Husband wants a divorce, but I don’t

Married 26 years (high school sweethearts) with 2 young children.

Since our children came along, our marriage slowly deteriorated. I admit my focus was on the kids, and I stupidly put my marriage on the back burner. Looking back on it, this was a major cause of a lot of our problems. I’m regretting the decision I made to solely focus on my kids, and I think I will forever.

We weathered through many storms, but over the last couple of years we’ve lived like roommates. He sleeps in the spare room in our basement, and I sleep in the master bedroom. He has threatened me several times with divorce, but we bounce back and decide that we’ll work on our relationship. Each time that has happened though, we never really put the work in. We tried two different marriage counselors, and they were both awful. I dreaded going, and I felt worse leaving then when I’d walk in. We never sat down to discuss what both of our needs were, and what we each needed from each other. We never realized and made a point of going out on dates, etc. We just didn’t know how to fix us.

Recently, he told me he wanted out. He said he felt dead inside, and he was going through with the divorce. He met with an attorney, and I know he’s serious this time.

We’ve talked, and he’s walking around like a zombie. He’s depressed, and he’s seeing a therapist (has been for a couple of years). I can honestly say that since he’s been seeing this therapist that our relationship has devolved even further. I don’t know what she’s telling him, but I don’t think she’s pro-marriage.

I’ve read several books, blogs, articles, listened to podcasts and read online forums and what I’ve realized is that I needed to change A LOT about myself. I started to make those changes, and he noticed. He became more cordial. He even came into my room one night and asked if we could be intimate (prefacing it with, “I don’t want to send any mixed messages, but I want to see if we can connect on a basic level and we both have needs”). I told him I couldn’t because I didn’t feel any emotional connection with him, he said he understood and then said that it was a mistake that he asked. Of course, after thinking about it all night, I regretted not giving him what he wanted. Who knows, maybe there would have been a connection?! Maybe he would have realized we should work on us? Now being intimate is out of the question because he feels he’ll send me a mixed message.

I’ve gone through stages of denial and anger, and I’m not proud but I’ve almost pleaded for him to give our family a final chance. He has flat out told me that he doesn’t want to be married to me any longer, and he doesn’t have the energy nor desire to try and fix our relationship.

I’m hurt, and I’m really confused because he has sent me mixed messages. There are times when I see indecision in him, but he claims it’s only him trying to be kind to me because he doesn’t want to see me hurt. (Eg. I told him the other day that I feel like my hugs and attempts at holding his hand make him uncomfortable, and I asked him if I should stop doing that. He said no. So, if he wants a divorce then why would you want me to continue to try to be affectionate?!). Am I reading signs that I hope are there and they really aren’t? I’m starting to feel like a fool.

I feel like he’s giving up on our family, and a commitment we made to God, and I don’t understand how he could.

I’m so incredibly sad. Should I give up trying to fight for my marriage?!

Sounds like he’s going through a midlife crisis. Google The Six Stages of a midlife crisis. Read, read, read. Good luck!

Him going through mid life crisis? Not likely, it appears as if he’s finally moved on. It seems you’ve been living an emotional divorce for some time and maybe haven’t realize the marriage ship has long gone. Try a separation, gice him the chance to wander around. Who knows, perhaps eventually he could come back.

Hey, sounds like my scenario. Finally we divorced, he remarried in 2 months! He had her on the side for awhile.
Although, I’m better off without him, I am still lonely. Good Luck for you, sometimes divorce is the only way to get back to happy

I feel for you. Divorce sucks, especially for those who aren’t wanting it. I am in that boat too. However I am coming at it from the man’s perspective. I’d like to address one of the pieces you mentioned which was the physical intimacy. My wife and I have been in a sexless marriage since the birth of our child. A sexless marriage is defined as having sex 10 times or less in a year, with the last year before separation being about 3 times. I’ve had more sex with her in one day in the beginning of our relationship than in our last year together. That indeed is a sad story. But I loved her so much I came to the decision even if it were zero I’d still want to continue in our marriage, and of course try and make it better.

However she asked for the separation which I believed was spearhead by an emotional intrigue. Regardless our sexless marriage had been brought up, though not adequately discussed. She had even told me of a book that she had read that stated if a husbands want to have sex to have sex with him because it builds intimacy for the man that would in turn translate to the woman. But she did not want to compromise at all so things got worse. I’m ashamed to admit I had some affairs mid way through which was related to our sexless marriage. It was a functional way of dealing with the problem. I should have blurted out I was thinking of stepping outside of the marriage and that we needed to go to counseling. Unfortunately when I tried she shut me down saying, “I don’t want to talk about it”.

Given all that I’ve been through from a man’s perspective and what you’ve shared I do think it could have been helpful to have been physically intimate with him when he made such an overture. That was him trying. Having a sexless marriage is very destructive, and even if people hang on for however long there can’t be a lot of happiness there.

If you want to maybe try again maybe suggest to him you’re willing to do some online couples sex therapy workshops. I know of one I wished my wife and I did but never got the chance. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

In any case if this piece doesn’t get worked on I’m afraid you’ll both continue to feel disconnected.

I remember in the beginning of my relationship with my wife I could barely touch her and she’s be “ohhh”, But at the end if I made the slightest suggestion it often would be treated like I was being a pervert. She was also very critical of me when we did get together in such a way. And honestly I don’t think I’ve changed a bunch in this aspect. This certainly did not help at all. I think we were stuck in a negative pattern instead of wanting and seeing the best in each other.

In short if you can do your part to open up and be as positive as you can be when you are together with him I do think it will be helpful. It should be noted it is by no means a fix all. You should try a different counselor since you haven’t had good experiences. Also do some couples workshops. I only wish I had gotten this same chance.

Hi Tkdv, What is your wish? If you want to give it a try then do it! I have found online via YouTube amazing discussions lead by Esther Perel. I listened probably 5 to 7 hours of everything that was posted there and then re-listened to take notes. My husband said that he is dead inside too. I have realized that even he still loves me as our family counselor is telling me when it is just me and her. My husband is going through midlife crisis too which he does not want to admit to himself and hethinks that he would be better by himself. Esther says that if you love someone then desire is gone.You have to be unavailable. then he shows interest…like playing games…
I am going to buy myself a book from her The State of the Affairs

This sounds familiar! I wanted nothing to do with the divorce until I found out he was cheating. Then I accepted that it was happening. Here I am three years later and so grateful and happy!
First off, most states can force therapy on you guys if one of you wants it and doesn’t agree with the divorce. This may be an option if you’re unsure. You should validate his feelings but ask him to see your side as well. And ask him if he’s willing to put in some more time, to really try to fix it this time.
If it gets down to it, and divorce is inevitable, I just want you to know that you will be okay. I thought my life was ending, but it was a blessing in disguise. Best of luck to you.