I don’t love my husband but I don’t know how to leave

untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s Untold Stories is contributed anonymously by a mum of one who I met randomly online a few months ago. We got to talking and before I knew it, she was sharing her story. ‘I don’t love my husband,’ she told me, ‘but I don’t know how to leave him.’ (People tell me things, I don’t know what it is.) She asked if she could write a post for my Untold Stories section to help her clarify her own thoughts and to hopefully get feedback and support from other people about what she should do. I know what I think, but I’d love to hear your comments.

I feel guilty even writing this. In so many ways I know I have a perfect life – great friends, a lovely, affection son, a big house, a husband who is perfectly nice…

But that’s the trouble. He’s perfectly nice, but that’s all. He doesn’t hit me, but that’s hardly a reason to stay married to someone is it? When it’s just me and the thoughts in my head though, it feels like it should be. Sometimes I’ve wished he’d do something awful – come home drunk and confess to an affair with his secretary, or tell me he’s slept with a prostitute or something, anything that would make me feel justified in ending our marriage.

I know I could just leave, but as easy as that feels to say to the characters on the TV who are clearly stuck in an unhappy marriage, when it comes to saying it to myself? Somehow the words don’t come as easily. I look at my husband with my son, in the garden at weekends, playing football, laughing, and it feels like such an awful cliché that sometimes I wonder if I’m the TV show, looking out.

My son is nine now. When I try to think back to when I first met my husband, to when I was pregnant, when we were new parents, it feels hazy. I want to remember how it felt to be in love with him, imagining that if I could hold that feeling even just for a moment, that I could recapture it, but I can’t. I’ve thought about it so much, replayed the past so many times, looking for clues, that I can’t even remember now if I ever loved him?

I think I did. Would I have married him otherwise? I’m not sure.

He’s a kind man. He’s sweet and generous and loves his family. Why can’t I return that love? How could I take everything away from him when he’s done nothing wrong?

That’s the crux of it for me, that idea of right and wrong. He’s done nothing wrong and therefore I have no valid reason to leave. My unhappiness isn’t a reason enough, but I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the status quo is passive? I’m already unhappy, suck it up, leaving would make TWO people unhappy – father and son – and it doesn’t take an expert to do that maths. What gives me the right to think that my ONE is worth more than their TWO?

At the moment, while I don’t love my husband anymore, I don’t hate him either. We rub along, I’m good at pretending, maybe he knows, maybe he doesn’t. I worry though that over time this tolerance is going to erode. I don’t want to hate him. I don’t want to start resenting the way he spreads butter on bread.

But I don’t know how to leave. I don’t know how to feel okay with making my own happiness more important than by husband and son’s.

Read more Untold Stories here. If you’d like to contribute your own, please get in touch.

I don't love my husband anymore

Photo by Katie Drazdauskaite on Unsplash



  1. Vache
    2 July, 2021 / 10:10 pm

    I don’t have any answers, but I could have written a similar story to this.

  2. Sarah
    2 July, 2021 / 10:21 pm

    Can you talk to your husband about this? Try and re-kindle the romance, or talk things through with him? At the very least, let him know how you feel so it’s not a dreadful shock! I think lots of relationships have hard patches. I’m sure that writing this will help you get your thoughts together – of course only you can answer this question & know what you want from life. What one person can be happy with won’t be right for someone else.
    Someone once suggested to me to think about how your whole life would change if you leave a relationship. Not meant to be overwhelming, just saying look at the whole picture.
    Good luck whatever you decide x

  3. Bananagirl
    2 July, 2021 / 11:24 pm

    I hear you. Particularly the bit about the unhappiness maths. Hoping we both find the strength to know what the right thing is to do, do it, and find true peace with it x

  4. Simon
    3 July, 2021 / 12:30 am

    This makes me so sad. You say he’s done nothing wrong, I’d say you both have done something wrong, you’ve taken your relationship for granted. As you say, at some point there was presumably enough feelings on both sides to get married and have a child, but then life became about, nappies, midnight feeds, then returning to work and selecting schools. Somewhere in all that you (collective you) stopped taking care of your relationship. Which is a shame, but all too common.

    Only you can decide if you can get it back on track, or if you even want to. As others have said, communication is key, there is a good chance your partner is also treading water wandering where to go from here. A frank and open discussion to decide whether to work on the marriage or call it a day is the only thing fair to all three of you.

    Good luck.

  5. Katie
    3 July, 2021 / 8:54 am

    I honestly feel for you, as others have said it sounds like you’ve been so busy focusing on life and being parents you’ve taken each other for granted. He sounds like a nice, kind guy and a good dad. Why don’t you have a chat about the things you enjoyed doing together before children, make a list and have dates together. Try couples therapy, couples I know in the most strongest relationship have regular appointments with their relationship therapist as it helps to remind them to focus on each other’s needs, wants And desires too.

    Maybe a little perspective for you, I’m a highly functioning mum of one. I am successful in what I do and have reached the top of my career ladder at the age of 35 whilst being a mum.

    Why am I telling you this? We’ll the grass ain’t always greener and I often need to be reminded of that myself and sometimes it’s better coming from a complete stranger!!!

    I had the perfect partner, kind, thoughtful, successful, hard working, charming, he was the perfect dad and family man. (We had the perfect life, holidays, new cars and large home and a beautiful baby girl). I still think of him as perfect as he is an amazing dad, and I reason he made a stupid mistake.

    When my daughter was 9 months old enjoying maternity leave with no intention of returning to work as my wonderful partner insisted I didn’t as his salary more than enough to keep us all. I found out he was having an affair with his secretary, he left and I was devastated (I was a mess for months whilst trying look after a small baby) and i raised my daughter alone for 8 years. (His secretary stuck around for a year and then went home to Australia!) As we weren’t married I had not support from him, so I downsized our home determined to give my daughter the best life I pushed ahead with my career whilst juggling every day (no family nearby)

    8 years later I met a very talented guy at work, (I had met others at work but I had always said I would never mix business with pleasure). But he was persistent, helpful, charming and successful. He mentioned he was managing low level depression, but I also found him on occasion a little immature given his age. Well he tried hard for months And eventually he charmed me and we fell in love, I sold my house and we now have a big house we bought together 18 months ago, new cars….. he wanted to look after us, to let me take time out for a while to be mum before my daughter became a teenager. He sold me what most people would consider a dream life… but I’m also not happy… why? 4 months ago I told him it wasn’t working, and he is now my ex. (We still live together just in separate parts of the house)

    I quit my job and when we had living in our home for 2 months he changed…. He became reclusive, angry, sweary, messy and tight with money (despite earning a 6 figure salary and insisting he would fund my year off whilst I renovated our home – althought I wasn’t necessary as I could fund it myself) he would hide in his office all day every day until the early hours.

    The depression was much worse than he ever let up and he hid it from me… it turns out he is addicting to gaming chat rooms and porn. He has also confessed he was assessed by the mental health team years before we met and he was diagnosed to be a highly functioning manic depressive, with Borderline Personality disorder and with Anger Management Issues along with being labelled a covert narcissist. All those years of me thinking it was me and I wasn’t trying hard enough (I single handily renovated our home during lockdown, whilst homeschooling, being the perfect housewife to my hard working And stressed out partner, cooking every meal, making every drink) – whilst he sat in front of a PC all day and night every day ignoring any request for support, help, time of affection. For years I thought he was playing football at the weekends with mates And he is actually seeing a therapist who he uses as a substitute mum And never actually listens, reads, does anything she suggests.

    I’m a strong women but even I’ve found this situation a challenge, I’m effectively his emotional punch bag, he is a master at mind games, dirty looks, belittling, rudeness, all anger is misdirected at me, (the list goes on and on)

    After 8 months of trying to fix it, I realised I looked in the mirror ans my reflection showed a tired overweight and very unhappy person that I didn’t recognise. I started the long task of finishing our home so it could be sold, I found a new job….I’ve told my closest friends what’s happening (I’m too embarrassed to tell my parents and siblings anything more than his depression is too much). And my dream home which I put blood, sweat and tears into (he did nothing to help in 18 months not even unpack) is now up for sale. And now the house is done I can focus on me.

    My daughter and I deserve so much better And I don’t want her to think his behaviour towards me is ok and normal no one deserves to be shouted at for their lovingly prepared meal going cold because the person shouting was too busy gaming and the I’ll be down in a minute was actually an hour!. And so I’m leaving…. It’s broken and this cannot be fixed and I quite honestly we both deserve better.

    You however, you have a lovely kind, family focused man… what would you do if you found yourself faced with him having an affair and leaving? Honestly if that doesn’t help then remember good men are hard to find and think about dating all over again, imagine if you found yourself in my current situation!?

    I strongly suggest you think long and hard and try to make it work before walking away.

  6. Annon
    3 July, 2021 / 8:55 am

    You are not alone. I completely understand how you feel and I wish I knew the answer.
    But life is short and sometimes I guess you have to put you first.

  7. Danielle
    3 July, 2021 / 10:17 am

    I think I would echo that the grass isn’t always greener, and to think about all aspects of starting over again. Divorce is such a big step, especially if he hasn’t seen it coming! And it shouldn’t have to be all or nothing, many people are in less than fairytale relationships but are still satisfied, especially if they are happy within themselves. Could you take baby steps each day, could be something really small, towards being happier in yourself and also having a better relationship with your husband. Just so that you are on the right path for now. You can always change your mind if you do decide to leave.

    I just wouldn’t want to end up like Louise Redknapp for instance, she leaves the marriage saying she wants a different life etc but it’s her ex husband Jamie who now has a new partner and a baby on the way with someone else. According to her she regrets leaving the relationship without trying to communicate what it was she actually needed. Jamie is my dream man so obviously I think she’s beyond daft for leaving him, but perhaps your husband also has some dream qualities that you are overlooking at the moment but that someone else could find highly appealing.

  8. Sophie
    3 July, 2021 / 10:28 am

    Do you ever see yourself being happy in this marriage? Because everyone deserves happiness. I appreciate your concern about your husband and sons happiness, but ultimately it is a short term concern. They will recover from this and be happy again.

    Also to look at it from another perspective, being in a relationship with someone who is happy benefits us. If you leave your husband he may then find someone who is truly in love with him and it will make his life much more fulfilling.

    I think this may be a case of short term pain for your husband for long term gain for everyone.

    Life if too short to not pursue happiness, it won’t benefit any of you in the long term.

    And I’m sorry you’re going through this. It must be very hard. Personally I have been in a similar position your husband is in, I am so glad my husband left me. My new relationship is so much more fulfilling even though life is harder as a single mum.

  9. C
    3 July, 2021 / 10:29 am

    Awww sorry you’re so conflicted.

    The home is not broken when parents separate / divorce the home is broken when there’s no longer love.

    Think about that for a moment.

    You are more than capable of providing love and stability in your own and not having to pretend will free you and it will show your child that it’s ok to stand up and say “this isn’t working for me”
    It doesn’t make you a bad person it makes you authentic.

    Get happy and live!

    Good luck

  10. Maddie
    3 July, 2021 / 10:47 am

    In the same boat, I like to think that I’m lucky to be living with my best friend and I do love my partner as my best friend.

  11. Louise
    3 July, 2021 / 1:20 pm

    I had a good, kind husband who turned out to be a secret gambler. For years I had put my feelings to one side and focused on being mum and wife in a loveless marriage. Well, he adored me but I didn’t adore him back.
    When he confessed his massive debt and addiction I was relieved; suddenly I had a reason to leave.
    I wish I’d not waited and left him well before I did. I am happier and my child adjusted, he now has a happy mum and happy dad (who sought help for his issues); both my child’s dad and I adore him.
    I’m happily single, have a great job, support myself and love my life.
    Whatever you decide to do will be hard, the question to ask yourself is which hard will make you happy?

  12. JillyMack
    3 July, 2021 / 2:18 pm

    I understand exactly how you feel. But I would urge you to seek out some counselling before you make any decisions. Is there a possible chance that you’re low grade depressed?
    I would just urge caution here. Life is so unpredictable. Whilst I agree with other comments about life being too short to be unhappy, there’s another side to that. I’ve been married for 24 years and last year was ready to leave my husband, but like you, unable to know how to do it. Yesterday I was told there’s a tumour on my kidney and I’ve suddenly realised I deeply love my husband and I need him. We need each other. A lot of my unhappiness up till now has been my own depression and the view it gives me on life. I realise now, that life is too short to be without him! X

  13. 3 July, 2021 / 7:14 pm

    I wish I could help, but I can only offer my thoughts sweetie!

    Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

  14. Elisha
    3 July, 2021 / 8:10 pm

    Staying together in an unhappy marriage will cause just as much pain as ending it. The first thing I would do though is sit down and have a real discussion. You need to tell him about your feelings and find out how he is feeling too, he might be just as unhappy.

  15. Janine
    3 July, 2021 / 11:04 pm

    You have been so brave sharing your feelings. I feel your pain and unhappiness. Like other people’s comments I suspect that the routine and drudgery of life is making you see your relationship differently. Whilst we should never stay in a relationship if we are unhappy, I would suggest that before you make any decisions you explore what you think would really make you feel happy. Are you looking for someone else to make you happy? Do you love and believe in yourself? Do you feel you are living your purpose and have something in your life that you feel passionate about? When there is something missing inside us we can think that the problem is external and that by changing that problem we will suddenly be happy. Sometimes it’s our own inner work that has to be sorted before we can find true happiness in life. Seek out a coach or counsellor who can help you evaluate where the true issue is. If it is still your relationship then you know you will be taking the right step.

  16. burton
    4 July, 2021 / 11:40 am

    I would suggest seeing a counsellor. You sound unfulfilled. Do you work? Have you felt like this for a while or just since the pandemic? Is your husband good emotional support – could you tell him you are unhappy? When I read your story I thought of Louise Redknapp saying she wished she’d worked at her marriage more. It’s not easy being a single parent, but living an unhappy life could lead to resentment or depression. Take care of yourself x

  17. 4 July, 2021 / 12:26 pm

    I do think there is something there to salvage.
    I now it’s a cliché but have you considered that you’re depressed? I went through a similar thing after I lost my Mum, I was in such a black hole and convinced I no longer loved my Husband and that I should leave him, but as I got better so did the love and I’m bloody glad I never acted on those feelings.
    I’m thinking that if you really did want to leave that you would and would feel it was the best decision all round, at the moment you are afraid of hurting him – isn’t that a form of love?
    I hope you get it sorted, much love x

  18. Natasha Atherton
    7 July, 2021 / 1:18 am

    Such a brave post. I’d urge caution plus outside help (counselling) first before decisions made. Then go from there. I don’t think there is a right answer, everyone’s story is different. But there are some steps you could take, if you felt you could , which will help you all. So do those if you can. Very much love. X

  19. 19 August, 2021 / 9:43 am

    Everyone’s relationship is so different, it’s hard to know the ins and outs just from this post. If you think there’s a chance you could find your feelings for him again (the season of young children is HARD on a relationship), then it’s worth speaking to a therapist, or maybe getting some couples counselling.

    On the flip side, I left my (alcoholic) husband about 18 months ago, after counselling, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. There is a ‘single mother’ narrative that everything is hard and tedious. Being a single parent has downsides, for sure, but I feel truly happy to be on my own with the kids.

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