How To Leave Your Husband: A Quick How-To Guide

Is your New Year’s resolution to leave your husband? Well you’re in the right place!

This how-to guide is in reference to my first marriage. My second marriage — which I’m currently in and forever shall remain because my husband is fucking amazing — has nothing to do with this post.

Step #1. Realize your husband is an asshole who will never change. This may take years to figure out because women have this romantic notion in their head that they can change a man — thanks to fairy-tales like Beauty and the Beast. And your husband may not be a complete asshole which makes leaving harder because he has other good qualities that blind you to his big asshole qualities that aren’t really worth putting up with — which was my situation.

Step #2. If you want to end your marriage and your husband isn’t an asshole and is a really nice guy, then that means you’re the asshole. So own it. Sometimes it takes years to realize you’re the asshole because human beings have egos and have a tendency to be assholes.

Step #3. Make a plan. If you have kids this is essential. To be serious for a moment, I was in a bad place. No college education to speak of. A spotty work history. No money. Two kids. BUT I had family. An amazing immediate and extended family to take me in and help me get on my feet. If you don’t have a supportive family then you need to take advantage of additional resources and websites such as

Step #4. Get. A. Lawyer. And consult a lawyer before you leave him (unless you’re in a domestic violence situation — in that case you need to leave ASAP). I did not do this. I wanted to avoid coming across as a bulldog — as a mean ex-wife. I wanted to be nice. After all, I was breaking the mans heart. I didn’t want a scary lawyer to come in and make my soon-to-be-ex-husband feel bad. Bull-shit. If you have the financial resources — get that lawyer. My family offered to pay for one, but I wanted to play nice and that really did me a disservice. I went forward with a “do-it-yourself” divorce. DO NOT DO THIS.  I essentially had no knowledge of my rights, no knowledge of child support requirements, how to split assets and debts, etc. I was basically stupid and stubborn — which is what got me into the dead-end marriage in the first place.

Step #5. After your plan is in place — where you’re going to live, making sure you have access to money, acquiring a lawyer, etc. — leave. Split. Get out (Unless of course you have the ability to throw his shit out of the house first.) Yes, it’s hard. You’ll cry your eyes out even though your husband was an asshole — because leaving your comfort zone is never fun. Willfully venturing into the unknown is terrifying. But it’s brave. And if your marriage is truly a shitty one, and if children are involved — then it is essential that you leave. Don’t let your little ones grow up around an unhappy, tumultuous relationship. Your daughters and sons need to see you be strong — to see you take the independent step out into the world — to stand up for yourself — to know women deserve respect.

Step #6. Get back on your feet — financially. And yes, this could take years. It took me five years because I had to go to college. If you already have a solid education and work background, then this will be much easier for you. Again, there are many resources for this. Use them. I was lucky enough to receive a Pell Grant that covered almost all my educational expenses — including full-time childcare for my daughter.

Step #7. Get back on your feet — emotionally. If you want to be a good parent, if you want to move on in the relationship department — you have to do a lot of soul-searching. Your husband may have been an asshole, but you also contributed some negativity to the marriage. What was that? What qualities about yourself can you change — improve on? And if you were the asshole in the relationship then you REALLY need to do some soul-searching. And the soul-searching can take years. But it’s essential that you re-discover your identity as a single woman. Because a failed marriage changes a person — but it’s usually for the better.

Now go on and git yerself divorced! And Happy New Year!


  1. Audrey

    I have a wonderful husband as well, but I had to comment that this is an amazing post. I know too many women that are afraid to leave their comfort zone so they stay in unhealthy marriages. Kudos for letting your experience guide them.

    • sonjaessen

      Thanks, Audrey! I’m lucky I found an awesome husband the second time around. I just know too many women who are in relationships/marriages that are incredibly unhappy. I’m all about trying to make marriages work, but when you’re married to somebody who won’t make an effort… it’s just not worth it.

  2. My Half Assed Life

    I completely get #1. It took me 10 years to figure out mine was an asshole. I get #2 though too. Because my own asshole side wasn’t helping him be any less of one. He’s finally dating again and his girlfriend really seems to bring out his better qualities.

    Here from NaBloPoMo

    • sonjaessen

      Yeah… it took me close to seven years to figure it out. But you make an excellent point about other people bringing out better qualities in former partners. Usually a tumultuous relationship is because two people are just the wrong fit for each other and they bring out the worst qualities in one another.

    • sonjaessen

      Thank you so much! And I saw that you blogged about me as well! I’ll be checking out your blog later… unfortunately I have to go to work now. Sad face. Thanks again!

    • sonjaessen

      Thank you! I’m glad you found happiness in your first marriage. I wish that would happen for everybody! Luckily I found happiness in my second marriage. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Eva Gallant

    What a great post. I was in that situation for 12 years. I finally broke out and 4 years later met the greatest guy ever, and we’ve now been married for 29 years. I just stopped by to say hi from Friday Flash blog. Hope you have time to do the same.

    • sonjaessen

      Hi, Eva! Thank you. I’m so glad you’ve been with a great guy for almost 30 years. It’s interesting how they say that second marriages usually fail… because I feel that after a failed first marriage you tend to know what you want and have a stronger sense of self. I’ve met so many women who have happy second marriages. I’m on marriage number two and he’s definitely a keeper.

  4. Kathy

    This is an amazing post. I am lucky to have found a keeper the second time around. The first husband was a complete asshole who took great pleasure in getting drunk and beating the crap out of me. It was a relief to be rid of him even though I mourned the failure of my marriage. I was a lot happy without him.


    • sonjaessen

      Hey Kathy — I’m sorry you had to go through that. My ex never beat me but he did threaten to punch me when I was pregnant with my second child. The verbal abuse was out of control though. He could be very cruel. I’m so glad you got out. Like you, I found a keeper the second time around. He’s the most patient, loving man I’ve ever met. Thank you for sharing!

  5. billy

    I dont know if this is still live, but I just want to say that it is a great post and all of it is so true. I am at the stage in my marriage where I am building up the courage to leave. My husband is not a bad person at all, but we married when I was very young and naive. As a result he made all the decisions for us and I allowed him, but as I got older I found it harder and now my husband says I have changed. Yes he is right I have, because I am now being me. It is very upsetting for him to a point that he sometimes becomes an asshole. But I guess it is due to my change in attitude over the years. So yes I am being an asshole too. I also no longer feel fulfilled in the marriage. I just want to get out and be free. Luckily there is no children, but it is still not easy to leave. It is like I dont have a valid reason for wanting to leave. I am very depressed in my marriage. I dont want anybody wanting to tell me I should stay in my marriage, which is all my friends are constantly telling me. So have no one really to talk to who would understand.

    • Nubiandiva

      I’m at that stage also,I never been on my own before.I guess I’m scared too leave.But as soon as I told him that I wanted to leave I felt so much better. He called me a perfectionist,I’m waiting for the perfect moment.

      • Nomi

        I’m in the same situation as you billy – he’s not a complete asshole, but not he was when we married and i let him do sooo many abusive things to me! I’m mad at my younger self for letting him abuse me that way and as I’ve grown, I’ve changed also. I want to be on my own, I want to be free, I’m depressed in this marriage and I want to move on. It is very, very hard to live this way. My husband has been a coach for over 30 years and EVERYONE thinks he’s wonderful – and he’s not a horrible person – he’s just not the right person for me anymore 😦

    • Bronwyn

      I’m at this stage too, and i fear that I may be the asshole in the situation. I’m just hate the cliche “its not you, its me”, but really it is me. I’m kind of stuck on how to tell him someone that you just don’t “feel like being married anymore” cause that is how I feel. We have been together 15 years, since I was 17 years old, and we have 2 great kids. I feel selfish about it, but what do i do? And unfortunately. he is a great guy, and he deserves to be happy, and I feel like I am not bringing out the best in him, and he in me? He’s not much of a talker though, so don’t know how to go about talking to him about it?

      • sonjaessen

        Would he consider marriage counseling? Would you be able to have a date night and have a talk about the state of your marriage? Seventeen is so very young, but not much younger than when I met my ex-husband. You’re just a different person at that age. And now fifteen years later, you’ve evolved, and if he hasn’t changed with you then it’s a lonely feeling.

  6. Pingback: How To Leave Your Husband: A Follow-up | Porch Philosophy
  7. Sheri

    I’m so confused about everything. He doesn’t even know me. I’ve ways done what he wants. I want out but am so afraid of hurting him and kids. He’s not an asshole but def doesn’t put me first. This decision is consuming me. I feel soo overwhelmed.

    • sonjaessen

      Sheri — I know how you feel. I’ve been there. Have you talked to him about this? Does he know how you feel? How does he not put you first?

      I know it’s such a difficult, heart-breaking decision to make. You are not alone!

      • Sheri

        Thank you for the comment.
        I have talked to him many times.
        He loves fishing and it’s his weekend fun. He gets so stuck in his routine. It’s always the same.
        I feel like my life is passing me by. We’ve been married for 20 yrs and he’s a faithful husband. But I want to live and I feel like I’m not.

  8. Marie

    I told my husband two weeks ago I wanted to separate, but he says he wants to work it out. He asked me to give him another chance and I feel that it is too late. I don’t have anything else to give. I told him I don’t love him romantically anymore and now today he’s acting like everything is okay with us. It’s weird. I have been feeling so overwhelmed with this decision. We have been married for 18 years. He has been verbally abusive on and off and he neglects me. Fun with his friends has always been more important to him. I can’t live like this anymore. It’s a lonely marriage. I feel like I should have left years ago. Since I talked to him, he said he would change and now he’s being Mr. nice guy. I just want out, but I want the house. I work from home so it would be harder for me to leave. I’m trying to talk to him in the next couple of a days again and ask him to leave, but I’m not sure if he will. This is so hard. Thanks for your blog. It’s helped a lot!

  9. Mandy Jo

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been married 11 years and we have three kids together but I have realized that he is never going to change. He is so hateful and vindictive and has a drinking problem. But he is mostly good to the kids and he has these days were he can be good to me too. I am going back to college but don’t know if I can wait another two years to leave or not. Any suggestions?

    • sonjaessen

      Mandy — So sorry about my delayed response! Pregnancy got the best of me. My advice may not be applicable by now since you may have found the answers you need since you posted a few weeks ago. First of all, do you have family close by? Any family members willing to take you and the children in? Do you have any money saved up? Are you working? Do you have friends/family that can offer financial help should you leave? What are you majoring in? Is it something that can get you by as a single mother? I know that he may seem nice to the children, but kids are smart and they can pick up on how he’s treating you — in the end he’s doing your children a major disservice as they will grow up with skewed ideas of relationships. You need to show your kids that YOU as a woman are VALUABLE. If you have daughters, they may grow up thinking it’s okay for men to be verbally abusive. If you have sons, they may grow up thinking it’s okay to treat women with disrespect. I really, really feel for you. Your situation sounds somewhat similar to the situation I was in. In addition, there are lawyers who offer a free consultation if you have the financial means to go in that direction. If you are lucky enough to have family members who offer to pay for a lawyer — DO IT. I didn’t. And now my ex-husband isn’t paying child-support. If you want, you can email me with more details if you don’t want to post here. Hope to hear from you!

  10. asm

    I very much enjoyed your post. Gave me some things to consider that I never really saw before. I searched out and read this post bc I’m confused. I dont have obvious reasons for wanting to leave. My husband doesn’t cheat, hit or lie to me. He’s not an obvious asshole. I just feel like he doesn’t listen to me. Anytime I have an issue that hurts my feelings, feel disrespected by, or unhappy with something, he just tells me why I’m wrong and how he see’s it. He be-littles me. Makes me feel like I’m just a negative person, a bad mom, a debbie downer. He never validates my feelings as his wife. It’s not an everyday thing. It probably happens 2 or 3 times a year. The rest of the time, we’re pretty okay, or at least I think we are. But when we have these issues, we never resolve them. We just go thru a big blow out, tell each other why the other one is completely wrong, give each other silent treatment, and make up in a few days. It stinks though. These fights make me feel like he does not care whatsoever how I feel or even get how I feel. They make me re-hash every issue we’ve ever had, bc we never resolve any of them! And pretty much ready to pack my things and get my own place. Then I talk myself down, tell myself how selfish that is, and come back to reality, thinking, I have so much to be thankful for. But this cycle is really messing with me. I don’t know if it’s me, him, or us. Or maybe we’re idiots and we should be apart. I feel like talking to him gets me a band-aid. He might try to put a temporary fix on things. But in less than a month things slide right back to same old same. I dunno. Any recommendations?

    • sonjaessen

      Ashley — Sigh. I SOOO feel you on this. Have you discussed the possibility of marriage counseling? IF he agrees to that, I would attempt to see if marriage counseling improves things — maybe give it six months and go from there. If he refuses marriage counseling, then I would leave. Yes. Leave. How difficult that transition would be depends on your situation. How long have you been married? Any children? Are you able to support yourself? (it sounds like it since you mentioned getting your own place.) A marriage can make or break your happiness. If you marry the wrong guy, you will always feel short-changed. We as women are SO fucking hard on ourselves. We always think: “Well, I got myself into this situation. I should just deal with it.” Let me tell you right now — bull shit. You are valuable. Your feelings are valuable. Your happiness is valuable. A trial separation is also something to consider. You could let him know that you need time to figure things out — perhaps he’ll want to do marriage counseling at that point — perhaps you’ll realize that you want to end the marriage. Moving out and having time to yourself will help you figure these things out.

      Leaving isn’t easy. My ex-husband was clueless and verbally abusive and there were times I was tempted to go back because he was my comfort zone. If you leave, and you’re tempted to go back to him — really evaluate why. Are you going back to him simply because you are lonely? Are you going back to him because he makes you happy? Only you can answer those questions. Let me tell you though — I NEVER went back. And I’m now re-married to a man who is my best friend. A man who never makes me feel belittled (although we DO have our disagreements at times just like normal couples.) Anyhow, you have my support no matter what!

  11. tree

    your blog is so full of truths that’s brought me to tears…i just had an awful argument with my husband and well, we have too many. My six year old deserves a happy home and I hate myself and my circumstances for not providing her with one. She laughs a lot and loves her dad. but mommy and daddy aren’t in love any more.
    I just don’t know where to begin. I filed for a consumer proposal (not quite bankruptcy) early this spring and just started working full time again. However, my job is on the rocks too. I guess for me it’s finding a home without totally uprooting my child from her ‘family’. Also being able to afford it all. It’s very overwhelming…thank you for posting this though..

    • sonjaessen

      I know. I know that helpless feeling. Any questions you may have, let me know! I’m no expert, but I’ve been there! Believe it or not (and I know this sounds cliche) but anything is possible! Guess what? I found a new home and I uprooted my kids and moved (back in 2005.) It sucked at the time, but our quality of life improved vastly. But my situation was a bit unique. If you want to talk more, you can reply here or contact me. Much love and support to you!

  12. Lost

    I am so sad, emotional exhausted. My husband of 9 years is so selfish. We have 2 children 5 and 8. My husband is a great socialiser, funny and handsome, but a shit provider. On the outside people see him as the great charmer and question why he is married to me. I used to be funny and laugh all the time now everyone sees my as dull, moody and sullen – I probably am now, I now find myself no longer wanting to go out or do anything other than sending time with my children. I am so tried – he drinks constantly is always out with his friends and often comes home drunk out of his head if he is no out with clients he is off cycling. We are struggling financially and live in a small 2 bedroom house. I work all the hours I can ( I work at least 60 hours per week and I am totally exhausted all the time. I have had resort to buying everything 2nd hand buying and I can’t seem to make a dent in my debt. What should I do – I don’t have anyone or anywhere to run to. My children adorn their Dad and I don’t want that to change. I have never told anyone – I have addressed the situation with my husband but I am told that I am “a martyr” and “unstable” whatever I do I am wrong – my “glass is always empty” ……..

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