Help! I Feel Like I Don’t Deserve My Husband and He’ll Leave

My husband and I have been married for almost a year. Sometimes I can't believe my good fortune. He is a wonderful man, great with my kids (I brought two into the marriage), seems to adore me, treats me wonderfully, great provider for the family. Somehow, though, I am always fighting this nagging feeling that he will one day look for something better (if he isn't doing so already) and move on from me. It's like I don't feel like I deserve him. Maybe I don't. I have had some difficult relationships in the past and I hurt a couple of my partners very deeply, cheating on both multiple times. I grew up in a home where my dad cheated on my mom, ditching her (and me) in the end, and I grew up vowing that if anyone gets hurt in my relationships, it won't be me. But I have changed my ways. I have been completely faithful to my current husband. I love him dearly. I cannot imagine hurting him. But I can imagine him hurting me. Despite the evidence in front of me every day, I am convinced it's just a matter of time. What's my problem? —I'm Not Worthy
Dear I'm Not Worthy,

I think you have quite a bit of insight about your problem: your childhood experiences and past relationships have shaped your worldview in such a way that you don’t trust your current reality.

You have made yourself vulnerable by committing to not hurting your husband—and that feels scary to you. We all carry some baggage from our formative experiences into current relationships. It seems, however, that your fears are preventing you from enjoying your relationship as you could. I imagine you find yourself in a pretty constant state of anxiety or fear—watching and waiting for evidence that you might get hurt. That’s exhausting. It also can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We expect someone to tire of us, and we push for reassurance or we accuse them of not caring enough until they do tire of our behaviors and disengage from the relationship. That then confirms what we believed all along—that people will hurt us and leave us.

Most people will leave us if we push them away hard enough. The challenge is not to push when we feel scared or vulnerable, but to engage and connect.

To accept love, you must feel worthy of love. It sounds as if that may be a significant part of your struggles.

There is no quick fix or easy answer to your question. I recommend that you find a therapist to work through your relationship fears and feelings of self-worth. There is quite a bit of healing that will likely need to happen before you can fully embrace being in relationship with another person.

To accept love, you must feel worthy of love. It sounds as if that may be a significant part of your struggles. You can talk with a therapist about how to bring your husband into the work you do together—as he can likely be a great support for you. If he understands your triggers and how to respond most effectively to you, that can only enhance your relationship. However, I do not suggest focusing on couples work. I think you would benefit first and foremost from individual work to address your concerns.

Best wishes,

Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
  • Leave a Comment
  • Reena

    October 16th, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    I think that you could be taking the things that you have done in the past totally cloud how you see your marriage today. You have to let the past go sometimes, as hard as that is, and if you know that you love your husband and that you have changed then that is it. Be confident in the fact that you have moved forward from that kind of behavior and the he loves you for the woman that you are TODAY, not what you used to be.

  • Gladys

    October 17th, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    I agree in that I think that there are definitely some things going on on your end that hae to be resolved before the two of you can start working on this doubt together.

  • Norma

    October 19th, 2015 at 11:35 AM

    I felt like this in my first marriage, that I did not deserve to be with him. In fact I did such a good job convincing myself of that, I believe that I also convinced him of that as well and he wound up leaving me for someone else. So be careful of what you are always thinking of yourself, but there is a good chance that you could get the other person to come around to thinking that same thing too… not a good thing in all cases.

  • Dawn

    October 21st, 2015 at 7:37 AM

    You sound like there is a whole lot of past history that you still need to deal with before you can make any kind of peace and resolution in yourself and your marriage. I know that it will be hard after all of these years to confront much of this but the truth is that you will continue to beat yourself up and maybe even drive this man that you love away if you do not make the commitment to resolve some of these issues. I suspect that this will mean doing some therapy on your own and maybe even later, going together

  • Iris

    October 29th, 2015 at 6:33 PM

    watch out- if you believe something long enough then it quite possibly will come true

  • ray

    August 6th, 2020 at 1:15 PM

    i feel like i dont deserve my husband at all! we have been married for just under a year but dated for 8 years. i was 20/21 when we started dating and i was not faithful due to issues in our relationship but i always knew we would work out in the end. he was also unfaithful but i dont think to my degree. we broke up for a few years when he moved for work during that time i started seeing someone and so did he. we both decided to tell each other the truth before we got back together however he was just having fun but i fell in love with someone who was married. i knew i would never be with that man and i wanted to marry my husband ( i know i guess i was in love with both of them) anyways it took me a really loing time to get over that affair however a week before my wedding the guys wife released a sex video of us and all of my husbands friends and family memebers saw! it was a nightmare but my husband stood by my side and didnt leave me even though i told him he should leave since i caused him so much embarrassment! he stood by me and was not so upset because he knew about my affair so it was not a shock. regardless i still continued to see the other man uptill our wedding because i had such a great bond with him and his marriage fell apart and he was always there for me and i felt i owed it to him too since i felt so guilty getting married and moving away and being happy when his marriage fell apart.i know it was his actions that did that however when he found out his wife released the video he stood up for me so i felt bad due to that she pressed false charges on him and kicked him out. however, im married now andmy husband is amazing our life is amazing ..i tried talking to my husband and told him there are some things i did while we dated that are eating at me and i want to be honest with you about them because i feel so guilty and he deserves to know the truth..but he refuses to listen he says he doesnt care doesnt want to hear anything hes happy now thats all that matters. i made a vow not to cheat on him ever and i have not nor do i feel the need to we are happily married but i cant forgive myself for all the drama i caused all the embarrassment i caused him and his family and they still accepted me . i know im no longer that person but i cant stop hating myself i cant stop looking at him and feeling like hes being cheated on by not knowing all the wrong ive done but he doesnt want to hear it..i dont know what to do i feel like i ruined his life and lied soo much that he deserves someone better :(

  • Anitrea

    April 3rd, 2021 at 11:15 PM

    I think you should go talk to someone about your feelings. If your husband says he doesn’t want to know then leave it that way. He should not have to suffer because you feel bad or guilty, That’s your issue and you shouldn’t put ii on him. He shouldn’t have to feel bad so you can feel better.

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