Making decisions is always hard. Chocolate or vanilla? Boxers or briefs? But some decisions impact your whole life, and those are the hardest of all.
Have you ever gotten to that point in a relationship where you have to either commit or get out? Or where you want to break up, but it's just so awkward? Here, 28 people reveal how their marriage worked out after they had meant to break up but didn't follow through.
Our relationship wasn’t going well, she lived in Bristol and I lived in Croydon. I decided that the best thing to save our swiftly sinking relationship was to propose. I took her for a romantic getaway in the Quantocks to pop the question. My flatmate came for moral support, along with his friend. The weekend went very poorly, and I began to realize she wasn’t the one for me. I had a long chat with my flatmate and realized I didn’t have to get married. It felt so good finally realize that. I was on my way to end it with her, when she told me she found the engagement ring in my bag. She said yes, she wanted to get married. Out of embarrassment, I agreed.
We divorced shortly after I jilted her at the alter. Working with her was a bit awkward after that…
For Safe Keeping
Eight years ago, I put my engagement ring in an envelope with a note, packed my bag and went to my parents’ house. My mother told me she wouldn’t let her daughter be a coward who ended a relationship like that and to go back and face my problems. I went back home, put my ring back on and shredded the note.
Our divorce was finalized a year ago in April.
We need to talk
He actually called at 1 am to break up with me. He realized, so he says, that there were only two options for us because we had grown so attached to one another. Either he married me or we broke up, we were very young and our lives were about to go in very different directions so he decided to split before we tried painful goodbyes. Halfway through his break up speech he changed his mind and asked me to marry him instead.
We celebrated 10 years in November and have 2 amazing kids. We have a nice home that we’ve owned since we were 20 and will have paid off before retirement age. Before we’re 40 our kids will have graduated high school and be on their way to college. We also have a dog, he’s adorable. I’m not saying we’re perfect but we’re the exception to the rule.
Don’t get married at 24
We’ve been married almost 19 years. I remember vividly having major regret about asking her to marry me when we were engaged. I could tell my mom was disappointed and concerned for me but she was too nice to say anything and didn’t want to interfere. I loved her, still do, but wasn’t “in love” with her in the way I once was.
Today we are mostly ok. We have kids and are in it for the long haul. Without a doubt, I am the man I am today because of her. In a good way. She’s hard working and loving and a great mom. She can be a lot of fun. I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t have that crazy in-love feeling.
If I had life to do over again I would not get married at 24. I probably wouldn’t have kids. But only if I had no knowledge of how my life would have been. Obviously I love my kids and I love my wife. But once again, not really in-love or passionately. I am assuming lots of people feel the same way. Maybe not.
The Stork Delivery Service
I’m definitely that guy, even thought of it leading up the wedding like WHAT AM I DOING? ALL BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE THE BALLS TO BREAK UP WITH HER?
Then Bam. Pregnant on wedding night.
Now we have 2 kids, super happily married, and realized the reasons I wanted to break up with her were all really stupid, which makes sense, because generally I’m pretty stupid. She’s the only person that can tolerate my personality full time, and keeps me from my constant natural inclinations to be a screw up.
I don’t really like anyone
Not too bad. We have two kids now.
I mean, if I’m being honest, I don’t really like anyone. But she’s probably the only person I could spend the rest of my life with and not want to kill. Funny too because we actually share very few interests. We like vastly different music, television and movies. We have opposite personalities. She’s an extrovert, I’m an introvert, etc.
I probably could have been happy being a lifelong bachelor but I just know I would have turned into a giant weirdo. My idiosyncrasies would have surely evolved into full-blown eccentricities by this point without her in my life.
We fight a lot
We fight a lot and it affects me in so many aspects of my life. I find myself constantly looking back at our dating history and all the times I tried to break things off but she talked me out of it, including twice while we were engaged. It’s just coming up to our first year but I’m thinking of divorce already (no kids in the picture). Sorry for the sad story, hopefully things are better next year!
She picks me up
I was dating my now wife, and I was a mess. Drinking a lot, depressed, schlepping my way through life.
I had a cycle (1) find a great woman. (2) fall in love. (3) become emotionally unavailable, depressed, drink too much, and leave.
One night, I got arrested for being drunk and in the wrong place. My fault for being drunk. So, I spent the night in jail. I had hit bottom. My girlfriend spent the whole night looking for me, and I called her as soon as I was released.
She picked me up, gave me a hug and kiss, took me home, and put me to bed. Not a mean word, just kindness and compassion. Coming from a family where these words don’t exist, I was astounded that people could act like this to someone who acted so stupidly. I woke up, and she took me to get ice cream, and told me that she would be there for me through the whole process (court date, fines etc).
She stood by for the whole thing.
I got sober, went on antidepressants, and asked her to marry me. I have never been so happy in my life. We were married last week.
DON’T. HAVE. KIDS.
For those of you where it worked out, great. But for those of you who saw this and thought “that’s me”, and you don’t have kids? DON’T. HAVE. KIDS. It changes everything. That piece of paper saying you’re married can be canceled. Little humans can’t be. I was lucky and got out after a couple years because we didn’t do that. I’m now married to the most amazing woman who ever lived. If you are anything less than all-in with your S.O., then not only should you not be thinking about creating more human beings to live in that environment, you should realize that once you do, you’re locked in.
Great, actually. He’s a wonderful husband and balances me out with his steadfast caring and happy equilibrium. I’m glad we got married.
My wife and I almost certainly would have broken up if she hadn’t become pregnant when we first started going out. She had severe issues with depression and was very manic, both up and down. When we first started seeing each other I thought it was a fling but then she got pregnant and we decided that we would have an abortion.
Once that decision was made I resolved that I would help her psychologically for as long as I was needed. Things got really bad for a while but over time she was able to defeat some of her demons, all from prior to the abortion, neither of us have ever regretted that, and we were married a few years ago.
Life is now great. The depression rears its head every now and then but we both recognize the symptoms and act to head it off before it descends to far. The stigma of mental health is the biggest issue as my wife still feels embarrassed and ashamed a lot and has very low self esteem but we work every day to be a unit and face these things together.
Good. I never really wanted to break up, but I didn’t think I knew what love was. She was my first girlfriend. We had fun. Maybe it should have ended when college ended, it felt like a natural ending. But she bawled that she loved me so much, we carried on, long distance.
Maybe I thought I’d never get anyone else? Maybe I loved her. I wasn’t sure. Things just sort of happened. We moved in together and life went on. She started talking about marriage. I was terrified but went along. She started talking about kids. I was terrified but went along.
That was over 10 years ago. Married, 2 gorgeous kids, totally in love. We take couples holidays, we fill the walls with printed selfies and funny pics. We don’t always have sex constantly. We don’t always buy each other gifts. We don’t stop telling each other that we saw a really hot girl/guy on the train today. Turns out love is just being happy around someone. Forgiving their faults. It won’t always be the same as that first 6 months, and it doesn’t have to be.
I’m totally in love. I think I was all along.
I stayed with my ex-wife for 11 years until it all went to hell and she cheated on me, so I divorced her. It was like sleeping next to my sister the whole time, a disaster. All because I didn’t have enough of a backbone to break up with her.
Poorly. We fight a lot and all of the flaws I saw in him are only magnified – I wonder everyday why things that should have been red flags didn’t cause me to leave him back then.
But now we have three kids and there’s a whole new set of reasons for me to stay. We have an arrangement where he’s Mr. Mom and watches the kids while I bring in the bread. I’m fine with it and we’re getting by, but it’s hard to leave when childcare is $150/child and I can’t afford any additional bills.
Divorced two years ago on Christmas Eve. Best gift I ever gave or received.
Ring on a Whim
I very nearly made this mistake. Was in a relationship for four years, bought a house together and everything.
Her and her parents were really, really pressuring me into proposing. Her threatening to leave if I didn’t do it within a year and her parents constantly asking me when I was planning etc. We weren’t happy and hadn’t been for about 2-3 years but I just couldn’t find a way out of the mess I’d created for myself.
Anyway, I eventually bought a cheapish ring on a whim and decided to propose that weekend. Had absolutely minimal thought to it and I was dreading asking and the idea of getting married to this girl. Unfortunately I asked anyway and she said yes and then she turned into a complete Bridezilla.
She was bad before and this just made her worse. I immediately realized I made a mistake and tried my best to find a way out of it in the easiest way possible. Tried to break up with her about a week after proposing and she refused to let me, ringing her mum crying about halfway through and telling her everything. I felt really bad so said we’d work on it, I freaked out what have you.
Fast forward two weeks and we ended up going on holiday with her parents and it was a living nightmare. Her mum is a terrible person – very stupid, incredibly racist and massively stuck in her ways and her dad was just absolutely spineless. I realized that if I actually went through with the marriage that I would end up exactly like that and that broke me. I broke up with her there and then, 3 days into a two week holiday that was too expensive for me to leave so I had to wait it out.
That month I was engaged for was the worst of my entire life and every day since has been like an entirely new life. God knows how much worse it would have been if I’d have gone through with it, but I’m so glad that I finally grew some balls and ended it.
We just have a very unbalanced relationship. Things ebb and flow and our relationship is rapidly flooding over. You see what I did there? Honestly though. I love our kids. She has a teenage son that I adopted. We had a baby girl a few years back and might possibly have another (She has missed her cycle). So, maybe I’m being dramatic but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of us divorced the other any day.
Great! I work all the time, and she does nothing. And, by nothing, I mean she yells at me and the kids all day. If she weren’t around we’d have no one to yell at us, and point out all the things we do wrong on a daily basis. It’s like I am paying someone to be my aggressive life coach…
Welcome Home Present
Divorced. She packed up and left while I was visiting family out of state. Took the dog, all my belongings, emptied out my accounts, and pretty much disappeared. Found out a few months later she was having an affair. Oh well, better for it now.
Fights can fix things
I’m in year 19 of the same thing. Starting at year three on to about 7-8 we just got increasingly crappy to each other. I had this moment, where I looked at him and thought “Yeah. I could pack my bags tonight, and go, and feel pretty good about it.” So, I said it just like that. Like, he was raking leaves in the yard, and I walked up and said that.
It led to a really intense fight, which led to about 9 hours of intense talking, crying. Everything came out. We listed each other’s faults, we were mean and hateful, then that led to real talk. Real discussion about what would happen when we did separate, how we would handle our son, finances, stuff. Obviously look at us fighting, it’s over. Somehow when it became a reality, when you’re at that point in the talk when it becomes chillingly real, something sent us both into a panic. I can’t put it into words, but as soon as it came out, the d-word, we were both like “holy crap, what has gotten into us.” and it was a weird wake up call just before it got too real.
Which sorta… fixed everything. I mean, it’s not a all roses, but we love each other deeply, and at this point, I couldn’t imagine living one minute of my life without him.
Together for 22
Turned out great for me, together for 22 years now, married for 18.
She was a verified goody two shoes, and I always had a thing for bad girls, so it wasn’t a great match from the start. But I was 17 and I had no other offers at the time, so I figured I’d keep going out with her until I found something better. Long story short, I never did. So I kept going through the motions. I liked her and we had fun, but I never loved her. She always said she wouldn’t have sex with me unless she knew we would get married someday, and after 2 years I was willing to make that trade. After that I felt like I couldn’t break up with her, like that kind of betrayal would ruin her life. She was deeply in love with me and I just saw her as a friend. I practiced break up speeches all the time, all the way up to the wedding, but when I went to say the words I couldn’t do it. She was too nice and sweet, I felt like it would break her. So I just decided to just man up and keep my word. We were married at 21, and the next 5 years or so were rough for both of us. I had a lot of bitterness and regret, and I kept trying to turn her into that bad girl I always wanted. Must have a been a nightmare for her. Then it just hit me one day. All my friends who dated or married bad girls were miserable, most of them got cheated on. My wife treated me like gold even though I treated her like garbage. All of the sudden I was overwhelmed with love for her. I realized I was married to the best friend I ever had. What I wanted in a woman flipped 180 degrees in a single moment, and she has been my idea of a perfect spouse ever since. I have never told her any of this and I never will.
My pattern with relationships for most of my adult life has been: obsessed for the first 3 months, enthusiastic for the next 3, then quietly trying to figure out how to get out for the rest of it. I was able to stretch a few relationships out for a couple years by doing the break-up/make-up thing to make things new again but it had diminishing returns so eventually I’d just be over it forever.
At one point, I remember feeling absolutely desperate and miserable about my future prospects of being able to find someone to settle down with that I didn’t actually have to settle for. So I thought maybe it would help me cope if I went to therapy. I spent the next two years going through the process of first discovering that I had about a million relationship issues I had never addressed and then breaking the relationship part of myself down so I could rebuild it.
I eventually got to the point where I felt like maybe I could be okay, maybe I could be happy, even if I had to settle to some extent.
Awhile after this, I met this guy purely by random chance. When we met, I was really excited to meet a cool new friend but as time went on, I started to realize that I was really into him. He felt the same, we started dating, we had a lot of fun together, it was great.
Fast forward 6 months. Same crap as before. Lizard brain took over. I was secretly planning my escape. I felt oddly relieved about it, because my brain was like that friend who always wants you to be alone because then you hang out with them a lot more. I was struggling to figure out how to break ties with him, though. He’s a really nice guy and in spite of my ridiculous bent toward breaking up, I feel horrible when I hurt other people. I agonized over this for weeks.
One day, he told me about a small monetary settlement he received, and told me that he used a small portion of it to buy himself something nice and just put the rest in savings. It was like a switch flipped. It wasn’t about the money–I don’t remember exactly how much it was but we’re talking only a couple thousand at most, certainly not enough to secure a person’s future with or appeal to a traditional gold digger. Conversely, I am absolute crap with money. My bills all get paid on time, but saving is a really hard thing for me.
What I realized for the first time that day was that we complemented each other nearly flawlessly, and not just with this. There are tons of ways where the deficiency of one of us is balanced out by the proficiency of the other and even in areas where we’re both lacking, we have an uncanny ability to correct each other–we both go through periods of extremely low motivation, but we’re very good at motivating each other, both actively and passively.
That day was when it got real. I thought I loved him before that–and who knows, maybe what I felt was some version of love–but I hope I never forget for the rest of my life what it felt like to suddenly discover a brand-new type of love, or possibly real love for the first time. It was like the emotional equivalent of having massive pressure in your ears until you swallow that one time and your ears pop and you can hear everything so much better. It’s been a number of years since that day and I can still remember it like it happened yesterday. We got married and marriage feels like exactly what I always wanted it to be. I don’t like to think about how it might’ve gone differently without that one moment because I cannot imagine how alone I would be if I had left this guy who was my perfect match in every way.
Life is impossible without her
Pretty good. Turns out we grew into the people each other needed, and are the happiest couple you’ve ever met in your entire life. I love her with all my heart, and couldn’t imagine my life without her.
Stop the cycle
Pretty great, surprisingly. Turns out things get better when you stop the cycle of being horrible to each other for no reason.
Love isn’t easy
I actually feel bad saying this happened to me. In college she really had her stuff together, and I was a drunken, perma-baked 20-year-old animal. She studied all the time. I was a business major. We had a lot of fun, but I was unreliable, didn’t want any responsibility to anyone, and she was very much the opposite. I don’t feel bad about how I was, I was in college and that’s the point, but it caused friction between us which I hated.
So I was at a crossroads. I wanted to be with her, but it felt like it wasn’t working. An enabler she is not; it seemed like I constantly let her down. So I basically wasn’t the person she needed at the time, as much as I loved the crap out of her.
This is pathetic, but I tried to break up with her. Like, I gave what I thought was the “we’re done” speech, but didn’t really have the balls to just come out and say, “I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
We had a fight, I said wishy-washy passive-aggressive nonsense, and we ultimately proceeded with the relationship. I don’t entirely remember, but it may have even come to her saying “so we are done?” and I couldn’t bring myself to confirm.
We haven’t had the easiest relationship ever, but it’s one in which I feel like we’ve both grown a lot, though I concede it was mostly done by me. She is crazy mature, she has been the entire time I’ve known her. I CAN be, but I had to learn to be. She just seemed naturally like an impossibly good person. And she’s pretty attractive, so I have absolutely no idea what she’s seen in me all this time. We 100% still do not agree on everything, we are more complimentary to each other, if that makes any sense.
So yeah, we’re really good, but we have our moments. Married seven years now. Beautiful house, beautiful baby girl was welcomed recently. For all of our faults, and there are many, the only constant is we’re always there for each other. She is far and away my best friend. And god, that butt.
Though I’m sure, with a sarcastic smirk, she also thinks I’m a butthole.
Since the 8th grade
My wife Heather and I started “dating” at our 8th grade Valentine’s Day dance. We were both awkward and had braces and bad haircuts and were into our Gameboy Colors, etc. We had known each other throughout junior high and kind of ended up going to the dance together because a) neither of us had a date and b) nobody else would have gone with either of us anyway.
We became an item throughout high school and by the time we were 16 years old I think pretty much everyone took it for granted that we were “meant for each other” and would probably get married.
Looking back, it was a huge mistake because we didn’t really ever have the opportunity to date anyone else, we really didn’t have any other friends or hobbies, and we went everywhere together. We were like an odd retired couple that has been married for 50 years when we were only 19.
She started taking dental hygiene classes at a community college and I started taking sports medicine classes at a bigger university a little over an hour away. Once we were around other people it really put a strain on our relationship because I think we both subconsciously realized how socially awkward we had become.
So, we did the typical thing and “took a break” for a few months.
It was really painful and difficult. Our families didn’t know how to react, our friends acted like we had both died, and we both went a little crazy. I started drinking and partying a little too much and she seemed to have a lot of new boy “friends” almost immediately.
After a few months apart we ran into each other at a pizza place with a patio seating area near the community college she went to. I asked if I could sit down and we talked and things were kind of wooden and awkward. But we decided to hang out together. I was house-sitting for my uncle for a few months while he was in the Dominican Republic and she basically showed up that night with her bags and moved in. We watched the movie House of Wax and started making out and everything.
I knew immediately that something was different. She was just totally different physically and sexually. She seemed kind of hyper aggressive and needy at the same time. She also acted kind of possessive or jealous. Like a little crazy.
We talked about our time apart and what we wanted to do going forward and she said she wanted to get back together. Honestly, I just couldn’t imagine my life without her and it was so easy and familiar that I was happy to get back together.
A few nights later we were grilling out back on the deck and she was looking really somber. I asked her what was wrong and she gave me the “nothing” routine and kept acting pouty and uncomfortable.
Finally after dinner and a few glasses of wine I got her to admit what was bothering her. She had been at the state fair with some girl friends earlier that fall and they had partied with some of the carnies. She had slept with one of them.
You can imagine how I was disgusted, disappointed, confused, angry, betrayed, and incredulous all at once. Here was this totally sweet, shy, nerdy girl I felt like I had known my whole life and she cheated on me?
My stomach was in a knot and I didn’t know what to do. It totally changed her in my mind. Everything about her. That night she nodded off and I stared at the ceiling for hours.
The next morning I stood in the kitchen thinking about what to do over a cup of coffee and came to the realization that her indiscretions were just her rebelling for being so safe during her formative years. I decided to forgive her.
When she woke up, on a whim, I told her how much I loved her and asked her to marry me. She cried for 20 minutes and jumped in my arms. We made wedding plans that same day.
Looking back, the only thing I really regret is that to this day I resent her for her choices. Not because she made reckless decisions, but because she gave me herpes.
He threatened to kill himself if I left, so I didn’t, and we got married.
Then he threatened to kill himself if I divorced him, so I left. Not because I wanted him to do it – and believe me, I desperately want to turn this into a great joke. But because it suddenly was clear to me that I was in for AN ENTIRE LIFETIME OF BEING AFRAID.
I walked. And he’s still alive.
Just Like That
My husband did this — but I didn’t find out until almost 20 years and two children later (when he told me we were getting a divorce and that he was deeply in love with a woman he met when I was pregnant with our oldest, who was 16 at the time). I love my kids and wouldn’t change that for the world, BUT if it were possible to do it again in some alternative timeline, I wish he’d have broken up with me.
It hurt more than I could have ever imagined to find out that my entire adult life was, in essence, based on a lie. It took a lot of work for me to be able to trust anyone again. My husband’s love for me was something I had always thought of as part of the foundation of the life I’d built. To discover that foundation was false ripped my confidence to shreds. I started second guessing EVERY decision I made or had made in the past. I stopped trusting my own judgment about almost everything. I went from being a very intelligent, confident, independent person to… something far less.
We’re both happier now, but I’ll always wonder how things could have been better had he been willing to do the right thing back then instead of making a commitment he didn’t really want simply because he didn’t want to give up the fun stuff.