When Is It Time To Leave A Relationship?

It is a very difficult decision to make for a woman. The time to leave a relationship is not a decision made lightly, especially when there are children involved.

In the beginning, it’s always great. You’re in love and on top of the world. You get married and/or move in together. You spend all your time together and there’s not one thing you would change about your partner. Life is good. But life carriers on: you have to work, maybe you have children together, buy a house. Things change.

You settled in. Life can’t be all roses and lollipops. You understand that. But this is different. There is a feeling that things aren’t quite right. You wonder if you made the right choice for a partner. You try to understand what’s wrong. You try really hard to turn things back around, but nothing works. What can you do to improve things? What should you do? Should you stay or should you go? You’re afraid to make a wrong decision, so you make none. You’re invested now and there is a lot at stake.

It is a very difficult decision to make for a woman. The time to leave a relationship is not a decision made lightly, especially when there are children involved.

When Is It Time To Leave A Relationship?

My children were just a few years old when I first started to have pangs about leaving my first marriage. But I pushed those feelings deep down. I remember I used to get together with one friend regularly. Her mother would always be there and she fancied herself a psychic of sorts. She loved to read Tarot cards. Even though she asked repeatedly, I always turned her down doing my reading. I knew what she was going to say and I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to face it. I wasn’t ready to do anything about it.


You see, there wasn’t any abuse in my relationship. Nothing I could point to directly and say “That’s why I want to leave.” I would try to talk to my friends and family about it but I was quickly met with “What’s wrong with you? He’s a good man.” And he was but we had grown apart and the more years that went by, the more evident it was to me that the vision we each had for our future together was vastly different.

It was at least 5 years later that I filed for a separation. I think that is very common for women. The end of a relationship usually happens long before the actual split. Especially if it has been a long relationship or there are children involved. Making the decision to end my marriage is probably one of the hardest things I had ever done.

And yet, everyone around me said that I was taking the easy way out. Believe me, it was not. To stay and carry on would have been easier. I’d done it, for five years. It takes a lot of courage to stand up, admit that you want out, to yourself and your partner. And that’s just the beginning of the hardship.

I must point out that we did give it a good go of things. Thankfully, he was very open to seeing a marriage counselor and we did. We went on dates. We had conversations. We went on vacations without the children. In the end, he could see nothing wrong. He was content but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for me.

If you are reading this post, I can only assume that the thought has crossed your mind. I can not tell you if you should stay or when the right time is to leave a relationship. It is such a personal choice and depends on so many factors. All I can say is that if you truly want to leave the relationship, the time will come when you are ready to take action.


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  1. I’m adding my comment simply so that the men’s voice is also heard…We have been married for 18 years, and have 3 fabulous kids (all 16 or under). About 2 years ago my wife told me that she is thinking very seriously about divorce. This was a pretty big surprise for me because I thought we had a pretty good life together and a great family. We started talking and communicating much more, travelling, going out, etc. I really made a huge effort to right some of the “issues”….but to no avail. She left three months ago (age 41), because all my “efforts” were too late. I am not angry at her, just disappointed because I thought our Family (couple+kids) was worth more then anything else. She had quite a few things going on in her life, changed jobs often, etc, and seemed to be looking for meaning in her life. Recently she finished a 2 year training, got a job and at the first opportunity left. She is a great Mom, but at the moment the kids are mainly with me because her working hours are difficult. There is no third person involved.

    Of course, once someone wants to go, that’s it. I can understand women who leave because their husband is an idiot, but I have more problems understanding someone who wants to “turn the page”, throw away a huge amount of positive common experience, accepting to see the kids less, live under worse conditions and leave behind a loving husband who would have done anything for her…

    1. I am so sorry that you and your children had to go through that. Some people are never satisfied with what they have. It’s their nature or sometimes a result of a mental illness and/or addiction. I hope you and your children find balance and happiness in your new life circumstances.

  2. I have been preparing to exit my 23 year loooong partnership for some time now.. have been purchasing items that I will need that really like.. my partner knows of my ever-growing collection however seems to think nothing of it.. I have told him I am leaving – and when, though his conversations about the future still have us together.. I have turned completely away from any form of intimacy.. I dont like to see him naked and I wont allow him to touch me.. I cant even stand his clothes being washed together with mine… so – yes.. its well time for us to separate… I never married him… always ”knew” he’s not my true love – but with 2 kids together… I have stayed as I couldn’t bear to be without my kids as they grew… and didn’t feel I had the right to make him be without them either…

    Thank you Elena – for sharing your post!

  3. Thank u for sharing. I often felt I had to stay in my marriage … 26 yrs.now. .. .for the kids who are now 16 n 22 n for financial reasons n even for extended family bc what would they n others think.. He is narcissistic … I told him n he blew up. His mother is now staying with us n she heard him yelling at my daughter n she told him if this is how it’s going to b she will move on bc all she wants is peace. That is all I have wanted too…. he has many great qualities. .. but i want happiness n friendship n more than just being content. Thank u again.

  4. Thank you for this post. I am on my way out of my second marriage ( very hard to admit ). I love the part where you said that once women leave they have essentially already been gone for a while. That is so true, and I remember feeling that way during the first divorce. The first marriage was dangerous and it was easier for others to support my decision, but this time around things are much more subtle and hard to put your finger on (although there are some big issues of concern at play as well). But, regardless of how it seems to my husband or anyone else I know that I have endured this pain and loneliness for years and made every reasonable and desperate effort to turn things around. I’m at peace with my decision. It’s nice to hear other women proudly stand up for making a difficult decision in order to honor their own pursuit of happiness.

  5. Wow! I read this post because the thought has crossed my mind, but for very good reason. I can’t imagine walking away just because I didn’t feel emotionally ‘in love’ anymore. I thought marriage was for better or worse and a commitment before God that you would be there forever. Of course, there are exceptions such as infidelity, abuse and addiction…..but were you really committed if you were willing to leave once the feelings of love (which is really just infatuation) goes away?

  6. This resonated with me too. He was satisfied and i was not. There was nothing that was obviously wrong so it was hard for me to do. And it is NOT the easy way out. It’s been tough but it was the right decision. I had thought i would wait until the kids were ready for college although I’m not sure why we think that will be any better. But the negative energy in our marriage started making me sick. My body told me what i must do.

  7. This was very easy for me to relate too, sadly.

    I think it takes women a very long time to leave for many reasons but once we do, we do. Men might leave quickly but beg to come back and stay immersed or worse–stalk.

    1. I think a lot of women find themselves in the same situation and really over think things. While I think it is great to weigh all the options, we sometimes over think and then we become stuck.

  8. I began reading this post because I, at first, thought you were talking about girlfriend relationships! I am sorry you had to go through this, Elena, but I am sure you are happier now.

    Girlfriends were on my mind because I left 2 toxic relationships recently and although that is hard for me I know it was a gift to myself.

  9. Thankfully, this conundrum is not my reality?

    I think when you ask the question, you know it’s time to get to work on your relationship otherwise the inevitable just might be your reality.

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