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You Asked: Is It Unfair to End My Marriage?

Dear Sugar,

I have been married for over 20 years to a man 16 years older than me. I've grown out of love with him, but I'm afraid to tell him that I want a divorce. I know that this marriage is over; actually, it's been over for a long time now, but I've been sacrificing my needs to protect my family. Now I'm at a quandary; lost and confused. I don't want him to grow old alone, but I can't abandon my needs/feelings any longer. Do you have any suggestions? — Ready for Change Cindy

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Ready for Change Cindy,

I understand your fear of telling your husband you want to leave him, but you're right, you shouldn't sacrifice your needs to appease his; though it doesn't make telling him any easier. Beating around the bush will make the situation worse so I advise you to be direct and honest with him — I'm sure you'd want the same courtesy from him if the roles were reversed.

You say that you've known the marriage has been over for a while now, so I'd be surprised if your husband didn't know this was coming, but before asking him for a flat out divorce, have you given couples counseling any thought? Or are there any changes that he could make that would make this marriage work for you? If not, sit him down and break the news as gently as possible. Since there are kids involved, making the split as amicable as possible should be your number one priority. I hope I was of some help — good luck.

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Join The Conversation
KristinDaBomb KristinDaBomb 7 years
Wow. Some of the people on here are so judgmental.
Captivate Captivate 7 years
There are so many things we don't know, which makes a huge difference on what type of opinion to give. Those scolding you for a lack of commitment don't know the extent to which the marriage has decayed, what unsolvable issues you two may have, and to what extent you've already tried different methods of working this out. People who are encouraging you to leave don't know how long you've felt this way, fixable problems that haven't been explored yet, other outside factors that may be hindering your marriage.. There's just so much we don't know.Perhaps talking with trusted people who understand you both well, and hopefully can keep their mouth shut, would help you reach a well-thought out decision.
Captivate Captivate 7 years
There are so many things we don't know, which makes a huge difference on what type of opinion to give. Those scolding you for a lack of commitment don't know the extent to which the marriage has decayed, what unsolvable issues you two may have, and to what extent you've already tried different methods of working this out. People who are encouraging you to leave don't know how long you've felt this way, fixable problems that haven't been explored yet, other outside factors that may be hindering your marriage.. There's just so much we don't know. Perhaps talking with trusted people who understand you both well, and hopefully can keep their mouth shut, would help you reach a well-thought out decision.
reallysparkle reallysparkle 7 years
*I just read my comment over, and I meant by "something is wrong with you" that something is up, not that there's a problem with you per se! Just clearing it up ;)
reallysparkle reallysparkle 7 years
He has to know that something is wrong with you. Sounds obvious, but have you talked to him about this? How long have your troubles been going on? Did any one thing provoke your desire to get a divorce? I suggest as a last-ditch effort to try some counselling. "Til death do us part", remember? Good luck.
hope2be hope2be 7 years
I'm with muirnea on this one.If you've not yet discussed or worked it out with your husband, make the attempt.If things don't work out and he won't work to keep the marriage together, it's really not your responsibility to keep everyone happy.Good luck.
hope2be hope2be 7 years
I'm with muirnea on this one. If you've not yet discussed or worked it out with your husband, make the attempt. If things don't work out and he won't work to keep the marriage together, it's really not your responsibility to keep everyone happy. Good luck.
Muirnea Muirnea 7 years
Normally I say you should always take care of yourself and make yourself happy. But when you got married, you entered a contract to care about your spouse just as much as yourself. That's what marriage is, a commitment. You can't just ignore it when you want to. If you didn't want a commitment to someone for life, you shouldn't have gotten married, you should have thought ahead of the honeymoon to when you would get old and what life would be like then. So my advice is that you should try everything you possibly can to make your marriage work, go to counseling, talk to friends, ask advice on sites like this, talk things out with your husband, etc. etc. etc. You don't have to abandon your needs just b/c you're married. Just tell your husband what your needs are and see if y'all can work to get them taken care of. Just b/c you are in a relationship, married or not, doesn't mean either person should sacrifice what he or she needs. Anything and everything that could possibly help, you should try. Now, if none of that works or your husband isn't willing to do his part to try and fix things, that's when it's ok to leave and make yourself truly happy. Because if your husband won't live up to his side of the marriage agreement, or if y'all really have just fallen out of love and can tell that you have, b/c none of your efforts to fix the problems work...then there is nothing more you can do. And that's when I think it's perfectly ok to just take care of yourself. As long as you do everything you can to live up to your side of the commitment first.And I didn't mention the age problem you were worried about b/c it doesn't matter. It doesn't take another person to make someone happy. And people find love again at all kinds of age's anyway. Anyway, the issue is to figure out if you can make this marriage work or not. After that, it's not your responsibility to keep everyone else happy. That is everyone's personal responsibility.
Muirnea Muirnea 7 years
Normally I say you should always take care of yourself and make yourself happy. But when you got married, you entered a contract to care about your spouse just as much as yourself. That's what marriage is, a commitment. You can't just ignore it when you want to. If you didn't want a commitment to someone for life, you shouldn't have gotten married, you should have thought ahead of the honeymoon to when you would get old and what life would be like then. So my advice is that you should try everything you possibly can to make your marriage work, go to counseling, talk to friends, ask advice on sites like this, talk things out with your husband, etc. etc. etc. You don't have to abandon your needs just b/c you're married. Just tell your husband what your needs are and see if y'all can work to get them taken care of. Just b/c you are in a relationship, married or not, doesn't mean either person should sacrifice what he or she needs. Anything and everything that could possibly help, you should try. Now, if none of that works or your husband isn't willing to do his part to try and fix things, that's when it's ok to leave and make yourself truly happy. Because if your husband won't live up to his side of the marriage agreement, or if y'all really have just fallen out of love and can tell that you have, b/c none of your efforts to fix the problems work...then there is nothing more you can do. And that's when I think it's perfectly ok to just take care of yourself. As long as you do everything you can to live up to your side of the commitment first. And I didn't mention the age problem you were worried about b/c it doesn't matter. It doesn't take another person to make someone happy. And people find love again at all kinds of age's anyway. Anyway, the issue is to figure out if you can make this marriage work or not. After that, it's not your responsibility to keep everyone else happy. That is everyone's personal responsibility.
macchiatolove macchiatolove 7 years
I feel like I need more info before I can make a decision.I feel a bit torn - I need to know more about what the problems are, and whether they're fixable. I think 20 years is a long time, surely you could try to work on the relationship?I would try to do everything possible before I ended the marriage, but if truly nothing is working, then I would bite the bullet and be completely honest with your hubby, I'm sure you'd appreciate the same treatment.
macchiatolove macchiatolove 7 years
I feel like I need more info before I can make a decision. I feel a bit torn - I need to know more about what the problems are, and whether they're fixable. I think 20 years is a long time, surely you could try to work on the relationship? I would try to do everything possible before I ended the marriage, but if truly nothing is working, then I would bite the bullet and be completely honest with your hubby, I'm sure you'd appreciate the same treatment.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 7 years
Stop sacrificing yourself and leave, no one is worth your misery.
khadeekiinsz khadeekiinsz 7 years
I agree with Gscott, and lickety split. Couldn't say it better.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
yeah, i don't think you get a pass to end the marriage because he's 16 years older, you've been married over 20 years, aren't happy, or any of that. what exactly did you think marriage would be? it's work to keep a marriage healthy and thriving. the line "i can't abandon my needs/feelings any longer" is just silly. be a grown-up and face the fact that you entered into a contract that read (as mentioned about) "till death do us part" as well as "in good times and in bad". here's the bad; suck it up, stop complaining and tend to your marriage.
Jude-C Jude-C 7 years
If the problems you're having are too deep and irreconciliable to fix, then by all means you shouldn't let his age stop you from leaving. Don't stay out of pity if you're miserable and you and/or he are unwilling to work on those things or just can't find a solution.
GScott86 GScott86 7 years
*sigh* Seems like commitment is so difficult for people these days. Not to make anyone feel guilty at all though. But just ask yourself, how did it get to this point? Why? Is it that you're not IN love with him? Do you love him at all? It's kind of like how someone doesn't want to be with someone because they don't feel that "spark" anymore, but they still love the person. The point is, in a relationship both parties have to communicate effectively for it to work period. If it's over because there's no spark, it's just say that neither of you even want to try to make it work. The park is there because people enjoy each other's company and they do things together and create that spark. Lightening isn't just going to fall out of the sky (unless there's a thunderstorm nearby). But if it's over for other reasons, and there's just no going back period, then it's not unfair to end it. You can be apart. I'm sure you two can be friends, depending on capability of doing so and time frame. You two will always share a bond through your children, and well if you're there for each other on some level growing old alone isn't a problem. It's just the aspect of feeling like you have to show affection and love (which shouldn't be a chore and you should have to try at all even, should happen naturally really) won't be there anymore and you won't have to worry about if you're doing your "job" or not. Do what's good for you, going days feeling sick and ill won't help either parties. Just think everything in your life through, and make a "logical" choice as well as your emotional one.
cutiekat88 cutiekat88 7 years
i know it "Til death do us part".but,if your unhappy and yourwilling to work on it go to counseling.if not just end it for good if that will make you happy just make sure your chose is the right one because there is no going back after that.
cutiekat88 cutiekat88 7 years
i know it "Til death do us part".but,if your unhappy and your willing to work on it go to counseling.if not just end it for good if that will make you happy just make sure your chose is the right one because there is no going back after that.
L7amiguita L7amiguita 7 years
"Til death do us part". Those are the vows YOU made. Marriage isn't easy but you need to be willing to put work into it. Have you tried counseling? Talking to him? What exactly is it that is making you unhappy? Could BOTH of you make changes that will make your marriage a happy one? Being married to someone for over 20years is not something to be taken lightly. I understand that you said you have been feeling this way for a while, but have you tried working on whatever the problem is? You don't seem to 'hate' your husband or anything, so I'm guessing he didn't cheat on you, abuse you, etc. Ultimately, this decision is yours but just remember that you made those vows so you at least owe it to your husband, and yourself, to do everything possible to make things work.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
How is it unfair to end a marriage that you can't be in any longer? Chances are, your husband is a smart guy, I don't think it would be far fetched to say that he either feels the same way, or knows you feel this way on some level. You can't stay in a marriage to ensure someone else doesn't grow old alone. Do you want to grow old in a situation that is not benefiting you at all?You just need to tell him that you've been together 20 years, but this is how you have been feeling for a while, and say that you think it's best for both of you that you divorce. I am sure you care for your husband, so be gentle and say that you feel you have grown apart and he needs someone in his life that loves him very much.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
How is it unfair to end a marriage that you can't be in any longer? Chances are, your husband is a smart guy, I don't think it would be far fetched to say that he either feels the same way, or knows you feel this way on some level. You can't stay in a marriage to ensure someone else doesn't grow old alone. Do you want to grow old in a situation that is not benefiting you at all? You just need to tell him that you've been together 20 years, but this is how you have been feeling for a while, and say that you think it's best for both of you that you divorce. I am sure you care for your husband, so be gentle and say that you feel you have grown apart and he needs someone in his life that loves him very much.
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