Why Women Stay In Marriages With Men They No Longer Love

Why Women Stay In Marriages With Men They No Longer Love

It’s sad when a woman you care about, such as your bestie or sister, chooses to stay in an unhappy marriage with a man she doesn’t love. Maybe you’ve tried to tell her that she needs to leave and chase her own happiness but to no avail. Why is she staying with him? Well, things could be a little more complicated than they seem. Here are 15 reasons why some women stay in loveless marriages.

1. They’re financially dependent on their partners.

If a woman doesn’t have her own money, she might feel pressured to stay with her husband. Perhaps he’s the one who’s paying all the bills and funding her lifestyle, which makes it difficult to end things and walk away. She might also fear the economic repercussions of divorce and where that would leave her.

2. They fear change.

If a woman’s been married for several years, it can feel daunting to consider making a huge life change such as getting a divorce. She might struggle to imagine what life would be like without the safety of her marriage. She may be faced with the uncomfortable uncertainty of where to live or how to navigate the world as a single woman, and that can feel like too much.

3. They have children.

When children are present, this complicates matters. A woman might choose to stay in an unsatisfying marriage because she thinks this benefits her children by keeping their world the same. She might fear that leaving her husband will negatively impact her kids, making them experience stress or heartache that follows them throughout their lives. The simple thought of having that could make her stay.

4. They feel social pressure.

Societal norms and expectations that marriage has to last forever can put tons of pressure on women to stay married. For example, maybe a woman’s parents keep telling her that she needs to work on things and rekindle the spark in her marriage, instead of ending it. This type of advice, while well-meaning, promotes the idea that ending a marriage is bad, even though it can often be the healthiest thing to do.

5. They don’t want to lose the emotional investment.

If a woman has poured her heart and soul into her marriage, investing countless hours and lots of energy into making it work, it can be daunting to throw it all away. She might fear that ending the marriage means all those years of shared memories, laughter, and tears were for nothing. The idea of walking away from the life she’s built can be downright terrifying, causing her to settle for her marriage and cling to what’s familiar to her.

6. They’re hoping that their feelings will return.

If there was something that caused her to lose feelings for her partner, like if he cheated on her, she might stay out of hope that she’ll learn to love him again in time. Perhaps she thinks that once they can move past the negative experiences in their marriage, everything will return to normal. Of course, this isn’t guaranteed.

7. They’re trying to fix their partner.

There could be something about the woman’s partner that’s upsetting to her. Maybe he’s always criticizing her or he drinks too much, but she doesn’t want to give up on the idea that he could become a better man and husband. Instead of walking away to find happiness, she might choose to stay with him and fix him. The problem is that if he’s not willing to work on himself, no one can force him to.

8. They’re struggling with low self-esteem.

Depressed young adult sitting lonely outdoors©iStock/VioletaStoimenova

Low self-esteem can make it difficult for a woman to assert her needs. She might continue tolerating mistreatment or neglect from her partner or, she might depend too much on her partner for security and validation. Women with low self-esteem have (untrue) beliefs that they don’t deserve better than their partner, which can cause them to settle for less and remain miserable in their marriage.

9. They lack emotional support from other loved ones.

upset couple comforting each other on couch

Women who stay in unhappy relationships sometimes lack the necessary support required to help them leave their partner. For example, if they don’t feel like they can depend on friends or family members outside of the marriage to help them pluck up the courage to leave, this can keep them stuck in their marriages for years.

10. They fear retaliation.

If women are in abusive or controlling relationships, they might be scared to get a divorce. Maybe they fear that their husbands will wreck their lives or threaten to physically hurt them if they decide to leave. The fear of escalating violence, whether physical or emotional, can understandably cause them to stay to try to keep the peace.

11. They have a caretaker role in the marriage.

Some women take on caregiving roles in their marriages. Maybe their partner is sick or going through a rough patch, and they don’t have the heart to leave them when they’re down and out. Even if they don’t feel love for their partner anymore, they still have a sense of responsibility to be a good wife.

12. They’re stuck in their comfort zone.

For some women, their marriage represents a familiar and predictable environment. Even if it’s not filled with love and passion, they might have become so accustomed to the routine and stability of the relationship that they don’t want to entertain thoughts of leaving it behind. For them, the security of their relationship means more than being in love.

13. They’ve taken on a martyr role.

couple car summer sun©iStock/BraunS

Some women have a deeply ingrained belief that they should self-sacrifice in their relationship. They might lack boundaries or be people pleasers, which causes them to put their partner’s needs ahead of their own. So, while they’re working hard to keep their partner happy, they’re denying themselves happiness by not prioritizing their need for true love.

14. They don’t want to be seen as a failure.

If a woman is a perfectionist, she might work hard to maintain a successful marriage. So when she finds herself falling out of love with her partner, feelings of failure start flooding in. Failure is a huge trigger for a perfectionist—she’ll go to great lengths to avoid separation or divorce to achieve her goal of a fulfilling marriage.

15. They have doubts about walking away.

Attractive fashion woman in black dress©iStock/teksomolika

One of the biggest reasons why a woman might stay in an unhappy marriage is if she fears she’ll regret it later. She might worry about being riddled with self-doubt after walking away, but, by then it’ll be too late to change her mind. So, to prevent these doubts, she might decide to stay in the marriage—at least for now.

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Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.