Ask a counsellor: Should I leave my husband?

16th Apr 19 | Lifestyle

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a woman navigating a marriage that seems to have run its course.


The problem…

“I have been married for 14 years but for the past five years it’s been a marriage in name only. Although my husband and I still share a house and look after our two children, we have almost separate lives. We sleep in separate rooms and I can’t remember the last time we had a kind word to say to each other. I think things started to go wrong after the birth of our second child, but I don’t think this was the cause. We just seemed to drift apart.

“Now it feels that we are just going through the motions. I have tried to talk to him about a separation, but he just shrugs it off, saying that if I am unhappy, I can leave if I want. I have thought about this and I AM unhappy, but then I worry about how this will affect our children.

“They’re already showing signs of being distressed. My son, who is 9, still wets the bed and my daughter, who is 7, is always getting into fights at school. Also, I can’t possibly afford my own place I don’t know what to do for the best, but I know I need to do something because this can’t go on.”

Fiona says…

I agree and you are right to be concerned about your children in the event of a separation. When parents separate, their children will often find a way to blame themselves for what has happened. It can be a traumatic and confusing time for them. However, probably no more so than growing up over a long period of time with two parents who are clearly unhappy and seemingly trapped in a loveless marriage.

Neither scenario is ideal and to give yourselves the maximum chance of avoiding such outcomes, you should both consider talking to a relationship counsellor, preferably together.

Your relationship has deteriorated significantly and a Relate counsellor will enable you to start talking to each other again. A counsellor can help you explore whether there is scope for you to save your marriage and if there is, they can guide you through this process. They can also help you through a separation, if it comes to it.

Of course, this all assumes that you can get your husband to seek help. If he won’t, you may need to point out a few home truths. The most important of which is that his children’s behaviour already indicates they are being badly affected by their home environment and surely, he wants to do all he can to stop this.

You could also explain that in the event of a separation, he will be forced to provide for his children and probably, it is he that will have to leave the family home, not you and the children. Hopefully this will make him realise that nothing good will come of letting things continue as they are. However, if he is still dismissive, perhaps this marriage has indeed run its course. In which case, I suggest you go straight to Relate yourself and begin the process of separation.

:: If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

© Press Association 2019