Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Asking "Should I stay or should I go?" is something many women do when sorting out their feelings about a relationship that doesn't seem to be working.

By WomansDivorce | Answers by Gloria Swardenski, Life Coach 

While indecision is an uncomfortable state to be in, it also gives you the opportunity to really examine your life and what is important to you. If you're unsure about the future of your relationship, the following suggestions from the life coach may give you some insight into how you should proceed in your own situation, as well as some ways to look at things from a different angle: 

Should I stay in my marriage for the kids or should I go?

Jennifer's Question: We've been married for almost 9 years and have a 4 year old son. We have had a rocky marriage, splitting up and getting back together constantly. We split up about three years ago, and he went in rehab for drugs and alcohol (which was the reason we split). After he got out, he told me he was a new and changed person and wanted to try again. I took it slow and eventually we got back together again. For almost 9 months things were GREAT until he started drinking again. Prior to this, I had told him that it would be over if he ever touched drugs again, so I stuck to that. After a day of feeling horrible and discovering I was pregnant I decided to tell him that I would take him back on the condition that he never touch the stuff (alcohol or drugs) again. Things were great for a couple of days and now we just constantly fight. Do I stay because of the kids? Do I leave because of the kids? I'm so confused and I don't know what to do, please help.

Gloria's Answer: The main issue here isn't so much whether you go or stay, but are you prepared to follow through on what you have said and to accept the fact that there may be times that he stumbles and falls.

My suggestion would be for you to take some time and establish some healthy boundaries along with clear consequences. We often feel that the only way out is divorce, but you have experienced that there are other options. You may say, "If you slip again, it's back in rehab." You may say, "If you slip again, I'm leaving for a week for you to get your act together or I'm going to ask you to leave for a week."

This may take some creativity on your part and lots of support from family and other support groups, but from the sound of your note, divorce isn't what you truly want. You really want for him to stay away from the drugs and alcohol because when he does, you are happy.

You do have what it takes to get through this, Jennifer. Refuse to give in on these issues because you and your children deserve the very best that he is, and you know that he's in there. Lay down the consequential steps that you are honestly willing to adhere to and be willing to fight for him. He's got to know that you are serious, and you've got to believe it, too.

Our marriage is good, but this one issue is tearing us apart.

Kim's Question: I have been married for 15 years and we have been fighting about the same problem since the day we were married. My husband does not like to travel, and does not enjoy going anywhere. He is a homebody. We both work full time jobs. I enjoy doing things occasionally and it is always a fight to get him to go anywhere with me. If he does go, he ruins it for me because he is so miserable. I am tired of fighting about this and I feel I might as well be single if I have to go everywhere myself. I feel I have no option but to get a divorce. He refuses counseling. Our marriage is fine except for this problem but it is a huge issue to me. Please help.

Gloria's Answer: I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but if you've been married to your husband for 15 years and all this time he has never really enjoyed traveling, I doubt he is going to change. As you said, he is a homebody, and he is perfectly happy there.

The problem here though is lying somewhere underneath. What I am guessing is that you are ready to throw in the towel on your marriage because he doesn't value this issue like you do, and you are linking this value to you personally. Are you thinking - If he loved me, he would want to be with me? If he loved me, he would go to counseling to fix this. If he loved me, he wouldn't be so miserable every time. I'm guessing this is the case.

How would you feel if the roles were reversed? He may highly value working in the garden, but you hate getting your fingernails dirty. Do you love him less because you don't want to do this activity?

Let's be honest and real. I understand that you want someone to travel and explore the world with, and it would be great if that person were your husband. But the truth is he simply doesn't want to. He's tried and he's miserable. Know the truth - It has nothing to do with whether he loves you or not.

My suggestion - find another person who loves to travel as much as you do and become traveling partners. Then come home and share all of your stories and videos with someone who loves you in spite of your love of travel.

Our marriage is very boring and lonely. Should I just give up?

Jan's Question: We've been married for 23 years and have 3 grown children. I am feeling bored and miserable, and don't have the energy to change things or make them better. I frequently have these feelings and I want out. However I am afraid of living alone. Sure at times we are compatible and have a nice time together. But my emotions go in waves. We have talked about my feelings before, but things really don't change. Yes I am hormonal, but I don't think this is my problem. I think I am lazy in some ways....I don't want to have to go through all this crap we have accumulated in the past few years and sell it, divide between the children. I just really don't know what to do and what I want. I do know this much. I am so unhappy, and it is a struggle.

Gloria's Answer: Jan, I truly believe you are going through what so many women (and men!) go through when the kiddos are leaving home - the empty nest syndrome!! Sure, the hormones are there, but it is the bored part that lends itself to at least putting your feelings into the empty nest category. There is no doubt that when our kids are growing up, they are our focus. We are running them here, there, and everywhere, and then one day we wake up to discover they no longer need us. And we are left feeling bored and purposeless.

What I most want for you is to not begin to digging into your attic, but to begin digging into your own heart. After all of these years, it is now your turn to create a fun and amazing life with just the two of you. What have you always dreamed of doing together but because you never had the time, energy, or money with the kids at home, you never seemed to get around to doing it? Now is the time to do it!

You and your husband, I'm guessing, need to devote some time and energy into not only creating what your new, independent lives outside of kids will look like, but also what your new relationship between the two of you will look like. Let go of the struggle, take care of yourself well, be creative and fun, and start living again.

Need help rekindling your marriage? Couples counseling can help you strengthen your emotional bond or salvage your relationship. Get started here. (Please note our website receives compensation for referrals to BetterHelp.)

Should I move on or wait for him to come back?

Dianna's Question: My husband had an affair during the first seven years of our marriage. Now 18 years later, he has left me for her and they are living together. Of course he says that he loves me and always will, but is not in love with me. He continues to come to my house and we still have sex (because I find it hard to resist him). My question is since he will not discuss the situation, should I move on or wait for him? I'm so confused, depressed, angry and sad without him in my life.

Gloria's Answer: Dianna, I say this as lovingly as I can, but you are confused, depressed, angry and sad because you making unhealthy and disrespectful choices towards the very best in yourself. You are lying to yourself by believing he loves you - love doesn't abandon, cheat, and lie. You are berating yourself by sleeping with a man whom you know is sleeping with another woman. You are disempowering yourself by believing that you are nothing without him.

Stop the lies, let him go, and begin to rediscover what your life could really be like if you believed in yourself once again. Believe that you are worthy of a man who truly knows what love is. Believe that you deserve so much more than one night stands. Believe that you are the most powerful woman you know. Until you begin to believe all this about yourself, no one else will either, and that is the essence of a very sad and unfulfilled life.

Should I stay or should I go if I have feelings for another man?

Melissa's Question: I have been with my husband for 7 years and we have two children, 4 years old and 5 months old. We are both 25 years old, and we are constantly fighting. He still seems to be immature in a lot of ways, and puts his friends before the kids. We don't have sex because I'm not attracted to him in that way. Is it because we fight or have I lost all desire for him? I am attracted to other men and I have kissed another man recently. I've grown feelings for that man also. I love my husband and can't imagine my life without him, but we are so unhappy. I don't want our kids to be without a mom and dad around but our fighting isn't any better for them to see. What do I need to do? Is it time to let go and move on?

Gloria's Answer: It's hard for me to remind you that you're still so young, when you are married and responsible for 2 little ones yourself, but it is true. Marriage is a long road with lots of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, and more than anything else - daily choices on whether or not to love, honor, and cherish the person you made that vow to. And Melissa, I want to lovingly and strongly caution you on this one.

You are hurting, confused, and lonely, and probably a little overwhelmed with being a Mom. I really do understand that, and I want so much more for you than that! And at the same time, you need to step back and make strong and healthy decisions for yourself and your family right now. By kissing another man you are opening yourself up to feelings for someone else that will not help you in making a decision on whether to go or stay. This will hurt you, not help you.

My best suggestion for you right now is to stop seeing this other person, and seek out some counseling/coaching to sort through your real feelings* about your husband, kids, and future. The thoughts and actions you take right now will decide your future. Be wise and wonderful, and make decisions that will create a future that you've always dreamed about! (*I receive a commission when people use this link.)

I married young and now I feel trapped.

Laura Kate's Question: I married when I was young to get out of a very controlled and strict environment, and have been married for 2 years. While I love my husband very much, and he has helped me overcome a lot from my childhood, I face feelings of being trapped and desperately wanting to be single and in complete control of my own life for once. I'm scared of hurting my husband, but also scared of a life regretting getting married and possibly resenting my husband. We've talked this over many times, and my decision seems to be divorce or stay--no middle ground. I need help.

Gloria's Answer: You are young, Laura Kate, and I can sense the confusion going on in your mind. You love your husband, yet you can't help but wonder what you are missing out there in the big world.

A couple of thoughts, I would encourage you to take some time and figure out what it is that you really feel like you are missing. Is it time with friends? Independence? Travel alone? Attention of other men or other romantic adventures? What?

Once you know, then you can begin to decide just how important these things are to you and if you are willing to sacrifice what you have with your husband now to have those things. You cannot have them all, yet you may be able to have a nice blend.

If you want independence, then open up your own checking account. Set some personal goals around what you'd like to do with your money, split the bills, save for something you'd really like. If you want time with friends, schedule some time out alone with them once in a while. The truth is -You do not have to be alone to feel independent.

I wonder if I made a wise choice in marrying him.

Robin's Question: My husband and I have been married for about 5 months. Sometimes he can be very loving to me, but other times very critical and judgmental. It has been very stressful, and I have doubts about whether I made a wise choice in marrying him. I keep thinking of divorce as an option but I don't think I have a biblical reason. We tried marriage counseling. What do I need to do?

Gloria's Answer: So often after we marry, we expect things to be the fairy tale "happily ever after" that we've dreamed about since we were little girls. And marriage is good and wonderful and fulfilling in so many ways, yet sometimes our expectations can be a little unrealistic. I say that because a great marriage doesn't happen simply because you say "I do".

My concern for you is that after only 5 months you are already seeking out justification for how to get out of it. Instead, I would love to see you putting as much effort into learning and growing together as you have been wondering how to get out. There are many great books out there about communication, loving each other, and creating a life together. My first suggestion for you would be to pick up a copy of "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. It's a great place to start!

Should I stay with my husband if he's selfish and immature?

Karen's Question: We've been married for more than 3 years and have a son that is getting ready to turn one. I have been considering divorce since I was pregnant because of my husband's selfishness. He is constantly gone hunting, playing sports, or out with his friends and doesn't spend any time with me or my son. When I was pregnant, he didn't help me with anything. I have to beg him to spend time with my son and he will never stay with him alone so I never get a break. I work a full time job and go to school two nights a week. While I'm at school, my mom watches our son because my husband goes and plays cards. I feel like I'm raising two kids. He says that I am constantly finding fault in everything he does and gets upset when I don't want to be intimate with him. What should I do?

Gloria's Answer: I first want to take the time to really acknowledge you, Karen, for being such a wonderful and loving Mom. It is tough taking care of a little one, the cooking, cleaning and loads of laundry, let alone holding a full time job and going to school on top of that! What I really hear is that you are overwhelmed, tired, and wanting some help. I don't blame you one bit!

Now, at the same time, with all that is on your plate, I wonder where your husband fits in. So many times new, busy, overwhelmed Moms forget that they are wives, lovers, and best friends, too. You want your husband to help, and your husband wants to feel loved. You have to study, and your husband wants to have fun. You have to get enough rest to make it through the next day, and your husband rolls over feeling frustrated because in the midst of life, he has lost his best friend.

Before you decide that divorce is the answer, I would love to challenge you to take some time and remember who you were before your precious little one came into your life. The attractive, fun-loving, energetic, sexy, driven, and amazing woman that your husband married is still in there and wants to come out and play, too. Take some time off from the responsibilities and remember to be just you again! 

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