11 Things People Say To Justify Staying In An Unhappy Marriage

staying in an unhappy marriage

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

Although every marriage and situation is unique, I think many people stay in their marriages because it seems like the best option. Maybe they weighed out the pluses and minuses of splitting up, and then determined that staying–even though they are staying in an unhappy marriage, is the better choice versus the alternative of divorce.

Here are 11 things people might say to justify that staying in an unhappy marriage is the right thing for them, along with my rebuttal for each:

By the way, I am not promoting divorce. But staying in an unhappy marriage is simply unhealthy, so another alternative would be to try to take steps to make the marriage better. I mean REALLY make an effort.


1. I don’t want my kids to grow up with divorced parents.

Ask yourself, Are the kids better off growing up in a household where there is no love or a lot of friction or possibly cheating or other unhealthy behaviors?


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2. No one would ever want to date me at this age, and as a single parent with kids.

Not true. You have no idea how many older, single parents are out there and want to be in committed, loving relationships.

3. I’m scared.

I don’t blame you. But, isn’t is scarier to stay in a relationship that is making you miserable?

4. I need his/her financial security. I don’t want to have to go back to work. I love my lifestyle.

It’s understandable. It’s a comfort zone. And I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy to go back to work. I did it, and it was a rough transition. But it didn’t take me long to reap all the benefits: self-sufficiency, self-love, feeling productive, feeling great about myself, and feeling really proud of myself. Sets a good example to the kids, too!



5. I’m sure a lot of couples feel this way and they just stay together.

I’m sure too, but that doesn’t make it right for you. Don’t you deserve to be happy, even if they aren’t?

6. There’s no divorce in my family and I don’t want to do that to them.

It’s very sad, but you need to get over that. Given the choice of having no divorce in the family and seeing their beloved family member happy, I think most family members would choose the latter.

7. I’ve never been alone. I don’t think I could do it.

It’s not easy and it takes time to get used to, but once you learn how to be happy living alone and being independent, you might look back and wonder how you stayed married for so long! It’s empowering and enjoyable to spend time alone. You have inner strength you don’t know about.

8. I want to be a real family.

You will be much more real if there is love in your family, not just love between your spouse and your kids and you and your kids, with that missing link of love between the two of you. A real family has lots of definitions.

9. I don’t want to have to move out of my house.

This is definitely a hard one for some people. But ask yourself, do I want a house or a HOME that is warm and loving and without conflict? Plus, you may not have to sell your house. Don’t assume anything until you talk to a real estate agent and/or a divorce attorney.

10. I don’t like change.

No one does. It creates stress and fear. But sometimes change ends up being the best thing that ever happened.

11. I don’t want to be divorced. Again. (for second marriage). 

It’s OK!!! Stop worrying about other people and start thinking about your happiness (and your kids’ happiness.)


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Again, the purpose of this article is not to encourage anyone to get divorced. Trust me, I am a huge fan of marriage, IF both people are happy. My point is that instead of accepting the unhappiness, men and women owe it to themselves to say, “I’ve had enough of staying in an unhappy marriage, and I’m instead going to make changes to improve the relationship or get out of it.”


Improving the relationship could include talking to the spouse and really making an effort to do things that make each other happier, going to counseling, and/or even a commitment to starting over with a clean slate, with an agreement to erase all resentments. It’s not easy, but couples have been known to succeed and become stronger and better than ever.


Let’s face it. Staying in an unhappy marriage is a choice. But, leaving things status quo could possibly be the worst choice of all.


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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

2 Responses to “11 Things People Say To Justify Staying In An Unhappy Marriage”

  1. Lora

    12. “I simply don’t know how to fix it, but I’m still hopeful.” Couples do what they know how to do. And in many cases, that’s holding onto the hope that healing will come and life will get better. Unfortunately the better life looks a lot more like generous, forgiving, humble and tear-ridden work, and a lot less like “in-control” fairy godmothers with glass slippers.


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