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What I Wish I’d Done Differently in My Marriage, According to 11 Divorced Men

“I should’ve quit my job. I was insufferable to be around, and she didn’t deserve that.”

Divorce is a junk drawer of unsettling statistics. For instance, gaming managers, bartenders, and flight attendants are a coin flip away from divorce, according to recent studies. Then there’s the fact that everything from having co-workers of the opposite sex to spending too much money on an engagement ring has been shown to increase your risk of saying, “I Don’t, Anymore.” But, there’s another divorce stat that’s even more unfortunate: One in every four men regret ending their marriage, and, in retrospect, wish they had done something differently. 

To offer some perspective, we asked a handful of divorced men this exact question. Some answers were obvious; some were more surprising. All reflected honesty about the small and large things they wish they’d done more or less of. Here’s what they wish they would’ve done differently in their marriage. 

I Wish I’d Asked for More Help

“When we were having problems, so many people reached out to help us. But they left the ball in our court, and told us to call them or talk to them whenever we needed help. I think both of us were guilty of thinking we had to fix our issues alone, so we rarely — if ever — took them up on their offers. Maybe a conversation here or there, but we never thought they’d be able to help us. Or that they legitimately wanted to. It was a very arrogant mind-set. I’m not sure if talking and seeking advice would’ve saved my marriage but, looking back, it would’ve been worth a try.” — Aaron, 40, Illinois 

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I Wish I’d Been More Vulnerable

“I met my wife when I was a hotshot professional. I had money, a fancy car, confidence, all that. After we got married, I lost my job. But, I was determined not to let her see me as anything less than who I was when we first got together. I kept up a pretty good facade, but I was really struggling inside, especially with my identity. I know she was on to me, because she always offered to talk. But I was always like, ‘Nah, I’m good.’ Eventually, she got tired of my bullshit, and it just snowballed from there. She wasn’t sure how to trust me anymore, all because I was trying to play it cool.” — Richie, 37, Texas

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I Wish I’d Been Less Insecure About Our Sexual Problems

“Our sex life degraded horribly after we had kids. It was just nonexistent. For a while, neither of us talked about it, even though we both knew. And then, one day, she finally brought it up. Part of me was actually glad she did. Like it was out in the open now. But then we started talking about how to fix it, and I got offended and insecure. I hated the idea of my masculinity coming from a bottle. That’s really what did it — not the fact that I wouldn’t try and fix the problem, but the fact that I wasn’t willing to try for her. Or for us.” — Alan, 36, Ohio

I Wish I’d Listened to My Friends 

“For the longest time, my close friends had kept asking me if I was sure about marrying my ex-wife. They knew I loved her, but they just weren’t sold on her as a person. They’re all great guys, though, so their concerns were always voiced very tactfully and caringly. I was so smitten, though, that they went in one ear and out the other. About three years into our marriage, I found out that she was cheating on me and ended it. They warned me about it, too. Not specifically, just reasons they had to suspect something wasn’t right. They put up with her because they knew how I felt, so it was totally on me for being too dumb to listen.” — Matt, 39, Florida 

I Wish I Owned Less Useless Crap

“When you get divorced, you realize exactly how much useless crap you actually own. That’s because you have to split it up. By the end, my ex-wife and I didn’t want to spend any more time with each other than we had to. But, thanks to all of the DVDs, and kitchen gadgets, and useless tchotchkes we’d acquired, we had to literally go through everything one-by-one and decide who was going to keep what. It definitely made me think about how much time we wasted just pursuing stuff. It made me less materialistic, that’s for sure.” — Neil, 38, Colorado

I Wish We’d Moved in Together Before Getting Married

“They say marriage changes people, but I think it’s the actual act of cohabiting that really brings out the worst in people. My ex and I didn’t start living together until we actually got married. We’d spend time at each other’s places, so we thought we knew what we were getting into, with each other’s pet peeves and bad habits and stuff. But, man, it was so much different when it became a permanent thing. We needed that trial period. Even if it meant we were going to break up. Better sooner than later, and after a $50,000 wedding, divorce lawyers, and all that. Right?” — KJ, 33, California 

I Wish I’d Quit My Job

“It was an awful, awful job, and I came home miserable just about every day. I definitely brought that shit home, and it … infected … my marriage. I was tense, I was depressed. For some reason, I just couldn’t quit. My wife kept urging me to quit, too. She brought up the effect it was having on our relationship. But, I couldn’t stomach the thought of being unemployed. So, I kept going in. Eventually, she’d had enough, and we split up. I miss her every day, but I can’t say I blame her. I was insufferable to be around, and she didn’t deserve that.” — Matthew, 35, New Jersey

I Wish I’d Gone to Therapy

“My wife asked me to go to therapy about a dozen times. First, on my own, just to deal with some issues I was having. Then, when I wouldn’t do that, she asked me to go as a couple. I felt so … embarrassed, I guess. I couldn’t go through with it. It wasn’t the actual act of refusing therapy that doomed my marriage, but I do think it resulted in a lot of issues that could’ve been worked out with the help of a professional. If anything, it would’ve been worth a shot. My ego got in the way. But, really, what did I have to lose by trying?” — Joe, 41, Toronto 

I Wish I’d Gotten Divorced Sooner

“Sometimes you just know that things are headed for chaos. But you hang on because you’re either too scared to do anything, or you think it’ll get better. All of my instincts were telling me that we needed to split up. It was a lot of things. We just weren’t ‘good’ for each other. And the kicker was, she felt that way too. Neither of us wanted to speak up and admit it, so we just went on and on for, like, two years until everything finally boiled over. And I’m not exaggerating when I say those two years we spent just trying to avoid the difficult conversations were a complete waste of time. We just needed to pull the trigger and move on.” — Jonathon, 40, New York

I Wish I Set Boundaries With My In-Laws 

“My in-laws were the worst. Intrusive. Rude. Condescending. They were like movie characters. I genuinely believe they ruined my marriage on purpose because they didn’t like me, and thought their daughter could level up. If I’d been more assertive in the beginning, I think I could’ve saved the relationship. It would’ve been ugly and uncomfortable in the short run, but I feel like it would’ve given my ex and me the space we needed to truly work on our relationship. We got married pretty young, though, so I didn’t know any better. But, yeah, in-laws from hell. I should’ve changed the locks on day one.” — David, 31, California 

I Wish I’d Quit Social Media

“Social media is like the Garden of Eden. It’s just this perfect, picturesque landscape of life highlights that you become completely enamored with. And then you take a bite out of one, either by finding someone else’s life you think you’d rather have, or reading about happy, successful marriages when you’re struggling, and you get addicted. You keep going back for more, looking for clues about how you can have that life. And what you don’t realize is that it’s not possible unless you carefully curate all the good stuff, and disavow the bad. My wife and I both did it. We compared ourselves and our marriage to just about everyone we knew. And we did it with barely even half the picture. A lot of the couples we used to say, ‘Why can’t we be more like…?’ about are divorced now, too. We were kidding ourselves. And for what? A few ‘likes’ and a comment? It still blows my mind how social media just toxified what I thought was a pretty great relationship.” — Gabriel, 37, Pennsylvania