Divorce, most often, is the period at the end of a very long sentence. It arrives, we know, after years of frustration, communication breakdowns, resentment, and several such factors. But what are the specific reasons? Why, aside from the obvious reasons, do certain married couples end their relationship? To find out, we asked eight divorced moms what made them leave their husbands. Some spoke of growing apart, others realized that their relationship was bordering on toxic; still others said it simply stopped growing. All serve as a good indication as what to consider — and keep an eye out for — when assessing the health of your marriage.
“It had been a long time coming.”
It was amicable. We both decided that we wanted to leave each other. I think that it had been a long time coming. We were both pretty unhappy in the marriage, but we never talked about it. We were in a sexless marriage for 10 or 15 years. We were living separate lives. He was doing his thing and I was doing my thing. More and more, I had my set of friends and went out at night. I did my career thing, and he just worked all the time and was miserable and did his career thing. We were really growing in different ways, really growing apart from each other, especially after our kids were grown. We actually divorced and filed a separation the year that our second child left for college.
— Xanet, 58, California
“I didn’t want my kids to have a blueprint of a relationship what was unhealthy.”
One of the things that finally pushed me over was thinking about what I would want my daughter to do if she was in that situation. Our relationship was unhealthy. Someone asked me that question, and it was a punch in the stomach. All the air got sucked out of me, and I thought, I do not want my daughter to be making this choice to stay in this situation. We were making the blueprint for what our kids would have in their minds for a relationship of marriage. I didn’t want to lay down this blueprint that was unhealthy, and have them continue this cycle.
— Amy, 41, Virginia
“There was no forward movement.”
The marriage wasn’t working, and I was the only one working on it. We had been having some problems. We initially went to counseling. He left after hearing things he didn’t want to hear. Counseling isn’t easy. People have to be prepared to hear things they don’t really want to know about themselves sometimes. There was no forward movement. The more arguing that went on, I realized, this is not a good situation for our kids. It took me a long time, but I finally decided I was going to get a lawyer and leave. We kept arguing and it couldn’t be resolved. There was an impasse. I always say that my marriage didn’t suffer what I call a sudden death; like an affair or an addiction. Mine suffered what I call the long-term illness. He dismissed what was important to me. He didn’t respect me.
— Colleen, 54, D.C.
“I didn’t respect him anymore.”
I still love him, but I lost respect for him. He hurt me in a big way, and I could see myself in the future, holding him up to what he did in the past, and you know, kind of feeling like he owed me things because of the way he hurt me. Resenting him. And I didn’t want that type of relationship. If we were to bring children into our lives, I did not want them to see that kind of relationship, without any respect. My ex-husband is smart. He has a great reputation, professionally. When he’d talk to me about his day and his achievements, I wasn’t impressed anymore. I did not care. I didn’t celebrate him. I had lost respect for him. And I felt like his credibility was decreased despite the tangible achievements he had. In my eyes, this man had lost credibility. There was no amount of certificates and trophies or increase in pay that would sway my mind or keep me to stay in the marriage.
— Micaela, 31, California
“I was disconnected and discontent.”
My first marriage was good; there really wasn’t a problem. I was the problem. I came from a toxic background. Because of it, I was disconnected and discontent. Because I was discontent, I was always seeking something better. I was trying to fill a void. I was trying to get that deep-centered love from outer sources because I didn’t get it from my parents. I was constantly out there, trying to fill the void. I’m not pointing a finger on my parents; they did the best that they knew to do. I was looking for bigger and better; and he was a little more of an in-the-box thinker. I started to outgrow him. It created a strain on the relationship. And because I was toxic, I didn’t want to work through it. I thought he wasn’t going to grow. That wasn’t his interest.
— Dawn, 49, Florida
“His priorities always came before our marriage.”
I was determined to do everything I could do to save our marriage. I couldn’t walk away without knowing that I had done everything in my power to make it work. But I didn’t feel like he was a partner to me as much as I was a partner to him. Whenever things came up, and I needed him to be there, his priorities always came before our marriage. A lot of people look for things like: Do we have the same values? The same morals? We did. We complemented each other in many ways. But when things get tough, and you really need a partner in a marriage, I don’t think we really saw the relationship the same way. I feel like I saw it that way and he didn’t really understand what it truly meant to be a partner. In many ways, we were cohabitating, rather than being in a real relationship.
— Marie, 35, New York
“I needed more….”
I needed more from the relationship. I felt like we were no longer growing. And when I stop growing, I examine what that’s about. I had to really look at where I was, and what was missing, and ask if it was okay for the rest of my existence. There was nothing inherently awful about our relationship, it just wasn’t amazing. There was a piece missing. And that’s really what it was for me: I didn’t feel like I could live in a place where it always felt like there was something missing. It took a lot of strength for me to have the conversation with my husband. When I said to him that it was that I needed, he said he wasn’t sure he could give that to me. When he said that, my heart sank. But I was also extremely grateful that he was honest.
— Amy, 49, Mexico
“I couldn’t count on him for anything.”
I was married twice. I got married in ’83, and left him in ’88. I couldn’t count on him for anything. That’s why I left. I had two small children. I loved him, but realized he was not a responsible husband or father. It was for survival. I needed to take care of my family, so I moved from Denver back to New York and was able to get a job and raise my children.
I got married again in 2010 and I filed for divorce in 2014, after realizing that he had been deceiving me for quite some time, as far as money. Deceived is not something that I can live with. Fool me once, fool me twice, and then, boy, am I a fool. I believed that people could redeem themselves. I was promised that this would be different. It turned out not to be. I tried and tried to rectify the problem, but I realized I wanted to make a life for myself. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I got myself a little apartment, and left. The relief that I felt, the independence — that was huge.
— Sylvia, 67, Connecticut
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