10 Tips for Managing Your Fear of Divorce

Are You Ready for Divorce?

TAKE THIS QUIZ and Find Out. 

Minute Read

Why is it that, even when you know what you should do, you don’t do it? You want to do it. You intend to do it. But at the same time, the very thought of doing the thing you know you should do (like, get a divorce) terrifies you. So you wait, turned into stone by your fear of divorce.

Meanwhile, you do nothing – except beat yourself up for being a miserable slug who just can’t seem to get it together.

If your fear of divorce is paralyzing you, you’re not alone.

Being Afraid to Get a Divorce is Normal

I get emails from people* every day who say things like:

I used to think of my husband and I as partners. But several years ago he got laid off and he hasn’t gone back to work since. I work upwards of 60 hours a week. I love my job, but I never thought I’d be the sole support of the family! Sure, my husband helps with the kids more now, and he brings in a little cash from handyman jobs. But he’s not even trying to get a job anymore.  Meanwhile, I’m exhausted! I know I should give him an ultimatum. But I’m afraid that if we get a divorce my kids will hate me AND I’ll have to pay him alimony! What should I do?


I’ve been married for 20+ years. My wife and I haven’t been intimate for as long as I can remember. (Translation: it’s been years.) All my wife does is criticize me. We never go anywhere or do anything together. We don’t even talk much anymore. I know I should get a divorce, but what if I leave my wife and then never find anyone to be with again? And what if she turns the kids against me?


My husband and I have been separated for the past two years. He said he is in not in love with me anymore and now lives with another woman. My husband has been giving me money to help me pay the bills, but now he says he can’t do it anymore and wants a divorce. I can’t live on what I make. I’m hoping that he will change his mind and come back to me. I don’t want a divorce. Help!

The Hard Truth About Divorce

Getting a divorce sucks. It will change everything in your life, and about your life. What’s worse is that you have no guarantee when you start your divorce where you will be when it ends.

It doesn’t matter if you are the one spinning in circles trying to decide whether to get a divorce, or whether your spouse has made that decision for you. Either way, not knowing what the future will bring can make your present pretty freaking terrifying.

Young businessman holding his head and thinking, "divorce sucks!,"while a small cloud rains on him.

You’re worried about where you will live, and whether you will end up broke and homeless after your divorce is over. You’re worried about your kids, and whether your divorce will ruin their lives or turn them against you. You are afraid that you will spend the rest of your life alone.

You are afraid. Period. Full stop.

What Fear Does to You

As uncomfortable as it is to be afraid, fear is a normal human emotion. It's largely responsible for our survival as a
. (If our ancestors weren’t afraid of the saber-tooth tiger that was racing towards them, they would have all been eaten!)

As a matter-of-fact, helping us survive is exactly what fear is designed to do. 

Yet, as life-saving as fear can be, if left unchecked, fear can also be life-debilitating.

When we’re afraid, our bodies react differently. Our brain releases stress hormones that spike our blood glucose levels, raise our heart rate, and raise our blood pressure. Our breathing gets quick and shallow. We go into a state of hyper-arousal.

While all of those reactions are appropriate when you’re facing an immediate physical threat, when you’re dealing with a longer-term emotional problem, your body’s normal fear reaction becomes much less helpful.

Living in a constant state of fear, or hyper-arousal, activates our body’s stress response. As a result, we experience headaches, stomach upset, high blood pressure, chest pain, insomnia, and a host of other negative symptoms. Living that way for an extended period of time can directly and negatively affect our health.

So, not only does stressing out over whether you should get a divorce or not cause you emotional turmoil, but it can also take a toll on your health.

No matter how you cut it, dealing with your fear – and overcoming it – is vital to your well-being.

The bigger question, of course, is: How do you do that? More specifically, how do you overcome your fear of divorce?

Woman standing in front of a cornfield, looking in, with saying, "Don't let the fear of the unknown keep you from experiencing a life greater than you have ever known."

How to Deal With Your Fear of Divorce

It’s easy enough for the gurus (and your friends) to tell you that, “You just have to face your fears and move forward!” They’re not the ones whose lives and families are about to implode.

The truth is that there is no magic pill you can take that will turn you into a superhero, or make dealing with your divorce easy or fun. No matter what you do, your life is going to be shrouded in uncertainty and ugliness for some period of time.

That will feel awful.

But, living in a horrible marriage, while you're worried about (or thinking about) divorce 24/7, doesn’t exactly feel fabulous either.

If you find yourself caught between the terrible marriage you know and the terrifying divorce that you don’t, these tips can help.

10 Tips to Help You Deal With Your Fear of Divorce

1. Get the Facts

Once you start to make the unknown known, it stops being so scary. Take the time to educate yourself about divorce. Learn about the various ways you can go through a divorce. Find out how the divorce process really works. Investigate your financial situation and learn what your finances will likely look like if you get a divorce..

While you may be afraid that learning about divorce will only make you more scared of it, the opposite is usually true. The more you demystify the divorce process, and the more you understand what you are facing, the more confident you will be. The same thing is true for your finances. Even if your financial situation isn't great, you can't start fixing it until you understand what the problem is.

Fog covered forest with saying, "Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all."
INfographic showing 5 tips for dealing with your fear of divorce

2. Connect With Your Power 

Everyone has a source of power that they can draw on when times are tough. Some people get strength from their faith. Others are bolstered by their connection to their friends and family. Still others become empowered by keeping their eye on a better future, and by remembering the reasons why they wanted a divorce in the first place.

Whatever your source of power is, tap into that. If you don’t know what your source of power is, now is the time to find it. What do you do that makes you feel strong and confident? If you’ve never felt strong or confident, try imagining what might make you strong and confident. Get into therapy. Go to a Tony Robbins seminar. Get yourself a coach. Work on yourself. The stronger you feel, the more you will be able to manage your fears and put them behind you.

3. Breathe!

Deep breathing has been scientifically proven to affect the heart, brain, digestion and immune system. It helps you relax and brings more oxygen into your brain and body. That, in turn, helps you feel better and think more clearly. Both feeling better and thinking clearly are vital if you want to deal with your fear of divorce in a productive way.

Many different types of breathing exercises will help calm your body and your mind. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong all have breathing exercises you can use to get control over your body and fight your fears. You can also use a simple, belly-breathing technique. Just close your eyes, place your hand on your belly, and focus on breathing so deeply into your belly that your hand moves outwards as your belly expands. Breathing into your belly for as little as a minute or two will automatically make you feel better, calmer, and more in control of yourself and your situation.

4. Get Out of Your Head and into Your Body.

Your physical body – how you feel – affects how you think and how you act. When you find yourself in a mental and emotional twist over what the future holds, getting physically active does more than just distract you. It can actually change your mood and help see your life very differently.

No matter how down, depressed, stressed out, or confused, you feel, make the time to move! Exercise. Eat healthy foods. Get enough sleep. It’s way easier to face your fear of divorce when you are feeling physically strong and healthy than it is when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. So when you fear and doubt have you feeling sick to your stomach or totally stressed out  - MOVE! The harder you work out, the more you breathe, and the more you get your blood flowing, the better you'll feel.

6. Clear YOUR MIND

Facing your fears takes mental strength, clarity, and energy. While it may be tempting to try to take the edge off your fears by having a few extra glasses of wine at dinner, or a mixed drink or three afterwards, medicating yourself into a stupor will not help you deal with your real problems! 

Close up of eyeball with the word "Fear" on it: Fear of Divorce

The same thing is true for prescription medication and food. While the right prescription drugs can help you sleep and deal with debilitating depression or anxiety, if your medication leaves you tired and fuzzy, it may be time to visit your doctor and readjust your medication. And while eating yourself into a food coma may help you dull the pain of divorce for a while, ultimately it will drag down your body and clog up your mind. None of that will help you in the long run. 

6. Get Yourself Into Action.

There's a reason people say, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” When you spend too much time obsessing over all the things that could go wrong if you get a divorce, it’s easy to scare yourself so badly that you do absolutely nothing. Ironically, allowing yourself to be paralyzed with fear only keeps you locked in that fear longer.

Instead of spending your time catastrophizing about what might or could happen if you do or don’t get divorced, try getting yourself into action. Start educating yourself about divorce. Actually look at your personal finances. Get yourself into therapy. Go talk with a lawyer or a financial advisor.  It doesn’t matter whether you’ve actually decided to divorce or not. Just doing something will often help you move through your fears.

7. Think of the Best Instead of the Worst.

Part of the reason that fear controls us is that it makes us focus on all of the negative things that could happen while minimizing the positive ones. What most people don’t realize, especially when fear of the unknown has them in a chokehold, is that they can choose what they focus on. 

Instead of thinking of the 10,000,000 ways your life will suck while you are going through a divorce, spend time thinking of all the ways that your life could be awesome if you were finally able to live it on your terms. If you could create the life you wanted, any way that you wanted (except by forcing someone else - i.e. your spouse - to do what YOU wanted!) what would it look like? Focus on that.

8. Minimize Your Downside.

What’s your biggest fear about divorce? Is it that you will end up broke and homeless? Or, that you will be alone for the rest of your life? Or, that your kids will hate you for the rest of their lives? Whatever it is, admit it. Say the words: “If I get divorced I’m afraid that I’m going to end up being a crazy cat lady, living alone in a tent under a bridge, while my kids spend the rest of their lives telling their therapist how much they hate me.” Now start thinking about what you can do to make sure that whatever it is that you’re afraid of doesn’t happen.

Think you will be broke? Talk to a financial planner. Map out a solid financial plan. Wrap your head around the fact that you might have to go back to work, or get a higher-paying job. Worried about your kids? Talk to a child psychologist. Make time to do things with your kids NOW and strengthen your relationship with them. Obviously, doing these things won’t guarantee that the worst won’t happen. But seeing that you can take action to make it less likely that your worst fears will materialize, can help you get past them.

Multiracial Group of Friends with Hands in Stack, support gorup.

9. Join a Support Group.

Surrounding yourself with people who have walked the path you are about to walk on, and have come out the other side, can be both inspiring and empowering. Plus, by talking to others, you will probably find that, before they divorced, they had the same kinds of fears that you did. 

Divorce support groups exist in all parts of the country. There are local divorce support groups and online support groups. Some support groups work with religious organizations. Others are secular. Some support groups are just for women.  Other groups are open to men and women. If you look, you will find a divorce support group that is a good fit for you.

10. Get a Good Therapist or a Coach.

Helping people manage and work through their fears is what therapists do. Helping people decide whether getting a divorce makes sense for them is what divorce coaches do.

If you have been tied up in knots for months (or years!), trying to get up the courage to file for divorce, working with a good therapist can help you untie yourself and move forward.  If you keep going back and forth in your head about whether you should or shouldn't get a divorce, working with a good divorce coach can help you get clear on what you really want so you can make a decision and move forward. Either way, working with a professional can help you get past your fears so you can start living your life!

Bonus Tip: Practice Gratitude

Being grateful when you're going through a divorce seems like an oxymoron. How can you be thankful when you're going through hell and everything in your life sucks?

The truth is, though, that EVERYTHING in your life probably doesn't suck. You're just not looking at the things that are going well. You're not looking at the fact that you're alive, had food to eat, and had a roof over your head last night. Maybe you forgot that your kids are healthy, your friends are rallying around you, or you have the full use of your body and your brain. You're not a quadripligec or in a coma.

All of those things seem so basic that we all take them for granted. But what if you didn't? What if you actually felt grateful for what you DID have instead of miserable about what you DON'T (or maybe might not) have?

Making that small shift in perspective can make a BIG difference in how you feel. What's more, you can't feel thankful and fearful at the same time. So, even if you can only get yourself into a grateful state for 20 minutes a day, that's 20 minutes you WON'T feel fearful. Do that. Build on that. Soon you'll find that you're not nearly as fearful as you once were.

Moving Past Your Fear of Divorce

Being afraid to divorce is a very real fear. Denying it, or pretending it doesn’t exist, won’t help you move past it.

While using these tips won’t instantly turn you into a fearless superhero, they can be an effective way for you to start to manage your fear of divorce. Hopefully, they will help you can move forward through this tough time, and create a better life for yourself and your kids.

Foggy forest with Gandhi quote: "The enemy is fear. We think it is hate. But it is fear."


* These stories are based on real people, but they are composites of several people’s stories.  I have also tweaked and changed the facts in each story to protect everyone’s identity. Any resemblance you may see between these facts and your life is just a coincidence. Really.

Revised and updated on April 20, 2023.

Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


deciding to divorce, divorce advice, divorce after 50, divorce blog, divorce emotions

You may also like

      • Hello,

        I am married man 49 years old with 2 children.. We or I should say i have not been happy on years. We have not had sex in 2 years and prior to 2 years ago it was minimal. I have even had an affair and she has not asked me to leave( I don’t know why… I assume because of the kids). We tried counseling prior to the affairs.. I am a good father. I am a terrible husband but a good person I believe. I just want more out of life than this in regards to my marriage. Being a father is the best thing I ever did in my life.
        I’m terrified if we divorce that the kids will hate me. I’m afraid if we divorce that it will cause negative impact on my kids life’s. I like reading this website and just typing this makes me feel better.

        • I’m glad that reading this website makes you feel a little better. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas about how to handle your situation moving forward.

          I can understand that you are afraid if you divorce your kids will hate you. It’s awesome that you care so much about them. I have no idea what they’ll do if you should divorce, but if you have a good relationship with them now, you will hopefully be able to maintain that even if you get a divorce. A lot will depend on HOW you divorce. If you and your wife can divorce amicably, you can minimize the impact on your kids. If not, then it’s true that your kids may suffer. But, I have some questions for you:

          How long are you going to stay married out of fear your kids will hate you if you divorce? Are you going to wait until they’re 18? How do you know they still won’t hate you then? Are you willing to stay married for the rest of your life just so your kids don’t get mad? Do you think that’s what they would want for you? Is that what you would want for them if the situation was reversed? What are you teaching them about marriage?

          I don’t know the answers to those questions. But they are questions you may want to ask yourself.

          Right now you are staying married out of fear. That can never be the base for a strong relationship. On the other hand, maybe that’s enough for you. That’s what you need to figure out.

          Hope this helps.


  • Karen,
    I been with my husband since high school. I’m 30 years old right now. In total we been together for 15 years and married for 4. We have a 4 yr old son together. For the last couple of years things have not been the same . I dont feel like im attracted to him and i never initiate sex. I come from a muslim middle eastern background and i always get criticize by my family for even having the thought of getting a divorce. My husband works 12 hour shifts and does not come home until night time so this leaves me getting everything done by myself during the week with my son . I also work full time. two years ago , i was guilty of cheating on him and he also been insecure this made it even worst. We dont share dreams with one another and it almost feels like im living with my roommate. In my heart i feel like divorce will be the best option for us as i also feel that he feels the same way but neither one of us will say it. He is always accusing me of cheating which is pushing me even further. When he is home , we do not have conversation. My life is a routine. I’m afraid to leave and my son will suffer. I’m capable of being able to do everything on my own because this is what i do now during the week. Financially, i make more money than him. Which leaves me to wonder is that the reason why he staying with me ? he states that he loves me but i dont know i dont feel like there is a spark there any more. I tried going on vacations just me n him , dinner and there is no conversation NOTHING. I do want more kids and we been struggling for a year to get pregnant but i dont think having another baby will solve this or make this situation better. I think now that im 30 im rushing the baby process . I also worry about how my family will look at me and their criticism , i think if i had more family support and in my corner it will be much easier. I dont know what to do and i’m afraid.

    • Oh my! I can tell how scared you are. And I understand completely. I wish I could tell you “Don’t worry about a thing. Everything will work out.” The problem is that, while things usually work out for the best in the end, getting through the middle can be totally miserable!

      Okay. First things first: DO NOT HAVE ANOTHER BABY! A baby will not make your situation any better. If anything, it will make it worse. Plus, if you do end up getting divorced, then you have another kid to worry about.

      I understand that you want to have another child before it’s too late. But if you really love your children (both the one you have and the ones you’re still dreaming of having) think about what bringing them into this marriage will be like FOR THEM! Unless and until your marriage is stable, having another baby would not be a good choice. (Sorry!)

      Next, do not underestimate how much your family will criticize you. (Again, sorry!) I’ve divorced people of middle-eastern descent in the past. There’s a lot of criticism that accompanies divorce in many middle eastern cultures. That doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to stay in an unhappy marriage forever. But you also can’t assume that your family will support the idea of divorce either. Eventually, they will probably come around. But, you never know. What’s more, you can’t count on it.

      What that means is that, if you’re going to get divorced, you need to get support from other places. There are lots of divorce support groups, both online and offline. Find a support group. Find supportive friends. And above all, get a therapist.

      Finally, before doing anythign else I would suggest you try to talk to your husband. Let him know how miserable you are. You may think your misery is obvious. Trust me when I tell you that he might not have any clue that you are as unhappy as you are.

      If you can, get your husband to go to therapy with you. Do everything you can to work on your marriage. If you are successful, and your marriage improves, and you are happy, great! Mission accomplished.

      But, if you are unsuccessful, at least you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you tried everything you could, and your marriage just didn’t work. If that happens, you will be able to walk away with much more peace and strength because you will know that you’re doing the best thing you can for yourself and your son.

      I know that none of this is going to be easy. My heart goes out to you. But, what I can tell you is that, one way or the other, this journey will make you stronger. In the end, it can also lead you to the happiness you desire.

      Hope this helps.


  • Karen, you’re so sweet to offer neutral perspectives for sad spouses. Thank you. My question is, what if you literally cannot afford to leave? I put my career on hold for kids, now I’m back working two jobs, but working with special needs students doesn’t pay well. However, it allows me time to still pick up the kids after school which I have to do, and get them to practices, etc. My husband works all the time, always stressed, never home until 7 or 8. He makes quadruple what I do. Controls the expenses and investments. We’ve been married 21 years but zero attraction, no common interests nor compatibility except for our teenaged (13 and 15) kids. I’m 48 and bored and lonely. I find myself thinking about enjoying the second half of my life on my own all the time. Maybe finding a travel partner, at least someone who doesn’t make me feel like I’m just orbiting his world. I feel like my only obstacle is I haven’t won the lottery (or an inheritance) yet! Such a sad place to exist.

    • It is a sad place to exist. I’m sorry you’re in it!

      First off, you may have already done this, but, if you haven’t, you may want to clue your husband in to how miserable you are. You may ask him if he’s willing to find a way to spend more time with you. The answer may well be, “No,” but at least you will have tried. (Believe it or not, a lot of men don’t realize how truly miserable their wives are until their wife files for divorce. Unfortunately, by that time, it’s often too late.)

      Another thing you may want to try is marriage counseling. Obviously, it doesn’t always work. And your husband may not agree to go. But, if he does, that may provide a way to repair your marriage. (I know. You probably feel like it can’t be reparied. But until you truly try and give it your all, you can’t know.)

      The next thing you probably want to do is to get real about your financial prospects. Talk to a divorce lawyer. Talk to a financial planner. Try to get a picture of what your financial situation might look like if you get a divorce. You might end up with more money than you think. (NOTE: No lawyer or financial person will give you any guarantees. But if they can at least give you a range of what your finances could look like if you get a divorce, that would be helpful.)

      Once you have all of that you’ll be in a better position to assess your options.

      Mind you, that doesn’t mean that you’ll like what your options are. If you get a divorce, your lifestyle WILL take a hit. But, you may find out that the hit won’t be totally disastrous. Then comes the hard part:

      You have to decide what you want. You have to choose what kind of a life you want, and what you’re willing to do to have it. I know that sounds simplistic. It’s not.

      If you were willing to significantly downsize your life so you could live on what you earn, you would be free to leave now. (I understand that your life would look REALLY different if you did that. I’m not suggesting that you should. All I’m saying is that, if you were okay with that kind of life, you wouldn’t feel so trapped right now.)

      On the other hand, if a lawyer can tell you that you will end up with a decent amount in child support and spousal support if you divorce, then your downsizing may not need to be THAT significant. But, the truth is, you will probably still have to downsize.

      If you prefer to live the lifestyle you are currently living, you have a couple of options. One choice is to increase your own earning potential. That may take a few years to do. But, that’s all the more reason to start now. Or you can stay in your marriage and continue to live as you are.

      So, what will it be?

      Mind you, there are no right and wrong answers. There’s nothing wrong with staying in a boring lonely marriage that meets all of your material needs, and your kids’ material needs, if you’re okay with that. (A lot of our grandparents did exactly that.) There’s also nothing wrong with deciding you’re willing to give up your lifestyle to get more joy in your life. These your questions, and your answers. You just have to decide what you want.

      Unfortunately, that’s the hardest part.

      I wish you the best,


  • I have a wonderful wife of 37 years and three grown children ( fourth one deceased in a drowning accident. I was in a strict religious group when I had serious doubts about my upcoming marriage. The religious leader told me I would never forgive myself if I backed out so I went through with it but my heart was not at peace. I never really felt married. I wasn’t able to question the religious group so we continued on with life working hard and raising great kids. We functioned well as partners in raising our family and gaining financial security. We both left the religious group. I had a manic period and told my wife I didn’t want the marriage – I had no plan for moving out or divorcing and shortly backed off and apologized. My depression grew so severe that I went into a mental hospital which was followed by five more hospitalizations while somehow maintaining a career. I don’t know why my wife didn’t leave because I continued to voice unhappiness with our marriage during the hospitalizations. After retirement I faced a huge void in my life and loss of purpose and self worth. The constant questioning and ambivalence led to a suicide attempt followed by a long hospitalization and residential mental treatment program – the obsession of should I stay or should I go occupied my mind nearly all day. I was encouraged to separate by one counselorand did so. Immmedistly felt euphoria and an end to suicidality until codependency and time spent as grandparents brought us back together.. I just don’t have the courage to break it off. I do love her but fault find. She is the only support I have right now as I no longer have religious faith. I am nearly 68 and feel my mental health might not survive a divorce. She is so supportive I can’t bring myself to leave. I am so divided I’ve lost ability to be decisive. I do see a counselor and psychiatrist accompanied by typical medications. I realize your role is not to point me in any direction – especially for someone with a mental illness history. Unfortunately I have rarely ever done what I really wanted in life so I am challenged at being assertive – all my matterial needs are met but I have so much conflict within.
    I appreciate your web advice and wanted to get this off my chest. If all you can offer is best wishes, I understand.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head – you have a lot of conflict inside of you. It is that conflict that is making you so horribly unhappy.

      I’m not a therapist, and I don’t have a mental health degree. I can’t tell you what to do. But I wonder if there’s more going on here than just dissatisfaction with your marriage.

      You said that after retired you faced a huge void in your life, and a loss of purpose and self worth. Have you addressed that? Have you tried to find something to do with your life that makes you feel worthwhile? Something that makes you feel fulfilled and happy? Maybe at this point you could volunteer, or get a job doing something you’ve always wanted to do even if it doesn’t pay well (or pay at all). I don’t know you so I can’t tell you what you could do, or what you would like. What I can say is that, if you found something to do that you loved, something that gave your life meaning, that might help you look at your marriage differently. (… or not. But you’ll never know unless you try!)

      I’m not suggesting that you ignore the state of your marriage. Perhaps you could do things with your wife that would build up your relationship too. All I am saying is that you know you have mental health issues and you don’t know if you’d survive a divorce. Those are good reasons not to divorce! On the other hand, this is your life. You’ve got to make the choices that are right for you.

      I don’t know if this helped at all. I hope so.



  • Hi, I had been in love with my wife for 8 years and now we have been married for 8 years. Last 3 years there had been some fight due to a girl involving in my life. Even before my wife had terrible fights with me due to me seeing my parents and only sister.but now fights are happening even in front of my kids. Fighting in front of my kids and smashing my phone, tab on d floor in front of them is really making my kids afraid. I think she is having a psycho problem even from long time. But time to time I have forgotten everything and got back to her. Now things are bad my 9 years old son is being told that his father is bad and 3 years old son is also tried to take away from loving me. I really cant live like this. Life is not to suffer….but I can suffer if my kids future is good. But because of my wifes upset behavior it’s also not sure. Now I need to devorse. Bit I am afraid how my kids will live.they love me so much so do I. But now I am looking fwd to devorse and take my kids also away from my wife. Please help me in the fear to drop my past and need to take my kids.

    • Oh my! It sounds like you are really hurting. My heart goes out to you. But, as a father, you’ve got to put your kids first. Will a divorce hurt your kids? Yes. Few children want their parents to divorce. But, if your wife’s behavior may be hurting your kids even more than a divorce would!

      If your wife is as volatile as you say, you’re going to need a good divorce lawyer. But find a divorce lawyer who is also reasonable. You don’t want to make a war if you don’t have to do so.

      As for how you drop your fear, I don’t know that you do. You just get the courage to do what you need to do even though you’re afraid. When you do that, you become in control of yourself. Slowly, the fear becomes less important.

      Since you’re doing this for your kids, it might help if you put a picture of your kids on your phone, and anywhere else where you spend a lot of time. Seeing that picture will remind you of what matters.

      Hope this helps.

  • I am 6 months pregnant and we have a two year old son. We’ve been married for just under 5 years and divorce has come up so many times in the past few years. Sometimes I would bring it up as a threat, other times he brought it up in all seriousness and wanting to proceed. For one reason or another, usually my begging not to, divorce never happened. Unfortunately, there was some physical and verbal abuse on his end, with name calling and saying truly terrible things up until about 3 months ago. He also tells a lot of white lies quite often and has even denied them in the past when confronted with the truth. That inky fed into my already insecure trust issues. We tried counseling in the past, but he has refused to go the past few years and says it’s a waste of time and money. The past few months, we had been sleeping in separate bedrooms out of stubbornness and neither of us has given the marriage true effort, in any way shape or form. I am obsessed with my son and being the best mom possible and rarely put my husband or his needs before my son. It’s been over 5 weeks since we’ve had sex and neither of us really even tried to be intimate. My husband brings up divorce every once in awhile but he brought it up again today and said this is really it. He’s fallen out of love, doesn’t want to work on it, and won’t be happy with me. Despite how unhappy I have felt in the marriage, it is still hard to hear and I’m terrified to go through this process and the embarrassment, defeat, and unknown of divorce. Help.

    • Oh my! Where to start.

      First of all, just because your husband won’t go to marriage counseling doesn’t mean you can’t go to individual counseling yourself. I strongly suggest that you do so. It will help you tremendously to have someone you can talk to and who can help guide you through this stage in your marriage and your life.

      Second, filing for divorce when your 6 months pregnant may not be the wisest move. It will put a lot of extra stress on you and your baby right now. Obviously, if your husband files, there’s nothing you can do about it. But it might make sense for the two of you to put things on hold for a few months until after the baby is born.

      While you wait for the baby, you need to prepare yourself for your future. Unfortunately, that means divorce.

      I’m not saying that divorce is inevitable, but it sure sounds like you’re headed in that direction. Being prepared for it in case it happens makes a ton of sense. Once the baby comes you’re going to be sleep deprived and your hormones will be all out of whack. So doing as much as you can now makes sense on many levels.

      I know that the thought of divorce is probably terrifying. I get that. Unfortunately, since (as you said) neither you nor your husband have given your marriage true effort, you’ve ended up in a place where he says divorce is your only option. I don’t know if that’s true. It very well may be. There is such a thing as the “{pont of no return.” What I do know is that, without help and a serious committment on both of your parts to work on your marriage, it seems likely you’ll get a divorce.

      At this point, you need to decide whether you’re willing to go all in on your marriage or not. Your husband needs to do the same. If you’re both willing to work on your marriage, you may be able to turn things around. If not, then you’re probably headed for divorce. (Sorry!) Either way, understanding what divorce will involve may help you decide whether you want to go down that road, or give your marriage one more try.

      If you’re interested, I’ve created an online program that will help you understand how divorce works so that you can prepare yourself for what lies ahead. It’s called the Divorce Road Map Program and it’s good in any state in the U.S.

      CLICK HERE to check out the Divorce Road Map Program.

      If that doesn’t appeal to you, your other option is to hire an attorney for a consultation. You won’t get as much information as you will in the Divorce Road Map Program, but at least it will be a start.



  • we have been married for 5 years, i believe we loved each other, i don’t know we tried to IVF no success, i want a baby but i think is not baby the reason (low sperm is the reason). i don’t feel happy and i can’t trust him for anything he really didn’t give me any reason to not believe him. he is not bad person but he is rude sometimes that makes me mad. we only fight and insult each other. he never accept mistakes and he always says is my fault we fight. i am scared i will be broke and alone forever. this morning after another big fight yesterday he said lets fill the form and divorce you will never find anyone better than me. my family insist i should divorce i am not happy and he don’t respect me, i am just not ready but i don’t want live this kind of life. help

    • It sounds like you really could use marriage counseling. Signing up for some individual therapy also wouldn’t be a bad idea. It will help you see more clearly and figure out what YOU want to do. (While your family might MEAN well by telling you that you should divorce, this is not your family’s marriage! It’s yours! You’re the one who is married to your husband and you’re the one who will have to deal with a divorce if you leave him. So YOU have to know what you want to do before you do anything.)

      As far as being broke and alone forever, those are real fears. Most people have them. To manage those fears, you need to start educating yourself. Check out the Divorce Road Map Program. Talk to a divorce attorney. You have to learn about what you will be facing if you get a divorce. Once you know what’s ahead of you, then you can start to prepare yourself to get through it without ending up broke and broken.

      Hope this helps.


  • My wife is an alcoholic. We have 2 daughters 13 and 9 years old. I cannot get thru to her to get help. It is ruining our relationship, her relationships with the kids, and just plan ruining me. I have explained I will divorce her if she does not stop or get help. She continues. I have divorce papers filled out and ready to file…but I am paralyzed. I have an amazing relationship with my girls…but I am scared how they will react after. I am worried the courts wont side with me and we share custody…I am there for my kids 100% of the time. What do i do when they are alone with their mom and she is drunk. I have a great attorney that seems very confident that we can show the courts my wifes substance abuse issue. But no guarantees. Honestly, I love my wife. I want her to get help and I know our relationship would be restored. I do not want to hurt her…I want her better. Divorce is my last resort and I am terrified.

    • I understand. Divorce IS terrifying! But, it sounds like you have to choose between the lesser of two evils.

      Being married to an alcoholic is HARD! I’m not surprised that your relationship is getting ruined right now – especially if she won’t get help! But, here’s the part you probably don’t want to hear. (Sorry!)

      You can’t change your wife. You can’t force her to admit she has a drinking problem. You can’t force her to get help. AND you can’t make her stick to a treatment program and actually get clean and sober. (Again, sorry!) All you can do is manage your life and do the best you can for yourself and your kids.

      Unfortunately, divorce doesn’t come with any guarantees. You also can’t make 100% sure that your wife won’t be drunk when she is alone with them. All you can do is take every precaution possible to protect your kids. Teach them not to get in the car with their mom when she’s drunk. Do your best to NOT have her drive them anywhere. Work with your lawyer to protect your kids as best you can.

      Of course, your other choice is to stay married for 9 more years until your youngest turns 18. But, that, too has consequences. Growing up with an alcoholic parent affects kids. I don’t know how you can insulate them more: by getting a divorce or by NOT getting a divorce.

      I don’t envy your choices. They’re not easy. Just get as much information as you can. Take things slow. It might help to go to Al-Anon yourself, or work with a counselor who is familiar with substance abuse issues. S/he might be able to give you more guidance as to what would be best for your kids.

      Finally, remember, nothing is perfect. Any decision you make (including staying!) will have consequences. All you can do is make the best decision you have with the information you know.

      Good luck.


      • Thanks. My 13 year old is having a hard time with her mom and doesnt care to be around her. Will she have a say about this to the judge? Its miserable to watch how she is treated by her mom when shes been drinking. When sober, they get along. I cant imagine the confusion she has. So sad.

        • That does sound sad. Unfortunately, I can’t answer your question because it’s a legal one. What I can suggest is that you make your lawyer aware of the situation. (And, under the circumstances you’ve described, you really SHOULD get a divorce lawyer!)

          In general, courts are protective of children. They don’t want kids to be endangered by a parent’s drinking. That having been said, there’s also only so much a judge can do in these situations. What the judge will do in your case depends on the laws of your state, the specific facts of your case, and the judge. I STRONGLY suggest that you work with a good divorce lawyer to do as much as you can for your daughter. I also suggest that you get a therapist for your daughter to help her deal with everything that’s going on right now.

          I wish there was more I could say … but there’s just not. You’re in a tough spot.

          Hang in there!


    • I’ve cheated on my husband several times. We’ve been together nine years. He’s a good, good man. I love him. He’s one of my best friends. I enjoy our time together. I enjoy our life together. However a year ago last February I met another man. I wasn’t looking. I did let him in though. I fell in love with him. I made so many bad choices with him that extremely crushed my husband. He caught me in a horrible situation. Since then my husband has loved me harder though. My boyfriend lives 900 miles away and has watched me fly to him many times and has still welcomed me back with open arms. He’s been letting me figure out what I want. Keep our family with three children whole or divorce him and be with my boyfriend. This last trip he told me if I went that we were getting a divorce. He said he couldn’t take it any longer and I respect that. I broke up with my boyfriend and didn’t go but it’s a week later and I can’t get out of bed. I’m so depressed. My poor husband is now watching me mourn my boyfriend and I don’t know if I can overcome this. If I choose my boyfriend I’ll still have my husband in my life in some capacity because of the kids. We still (eventually) will get to be friends, but in choosing my husband, I had to completely give up my boyfriend, as it should be, and I’m devastated over that. I’m worried I’m just afraid of divorce and uncertainty. I’ve been a sahm for 8 years. How do I know what decision to make? I can’t imagine my life without my boyfriend. And I love my husband dearly and breaking his heart kills me but I’ve cheated on him so many times. He deserves better than me, right? I don’t know what to do. I love both men. Is that possible? I need both men in my life in some way. And I’ve gone a week without speaking to my boyfriend and it’s aganozing. Did I make the wrong decision by staying with my husband?

      • Oh my! Where to start? You’ve clearly got a lot going on, and you sound miserable right now! I totally get it.

        First of all, though, I can’t tell you if you made the right or wrong decision. (Sorry!) Your decision is yours and yours alone. I don’t get to have a vote in your life.

        What I can tell you is that every decision has consequences. It sounds like the consequence of you starting to see your boyfriend again will be that you lose your husband. The consequence of choosing your husband is that you will have to give up your boyfriend. While I understand that both of those are hard decisions, those are the decisions that you get to make.

        The decision that both your husband and your boyfriend get to make is: what kind of a relationship/marriage do they want? Do they want to stay with you? I know you might assume that they do. But realize that everyone gets to choose their own path. Your husband has already started to make his choice clear. He said he can’t take being married to someone who is having an affair with someone else. Maybe your boyfriend is okay with sharing you with your husband. Understand, though, that if you were suddenly free to be with him more, that could affect your relationship with your boyfriend a lot. I’m not saying things wouldn’t work out. I don’t know. All I’m saying is that everyone has choices, and those choices come up all the time.

        Of course, sometimes it’s hard to know what choice you want to make. That’s especially true when you find yourself in love with two men at once. (And, yes, that happens!) But the choice you’re making has very little to do with love. You said you lobe both men. So your choice has more to do with life — and lifestyle. What do you want your life to look like? What kind of relationship do you want with your partner/husband? What kind of relationship do you want with your kids? (… because whatever you decide to do with your husband and boyfriend will have a huge impact on your kids.) What do you want, period?

        Those aren’t easy questions.

        To help you see things more clearly, it might help to start working with a therapist. S/he can help you explore what you really want and need so that you can make a choice that you feel good about.

        I wish you the best.


  • Been married for 15 years. My husband is a good guy but I have not been happy for over 6 years (or more). We live separate lives. No sex. He drinks.
    My biggest fear? I don’t want to hurt him. I feel that he needs me more than I need him and we don’t know how to communicate. I don’t know how to break it to him. I have been telling him the best I can, but he is in denial and ignores it.

    • Oh my! I can tell you are trying your best to be sensitive. The problem is that people hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.

      I also hate to be the bearer of bad news (I’ll just say sorry in advance!) but you ARE going to hurt your husband. (Sorry!) He clearly doesn’t want to get divorced. You do. Your choice right now is to deny your own feelings and hurt yourself, or do what you need to do and hurt him. Yes, that choice sucks. But what you need to understand is that you have a choice!

      It sounds like you’ve been putting off making this choice for over 6 years. Is that what you want to keep doing? How long do you want to live like this?

      If you want to move forward, you’re going to have to DO something. Clearly, just talking about it isn’t enough. You need to DECIDE that’s what you want to do. Then you need to take action to start making your decision a reality.

      Will that be easy? No. If it was, you would have done it years ago. But is it easy to live separate lives? Probably not so much.

      I know this is hard. Take it one step at a time. Also, I suggest that you work with a therapist on this – preferably someone who has experience working with people dealing with substance abuse. The support will help get you moving.

      Good luck.


  • Hi Karen

    I’ve been married for almost 2 years, I’ve been with my wife for 7 years in total. Two months before the wedding the problems started and have just been increasing, she became physically abusive towards me. During that time her relationship with my parents has worsened. Around 8months married I was having an emotional affair with another woman, which she found out and I stopped. We’ve been to two marriage counselors and not much has changed she’s been physically abusive twice since then and I’ve checked out of the marriage, but haven’t got the power to leave her as she says things like killing herself or afraid to be alone. We both know we can’t live in an unhappy relationship and we are damaging ourselves in the process. We are just two different people and we just need to make a decision but it’s so hard when she says things like she feels like killing herself or afraid to be alone. Should I just call her parents and have a meeting with them and her or just tell her that it’s better for us. Just wish she would accept the reality.

    Thank you

    • My heart goes out to you. I can totally understand why you would be afraid to file for divorce when your wife is threatening to kill herself if you do. At the same time, though, I’m sure you realize that she is holding you hostage in a marriage you’re no longer invested in.

      Your situation is complex, and I couldn’t possibly begin to give you any worthwhile advice in a simple website comment. (Sorry!)

      What I can tell you is that you need help. You need support. I STRONGLY suggest you start working with an individual therapist – preferably one who is very experienced and has worked with people in abusive relationships before. Also, you might want to check out a domestic violence organization near you. Their services are private and confidential. It might help immensely for you to talk to one of their counselors, and get more information on domestic violence. What you learn can be eye-opening.

      As for whether you “just tell her you want a divorce” or involve her parents, I can’t answer that. I don’t know nearly enough about you or your situation to answer that question intelligently. That’s why getting individualized and in-depth help is so important for you.

      Finally, whatever you do, think ahead. Plan. Jumping headfirst into something without preparing yourself first is not likely to go well for you. The better prepared you are, the better chance you will give yourself for moving forward in a reasonably healthy way.

      I wish you the best.


  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    What if You Could Get Exclusive Content, Stories, and Tips Delivered Right to Your Inbox for FREE every week?

    [Not convinced you want to be on one more email list? I get it.

    Here's why THIS list is different]

    "I read every word you put on line and listen to all your podcasts and encourage you to keep up the good work you are doing. I wish I had known about you in the early stages of my divorce as it would have saved me a lot of hell. I have referred numerous friends who are in various stages of going through “divorceland” to your articles. The attorneys do not cover what you do, and in order to lessen the pain your approach is really helpful."

    Don't Miss Out. Subscribe Now.