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“I don’t love my wife but I don’t want to hurt her“: What should I do?

When you marry someone and agree, till death do us part, you’re preparing yourself for a life of devotion to that person in a committed relationship.

But things don’t always work out.

No matter how much you respect your other half, sometimes the love simply disappears over the years.

The question is, do you leave the marriage and risk hurting your wife or do you stick around and try and find that connection again?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It comes down to your relationship and what you want.

Here are 9 signs you should call it quits and move on

1) There’s some form of abuse taking place

Whether you’re the one getting fired up and losing it at your wife (or vice versa), or physical abuse has even come into the scene — it’s time to get out now.

It doesn’t matter what side the abuse is coming from in the relationship, you need to walk away.

At the first punch or sign of being physical, the other person needs to get out of the relationship. It needs to end there.

There are no excuses when it comes to physical abuse and no second-guessing whether it’s even taking place.

But there are also other types of abuse that can be much harder to spot. Verbal abuse is one of those that tend to be much less recognised.

Think about your own relationship.

Do you both spend half your day in a screaming match with each other? This isn’t healthy.

If there are kids involved, this is even worse. They’re growing up thinking this is what a normal relationship looks like. It’s not at all.

So, how do you know the difference between verbal abuse and just a normal argument?

  • Name-calling and personal attacks are involved.
  • It happens every single day.
  • You don’t listen to each other at all.
  • You resort to punishment and threats.

These are warning signs. They might come from both of you, or they might be one-sided. Either way, you’ll be able to notice them in your relationship.

Another form of abuse to be on the lookout for is mental and emotional abuse. Here are some signs you can spot:

  • Name-calling
  • Yelling
  • Patronizing
  • Public embarrassment
  • Sarcasm
  • Dismissiveness
  • Insults
  • And much more.

At the end of the day, if there are any signs of abuse, it’s time for the relationship to end.

It’s not worth sticking around for either party involved. It’s about recognising the signs and getting out as soon as possible.

2) You’re not staying in the marriage for the right reasons

You may think you’re doing the right thing staying in a loveless marriage, whether it’s so you can see the kids every day, to avoid hurting your wife, or because you aren’t sure whether or not you can financially survive without her.

All this does is indicate that there’s no glue holding your relationship together.

You’re simply forgoing your own needs to make things work and over time this will start eating away at you.

It’s no secret that it can lead to depression, which in turn, makes the relationship even worse. You end up in a perpetual cycle of unhappiness.

On the other hand, making the decision to leave a relationship and accepting those consequences — such as not seeing the kids, upsetting your wife, or making it alone financially — also comes with a glimmer of hope.

There’s a chance that better days are just around the corner. This possibility alone is far better than sticking it out in a marriage for the wrong reasons.

3) Cheating is the norm

Whether she’s constantly cheating on you with another man or you’ve got a mistress sitting on the side, this is a good sign that your relationship is over.

Cheating once is a mistake.

And it tends to be something some couples can actually work through and walk away with a stronger relationship afterwards.

Ongoing cheating is a problem. It means you’re no longer committed to each other and generally results in one person blaming the other for it.

Serial cheating tends to point to a much deeper issue that’s sitting there unresolved between the two of you.

Nothing is going to change in your relationship unless the two of you actually agree to bring on that change and see if you can make things work again.

This is much less likely when serial cheating is involved. You (or they) have often removed themselves from the relationship and don’t believe the rules apply to them anymore.

The emotional and physiological damage this brings to the other partner in the relationship is often too huge to get passed.

It’s often best to simply walk away from the relationship and break that cycle of pain it’s causing.

4) You have nothing nice to say

How does that saying go?

“If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Well, when it comes to a marriage, if you have nothing nice to say, turn around and walk away. It’ll benefit both of you.

When was the last time you felt something positive towards your wife? When was the last time she actually said something nice to you?

If you’re not convinced either way, here’s a test for you and your wife.

Sit down together and take it in turns to say three nice things about each other. Can either of you do it?

Let’s face it, we all love to complain about our other half from time to time. But having nothing genuinely nice to say about each other reaches a whole new level.

Do you really want to be in a relationship with someone you can barely tolerate? With someone who can barely tolerate you?

Is this what you want out of your life?

You may not even have realised your relationship has reached this point. But it’s time to wake up and see it for what it is.

Unhealthy.

It’s time to close the door on this marriage.

5) One of you wants kids but the other doesn’t

This is usually an issue that comes up at the beginning of a relationship. But sometimes, you both agree on one thing, and as your relationship progresses, one of you changes your mind.

It happens and you shouldn’t be held to a promise you made a lifetime ago. But you also shouldn’t hold the other person back from achieving their dreams.

When it comes to dealbreakers in a relationship, this is a huge one.

If you’re already fallen out of love with your wife and she is wanting to have children, is it fair to keep her in a loveless marriage? Is it fair to decide you no longer want children but will stay with her?

Of course not. By the same merit, if you’re the one wanting kids and she no longer does, is that a sacrifice you’re willing to make when you no longer love her? Unlikely.

In this scenario, the best thing you can do for the both of you is walk away.

6) You no longer have any common ground

When it comes to the big issues in life and in your family, you have to be able to meet in the middle and find a common ground you can both agree on.

When you love someone, you’re willing to bend and be flexible in order to make you happy.

At the same time, they’re willing to do the same for you. This is what helps you make those all-important decisions that count for everything.

But what happens when you fall out of love with that person? What happens when she falls out of love with you?

Suddenly that middle ground gets harder and harder to find because no one is willing to negotiate.

When you take love out of the picture, the motivation for both parties is gone. All you’re left with is a lot of conflict and nothing to agree on. The respect you had for each other no longer exists.

This becomes a big problem when the kids are involved. Simple decisions turn into huge fights, such as:

  • Can Adam go out drinking with friends?
  • Can Susy go to an older boy’s prom?
  • Can Sally drop out of school early?

These are all big parenting decisions that you should be making together. But when there’s no common ground and a little tension in a relationship, we tend to make decisions based on how we feel more than anything else.

By leaving the toxic relationship, you’ll have a much clearer head and you can both put the children’s best interests first (hopefully). This leads to much better decision making.

7) Your values have changed

If there’s one place where you need to see eye to eye, it’s when it comes to your values and what you want in life.

This is the road you travel in a relationship, with both of you working towards a common goal.

As soon as your values change (or hers), you suddenly find yourself walking on a completely different track.

For example:

  • You may want to retire near the beach, but she wants the country.
  • You may want to travel the world, but she has no desire to leave home.
  • You may put work first, but she puts family first.

When your values no longer line up, you’ll find yourselves working towards two different goals and drifting apart.

While you can live like this for a while, eventually it’s going to catch up with you and you’re going to have to choose to compromise or go your separate ways.

If you know that compromise isn’t an option for you, then it’s time to leave now.

Don’t let the relationship continue while the two of you drift further and further apart. It’s a waste of your time and will be holding you back from your goals.

8) You’re already living like you’re single

This is one of the major signs that your relationship is already over and it’s time for you to walk away.

While you might be happy living like you’re single and having no responsibility towards your wife, it’s not fair to stay.

It’s not fair on either of you.

Both of you could be out there, using this as a second chance to find love again, to live out the rest of your days in happiness.

While it might seem easy for you to simply get through the day to day living next to your wife, you’re not really living at all.

You’re hiding behind her and preventing both of you from making the right changes for you.

In the moment, it can feel like you’re doing the right thing. Staying with your wife so you don’t rock the boat and upset her.

But by upsetting her, you’re giving her a chance to get out there and find true love again. And what could be better than that?

9) Counselling hasn’t worked

At the end of the day, if counselling hasn’t worked or helped with your marriage issues, it’s pretty safe to call it quits.

You’ve given it your best shot. You’ve both tried to fix the problem. The issue is, it’s beyond repair now.

While it can be hard to let go of something you’ve put so much time and effort into fixing, you’ll both feel much happier when you do.

Falling in love again isn’t something you can make happen. But you can recognise the signs when it isn’t working and know when to quit.

Signs it might be worth giving your relationship a second chance

There are some signs that your marriage isn’t quite over just yet.

While you may feel like you don’t love your wife right now, with a bit of time and attention on your relationship, you can bring it back to a place of love and growth.

Here are 4 signs to look out for:

1) You share the same values

We mentioned above that when you don’t share the same values, your relationship is well and truly over.

On the other hand, despite all the troubles you’re currently having, if those core values remain the same — there’s some hope for your relationship.

You both still want the same things. You’re both still working towards the same goal.

There’s hope that you can work through whatever challenges you’re currently going through and work to get your marriage back on track.

2) You’re working through something

The reason behind your lack of love towards your wife, likely stems from a bigger issue the two of you are facing.

For example, she may have cheated on you.

It’s worth working out whether you’re angry with her at the moment or this is something that won’t change.

While infidelity is enough to rock any marriage, it doesn’t necessarily mean the marriage has to come to an end.

It’s something you can work through if you choose to go down that route. The decision is yours.

It’s best to work out whether your feelings towards your wife have stemmed from some other place and to consider whether it’s something the two of you can work through together.

A marriage should never be ended in the heat of the moment.

Let the event cool off. Take your time to process your thoughts and feelings. Consider where to next? Can you see yourself moving forward with you, or is it over?

With a clear head — far away from the initial argument — you’re in a much better place to make a decision.

3) You still make each other happy

Do you still smile when she walks into the room?

Does she still go to the effort to make your lunch each day just to make you happy?

It might be worth considering whether your marriage is simply stuck in a rut.

It’s clear that the two of you still deeply care for each other, so consider where these lack of love feelings might be stemming from.

One common reason is when your sex life takes a dip. It’s nothing to do with how you feel about each other and everything to do with your physical relationship.

It might be time to turn up the passion in the bedroom and see if that changes your feelings towards each other.

It might just be the spark you need to get things back on track.

Here are some other ideas you can try:

  • Plan a date night together (get a babysitter for the kids!).
  • Go away for a weekend to reconnect.
  • Do something special for each other.

4) The thought of leaving her breaks your heart

It’s not just her feelings you’re worried about hurting, it’s your own as well. The thought of leaving your wife makes you feel physically upset.

If you’re constantly thinking over the decision and unable to commit to leaving, it might be a good indication that you’re not quite done with this relationship yet.

Instead, go on the hunt for the root of your issues and see if you can find a solution together. It’s amazing what you can work through when you love each other.

How to tell my wife it’s over?

If you do decide to call it quits on your relationship, make sure you break it to your wife gently to avoid hurting her feelings too much.

It helps to share what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way, to help her see why this decision is in both your best interests.

It may help her realise that it’s not an ending but in fact a new beginning for both of you.

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Felicity Frankish

Written by Felicity Frankish

My name is Felicity (Flick) Frankish and I am mum to Cassandra, Vivienne and Elliot. After studying journalism and digital media, I naturally fell into the online world - and hasn't left since!

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