How Can I Walk Away From A 21year Relationship?

Here is the thing. I have been married for 21years and with my husband since 16. I have stayed in the relationship because I love him and we have 4 children. However I have wanted to leave for years after living with alot of neglect and cruellty I am sick of putting on an act to keep everyone happy and I know the grass is only greener if you water and tend it. We both have neglected each others needs and only habit has kept us together as neither of us wants to make any effort with each other which all makes for alot of anger and unhappiness. I have my own business and have been financially and emotionally independant for years so I have nothing to tie me to him except our children and the last one leaves home this autumn. I have always and will always love him deeply but I cant live such a sterile existance forever as he has no love or respect for who I am and treats me no better than a dog. I feel for my own sense of self it is time coming when I want to walk alone and not have his needs thrown at me all the time because I am starting to realise that I have needs too and he has no interest in them. I love life and the longer I am with him the more that i worry he will drag me into despair only because he can and I no longer want to be in that position. I don't have the energy to play a blame game and accept my own resposibility in this failed relationship but I do want to live life to the full and enjoy being in each moment. I have always put my heart and soul into trying to make the effort all partnerships need but it has never been mutual and I am fast running out of energy for the both of us.
jane343 jane343
41-45, F
10 Responses Jan 18, 2013

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Its been 15 yrs for us. no children. just not happy anymore or able to fulfill each others needs. been divorced twice now & he is my 3 rd but we are not married. I Will be 43 and him 46 and it just kills me thinking of hurting him and starting all over. there is love just no longer in love & haven't been. trying to find courage to do what's right for both of us. moving on is the only way I can let him go and seek happiness that we currently aren't getting in our lives. :-(

Hi, just an update.

It really helped writing about my relationship on here and I only came on EP to ask the wisdom of strangers for guidence in a dark moment. I am so grateful for the kindness shown to me and the considered responses were greatly appreciated. I plucked up the courage to show my husband what i had written and was suprisd by his response. We have both been neglecting the relationship in the pursuit of parenting and running our separate businesses and it took my outpouring to make us stop and realise that we were losing sight of what is important.
After 21 years of working very hard we had become complacent about each other and forgot to keep sight on what we were about. We have always put alot of energy into our shared happiness but for a while i guess we prioratised the kids, the business, the house and our friends but not each other. I'm not saying its going to be easy but at least now we are both sure of the direction we need to go and the effort that it is going to take.

A big thank you to all who considered my plight and a hug of gratitude to EP for providing such a forum. I have made some great friends here at EP and even though i found the sight in difficult times I am so glad I did

Love and best wishes to all the EP community,

Jane xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Oh my this sounds just like what I wanted to ask, except I am 10 years and 3 children in! Having found myself some professional success (which I have been told I would never achieve because apparently I am 'stupid') has given me the confidence to finally work up the courage to WALK! I would love to know how you progress with this problem as I am still working up the nerve to have the conversation! I am thinking of going down the counselling road, so that any conversation we have can be in a safe environment with a 'witness' if you know what I mean lol! Good luck to you, your wonderful new life is waiting for you on the other side of this x

Hi, thanks for your support. I can hear that we are in a similar situation and I know from experience that it is not an easy path. I agree that counselling is a good way of airing issues, in a safe environment, but it depends on how willing your partner is about sharing. I feel that my relationship lacks communication and balance and the older i get the more clear I am that either effort is put into changing this so we can move forward together or it is time that i leave when our youngest daughter goes away to study.
I am not seeking to change who my husband is or his behaviour, he is responsible for his own actions, but i am saying loud and clear that after two decades of child rearing and supporting him I would like some time to reaquaint myself with who I am and figure out where that leaves us as a partnership. This weekend a mutual friend tried to mediate between us... I can see that I too have some listening to do and i appreciate that my husband put himself in an uncomfortable position by even agreeing to be there.
I am not sure what the future holds but i do know that over the coming weeks and months I am going to try and listen to his thoughts and keep and open mind and heart. Take care of you and yours x

I feel your angst, I had to walk after 19 years. To some degree I think real love never ends, but at the same time I don't beleive that we ever get to the life we were made to live, by living in a relationship that at it's best is toxic. Very often we hold onto what we hoped for and ignore the reality that is killing us inch by inch and moment by moment. Staying in that marriage is nullifying the fact that every day is a gift and we all owe it to the one who gave it to us to make the best of it. It seems that you will not get to be your best self while you are hurting and being devalued everyday trying to salvage a marriage that is totally dysfunctional. You did not get into the marriage by yourself I think it is delusional to think that you can fix it by yourself.

Thank you. I appreciate that you have been in a similar situation and can hear the wisdom when you said it is not fixable by yourself. If it was I would have done that by now. What I struggle with is the love that I know exists between us being so neglected and not put to good purpose. My husband does not really understand himself and i am running out of energy for fighting while he resolves his anger at the world.I have always been there for him, and always will, i just wish he would notice that life is precious.

I am not an expert in marital life and I may not understand it fully. But may I ask, has God ever been a part of your 21yrs or has He just been a by-word in your marriage.
God is the full definition of love and unless you have got Him, there will be a time when every ounce of love, you once thought you had will run out.

Marriage is for better or worse, a marriage will definitely have its good and bad times. But in those times particularly in the bad times, God comes to the rescue. When He is left out of the marriage, it is devastating.
I think you need to learn how to love your husband again. It is possible, if you allow your heart be led by He who is Love itself.
21yrs is commendable, but marriage is till death.
Think back on the reasons that made you say "I do" to him. Have those reasons changed? Is he still the same person? If he is not, then ask yourself, "am I still the same person?" Love is contagious, that I know. If you learn to love him again, then you will make him love you again. Allow God show you.
But all this will depend on one question you need to answer: "do you still have any part of you that wants to stay in this marriage?"

I am going through a similar situation. I have been with my wife for 13 years and 3 days after new years she says that she wants to separate. I am devastated. Still living together for now as she has asked me to leave after I get a decent job and she doesn't want a divorce but thats what she said to her first husband as well and didn't divorce him until a month or so before we got married. I am confused and scared, we have 4 children and I am afraid of what its going to do to them as well. I am not sure if she's actually cheating but who knows... she's become very secretive about who she's on the phone , texting with or IM'ing with... I went to the dr and she prescribed welbutrin for me and I feel a ton better... More energy and such but the down side is that now that I feel better and have more energy, I'm afraid that wehn I do get a decent job; its out I go....I love her and I am in love with her... she says she loves me but she doesn't think shes in love with me... She's got some major health issues that I am currently trying to help her with and doing all the house work and such but i am afraid its not enough....

That sounds like a difficult and confusing situation. Perhaps it would help if you could both talk about what you both need from the marriage and take it from there. Any break up is an emotional time for everyone and sometimes it can feel like the negative is overwhelming but the fact that you want to support and help your partner is a loving position. I hope you both find some peace and happiness. Take care of you where possible and fingers crossed for the future.

Thank you :)

Thanks faerylight, I re read what i had written and it quite obvious to me that i am only struggling with when and how and not why anymore. x

I had been feeling the same way...leave. if I can leave with three young children you can do it too!