Relationship Connection: My husband threatens divorce, but won’t follow through

Question

My husband says he’s tired of being married to me and threatens me with divorce on a regular basis. It’s exhausting to see him act regular and nice toward me one day and then the next day act like he has no interest in being married to me. I can’t leave my children and won’t be the first one to walk away from the marriage. Obviously, our marriage isn’t good, but I think it can be fixed if we’ll both work on it. He’s just all over the place and ends up in the same place again and again, wanting divorce. Do we tell the kids? Do I just stay put or leave? I have no idea what to do.

Answer

Those mixed messages are pretty confusing, to say the least. If you keep trying to hit the moving target of your husband’s wishes, you’ll miss every time. The ensuing resentment won’t be good for you or anyone else in your family.

I encourage you to get some clarity about what you really want and stick with it. If you want to stay married, then don’t move out. Keep facing your marriage and continue forward. Let him be the one to end it if that’s what he ultimately wants.

Granted, it will feel strange to move forward when your husband is starting and stopping, but you can only act on your intentions. He might have legitimate struggles in this marriage with you, but hollow threats aren’t the way to take care of them.

I don’t recommend you tell the children anything about the finality of the marriage because that’s not certain. If the children are exposed to some of the drama between you two, don’t lie and pretend everything is wonderful. Let them know that things are tense right now and reassure them you’ll be there for them. You can’t speak for your husband or make promises about the marriage.

On the days that your husband wants everything to be “normal” in your marriage in regards to touch, talking, and other benefits of a secure marriage, there is nothing wrong with you using that as an opportunity to talk about your concerns with the up and down nature of his behavior. This might raise the intensity, but at least you’ll be dealing with what’s really going on instead of just going through the motions.

If he’s sharing things with you that he wants to be different in your marriage, take a hard look at the concerns. See if there are things you can continue to improve. He might feel as if you don’t listen or take him seriously. Offer to work with him in counseling to get these concerns resolved.

You might even consider following Jon Bon Jovi’s secret for staying married when he said: “My wife tells me that if I ever decided to leave, she’s coming with me.” In all seriousness, you don’t have to play games with your husband to get him to stay in the marriage. You can face your marriage and show him that you’re serious about staying, regardless of his threats.

Stay connected!

 

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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14 Comments

  • Patchiz October 2, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    We found an unusual method of that fight or flight response in our marriage. We joined a medieval combat group that fights with foam weapons. It works for us in ways we couldn’t imagine when we found the sport. The point is as Geoff stated, “Get some clarity about what you really want and stick with it”. In that willingness we found a trust. From experience we agree with the sound advice,

  • bored October 3, 2013 at 1:03 am

    Are you just boring in your daily conversation? Many women are content talking just about what cute things the kids did, someone’s daily drama, the pets, tv celebrities or church. Does your family interfere with excessive calls and their drama and demands? Are you just two living together or do you have shared goals, interests or hobbies?

  • Craig October 3, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Why would you want to be married to such a jerk?
    You and your children DESERVE better.
    Send him packing and don’t let him return until and unless he changes his attitude and grows the h*ll up.

    • Puzzled October 3, 2013 at 8:28 am

      That is a good question. Why did she hook up with a jerk in the first place, and, what is it about her that makes her so great and desirable? A lot of pretty (physically) women have ugly personalities.

  • Joe October 3, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Most of the women I meet are dull. They got married young and had several kids. They only know the bubble world they grew up in here and act like clones or are immature. No wonder guys roam or leave.

  • rhoda October 3, 2013 at 7:42 am

    All my husbands were jerks. It’s hard to find a nice guy in Utah.

    • Bryan October 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      You got to be kidding with this. “All my husbands were jerks” and you can’t find a nice guy in the entire state of Utah is a total cop-out. Either your “picker” is broken and you are picking jerks or some serious self-reflection is in order. As my Mom used to say’ “If you don’t like everyone around you, then the problem is probably with you.”

  • Puzzled October 3, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I wonder why girls, yes girls (they get married out of high school) marry jerks. Is it because he looks “hot” or they think they can tame his wild side? Some of these girls don’t learn after the first jerk they marry, sometimes they hook up with two or three more. After several marriages to jerks and several offspring from these jerks, these now women, with the mentality of girls, are basically damaged goods. The only ones they’ll get from now on are just worthless jerks. BTW, girls, looks and image aren’t everything, and that goes for females, too.

  • JJJJJ October 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    At fast food place, I overheard two young girls, yes girls, too … young to be married and saddled with several kids, discussing the problems they were having with their hubbies. You know, wait until you are at least in your 20’s before you get married. Right out of high school is stupid and a road to problems. Grow up first! Getting married right out of high school is the road to marital disaster!
    Ed. ellipsis

  • Bored Guy October 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Crap! I can’t stand listening to her relatives weighing in on everything and also talking about their latest 24 hour family drama. Really, can you talk about something else for a change than your freakin’ “drama”?

    • Hatali October 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Lunch time. Go get a bite to eat, then maybe you won’t be so bored.

  • Hatali October 3, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Next time he tells you he wants a divorce, tell him that he is free to leave at any time. But once he leaves, he won’t be coming back. Also make sure he knows he will still be responsible for child support.
    “WHAT WE HAVE HERE, IS A LACK OF COMMUNICATION!”
    It sounds like he is more child like than your kids are.

  • DoubleTap October 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    First you take the initiative and put your big girl panties on.
    Then you take the bull by the horns and call his bluff.
    Beat him to it and serve divorce papers on him first.
    You don’t need to be put through the hoops at his pleasure. What he is doing is mental abuse.
    He does not deserve you or your children. There are many good men out there who would treat
    you much much better than that. You know about the saying…you never miss anything till it’s gone.
    Make him a believer. He is a loser….dump the chump.

  • zaza September 3, 2014 at 5:03 am

    I am in the same situation its been a year since my husband filled for divorce we still live in the same house,sleep in the same bed do everything together like husband and wife,but once we fight he says i am not his wife and we are separated.

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