If you are feeling anger, confusion, hurt, or finding this request ridiculous or funny, you are right to feel this! Although your husband may want a divorce, it does not mean he does not love you. Sometimes it is the contrary; because he loves you, he wants to stay with you, but there is something in the configuration of marriage that does work for him, and he feels it could damage your relationship long term.
It is a difficult situation whether you have been married for one year or fifty when the person you expected to spend your life with says they want a divorce. It becomes even more confusing when they say this, but they say they still want to stay together with you.
What do they mean by this? This situation is not uncommon, and you are not alone.
As you seek answers to figure out what your husband’s request might mean, you first need to be sure of what you want and what your feelings are about the matter. Take care of yourself first and then you will be able to make an informed decision secure in knowing where you stand.
Related Reading: When Is It Too Late for Marriage Counseling?
Here are four key questions to ask as you grapple with what this could mean.
1. What Does Your Husband Mean by He Wants You to Be Together?
Get clarity from your husband about what he believes a post-divorce relationship looks like. Does he envision that you will continue to share a home, finances, intimacy, and everything stays the same, but you will not be his wife? Is he wishing to stay intimate with you but explore a polyamorous lifestyle and see other women (or men)?
If you have children, what does a post-divorce lifestyle entail if you are still together, how will your children be affected?
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There are many variations of what it means to be together with someone. Question your spouse but also ask yourself what you want from a marriage, and if your needs are met in this new structure? If your husband says he wishes to keep your life the same, but he wants to pursue other relationships, be cautious that he may not be using getting divorced to see other people.
2. What Are the Possible Reasons Your Husband Wants a Divorce?
The top four common reasons for divorce are money, lack of intimacy, infidelity, and abuse of one or both partners. However, in a case like this where a spouse wants a divorce but wants to remain with their wife, it means that the popular motives are not the cause or are not insurmountable. Other possible reasons could include;
- he feels constrained by the role of being a husband (long-term commitment, a provider, etc.)
- he is battling mental health problems.
- he does not get on well with your family and prefers it was just you without the pressure of having in-laws.
- he does not feel he is doing a good job as a husband and does not deserve you.
- he would like to explore ethical non-monogamy but does not know how to make that a reality if he is still married to you.
Related Reading: How Can I Help When My Father Is Depressed?
3. What Are the Reasons Your Husband Wants to Stay Together?
As crucial as it is to know why your spouse wants a divorce, it is equally important to know why he wants to stay together with you rather than complete separation. The fact that he wants you to remain in his life shows that you have built something together that he is not willing to lose.
When you look at the positive reasons, it could mean he loves you deeply and does not want to spend the rest of his life without you. However, his devotion to you could be because he wants the safety of being with someone he knows, but the freedom to live as a single man would. Maybe he wishes to stay because it makes financial sense for you both to remain together.
Many couples get divorced but stay together in a loveless marriage because they do not want to start again and change the routine they have built after years of marriage. Although not emotionally involved, the housing market and economy may make it difficult for one partner to move out. This trend may be beneficial economically but can be emotionally damaging long term.
When children are involved, you may wish to stay together with your husband and co-parent.
4. Could There Be Something Else Going on With Your Husband?
Your husband’s reason for asking for a divorce may have nothing to do with you and is about an issue that he is dealing with and cannot share with you. He may be hiding something, feels guilt, and believes that if he is no longer your husband this guilt may be alleviated.
Although painful to think about, examples of this may be he is having an extra-marital affair and if he is not married to you, it is not shameful. Maybe he not having an affair, but wants to, but knows he cannot act while married to you. It could be a gambling issue, and since your finances are tied, he wishes to free you of that burden of debt and is afraid that you may find out.
These are extreme examples, sometimes it could be an emotional matter such as he is feeling inadequate as a husband or unhappy with how his life has turned out, and wants to try something different, but loves you and wants you with him on that journey. Before the two of you decide on how to proceed with this, explore the possibility that it is not about being married at all, but could be something deeper that you can work on.
Can you still have a happy relationship if you agree to divorce but still stay together? It is possible. Once you have thought through the number of different scenarios of what he means by ‘stay together, you need to ask yourself what you want from a long-term relationship.
Do you draw pleasure from being his wife and feel that being his life partner is not enough? If that is the case, you need to let him know that this arrangement will not work for you. If he has explained to you that he loves you deeply, but the pressures and traditions of being a husband are weighing on him, you need to decide if this is something you can help with or if being divorced might work better for you both in the long run.
When a husband asks for a divorce but wants to stay together, and it is not for financial reasons, it may mean that the two of you just need to talk and reconfigure your marriage. Find out what type of marriage would make your spouse happy; how does it align with your vision for a happy marriage?
Once you have an ideal concept outline, then work at making that dream come true. Although he has asked for a divorce (and this does not feel great), he has also said he wants to stay with you, so there is still love there, trust in that and create the relationship you both want together.