My husband and I have not slept together in 12 years, and 7 years ago he walked out on me and got his own apartment in the next town. He continues to be very active in the children's lives and supports me financially.

We went to couples therapy and I also went to individual counseling and we worked through a lot of the issues that caused him to leave. We have talked over and over again about getting back together, and I want to do so, and he is forever "on the fence" about it.

We ended up going to a divorce mediator and working out a divorce agreement about 2 years ago, because even though we talk constantly about possibly getting back together, for him it never gets past the "Let's talk about whether we should try to get back together" stage. We even both have hired attorneys.

I never wanted the divorce, and so I don't want to file for it, but he also has not filed. I think he is happy with things the way they are, but I am miserable living this way. I am not able to move on to a new relationship because we are still technically married, yet we haven't even touched each other physically in over a decade, and haven't lived together for seven years. I think he should file for the divorce if he wants one, because I don't want to be the one to file for a divorce I never wanted in the first place and still don't want.

At the same time, I keep wondering why I continue to put up with it the way it is now, as I am completely miserable the way things are now. My husband says he also is in pain over this issue, yet he is the one who is causing this pain by staying away.

We long ago resolved all of the issues that I know of. We did have some serious issues, but both of us are good people, and I feel that our issues, while serious, should not be keeping us apart any longer. Apparently he does, but then he won't end the relationship and keeps saying he wants to continue to "talk" about whether we should get back together, but he is not ready to make a decision about it until we "talk" more and more about it.

I'm just at a loss as to know what I should do. Should I file for a divorce that I don't want, just to end all of the pain and be able to move on, or should I stay in this marriage and hope eventually he comes around?


3214 days ago
I wouldn't tell someone to get a divorce, because that's a decision a person should make on their own, so that they never feel like they were "misled" by someone else. However, what I will say is that you should not be miserable if you don't have to be. Something has to change.

I appreciate your dilemma. He's the guy you want and he's the father of your children. Waiting a few months for someone to come around and surrender to a relationship is understandable. Waiting a few YEARS gets trickier. Ten years, all the more so. It sounds to me like he's not about to give in any time soon. At the same time is not ready to hurt you and completely end things.

I understand that you never wanted this divorce because you have such strong feelings for this man. But I don't see that as a reason not to file for divorce. If you decide this relationship isn't coming together and probably won't and that you can be less miserable if you weren't with him, then maybe that's a good reason to make this very difficult decision.

I think the best thing you can do is try and analyze this from an outsider's perspective. What would you say is going on with the husband? What about the wife? What would you advise a person in your situation?

3213 days ago
Thanks, Edahn. Your answer seems sound. I will try your exercise of looking at it from an outsider's perspective:

I am sure that my husband is worried that if he comes back into the marriage, things will be unbearable for him. Don't get me wrong, we had a lot of good times, but I think he remembers the bad times much more vividly, and those loom large for him. He is worried that if he comes back to me, we will end up fighting and he will, as he says, have to "prop" me up. Our life together was stressful on many levels, and we didn't know how to handle stress too well. I am not the best housekeeper, and he used to get very angry if the house was a mess (which it usually was) when he came home from work. He would say he couldn't relax when things were a mess, and then attempt to clean things up himself. Because we had three young children, things were never really calm, and they bordered more on chaotic. I tended to take the side of the youngest child, who always seemed to get on my husband's nerves, and I felt the need to protect this little boy from his father, so we fought a great deal about that. We weren't really on the same "page," so to speak. Our goals seemed at odds with one another. Then, when we moved back to the area where he was raised, he had a lot of support of family and friends, but I knew no one and had a hard time adjusting. I felt uprooted and sad to have to leave our home, and I think I really resented the move. I was depressed and I think he finally just had enough of me and, because he could move to a family-owned apartment, he took advantage of that and decided to move out. If the apartment would not have been an option, I think we would have stayed together out of necessity.

From my perspective, I felt we'd grown apart over the years. He increasingly wanted to sit and watch television and just "zone out," while I wanted to get out and do things outdoors with the children, as we'd always done. Every time we had an argument, my husband would threaten to leave me, and I always felt vulnerable. He called me names and seemed to have little respect or affection for me as the years went by. This made me sad and depressed, and I tried hard to get him to go to counseling, but he refused that at the beginning, when it might have really helped. By the time we got to counseling, it seemed almost too late, because he'd already left the marriage and was reluctant to get back into a relationship with me. It seems like he just dug in his heels. I felt like I was the only one who wanted to save the marriage, but my tactics perhaps drove him further away. I tried to make him feel guilty for having left and kept reiterating how hurt I was by his actions. I did take responsibility for my part, and apologized for the mistakes I'd made, but after that I felt we needed to make the move toward getting back together, rather than remaining in this perpetual state of "limbo." However, that state has persisted almost as long as our years when we were together, at this point. I've grown tired of the "game." I feel he proved his point, I apologized for my part, and now we should move on to putting it behind us so we can move forward in our relationship. Instead, he wants to remain as we are now.

I guess I would advise someone in my situation to really search her heart and realize that the situation, as it is now, is completely unworkable, and he is showing no signs of wanting to change it to something more suitable. That shows he disregards my feelings, or else that he is just too stuck to be able to make a move. Either way, it is resulting in utter misery for me, while he seems not to be that adversely affected by the current arrangement. I think he could go on this way forever, which would break my spirit and make my life too sad to bear. I want to have some happiness in my life, with him if possible, but without him if that is the only way.

3213 days ago
I think you answered your own question about how to proceed from here, which is good because you have the most insight. As long as you remember that you will be okay whether with him or not, I think you will have the right attitude and make the right decisions. That attitude was reflected in the last line of your second post. I see it as a very big and positive change from the first post. That took a lot of honesty and bravery and if I were you, I would be proud of myself for that.

It sounds to me like you guys stopped cooperating with each other and seeing yourselves AS A TEAM a long time ago. Instead of working towards compromise, together, you both interepretted the situation as "him/her-versus-me" and built up walls between each other.

Shifting from competitive to cooperative, I believe, takes trust and courage. You have to be willing to put down your fears, opinions, judgments, and defenses (all the stuff he's doing right now) and believe that you'll be okay without them. You also have to believe that trying that is worthwhile, and that depends on lot on your individual history, your shared history with each other, your compatibility, and your respective spiritual maturity. I've said before that compatibility depends not on whether you have issues, but how your issues mix together. If your issues are complimentary, trust is easier than if your issues are clashing. Maybe that's the case here.

I wish you luck. I hope I didn't write too much and confuse things. Feel free to respond to this post if you'd like. If not, if you ever need to talk again, you know where to find me. :)


3213 days ago
Oh, you're right: That quite literally is "the bottom line!"

Thank you, I really appreciate your help in getting my thinking processes unstuck.

The only thing is, I feel so sad if it really is the end. That means a new beginning just around the corner, I suppose, yet it is so hard to let go of my dreams that I had for my marriage to this man. I won't be able to let them go too easily. The thought of him with someone else tears me up inside. How does one let go?

I know I'll be okay with or without him, but the unknown looming before me, should I take that step, seems frightening.

I'd be giving up the dream of everything turning out well. Darn those fairy tales, anyways.


3213 days ago
I think the end IS scary and sad. You do have to forfeit whatever hopes you had for this guy to come around. But like you said, that's not too likely. But yeah, I know. It's still sad. But you're facing the truth that seems to have been hidden for a long time and that's really going to help you move your life in a new, fresh direction, filled with new possibilities and vitality.

I think the unknown is frightening too. But maybe even that unknown is better than being miserable. How much worse could it get, really? Did you know that people in empty relationships report LESS happiness and satisfaction than people who are NOT in relationships AT ALL? I think that's a pretty amazing statistic.

It'll take a little time; it'll take a little reflection. It'll take a lot of honesty and it'll take a lot of maturity. You'll have to pick yourself up and make a statement about what you know to be good for you and what isn't good for you. You'll need to adopt that objective perspective as your own and really appreciate the difference between healthy, mature love and needy, clingy, hurtful love.

There's a guy who I've been reading who is brilliant. He's written about relationships as well. His name is Eckhart Tolle (yes, the Oprah guy). He has a few chapters on relationships in his books. It's a bit esoteric because he does use a little jargon, but you're intelligent so I'm not worried. Here're a few articles you might enjoy, too:

Good luck to you. Have courage and patience with yourself and remember to keep your self-respect and pride in tact.


3211 days ago

Hah, hah look who's mentioning Oprah nowwww Edahn LOL:)

**sorry this is an inside joke between the answerers**

Excellent posts by the way!

3208 days ago
I too think you know the answer to the question. He doesnt live with you, he does stuff with the kids, but doesnt go past the "we should get back together" stage.



3101 days ago
If it takes a divorce to move on.....then do so.

There's love, there's hate, and there's are getting a dose of apathy....try giving it back...and I don't care what you do attitude, and being ecstatically happy for no reason at all....laugh when the getting back together comes up....laugh when anything about your relationship comes up.....simply be apathetic.

And get the divorce.

2000 days ago
I absolutely agree with Edahn's wisdom. This is quite an old post but would like to add that sometimes we have to provoke a crisis before things change. I hope you have resolved your dilemma.

Take care