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5 Happily Divorced Dads on Why They Knew They Made the Right Decision

Choosing to call it quits is not an easy decision. These five divorced dads explain why it was the right one for them.

Divorce happens. In fact, it happens so often that there’s one every 36 seconds in the U.S. No matter the shape of your relationship or how gleeful you might be to not be in a marriage anymore, separating from your spouse is never easy. It comes with stress, self-doubt, and a lingering wonder and concern that you may not be doing the right thing.

That doubt is normal. After all, you’re deciding to end a relationship that you once thought would last forever. And after litigating the division of assets, settling into a co-parenting groove, and moving into the new place, you may be shocked to realize what “alone” feels like. But down the line, as wounds heal, you usually get some perspective and understand you made the right decision. Here, five divorced men talk about how (and why) they knew that divorce was the right decision for them and their spouse. Even if it was a really tough one.

We Would’ve Just Kept On Ignoring The Big Issues

“The divorce wasn’t my doing. It was my ex-wife’s. In hindsight, I realized it was probably the best decision. When you’re in the middle of it, you don’t necessarily have the best perspective. But once we were going through the process of getting divorced, and once we were divorced, I could more clearly see that we had a lot of problems. We’d been together for 17 years. A few of those years were times when we had patched up things, but they had never been repaired fully. There’s that analogy: with house problems, you can have structural problems or you can have foundational problems, and structural problems are somewhat easier to fix, but foundation takes a lot more attention and time. I realized we had a lot of foundational problems that we didn’t really fix. So in the long run, it ended up being the best decision all around for all parties involved. If we had stayed with the status quo, we would have ignored the bigger problems.” — Johnny Olson, Father of One

I’d Exhausted All Our Options

“In my case, I tried everything short of divorce. We spent thousands and thousands of dollars on marriage counseling, individual counseling, rehab. I just reached a point where I felt like I wasn’t getting anything out of the relationship, and I was doing all the work. So I felt that I needed to move on. It was a ten-year process. We did marriage weekends. We tried multiple therapists, to try to find one that she liked. When we finally found one that she liked, that therapist fired us because I felt like there were so many other issues that had nothing to do with the marriage that she felt had to be fixed first. I never wanted my children to look at me and say I didn’t try everything. So that’s when I knew that it was time.”— Hodges Davis, Father of five

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We Were Fundamentally Mismatched

“We were both military officers, and we both had two recent deployments. Long story short, we had drifted apart, and then some things happened that I found out about. I guess when you have a fundamental mismatch in your values, if you start to deviate, either one of you, from those values that you both settled on, that was one of the main reasons why divorce became an option for my situation.” — Darryl Frost, Father of one

I Was Living In A State of Constant Stress

“There was a certain amount of tension between my ex and I. As soon as she moved out of the house, so much of that tension went away. I was just calmer in general. I think we all have a base level of stress in our lives, but I didn’t even realize how much higher that level of stress was. Parents would comment on how much calmer I was after she left.

I saw it too after she moved out. I’m relatively neat. She was kind of a slob. She would do her share of the stuff around the house, but she was also the person contributing to the mess the most, and I was the one who had to clean up after her all the time. After she left, after 15 years, I could finally live in my own house at the level of cleanliness that was okay with me. It was actually weird for me to walk into my kitchen and not see the mess accumulating again since the last time I walked in. I realized that I didn’t have to accept something that had been bothering me all the time.” — Randy Zinn, Father of two

I Deserved Better

“I didn’t really have a choice. She fell in love with another person, and wanted me to move into the basement, and I had enough pride to say no. I realized there wasn’t that same level of respect that I had been giving to her. The better thing to do would be to go ahead and end this thing, so that the kids didn’t have to keep seeing the way our relationship was going. I thought I’d have more control as a parent, and that I’d be able to parent them the way I saw fit.

I came from a very functional family, all professional, my parents have been married for almost 50 years. I had never seen divorce, and I didn’t come from that world, but I figured the better thing to do for everyone would be to start the process and end it so that we could get past where we were stuck interminably and try to give our kids something better. That’s all that I could think of doing: consider my own happiness for once.

There’s a part of me that gets a little sad about it, still, because it’s a failure. But failure has never been a reason not to do something.” — Manish Shah, Father of two