‘Do I stay in an unsatisfying marriage where I’m financially secure?’

What's your relationship/dating/single-life problem? What's stressing you out/on your mind? Send a question about it to [email protected] or fill out this form.

I'm looking for advice. I am in my 50s, married 28 years with three adult children. I have been deeply unhappy in my marriage for a very, very long time. My husband is not a bad person – there's no abuse of any kind – we've just not grown together over the years. There is absolutely no physical or emotional intimacy, and in a perfect world I would like a divorce. We no longer have much of anything in common, sharing different views on most everything. We essentially live as roommates. 

The problem is that for a large part of our marriage I was a stay-at-home mom, and then have only worked part-time to remain available as the primary caregiver as the kids grew up. Therefore I have no retirement of my own built up. If we were to divorce, my fear is being financially unstable and unable to support myself. It would be wonderful to have the chance to meet someone to share my life with in a healthy, happy, loving relationship, but it's not a given that would ever happen even if we were to divorce. My question is: do I stay in an unsatisfying marriage where I'm financially secure and really able to spend my time with family and friends as I wish, or do I divorce and start a new life with no promise of financial stability?

If I were younger it would be a different story, but at this age it’s really frightening to make such a big change. (It should be noted that my husband does not seem to be unhappy, and yes we have tried marriage counseling multiple times with no real improvement.)

– Unhappily Ever After

Talk to a divorce lawyer or mediator about how this works in your state. You'd probably be entitled to some of the retirement money. That's kind of how it works; usually things gets split.

A divorce would change how you live and retire, even if you wind up with some support. One salary for two homes is ... less for both people. You're right to assume you'd be sacrificing comfort, at least for a while. This might require you to find more than part-time work and live in a smaller place. Also, the process of getting to an agreement with your husband might be very difficult.

But based on your letter, it's clear you're focused on what you're missing – which might even be seeing friends and family as a happier person on your own. Having your own space – even if you're not dating – might be a lot of fun. It would bring new experiences and, perhaps, a lot of joy.

I'm imagining what letter you might write in your 60s if you stay. Another 10 years of this with the same question on your mind doesn't sound appealing.

I hope you're in counseling on your own. I also hope there are a few friends you can talk to about this.

Many lawyers and mediators will do a first consultation for free. There's also public information from your state. Find out more before you decide you're stuck.

– Meredith

Readers? What are good next steps?