You say that “part of the reason” you’ve stayed so long is because you didn’t want to hurt your husband. What’s the other part of the reason? If it’s something that hasn’t been resolved yet, clearly you need to make sure that it is before you move on. Once that’s taken care of, you need to develop an exit strategy before you talk to your husband. Since all that resulted before when you talked to him without an exit strategy was him begging you to stay and you caving to his request, you need to have a plan in place. This plan could include: telling a few close friends and/or family members so you have emotional support and accountability; securing a place to stay/live — this could mean renting an apartment if you can afford it; renting a room in an apartment, or lining up a guest room in a generous friend or family’s home; speaking to or hiring a divorce attorney and perhaps even filing for divorce; securing a financial account that your husband does not have access to with enough money to cover living expenses for at least six months; and obtaining some source of income if you are not currently employed. Some people may argue that not all of these things are necessary to leave your husband, and they’d be right; having a job, for example, isn’t necessary, but getting one if you’ve always been financially dependent on your husband would go a long way in showing him that you’re serious about leaving, and that you staying with him is not a topic that’s open for discussion. (Obviously, if you have children together, which I’m assuming you don’t since you didn’t mention them, you’ve got to figure out how they factor into your exit plan).
As soon as you’ve done everything you can to make the transition into a life of independence as smooth as possible, then sit your husband down and tell him that as he knows, you’ve been unhappy in your relationship for quite some time and after many months of therapy and soul-searching you’ve decided you no longer want to live with him. You may even decide at this point to tell him you no longer wish to be married (if you already have divorce papers, this would be the time to show them to him). As clearly and as sensitively as you can, explain the reasons that led to your decision. Tell him that this is a decision you reached awhile ago and as much as you hate hurting him, the decision is made and there’s nothing he can do to change it. Tell him you welcome his questions and are more than willing to explain how you’ve arrived at your decision. Be prepared for anger at this point, but don’t back down. Be strong, and remember your exit plan.
Finally, one thing that really stuck out to me in your letter is the fact that you got married two years ago, yet you’ve been unhappy in your relationship for at least four years. It’s too late for you, but I hope you’ll be an example to others who may be thinking that marriage will fix whatever issues exist in their relationships. People, if things aren’t good now, they’re going to be even worse after you tie the knot. Leaving a live-in partner is hard enough — I know from personal experience — but leaving a spouse you’re legally bound to is much, much more difficult. Don’t get married if you’ve got doubts. Even if you’re currently engaged — even if your wedding is next week — even if you have kids together — don’t get married if your relationship isn’t in a good place. The risks simply aren’t worth it.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.