Why Wives and Husbands Leave Marriage – MM #79

Leave marriage - AdobeStock emotionally distant spouse Unlovable Conflict between man and womanOriginally, this message was titled, Why Women Leave Men. But in re-thinking this message it seems sensible to address why spouses leave marriage on both the wives and the husband’s parts. Of course this message can’t be all inclusive. But hopefully it will shed light for some who are in the dark and promote good discussion —particularly in the comment section below this message.

Why do husbands and wives leave marriages they promised to be in for the rest of their lives? It’s simple —it’s because they can. Sometimes leaving seems easier than staying committed and working things out. And lets face it, it appears easier to divorce in today’s world.

So, as we look at this subject, please understand we are going to address this in “general” terms. It will apply to MOST husbands and wives. We understand there are exceptions. And as you read this, first pray and ask God to show you what YOU should get from this and APPLY to your own life and marriage.

Why Wives Leave Marriage

If you ask a woman why a wife would leave her marriage she’ll give answers like:

  • “She feels lonely and abandoned.”
  • “The only time he pays attention to her is when he wants something.” (And we all know what the “something” is.)
  • “He’s having an affair either emotionally—viewing pornography or physically having an affair.
  • “She feels disconnected. She feels that he doesn’t include her in important matters, or even unimportant matters.”
  • “He seems to care more about other things like TV than he does about her.”

And the list goes on and on and on. But most of the reasons had to do with feelings and emotions.

Why Husbands Leave Marriage

Now, when you ask a man why a husband would leave his marriage, our first response is usually a blank stare. This is followed by the words, “I dunno.” At least that was my first response. But I (Steve) was curious. I wanted to see what the “experts” had to say about the reasons men give for leaving their wives.

As I did an Internet search on this topic I discovered two things. First, there’s not much that addresses this side of the problem. And second, what I could find pretty much summed it all up in three categories:

  1. Boredom. This is often expressed when he says, “I simply fell out of love” or something along that line.
  2. Cheating. The husband discovers his wife is having an affair or he’s having an affair.
  3. Other. This category is a “catch-all” for a number of different reasons men have given. These would include feeling disrespected or emasculated, mental problems, physical or sexual problems. It can include child-bearing issues, personal habits, financial problems, etc.

Why Spouses Leave Marriage

We hear from so many husbands whose wives have left (and they don’t understand, “why”). And we hear from so many wives who say they’re “fed up” and are ready to walk out or have already left. That is we want to give you some insight from Dr. Willard Harley. He wrote a helpful article titled, “Why Women Leave Men.” And while this focuses on the issue from a wife’s angle, you can see a husband’s perspective as well. Our prayer is that God will help us ALL learn from what Dr. Harley shares. So pray, glean, and see what speaks to you about your situation (whether you are the husband or the wife).

Here is a portion of what Dr Harley writes:

“Each day I’m confronted by women who are extremely frustrated with their marriages. Usually, they express no hope that their husbands will ever understand what it is that frustrates them —let alone change enough to solve the problem. From their perspective, marital problems are created by their husbands who do little or nothing to solve them. Wives tend to see themselves as the major force for resolving conflicts. And when they give up their effort, the marriage is usually over.

“When I talk to their husbands, they usually have a different explanation as to why their wives feel the way they do. They often feel that the expectations of women in general and their wives in particular, have grown completely out of reach. These men, who feel that they’ve made a gigantic effort to be caring and sensitive to their wives, get no credit whatsoever for their sizable contribution to the family. They feel under enormous pressure to improve their financial support, improve the way they raise their children, and improve the way they treat their wives. Many men I see are emotionally exhausted. They feel that for all their effort, they get nothing but criticism.

Feeling Neglected

“Men’s perceived failure to satisfy their wives is punctuated by the fact that women file for divorce twice as much as men. In other words, their unhappiness with marriage often results in divorce. The most common reason women give for leaving their husband’s is ‘mental cruelty.’ When legal grounds for divorce are stated, about half report they’ve been emotionally abused. But the mental cruelty they describe is rarely the result of their husbands efforts to drive them crazy. It’s usually husbands being indifferent, failing to communicate and demonstrating forms of neglect.

“When all forms of spousal neglect are grouped together, we find it’s far ahead of all other reasons combined that women leave men. Surprisingly few women divorce because of physical abuse, infidelity, alcoholism, criminal behavior, or other serious grounds. In fact, I find myself bewildered by women in serious physical danger refusing to leave the men that threaten their safety. Simply stated, women leave men when they’re neglected. Neglect accounts for almost all reasons women leave and divorce men.”

Dr Harley continues:

“…Some of the most common complaints I hear from women is, ‘He ignores me except when he wants sex. He sits and watches television when he could be talking to me. Plus, he rarely calls to see how I’m doing. He hurts my feelings and never apologizes. Instead, he tells me I’m too sensitive.’ Most husbands are mystified by these complaints. They feel their wives demand too much, and that most other women would be ecstatic to be married to them. Their wives have become spoiled, take their efforts for granted and have unrealistic expectations.

“Do women expect too much from their husbands or are men doing less for their wives than they should?” (To learn more solutions Dr Harley gives, please read “Why Women Leave Men.”)

Cindy and I answer Harley’s question with a “Yes and Yes!” We have found that both husbands and wives come into marriage with without really realizing the effort it will take to make their marriage into a good one. Plus, their expectations are too high. This sets them up later for big problems as illustrated above.

Trashing and Cleaning Up Marriage

It’s not difficult to “trash” your marriage—to get it to the place where it is messed up, needing a clean up. But when the marriage appears to be too much of a “mess” to clean up, that’s when spouses are tempted to just leave marriage. It appears to be too overwhelming.

In our 45+ years of marriage we’ve both been guilty of much of what Dr. Harley and Sue Boulin described. Cindy would readily admit that she expected too much from me. And sadly, I was neglectful of many of her needs. I did not realize how important they were to her.

To us, the bigger question relating to this subject is, How can we change this pattern so we don’t look at divorce as an option? I think we found an answer simply stated in this quote from Walt Henrichsen. It’s written in his devotional titled, Thoughts From The Diary Of A Desperate Man:

“You can do two things that most people cannot resist. You can love and serve them. Loving and serving is a ministry and you do not need special gifts to do it.”

Think and pray about this. We have a lot of articles posted on this web site that can build upon this concept. Plus, we have articles that can help you to “clean up” the trashy attitudes and actions that spouses can fall into. Here are two of them:

The Practice of Self Sacrifice

Good Marriages Don’t Just Happen

The effort it will take to clean up a trashy marriage goes with the scriptures:

You were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature. Rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:13-15)

And how much closer of a neighbor can you get than a spouse? So, how can you love and serve each other? If you need help, make improving your marriage your mission. Look around our web site to see what you can find that will help you. Be intentional in working to make your marriage the best it can be.

We encourage you to go into the Romantic Ideas topic. Please read the articles, “100 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife HER Way,” and “100 Ways to Show Love to Your Husband HIS Way.” Applying some of these tips could help you to love and serve your spouse as God intends.

Steve and Cindy Wright

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181 responses to “Why Wives and Husbands Leave Marriage – MM #79

  1. My wife is mad that I won’t put her on my account by we have a joint account… She keeps telling me it’s a deal breaker for her and I should leave if I won’t do it. We have 3 kids ….I’m kinda confused why it’s big deal.

  2. I left husband because of not feeling safe so must be one of the few that do leave an unsafe spouse.

  3. Hey guys, please give me your prayers. I have been married two years; this is my first marriage, and the only person I have ever slept with and it has always seemed kind of one-sided, but I thought, “as long as she’s happy I don’t care.” I do all chores 95% of the time (wash the dishes, wash and hang the clothes, take out the trash, clean, pick up her dirty clothes, all of the grocery shopping, etc). I also sometimes give her gifts when none are returned (valentines/ anniversaries). I also surprise her with a clean house, a date night, flowers, cadle-lit massages and other random things and I don’t expect or care if she responds a certain way, I just want her to be happy.

    My problem is that she is never happy and she is always nostalgic for when we dated. She won’t talk to me about serious things and if she does, it takes 30 minutes for her to reply and she usually replies by changing the subject. She yelled at me again today and I yelled back. Usually I will apologize for our arguments, but I’m the only one and so I didnt. She has threatened to leave before, and she won’t see a counselor with me. I tried talking to her again to no avail, but I really think she is leaving and I don’t know how I can do more than what I am doing. I am willing to but I am out of Ideas. Her family might side with me and she already has enough anxiety without me turning her friends and family against her so I can’t go to them. She already thinks that my family doesn’t like her so I definitely can’t go to them.

    Also, we have been missing church for about a month because I am the only one who will wake up for it and we really need community right now. Please pray for us and give me any advice you can. I really love her and to top it off she is going to have our first child in March and I want that kid to have a good and stable home. This is a good article but I try not to think that her expectations are too high, I spend tons of time with her, and I care deeply for her. And yes, sex has been an issue, but not one that I have been animalistic about. I do loads of romantic and nice things for her and when I eventually ask her why she hasn’t had sex with me in weeks she says I have to turn her on. I don’t make everything about actions with no emotion but its like she wants an emotional euphoria at all times to be happy and thats not possible. Emotions change, love doesn’t. If God were “in-love” with us only and didn’t love us then he would be changeable and he is unchanging otherwise there would be times when he was not “in-love” with us all. Please help.

    1. Its been a while since this was posted. Are you still together? If you don’t mind me asking. I don’t want to comment on something that might have changed since then. Or hopefully you may have found a solution.

  4. The implications of your article are that men are insensitive. Consider these facts, not opinions but facts. 3 times more widowers committ suicide when their wife predeceased them than widows whose husband predeceased them. 7 times more men committ suicide when going thru divorce proceedings than women. Now you tell me who is the more neglected party. Anthony in LA.

  5. Women who leave marriage’s of any kind leave for reaons other than that of neglect or abuse. Women who feel that there are no reason to gain self-control or in knowing that they have reached a pointless turn in their life and marriage, so and will leave at least once in any marriage. Though marriage is hard, there are no two people alike. Similar but, definitely not alike.

    The range that drives a person to leave may involve strict beliefs, as religion is often not an oversight. The children for another such as blended marraiges. It could be that the parent and child have conflict issues; it could be that the children are suffering because the husband or step father has issues that he has never dealt with or a partner in general.

    Though marriage comes in all shapes and sizes most women want better. The men or women that are entitled to better just want their desires to be fulfilled and carried out. What each woman wants isn’t “rocket science” its reality without drama, faking attempts to love a person which cannot fulfill them successfully in the hen house. Men also, do the exact same. (Not all women or men are the same in this category or are or should be put into a box but, the amount of time and effort that seem to balance a daily life also, may include but isn’t limited to the following: Not cut out to be a parent. Doesn’t take the time with their children. Sees the relationship as a “escape goat.” Follows the direct advice of the tottering phase meaning the are absent or delinquent in the actions and do not stand along side the mothers when rearing children.

    Values should always be a symbol when trying to find the focus and the clarity of the obsession when dealing with the opposite sex in regards to their own opinions and following dictative directories that bore the “begeebers” out of them to no avail. We are taught in a society to conform to regulations and succeed into the life of the transparent to help people be successful but, this is not the way. All our society knows and small families seek are inside the box and not outside.

    Those that make beautiful families and wonderful parents are people who know what is most important regardless of whether they have much or not, not the ones who are stuck on themselves or caught in a rutt. Be that as it may, time will wait for no one. But, in the meantime finding a balance for everyone and keeping consistency is and has very well proved to work for the majority of society.

    Working in the public eye can also be very difficult, but at the same time can cause relationships to be so strained that they accumulate the innocence right out of the part where a family should be a true family by recognizing each others true needs. Being compassionate is very important but, when you choose to not be happy, it puts a damper on other peoples perspectives lowering their self-esteem and sometimes it creeps up before you know it. Children that are more often involved end up not doing as well. Mostly, the parents have a harder time with fincances especially, those who come from lower income families. Some men thrive off of giving their family everything that they end up falling short. Also, without positive family memebrs there for them we are all taught that life is less accepted. Or that we cannot reach our goals because all we hear is “you can’t =’s I Can’t”. This is completely the worst indication to human existence. All it is, is people quit. People tell others that they can’t have it all because they haven’t the money/funds or resources but, if you stop the cold hard nonsense, you can then stop the wrong methods that leave us to think negative and begin a better footing on the positive side of things.

    Who ever reads this should understand that it varies between famiy to family because the rearing is so unique and so are the cultures (which has a lot to do with it.) Be weary of fear. It is what drives families to divorce and you are not just divorcing your wife or husband but, you are divorcing your children because the majority of children who do not see either parent unless they are on some form of habit, constitutes abandonment and that is a learnt skill. In order to strive to improve this virtue, you want to follow your commandments and then, try to work it out as best you can; if you a re still miserable, you should find a better way to tarry the adaption and use unique methods that work for you and your family individually.

    Keep schedules consistent. Keep monitoring with school progress as well as home with the children, and try not to slip. While you are balancing their worlds, you can find normality by working and college at a part time without losing interest or burning yourelf out while also, being happy and spending time with your children (even as a single parent.) Remember: “Children do not have a choice, but the parents do.” In smaller towns if there is not an enough of revenue then chances are you’ll not only be struggles to provide but also, struggle to find a balance and keeping a job and often more times than we’d like to admit, we’d just be following into an extreme situation where lower income may mean the changing of our population.

  6. What makes it even more sad is that many women nowadays are leaving their husbands for other women as well which makes these women so very Pathetic altogether.

  7. Women are usually the ones that change after the marriage most of the time unfortunately. And that is the real reason why many marriages fail.

  8. I was married for 12 years when I was blindsided by my husband leaving me. He was cheating on me and had lied to me over the course of the time we knew each other. I mean big, fat, whopping lies and deceit. He hid $132,000 of un-secured debt from me. He bought himself luxury items while I paid off the house. He was certainly passive-aggressive, but I had no idea what that meant at the time. He was doted on and coddled by his parents. My parents both died. My mother suicided when I was only 5.

    My marriage disintegrated in 3.5 weeks. His mother suggested counseling. We went one time. I saw the psychologists notes when I was alone in the room. It said (about my husband) “Wants children” and although we tried to have children for 3 years, I got rheumatoid arthritis instead and had to go on heavy drugs. My husband assured me that it was ok. But from the instant I saw that psychologist’s note I knew what his plan was: he was going to replace me with a woman who could give him kids.

    He left me, with a smile on his face. Divorced within 6 months. He stayed with the home wrecker woman for a couple years and then she left him. But within a few months he found a new ‘breeder’ girl and married her. She is 20 year younger than me.

    I just found out that they did indeed have a kid about 6 weeks ago. His plan is complete.
    I am left forever childless, husbandless and even date-less for these 8 years now. I don’t have any family either. No parents, no children, no brothers or sisters, no nieces, nephews etc.

    Please someone tell me how this worked out so poorly for me, the faithful one, and so well for him, the cheater? I am SO depressed now and I’ve always tried to ‘roll with it.’

    I cannot even pray at this point. All I can do is say: God…….help.

    1. Rose, I don’t even know what to say to help you in the midst of your pain. All I can share is that we live in a very fallen world, and unfortunately you have been on the receiving end of the selfishness of your ex-husband. Please know that there are many here who will be praying for your situation.

      Oh Father, bring Your comfort and draw Rose close to You, so that she senses Your love for her in a very real way. Give her a hope for the future. Show her a glimpse of Your good plan for her life. By Your Hand, bring healing to her heart and set her on a course in her life to meet a loving, caring, faithful, unselfish, Godly man. Do something unexpected for her today that brings a smile to her face. I bring these requests to You in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus, Amen!!!

    2. The only real bad thing is your rheumatoid arthritis. The rest is just how you perceive the situation.
      Without family, brothers or sisters, nieces, nephews etc., you are free. My nieces and nephews are rude. Always glued to their phones. Never say hello or goodbye. I am forced to go to family gatherings where its all about stupid jokes and each one trying to be the center of attention in a completely superficial manner.

      During the 28 years I have been married to my wife none of her family members have even asked me a single personal question to know more about me. And my wife, she is very shallow, by her own admission. Why do I need people like these in my life? I’d rather be alone. So, you see, you are free.

  9. I believed that if I continually gave more and more into my marriage that I would eventually get more out of it. I gave into my wife’s demands, spent as much time as possible with her, and gave my all into the marriage. I was constantly stressed and emotionally drained like many of these other men who are faced with divorce but I forged ahead regardless, denying my own need for space and some quiet time alone.

    My wife eventually told me she had been having an emotional affair for months and that she wanted a divorce. I did everything possible to save my marriage and I prayed constantly for Jesus to guide me and to guide my wife, and to save our marriage. In the end, there was nothing I could do but leave it in God’s hands. Within weeks of separating, my wife found a new man and moved in with him months later. I continued to pray but eventually I was forced into divorce.

    Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Even when you try to do everything right, you have no control over what others choose. This event has helped shape and define who I am as a person, as well as bring me closer to God than I have ever been before. I never imagined being divorced but I had to reassess who I had been married to. My ex wife was not Christian and she herself was from a broken family with a mother who was constantly in and out of relationships. I was treated poorly as a husband and emotionally beaten day after day.

    Speaking up for myself was met with a denial of bad behaviour and anger when I tried to defend myself because she had no ability to listen to anyone but herself. At one point, my ex had punched me in the face while I was holding her cat because of some perceived wrong. She realized she was wrong after and still tried to justify her actions. 3 years later and I see that by removing her from my life, God was saving me from an awful, disgusting, and abusive marriage. I didn’t deserve any of it.

    Today I’m in a positive, loving relationship with a far better, Christian woman. I wasn’t expecting or wanting a relationship but God had other plans. I didn’t trust women at the time but God has softened my heart and given me hope that there are better people out there. I have a second chance to get this right. I divorced young so I never got the chance to start a family. Now I have a chance for a much better life and I’m excited about the future.

    1. Neil, thank you for sharing your insights. I’m sorry for all of the pain you suffered as you learned these very valuable lessons. As I read them I was reminded what A.W Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” What you shared can help many other people going through similar circumstances. Thanks again for being so vulnerable with us. Blessings!

      1. Many of us good single men can’t even meet a half way decent woman to date let alone meeting a real good one to settle down with today. Women have unfortunately changed for the worst of all nowadays compared to most of the women in the past that were certainly Real Ladies altogether and very easy to meet. What in the world happened to the women of today?

        1. Keep your faith, God will provide for you at the right time if this is His will for you. Yet, don’t think that getting married surely is a happier thing than being single. No matter is what status. Get yourself well-prepared to be a good single Christian and a good spouse.

  10. 12 years of marriage and my wife packed up and moved out when she inherited her sister’s house and her brother’s retirement fund. She quit coming to church with me 2 years prior to that and turned her back on our marriage while living with me until she got her inheritance affairs in order.

    No I wasn’t perfect but I supported, cared for and protected her and divorce was her show of appreciation. My first wife and I were married for 30 years before she passed away. The 2nd wife was married twice before me and decided to make it a Tri-Fecta. I feel like it was all about the money because she didn’t have any when we meet and wanted my home and all my savings and retirement to be hers after my death, none to my only daughter and grandkids, but I wouldn’t do it.

    Feeling betrayed. Thank God I didn’t give in to her demands, I would have been kicked out of my own home after 30 years of living her. SAD. Praise God I’m a Christian and I’ll get past this.

    1. Do you have evidence that she married you for money? Some women might focus too much on money, the providing of house and other material things. She might need you to take her as the most important one as she needs your protection after your death.

  11. My husband has forsaken God and me. He just doesn’t want me to bother him anything about what he did, why he did it, and when he did it.