No one just wakes up one morning a decides they are going to divorce their spouse – the tension has to build over time until the relationship finally crumbles. These former lovers recount the moment they knew it was the end for them and their ex. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My father died in Asia. At the last minute, I had to bolt to his funeral. As I was packing my bags, she laid there in bed and said, 'I feel like you're just going on vacation...' This was really upsetting.
After his funeral (Buddhist), where I had to clean his week old, black and blue zombie face with palms and coconut oil, watch him doused in gas from a Gerry can and get set on fire with fireworks from a Watt, she called me and started lighting me up about our credit card debt, and told me I shouldn't care so much because he was a bad father anyway.
The next day, I had to pick his bones out, put them in an urn, dress his ashes in clothes after shaping them into the shape of a body, and drop his ashes into a hole in a trash-ridden unmarked grave in a small jungle wood area. Carrying his ashes to the jungle for some reason gave me enough of an existential jolt to think, 'What am I doing?'
It took a year of deliberation, but I finally decided I deserved a more supportive partner."
"I didn't even know I was getting a divorce. I received the divorce papers in the mail. My ex was in the Navy at the time and about to retire. Her last duty station was in Michigan. We had been in the DC area for about 12 years before the last transfer came. So I stayed in DC as our home was almost paid off and after three years, she would be back to settle here for good. One of us would travel back and forth once a month.
We had been together for about 10 years before we got married. About three months before her retirement, I get the papers from the State of Michigan that stated 'in 30 days, you are divorced.' Apparently, she talked to a JAG officer about her retirement and he suggested she divorce me so she wouldn't have to split her retirement check with me. Heck, I paid all the bills at the DC house and most of the ones at the Michigan house. I didn't want to fight, so we got divorced. I did keep all of my stuff, house, car, motorcycle. And she didn't ask for any of my business.
About four months later, I got a call from her. She said, 'Um, I don't seem to have enough money to pay my bills.' I told her that was not my problem. It felt really good.
It's been four years now and I get a call every now and then of her telling me she misses me and loves me and she can't pay her bills. I love when she asks me for money... it's the best 'No,' I can give in life."
"I asked for a divorce after almost nine years of marriage, because I couldn't take any more of the lying, stealing, gas lighting, and occasional physical abuse. He begged and pleaded to work things out, so I grudgingly agreed, contingent upon us living separately. That was April.
In June, he entered the apartment unannounced (I wasn't allowed to have the locks changed due to our lease) at 1 am. I was awake and it scared the dickens out of me. I nearly shot him. He was completely out of it, slurring his words and demanding sheets and sandpaper. He refused to leave without them. The man was a good five inches taller than me, and well over 100lbs heavier, a trained officer, and yet I was able to put him in a headlock and threaten to call the police if he didn't leave. That worked, thankfully, but it was not the last straw. I know, I know. I was trapped in that relationship for a total of 13 years and abuse is hard to get away from.
The final straw came in mid-August when he was - once again - totally doped up on god knows what. I awoke to him flinging himself across the bed to 'surprise' me. He was not supposed to be there. Once again, he'd scared the dickens out of me. As I wandered around the house trying to convince him to leave, I kept finding blood and butter here and there. No idea what he did while I was sleeping, but it was on doorknobs, counters, etc. The man would not leave, would not listen to reason, and then - after several obviously faked attempts - he called the police on ME. His logic, as it were, was that they would remove me and all of my belongings from the apartment on his say-so because he was a cop.
Then he called them back, using police codes so he'd sound extra legit, to tell them to cancel that request. So I called and begged them not to. They showed up, didn't give a care that he worked for the Sheriff's Office, and asked him to leave. I was stunned because throughout our marriage, he had always held the threat of police taking his side over my head. One of his many, many lies, as it turned out. They advised me to get a restraining order and I did. I was too scared to stay in my apartment anymore, though, so I began moving from friend to friend's house until I found a permanent place to stay.
It's been over three years since that nightmare finally ended and I'm getting remarried this month. Funny, because he told me no one would want me or love me like he did. I wish I had left him sooner!"
"The moment of realization came when my (apartment) neighbor asked me how I was okay 'with all of that.'
Me: 'Okay with what?'
Him: 'Oh, with being in an open marriage...'
Me: 'I'm sorry, what now? Come again?'
Him: 'Yeah, she told us you guys were in an open marriage when we saw her bringing guys home to your house while you were working.'
Me: 'I'm sorry, what now? Come again?'
Welp, thanks for letting me know, or I'd still be in the dark about this 'whole open marriage thing.'
My neighbor was a buddy of mine. We'd look out for each other and hang out whenever our schedules allowed. His wife and my ex used to hang out, too. We'd go on double-dates and play cards, etc.
I had shared some of our challenges/struggles with him, so I think he was just trying to muster up the courage to point out that my ex was allergic to monogamy.
She, my ex, had daddy/male attention issues. I think it was a compulsion for her to seek out male attention to 'fill the void' that her absent father left. She was two years old when he bailed. At that time, it was our second (and last) attempt at our marriage. I had found out about seven months in that she had been involved with a boyfriend throughout the entire time we were engaged/married. We separated for about 9-10 months after that. Then we decided to try it again, moved five hours away, and gave it another go.
After he brought it up, I started digging. The more digging that I did, the less happy I was with the results. I found out that there were multiple indiscretions during both marriage attempts. Lots of boyfriends, some of them in our marital bed. I was earning six-figures at the time and after doing a personal audit, I figured she spent over $1,200/month on clothes and gifts for her boyfriends. So after I stopped depositing money into our joint account, she started telling me about the physical interactions that she had participated in, just to hurt me.
Also, if your significant other cheats, DO NOT find out the details. It will mess you up, for a very long time.
We were both young and I don't 'fault' her. She was broken inside and was unable to cope with it. It is what it is."
"I was in a seriously neglectful and abusive (verbal, psychological, but not physical) marriage for the better part of 10 years. I tried everything that I could to try and fix it and even though I was the one with the complaints, I still went into marriage counseling for two years. I said I would do anything I could to try and change to make this better or to try and fix it. She would go into marriage counseling every single week and say the same thing: 'I want him to accept me as I am.' In other words, she didn't want to change in any way. She didn't want to compromise in any way. She wanted me to accept her being the neglectful and abusive person that she had become. I should mention here that she is a severe narcissist. I had never even considered divorce or separation. It never even crossed my mind. For me, we were married for life and we just needed to figure out how to fix it.
But one day in marriage counseling, while I was talking about something that she had done that was hurtful, she blurted out, 'I think we should just consider separating.' I was completely shocked and floored by this. I never even imagined it and in that moment, I realized that it was always me chasing her. For 10 years, I'd been chasing her. She was always running away. She never apologized, ever, for anything. She would get away with the most heinous behavior and I would crawl back to her and apologize to keep the relationship going and I realized in that moment that any time things got tough, she would scream separation or divorce or run away and that is no way to live.
A good relationship takes two people that genuinely want to be in a relationship and are both willing to put in the work for that relationship and both willing to compromise with each other. This was not the case. This was a one-sided relationship which is always going to be doomed and so I finally mustered up the courage after she said that and made the decision to walk away. Everyone deserves happiness and I just didn't want to live without the rest of my life like that anymore."
"I had just had my car repaired and repainted following his wrecking of the front end in a careless accident. He took it for a middle-of-the-night joyride with his pot supplier buddy. While I slept unawares, he managed to accomplish the following:
1) Double parked in front of known substance dealers house.
2) Caught the attention of a cop in a CLEARLY MARKED SUV.
3) Drove 2 miles with cop following WITH LIGHTS AND SIRON ON
4) Finally noticed cop and ENGAGED IN HIGH-SPEED CHASE.
5) Totaled my car by crashing through a cornfield and into a FREAKING TRACTOR.
6) RAN FROM THE SCENE, leaving his uninjured buddy behind.
7) Concocted an idiotic scheme whereby he would pretend to have been car-jacked.
8) Stabbed himself in the chest WITH A POCKET KNIFE to lend credence to said scheme.
9) Suffered a collapsed lung requiring hospitalization, followed by an arrest.
10) Did NOT get visited in either hospital or jail by his soon-to-be ex-wife.
I didn't care what happened to him, but I cried like a baby over the loss of my car."
"I had been thinking about filing for divorce for a long time, but I was terrified. I had no job skills, he told me he'd get full custody of our kids because he'd show my journals to the judge and prove I'm crazy. He had all the income and I had none, I was afraid the courts would be on his side. I didn't have any family around who cared about me or my kids and would help out with even simple babysitting every once in a while. Plus, I knew what a GREAT con-artist he is.
He is really an expert at telling tall tales and making everyone believe him and feel sorry for him. I've seen him con our kids, con attorneys (even mine), and con his bosses. He's a scam artist.
So I was trying to FIX myself so I could endure the marriage. Tried to fix the marriage too, but after a few times in therapy with a non-religious therapist, he wouldn't go back. He was, and maybe still is, a religion addict. He would only consent to going to ONE therapist, a guy endorsed by our (then) church. We went to him a couple of times but I refused to go back because I didn't like the church-sanctioned therapist. He had no empathy. He didn't seem to be the least bit concerned about the physical, emotional and verbal abuse that had been perpetrated on me by my ex.
One morning, I was very ill. I don't remember if it was food poisoning or the flu, but I was like a weak kitten with diarrhea. I had been up most of the night pooping and throwing up. I was supposed to drive the kids to school, with the toddler in the car, but I was afraid I'd poop my pants in the process.
I asked Mr. Wonderful if he could, just this ONCE, drive the kids to school.
This was something he never had to do because I was a stay-at-home mom. It was MY job. 13 years together and he'd never taken the kids to school once.
I made that request and he exploded like I'd just asked for him to drive them cross-country before he went to work. I was so sick and he just laid into me verbally.
One time - I asked him ONE TIME to help me out with them in the morning due to my illness.
He left, door slamming, and I didn't even cry. I was in such shock at his reaction. I didn't cry, I just went into do-or-die focus. Dragged my weak self off of the sofa, got the toddler in the car, drove kids to school, came back and unpacked toddler, and managed not to soil myself, but I couldn't do anything but lay there and watch TV. Toddler played with his toys. I made him cereal or something.
Laying there that morning, I realized I'd be better off alone. Because alone, I'd still get sick, but at least I wouldn't have a prick yelling at me while I was sick. 'If he's not even going to help with the kids, why am I staying?' was what I thought that day.
I kept thinking that two parents are better than one, as the church had taught me, but that morning I realized my kids didn't have two parents, not really. To me, a parent steps up to cover for the other when the other is sick. My kids didn't have that - not at all.
I also realized that even if we had to go on welfare, if everything Mr. Wonderful threatened me with came true, at least on welfare I might find some help. I might find the system had some help for me.
I also thought that if everything he threatened came true, I could petition the court to take the kids to the Midwest and live near my mother.
When someone abuses you when you're sick, that's a kind of torture. When they also refuse a reasonable request to help out with their own children, when those kids are in need, that's torture toward the kids, too.
I guess I finally realized the torture was never going to end with him. Nothing inside of him was making him see his part in this."
"The final straw was finding bare pics of him, which led to finding a video of him jerking it while saying another woman's name, which led to finding messages to random women trying to meet up, and then his Ashley Madison account.
Prior to this, I had forgiven him for stealing $4,000 I put on our 'joint' savings (which he never contributed to) and hiding multiple prescription med addictions over the years. He also lied about wanting to be an equal partner...he always had some excuse as to why he couldn't help more, but promised to change if X happened. The goalpost was always moving and he'd only help more for a week or two before going back to his old ways of sitting on the couch while I cooked, grocery shopped, did dishes/laundry. When we separated, he finally admitted he believed in traditional gender roles and I should be grateful he helped more than his dad did.
I'm so freaking happy being divorced! Life is so much easier not having to worry about what stupid/selfish decision he's going to make next.
Pay attention to those red flags, people! Don't keep ignoring them because individually they don't seem breakup-worthy - they will lead to more, and probably bigger, red flags."
"I still am dealing with trust issues and this was over six years ago. You think your entire life together is going great. Just got a puppy, new car and moving into an apartment we never dreamed we could get. She was finishing up classes at a four-year college. We've been high school sweethearts since 9th grade, so we had over seven years together. Not even six months into being married, we went out to dinner and all was going great. Not even 30 minutes into the meal, she started to get very emotional but wouldn't say why. Concerned and worried for my wife, I excused us and we headed home. Mind you, this entire time, I and everyone else thought things were going incredibly well, I felt on top of the world with our lives.
'I just don't find you attractive anymore. When I walked down the aisle six months ago, I kept repeating to myself, "Don't do it, don't do it," but I couldn't let you down. There's someone at my work who just gives me the attention I need and I'm really attracted to him. We've spent some time together.'
Now, this isn't one of those, 'He didn't see the little things adding up' or 'He's only telling one side of the story,' type situations. The rug and the Earth were ripped out from beneath me. Her family and friends all tried to talk to her and her parents apologized profusely. No one had a clue or believed it at first. I crashed at a friend's place and continued to try and talk to her about it and about seeing a counselor. She refused. I told her that both of us need to see someone together as well as individually. Still refused and called me a dirtbag for suggesting it.
In retrospect, it's the best thing that has happened to me. I was able to focus on myself and I met my current amazing wife and I couldn't imagine being with anyone else. And now we have started a family and have a little girl. That fear of my entire world flipping upside down is still there and those trust issues have taken so long to work through."
"Things were kind of rough right from the beginning. She went from always wanting to make love, to just wanting it, to reluctantly agreeing to it about once a week almost right after we got married. That wasn't so terrible, but simply a negative change most people would just deal with. The rest was like the frog who got slowly boiled to death.
Things went south really fast when we tried to have a baby and I found out I was sterile. To make a long story short, she would berate me about my condition constantly and threaten to leave me. Anytime we were about to try some new treatment, she'd say, 'If this doesn't work, we're getting divorced.' In fact, my infertility was not something that was happening to me, it was instead something that was happening to her, if you follow me. The day I came home from my urologist with my diagnosis, I told her and started crying and went to hug her. She pushed me away, saying that we should probably just get divorced.
Nonetheless, I persisted, and we even tried marital therapy. I tried various treatments for my sterility, including something called a TESE, which means they cut your sack open looking for sperm with a microscope. They found nothing. The recovery was painful, like being kicked in the balls for a week long. When I made that comparison, she said, 'I feel like kicking you in the balls right now.'
Her family was just as bad. Her brother refused to speak or look at me. Her mother yelled at me that we should get an annulment. I should mention her parents are Bosnian immigrants, barely literate, but that is no excuse for being mean-spirited, and my ex and her brother were both educated, with masters degrees. Her parents were convinced that I 'tricked' her, that I had known that I was sterile, but fooled her into thinking I had no such problem, because after all, who would want to be with an infertile man. I sold her, and them, a lemon.
At first, she called them crazy and told them to stop saying it, but at the end, once in a while, she'd out loud entertain the possibility that they might be right about me. Also, she had this habit of pointing out oddball guys and saying, 'Bet he's got sperm.' For instance, she'd point out homeless guys on the street, and say it, or we'd be watching the news and there'd be a crime story with a photo or video of some scumbag, and she'd say it then.
Well one day we were fighting and it just hit me, I just decided I couldn't take any more. I thought, 'Maybe I'll just take you up on that divorce.' So I waited until she left to work and I got my clothes and went to the bank to split our savings and went off to re-start my life. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the sun shining in on my car that afternoon when I left.
About three years later, I met a wonderful woman who accepted my condition. We're married and have an amazing baby daughter who was conceived by donor sperm.
Getting a divorce was the best decision I ever made. I had to give her more than half of everything I had, but it was worth it. She'd always say that she would take most of our savings since she deserved it because...you know. So that's why when I packed up the car, my first stop was to our bank to take exactly half. My lawyer commended me on that move and said it was the second smartest thing I did that day. I just wish I could get back the three years I wasted on her."
"I saw a crumpled up piece of paper on the floor. The cat had pulled it out of the trash can and was batting it around on the floor when I saw it. It was a letter addressed to me that she never intended to give me. It was a therapy tool - pouring out all our problems and a few I didn't know about.
The upside is once we talked about it and realized neither of us wanted to be married anymore, the only feeling was a massive sense of relief all around. It was pretty amicable as far as divorces go.
We do have a daughter and every decision we made was with her well-being in mind.
It's now four years after the divorce. We get along so well that we are re-cohabitating as platonic roommates. So our daughter gets both parents in the same house again."
Subscribe to our digest and receive a weekly email of hand-picked stories.