Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh,
It sounds like you are in a difficult situation where, despite trying, your marriage of 20 years still does not seem to be working. This makes you very unhappy as you feel your needs are not being met. However, for the sake of your children, you have done your very best to stick around.
Certainly, there is much evidence to suggest that it is best for children to be raised in an environment where both the mother and father are around in a stable family home. However, there are times where the mother and father, despite their best efforts, are not able to live together in a stable family home. This can also have a negative impact on the children as they see both their parents living in unhappiness; therefore, they will naturally feel unhappy, too. So, in such cases, even though the parents are still married together, the children can be as unhappy, if not more than those whose parents have been divorced and living apart. In fact, if the parents are happier living apart, then this can be even better than if they live together unhappy.
As your children grow older, you also need to think of the impact that this situation might have on them and how this will affect their view of marriage. What will they expect from marriage when the time comes to it?
However, if you decide to stick around, there are also other things you could do to fulfill some of the needs that are currently missing in your life and bring you the happiness you have been lacking. For example, it might be that you take up a new hobby, especially one that requires you to mix with others. This way, you will get the needed social interaction in a positive way and this will bring you happiness, too. It will also give you a sense of achievement as you achieve something new. This will also be a way to boost your mood. Furthermore, your children will also see you happy and not necessarily attribute your current lack of happiness to that of being in an unhappy marriage.
Either way, it is your choice to make. It is an important decision for you to make so is one you should think carefully about. Consider the consequences of both option and the impact this could have on yourself, your husband, and children. Make istikhara and ask Allah (swt) to guide you to make the best decision.
May Allah (swt) bring you all happiness in whatever way that may be, and may He (swt) guide you to make the best decision.
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