Choosing Independence Over An Unhappy Dependent Marriage


Even when you are in an unhappy marriage, deciding to divorce is never easy. It is all the more difficult when you feel emotionally or financially dependent on your spouse. Fear of being unable to take care of yourself without the help of your spouse can be immobilizing. If this sounds like you, I would encourage you to really analyze your situation and consider ways to overcome this fear. I believe that finding independence and peace is far better than living in an unhappy dependent marriage.

Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled, defines unhealthy dependency as “the inability to experience wholeness or to function adequately without the certainty that one is being actively cared for by another”. We all have needs for emotional nourishment including love, appreciation, kindness and emotional support. But when we pin all our expectations on one person to fulfill all those needs, we not only put undue pressure on that person, but we give up our own sense of control and identity. In that case, there is a tendency to define ourselves solely by our marriage relationship. When you start to think that you just can’t live without the other person, or that if you are not somebody’s spouse you don’t know who you are, it’s time to look inward for answers to why you feel this way.

When we learn to love ourselves in spite of our shortcomings, we don’t need the approval or attention from another person in order to feel worthy and valuable. We can learn to trust our own feelings and not be afraid of rejection. Talking about these issues with a therapist and/or a support group can help to overcome the fears that are at the basis of unhealthy emotional dependency.

Financial dependency can be another hurdle to overcome in order to leave an unhappy marriage. Getting some financial control in one’s life can sometimes seem overwhelming, but there are ways to do this. A financial counselor, financial analyst, or financial coach can help you get clarity on your current situation and identify steps you can take to increase your income, decrease your spending, and get control of emotional issues around money that may be holding you back from achieving financial independence. They can also teach you about budgeting and financial planning so you can become more confident in your ability to take care of yourself.

Overcoming unhealthy dependence on another person, whether emotional or financial, can be achieved with professional help. When these issues are being dealt with, it gives you the freedom to make the best decision for you about whether to leave an unhappy marriage. And if you decide that divorce is the right decision for you, we are here to help.

Our primary goal at Divorce With Dignity is to assist you in getting through the divorce process in the most peaceful and economical way possible. The divorce support we offer includes referring you to whatever kind of professional help you may need in your unique situation, such as therapists, financial counselors, divorce coaches, etc. We can also help you to understand assets and other monetary matters to consider so you and your spouse can cooperatively work out a divorce agreement that is fair to both parties, and we will file the all the legal papers for you  – all at a very reasonable cost. Contact one of our Divorce With Dignity affiliates ( to learn more about how we can help you “pull it all together” to achieve the independence you need to forge a happier life – with dignity.

The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice.  The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned.  Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions

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