I devoted my life to everyone else. Finally one day I decided there has to be something better out there for me.It hasn’t been all good but I sure have had fun. Go Experience the world and what you have missed.

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