Stay in Loveless, Sexless Marriage for Security?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have been married to an abusive man for many years. I stayed because I loved him and believed he would change. He didn’t. I continued to stay, telling myself when my children grew up and were out of the house I would leave him. I finally told him I did not love him anymore, it was over, it was done. He then started to change. Began to be the husband I always wanted. But it is too late. My heart is cold, the love is gone. I care about him but I want to move on with my life. I’m almost 60 years old now and have a chance to be happy with another man I have met and fell in love with. He is a good man, kind, smart, understanding and loves me very much. I am torn, I don’t want to hurt my husband, and I don’t want to tear my family apart. But I am living a miserable lonely life as things are. I guess I am afraid to start over again at my age. Afraid of change. Afraid if I make the decision to move on, that I might regret it. My life is at least secure with my husband. I do work and pay my own way, always have. He insisted early on and I now I am just used to it. What to do?

A. If the love is “gone” then true love may have never been present. True love doesn’t diminish, decrease or otherwise disappear.

You have lived your life with a man who has abused you. It has contributed to your unhappiness. He may now have changed but that doesn’t change history.

Generally speaking, there is no justifiable reason to stay in a “loveless and sexless” marriage if you are miserable and unhappy. Your life may feel “secure” but there’s nothing truly secure or healthy about a dead-end marriage.

Fear seems to be the only reason you would consider staying in the marriage. Fear can be justified or unjustified. Unjustified fear is not a reason to do or not do anything. A fear-driven existence robs an individual of their full potential and undoubtedly their happiness. It stifles psychological, emotional and spiritual development.

With love comes sacrifice but the question becomes: is the recipient of your sacrifice deserving? Generally speaking, a deserving recipient is someone who has or would be willing to sacrifice for you. Sacrificing for someone who is undeserving often breeds resentment, anger and unhappiness. Generally one should never compromise their selves or their happiness.

Please understand that my generalized statements above are gross oversimplifications. I would need to have much more information about your situation to provide specific advice. You can provide that to a counselor and they can give you the specific advice that you want. I would advise you to see three therapists or counselors. Listen to all three and then decide for yourself, taking all the time necessary.

In addition, I cannot provide a simple “yes” or “no” answer regarding whether you should leave your husband. Ending a marriage is a major life decision. A therapist could help you to sort through your feelings, fears and examine the realities of the situation. I would highly recommend it. I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle
@DrKRandle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Nov 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Stay in Loveless, Sexless Marriage for Security?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/11/06/stay-in-loveless-sexless-marriage-for-security/