Married Couples From Around The World Explain Why They Separated After 20 Years

Married Couples From Around The World Explain Why They Separated After 20 Years

Imagine a world where divorce didn't exist. Does the idea make you cringe, or rejoice? Depending on your answer, it might be time to reevaluate your marriage. The divorce rate in North America is between 40% and 50%, which means that nearly half of all marriages end before death do us part. But some couple try to stick with it no matter what. Wonder why? So did we, so we asked couples from around the world to let us in on why they divorced after twenty years of being together.

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41. You are the only exception.

Didn’t get divorced but started the process after about 25 years. Stuck it out for a few more years for the kids and ended up falling in love with her after the kids moved out. Relationships follow cycles, so glad I stuck it out.

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40. One side has moved on.

About to start the process myself. 19 years married, together 21. Now that the kids are older, self-sufficient, 2 of the 3 are driving, don't need their hands held for every little thing it will be a lot easier on them.

It's all I can do to get 5 minutes of her attention in a day. She has her head down in her kik chat app from the moment she gets up and back home and goes to bed. She's been meeting guys ("Just friends I swear") from Kik 'for lunch' and getting a lot of massages with her therapist at weird hours of the evening. Of course she's cheating although she swears she isn't. She turns her iphone location services off most of the time she is out.

6 months ago she started getting her lashes done, brows, tans, goes to the gym, walks for exercise, massages 3-4 times a month. She gets annoyed when I text her asking what she's doing or when she will be home or if she will be home for dinner.

So, after all this time it's clear she doesn't want time or anything else from me, so might as well let her go do her thing.

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39. What a nice story.

A friend of mine was married for nearly thirty years two kids. As she put it they’d been “playing divorce chicken for a decade” there weren’t any concrete reasons to get divorced they didn’t fight they actually got along very well. They just weren’t in love any more. There was always a good pragmatic reason for them to stick together, they co-parented effectively, they actually liked each other, they kept saying their marriage was probably better than a lot of people’s.

A few years ago they just decided it was time, they went out for drinks and started hashing out how to divide their assets, they agreed on a fifty-fifty split. They got a lawyer to make everything legit and a few months later they got divorced. My friend’s ex-husband rented a house a few blocks away so they kids could easily walk between mom’s and dad’s house.

About six months after the divorce was finalized my friend’s ex-husband set her up with a new boyfriend. They go on double dates, they go to parent teacher conferences together.


38. Harsh words.

My husband began surreptitiously going to strip clubs. He stole about $200 a week from various accounts and a business I owned to fund these activities. He lost is job because he went there so often at lunch and would just stay. We had young kids and so I stayed after he got some therapy. He was never honest with the therapist. About a year ago I learned he was doing it again. Plus texting strippers. My youngest kid graduates high school this year.

I’ve done what’s best for everyone else for 20 years now. This September was 21 years. I don’t anticipate having a 22nd anniversary. It’s really scary to think of being alone. I don’t hate him. I feel sorry for him. I know he will feel very sad and lonely when I’m gone. But being near him feels like having my soul ripped from my body every day.

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37. One-sided betrayal.

My parents split up after nearly 30 years. My dad was a jerk my entire life, so when they finally divorced when I was 18, there was no surprise. He’d been cheating for years and I think he was the one who finally asked for it.

I think my mom stayed because she couldn’t afford to start over. She spent her life putting my dad through school and wasn’t educated herself. She had no family or anyone who could help her either. There was definitely some confidence issues on her part too.

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36. We've come full circle.

My parents were high school sweet hearts, and married for 22 years. Then they got divorced when I was 6. My dad remarried and had another kid, and got divorced again. My mom never did.

Fast forward about 30 years. I got married. My parents were in the same room for the first time in 30 years and were flirting like teenagers. I have video of it. It really is pretty amusing to watch. Until I remember it's my parents.

They have been "dating" since I got married. That was more than 5 years ago. They are virtually living together, and both of them think it's funny to allude to their amorous life around me so that I'll be embarrassed. Which still works, despite my age.

My mom says that my dad has mellowed and turned into "not a bad guy". My dad says my mom is exactly the same, except her waist. I think they both never found anyone they liked as much as each other. Or hated as much as each other. And if that isn't marriage, I don't know what is.

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35. Psychoanalysis trumps a piece of paper.

Therapy changed my mind. After more than a decade of being miserable I finally got help. When I was able to really talk about my marriage was when I realized that I needed to get out.

At the end of the day, I stayed in a bad marriage because the thought of ‘being alone’ scared me. Through therapy I was clued in to how many wonderfully supportive friends and family members I had if I just reached out to them. I wasn’t going to be in a relationship anymore but I wasn’t alone either.

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34. So much for fidelity.

My Dad had multiple affairs and my Mom got tired of it. There was also alcoholism and both parents were workaholics. My Dad remarried a lovely woman, and so did my Mom. Oh, cheating may have been an issue on her side too.

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33. People change.

We were together for 20 years, married for 15. We started as high school sweethearts, but we eventually realized that we weren't the same people we were when we fell in love. We also realized that that wasn't going to change. We decided that the best way for everyone to be happy for the rest of our lives was to end it on peaceful terms before we were both 70 and resentful of each other for trapping each other in an unhappy marriage for 40+ years.

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32. A new lease on life.

Similar story here. Started dating at 17, got married way too young. By our 30's we were completely different people. At 40 I asked myself, "can I do this for the rest of my life?" and realized the answer was no. We both have new lives now and eventually each found new partners and are much happier. I think the second time around, especially when you're older, you know exactly what you want and what you are or aren't willing to put up with.

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31. Bottled up inside.

Not me, but my grandmother once told me that she was considering divorcing her husband of over 50 years. The reason she gave me was, “We stayed together for the kids. Now the kids are all grown up and have lives of their own. And now I can’t ignore the small things about him (my grandpa) that annoy me.”

She didn’t go through with it but she seemed sincere when she said it. It broke my heart, especially since I only ever saw the best side of him.

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30. Hope for the next generation.

My dad filed for divorce after 25 years of marriage. My mom was shellshocked. My dad was absolutely miserable but the signs of a failed marriage were always present.

My dad is very emotional and is quick to anger. He never really handled failure very effectively and would be mad instead of constructive. My mom was very family oriented and was adamant that we never move farther than 40 miles from Chicago. When I was going away to college, she bawled to my dad to force me to go to a school closer to home.

In a way, I think my dad resented my mom for never letting him travel or get away from Chicago. It also doesn’t help that I’m fairly certain my mom became (undiagnosed) depressed once her mom died. All she would do was do her bare minimum at her job (a schoolbus driver), come home and sleep, finish her route for the day, cook a hamburger helper meal for the family, and then play angry birds on her iPad.

It’s really weird seeing your parents divorce in your 20s. You’re adult enough to speak candidly and neither of them likes what you have to say about them during or after the fact. The silver lining out of it is my sisters and I know how not to behave in a relationship.


29. It happens.

I am one of those women who in my 40's discovered that I was gay. I married super young and was in a very strict religious system. My husband and I got along well for the most part, but he was always emotionally disconnected. When we got to the place where the kids were grown I asked myself if I would be happy living with this man, just the two of us, for the next 30+ years. After therapy and a lot of conversations, the answer was no. I've always had the niggling that I was attracted to women, so I decided to start dating. My first relationship with a woman was incredible - the emotional connection was like nothing I'd ever experienced. I'm single now, but I have no intention of going back to dating men - ever. My ex-husband of 20 years and I have managed to remain friends.

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28. Family reunions must be confusing.

My husband's parents did this. He said he knew his parents weren't happy for a long time. Said they went to family therapy together but ultimately once my husband went to the Army (he was the younger of 2) they divorced and both later married other people. These 2 could not get along for anything, they HATED each other. At our wedding, we had to take separate family pictures with the dad and new wife and then with the mom and my sister in law. It was insane.

Cut to about 2 years after our wedding and I get a phone call from father-in-law's wife of 10 years, she is in hysterics. She had caught him in bed with my mother-in-law. My husband would not believe it until he talked to his father.

That was over 10 years ago. My in-laws both divorced their partners and have been together ever since. My mother in law has all their old family pictures on display everywhere and acts like they never divorced and have been together for over 4 decades.

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27. Never meant to be.

My parents got divorced after 22 years of marriage. They were never in love and didn’t even like each other. They had me and then my sister a few years later and wanted to stay together for the kids. 12 years after I was born they had my brother and that kept the cycle going. I wish I could say they are happy now, but they still like to cause trouble for each other. We’re due with our first child soon and they’re gonna have to figure out how to be grandparents together. Thankfully I’m 1500 miles from them so it won’t be a headache often.

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26. Dump him already.

I divorced my husband of 21 years after he killed the dog. She was getting older and if left alone for more than 7 hours, she would pee in the basement on the cement. I would check daily and mop if needed, but we were in the process of burying a new house, and he decided she wasn't coming with us. Rather than discussing with me, he took the easy route and made her disappear while I was at work. Having to console my young sons that evening, and seeing their trauma was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. My heart closed to him instantly.

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25. Rough landing.

Divorced after 28 years and I lost him to mental illness. I tried for years to get him help but he refused. He is a genuinely good person and was once an amazing husband and father. I have been divorced over two years and still haven't dated anyone because no one will ever compare to the man he was: smart, romantic, thoughtful, socially conscious, hard worker, etc. That man doesn't exist anymore. I am the one who sought the divorce but expected him to want to work it out. When he said "I think that's for the best" I was heartbroken. He lives upstairs from me, because where would he go? I can't just toss him to the streets, but it does make it harder. I feel more like a widow.

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24. Trust is key.

Divorced after 23 years. I knew it was a mistake at about two. I remember signing my paperwork when I retired from the Army at about the 20-year point. There was some tick-box guaranteeing something to her forever. I didn't want to tick it. I did.

She never trusted me around females. Anyone I talked to, she thought I was having an affair with. I never did. But she always brought it up during unrelated arguments. Such as "You remembered to put the trash out today. Is that because you thought the neighbor lady would put hers out at the same time?"

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23. Cerebral split.

My parents divorced when I was in my early 30's after more than 3 decades of being married. My parents still speak to one another, and when my parents are in a city with their former in-laws, they make it a point to visit those inlaws. My parents started dating when my mom was 14 and my dad was 16, and both sides of my family would gather regularly during the holidays when both sets of my grandparents were still alive.

I love both of my parents, and I speak to both of them semi-regularly. With that being said, this is going to be a very one-sided point of view in favor of my mom. I'm sure my mom has her own portion of the blame, but from my point of view, my dad holds more of the responsibility.

My dad was always a difficult person. His humor is crass, but he was and still is always helping people when he can. In 2004, he had a cerebral hemorrhage. We weren't sure he was going to survive. First the doctor's said if he survived he'd be a vegetable. Then as his healing progressed, the outcome steadily got better. What didn't get better was him being a jerk. During his years of recovery, my mother tried her best, but during this time, we lost our two businesses and the home they built. My dad blamed my mom for all of this, and when she had had enough of taking his blame, she left him.

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22. Throwing good money after bad.

We divorced after 23 years. I had lied to her several times over the years, and she always forgave me. The last time I lied to her about accruing a severe amount of debt due to a gambling addiction. I think she might have forgiven the lie, but she couldn’t forgive the addiction and the chance I’d start gambling again.

I started attending Gambler’s Anonymous after I told her, but it was too little too late for her. On the plus side, I haven’t gambled in almost 3 years.

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21. It's been a tough run.

I will speak from experience. I have been married 20 years, and we are on the edge. The answer is that life changes you. When you start out the relationship is it's own thing, it is cultivated and grows. Then over the years add some children and full time jobs, and there is less time to cultivate (or none). You end up becoming life partners to run the household, and wonder why you are even together. Since there are no good times, all that is left are arguments and bad times. This is all normal, and on top of that you are both going through the personal struggles of living. To be honest, staying married is tougher than most people think in an age without Divorce Social Stigma. The kids do keep you together, hoping somehow you can rekindle something that once existed. And this is in a situation with two good people trying to do the right thing, and not a toxic situation with abuse.

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20. There's more to life than suffering.

My grandparents met and married in the 50s, super catholic family, 6 kids in 9 years (thereabouts). Husband worked, wife took care of the family dynamic. It was honestly a lot of little things that my grandma eventually got tired of- first it was trying to wrangle her three boys (all with difficult personalities) to church, so they stopped going. Then it was things like not helping with the difficult kids (women's work), not helping with household chores (that's what kids are for), being emotionally distant (he's a man, they don't do emotions), etc. From the way my grandma tells it, she stuck it out so long because she thought that's what a good catholic woman does - be long suffering and patient. It wasn't until she started exploring outside Catholicism that she decided she'd suffered long enough. The divorce ended up being civil and mutual (grandpa was never one for causing a scene) and both my grandparents ended up in loving, understanding second relationships (neither remarried officially). Funny random side note - when I graduated high school in 2012, my mother invited both my grandparents to my graduation. By that time they'd been divorced for longer than they'd been married (20-odd years together, 30+ years divorced by my math) and didn't even recognize each other until after the ceremony!

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19. Due to extraordinary circumstances.

Had to watch my parents go through the paperwork to get divorced after my dad had a massive stroke and was forced to retire. It was the only way for them to keep the money from his pension AND maintain his health insurance coverage.

My parents got a divorce of convenience so pops could make the mortgage payments and get his insulin. Thankfully my parents insurance agent is a close friend, and found every possible form and loophole so they could stay in the house together. It took almost two years to get everything settled.

I'll never forget my dad's statement after it was all done. "The Church still says we're married, and that's what matters to us. At least now, your mother can still get her hearing aids and pay the mortgage if something happens to me."

I was so disgusted with it all. I never forgave my dad's union for it, and we now make sure someone from our family shows up to their annual open meeting when they discuss the health insurance plan to shame them in explicit detail with how the board screws over its workers.

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18. Saddest house in the world.

I'm not divorced, but I'm strongly considering it. I've been married 21 years. I got married young, right out of college, to my first girlfriend. I'm the shy nerdy type, and she was the smart athlete extrovert makes friends easily type who was older than me and had had her share of boyfriends. Well, I honestly kind of regret that I didn't shop around. And she became one of those moms who kind of gives herself up for her kids and career. That looks great to everyone but me. I'm never as lonely as I am when I'm home. She doesn't look at me or talk to me anymore. It's made me bitter and sometimes angry, which ironically makes her withdraw from me more. She's a great human being, but not a great wife, unfortunately. At least not to me. I know I'm not blameless. But to answer the question? 20 years is when kids get to be on their own for the most part, and it's also the point I'm realizing I don't want to die like this, alone in a loveless marriage that is just in name only. I have a roommate. Geez, I don't even know the last time she kissed me. More than a decade, I know that.

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17. Waiting for him to leave.

My parents have been married 29 years but have been separated since last year and it's likely heading to divorce if they can afford it. I've been thinking a lot on this, why give up now, but I think over the years I'm piecing it together. They married in their mid 30s, both after failed marriages with no children, I think they both wanted a normal family life or a legacy to leave. They adopted me, an only child, and honestly I think I had a pretty good childhood but they never really got along. My dad mostly would hide somewhere around the property. But as soon as I was out of the house it turned to slow, devastating turmoil. I don't know if married life, or the one they had at least was ever going to be their thing, but props to them for trying while they had me. I think they've made this realization now.

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16. Letting the good go.

I was married for 26 years. Divorced for 3 years now (remarried, very happy). We grew apart. I worked on career. She homeschooled. The children were her everything. As the children left I wanted to travel and enjoy life together. She did not want to spend time with me and did not like me physically. She loved the lifestyle I provided her but did not like me. I knew for over 10 years she didn't like me but I stayed for the kids. I worked really hard to try and get her to like me for 2-3 years before the divorce but she would not be my wife, she was very content being roommates. I was not.
My divorce was triggered by my stepdad's death. My mom was really in love with him (married 30 + years). She was devastated by his death. I thought to myself that I would not be that sad if my first wife died. I would have to appear to be sad but I would be secretly happy. I realized that optimally I have only about 20-25 years of good living left and I just didn't want to be with someone who didn't want to be with me. People change so much as they age. I kinda blame myself for not keeping her close to me during the child rearing years. I just let her go off and do her thing. I did my thing. She got so set in her ways that I could not bring her back to me. Really sucks. The divorce cost a lot of $$$ for me. But it was worth every penny. I am free and I have love in my life again.

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15. Irreconcilable differences.

My parents got divorced because of my dad.

We grew up in a military family; dad was always deployed. My mom is a walking medical disaster, no offense to her. Rheumatoid arthritis at 23, endometriosis at 24, got a hysterectomy and everything. They married early, and had kids really early because of the endometriosis. My mom tried to cater to my dad, make sure he could still live his life in his twenties because they had kids earlier than expected.

Well... Being deployed all the time meant my dad could just mess around with ladies off in other places. My mom stayed home and took care of us.

Dad gets a divorce when he gets back, gets remarried like 3 months later. That lasted like 2 years before she got her green card and ditched him. My mom still loves him despite him moving onto his 3rd marriage, having another kid, and never actually paying his portion of child support.

So pretty much they got divorced so my dad could have a younger, more subservient wife.

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14. To the bitter end.

My coworker and her husband had been married for almost 30 years. They had two kids, both in their mid-late teens, and a full life together. She was the stay-at-home mom, he made the big bucks, etc.

Anyways, once the kids both started to grow up and stop wanting to go to the cottage, they realized that when left alone together they didn't have much in common. Then the kids started leaving for school, and I guess things got worse. I think everything would have been fine if not for the Father's dad (the grandfather) getting sick. Turns out the old man had near $4 Million to his name and was giving it all to the Father. So, dad' consults a lawyer who says that since it's an inheritance, if he's divorced before he get's it he can keep all of it....and as such, he divorces her within days.

She stopped working for us shortly after, but I know it was pretty hard on her. She got her fair shake of the currently owned assets, but couldn't touch the $4Mil.

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13. Amicable split.

Not 20+ but my parents divorced after 13 years of marriage. They divorced due to my mom’s affair but still continued living together “for the kids.” We were young when they divorced but they never moved apart and we all grew up in one household. After they divorced they lived more like roommates than anything and got along better than they ever did as a married couple. They still shared all expenses relating to us and since my Dad made more he would spot her often. I can’t remember them having a single argument after the divorce happened.

When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer this year my Dad was her caretaker. He would drive her to appointments, change her bandages every 3 days, cook her meals. When we went out he would go grab the car so she wouldn’t have to walk too far. When she was stuck in the hospital he visited her every day. When she died 2 months ago he paid for her entire funeral. He was her ex-husband that she cheated on and he still gave her everything. Divorce was probably the best thing they could’ve done yet in a lot of ways they were still married. It taught me a lot about the importance of caring for another person when they really need you, even when they’ve hurt you badly. My Dad did so much for my Mom despite his own feelings.

It also taught me a lot about how making a bad choice doesn’t make you a bad person. My mother made a mistake yet she was the greatest woman I’ve ever known - I’m insanely lucky to have called her my Mom. We had an incredibly unusual home-life but I wouldn’t change it for anything

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12. It's a painful game.

She realized that she never truly loved me and that she was a lesbian in love with one of our oldest friends. 24 years together, 19 years of marriage, two kids, pets, cars, friends in common—all got thrown up in the air. She wanted to leave and I was the one trying to keep our family together (frustratingly painful). Maybe I always had been? She left one night and suddenly I was a single father explaining the harshness of life to my crying children and trying to convince them everything would be okay. She started the legal process and I reluctantly had to participate. It is difficult to get divorced and not let it become ugly once the process starts. The children end up right in the middle of it all—spectators oblivious to the plays being called, but clearly watching the game play out on the field whether we realize it or not. Parenting plans lead to visitations and kids wishing things were the way they used to be. You learn to be an individual again and it’s absolutely terrifying at first, but it leads to (at least in my case) realization that more life awaits with people who genuinely want to be part of it with you. I don’t wish divorce on anyone—especially when children are in the families. The emotional scars run deep and never truly heal. I will champion my children to discover who they are first and to do what they love to do. I now think most people get married too early in life and it leads to regret and longing for opportunities missed for some.

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11. There's nothing to fear.

Honestly, I knew much sooner than 20 years that it was over. At first I thought my expectations were too high, because that’s what he told me. That was for about 8 years. Then I started realizing that all the other parts of my life, though not perfect, were manageable. The one thing I could not manage was my marriage. It was the only area of irreconcilable discontentment.

But we married in a traditional Christian community that said divorce was NOT an option. Don’t even say the word. If I was unhappy, it was because I wasn’t trusting God to meet my needs. That as long as he wasn’t beating me or breaking the law, I needed to let it go, and stay married.

At about the 22 year mark, I went to a high school reunion and saw people I hadn’t seen in 30 years. I snapped. I saw what 30 years looked like. I realized that, even if it meant I was disappointing God, sinning, I could not spend the next (last) 30 years of my life living the way I had been for the past 20.

It still took two more years for me to get a decent job and get the courage to move out. I feared being ostracized by my community. I feared so many things. None of which came to fruition.

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10. You do YOLO.

29 years in a marriage with a Borderline Personality Disorder. I served my time. It's called a Mid Life Crisis and it's real.

When you get to your late 40's, your kids are grown, your financial wealth is somewhat known, you have stability and now things start to look different. The future is much shorter than your past, and you realize life is truly a gift that should be cherished.

We went to marriage counselors dozens and dozens of times. She just didn't know what she wanted, so I let her go. She moved out and we divorced. As soon as I started seeing someone else, she tried to commit suicide. Typical BPD.

The truth is I married her because I felt like she needed me. I stayed with her because of our children. But after that was all gone, I decided that I was going to be happy and live my life with as much fun and enjoyment as possible.

I love my life now. I actually married my first girlfriend and high school sweetheart. My wife and I are consumed with YOLO. You only live once. So we are super active. We are full-fledged nudists and even are involved in the lifestyle. We have combined family vacations and her ex, and my ex have actually come along. In fact, my ex wife visits often and we are involved in many family activities together. It's sort of odd, but it's really good for both sides of the family.

My life is so much happier now. I still feel guilty about my ex. I wish she had been able to stay with me, but I wasn't going to dig a grave and start building my coffin. I wanted to live life as much as I can, and I am doing that.

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9. Better for everyone.

Not 20 years of marriage, only 16, but 21 years together with my ex.

We both had a non-loving home situation. So maybe this drove us together. We bought our first house when we were 3 year together, and since then, there was always the fear of being left alone, leaving the other one, and myself in debts. We bought a second home (sold the first one), had kids (lovely twin daughters), bought a third home (sold the second one). But my wife still wasn't happy with life. And this all pushed down on me. There was no affection between us.

Also I was very insecure about myself, thought women didn't really like me. But then my eyes opened, I started doing yoga, went to a therapist, and after a year or 2 I felt secure enough to make this really heavy decision. The toughest part was for my daughters (9 years then).

I really quickly met someone new, and after her someone else. So my complexes about my looks are completely gone. I started a new life, my kids are ok with it now.

It was the hardest, but best decision in my life. Also my ex had it really hard, she didn't see it coming, although she told me several times she wanted to divorce. She blamed me for everything. But now she also has someone new, mutual friends are telling me she is happy. So I think for her this was good after all.

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8. Family matters.

When I was 8, my dad threatened to leave my mom because he was threatened by her brother. My uncle didn’t do anything wrong, but my dad didn’t like another man in his kids’ lives because he had fears of abandonment and “getting replaced” (still has those fears). So he gave my mom an ultimatum: “It’s your brother or me. you gotta chose.”

My mom, fearing to hold together a family, chose my dad. My uncle was broken about it because my mom was forced to shut him due to reasons he didn’t even understand.

Fast forward 6 years and my older brother now in college develops an outside view of the family life and began to understand the machinations of my dad. So my brother called my dad and gave him his full mind on what he thinks of my dad and how he’s done petty things out of fear. My dad flipped and blamed my mom for that because he thought “she was putting words in his mouth”. Things were tense for a bit between my dad, bother, and mother until my dad decided to move out officially because he felt not welcome in the family.

That was 5 years ago and he’s been living separately since then, but my parents are still legally married due to joint-owning a lot of assets. A year ago, however, I found out that my dad had been dating a 25 year old for over a year (he’s 60). The scary thing was that my mom knew the whole time but she didn’t tell us because she feared how it would make us view our dad.

My mom is still very broken up about the fact that it was my dad that left her, despite him having toxic and manipulative behavior toward her, me, and my brothers for the latter part of their 25 year marriage.


7. Like ripping off a bandaid.

I just went through a lengthy and painful 18 month divorce. 25 years together, 22 years married. We were married way too young. The reality is you're not the same person you are at 21 as you are at 45. People continue to evolve and grow.

About 10 years ago, we tried marriage counseling. It was clear that we had completely different expectations out of each other and the marriage at this point. She had always joked that she was a princess, which is cute at 21. At 35? Yeah, no.

The marriage became less of a partnership and more of an operation of convenience for her. We had a beautiful son a few years before we started therapy, and that's honestly the only thing that kept me in the house. So, we kept growing apart to the point where we were almost estranged roommates. Family dinner was about the only interaction we had (at my insistence), but she'd spend most of the meal on her phone. It got to the point where the household was completely toxic, and it was starting to affect how we interacted with our son.

So, when he was 14 I made the harsh decision to end it. I honestly thought that it was the best thing for him. Because the family role model we were setting was not healthy. At all.

Two years later I'm not sure if I made the right choice, or if I should've held out a few years longer until he went away to college. But I know that every single day we were together at that point was a day that I died a little bit more, and whatever heart I had was being replaced by bitterness. I couldn't allow those feelings to spill over my son.

My relationship with my ex is strained to say the least, and our son is now facing anxiety issues and feels like he has to be the caregiver for his mom.

It honestly sucks, and feel like even though I made the right decision in the long run, the short term pain is greater than I ever could've imagined.

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6. When your better half takes a turn for the worse.

Parents divorced after 25 years when my mom had what we thought at the time was a midlife crisis. She told my dad by draining $3k from the joint checking account to fund her divorce lawyer. Six years later they were officially divorced since she blew through that money on different lawyers that kept firing her as a client. We later ruled out mid life crisis when her behavior started to become more odd, erratic, and paranoid. She was in her early 50s when this behavior started.

Now we (myself and my sister in law with psychology experience) think she has late onset bipolar and I say "think" since we can't get her officially diagnosed since she believes nothing is wrong with her. She lives in NY and it is super hard to commit someone there unless they are a danger to themselves or other people. She's not dangerous, just can't hold down a job and lives in her car due to her own insubordinate sporadic paranoid behavior but blames everyone else. No she's not a narcissist, just mentally ill since she was never like this when we were growing up. She was very selfless and caring when she was younger.

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5. The couple that slays together, stays together.

My dad met my mom at a vampire convention in the 90s. They both had the same rebellious anti-controllable beliefs, so my dad started cheating on his wife at the time with my mom. 1999, my brother's born in Cincinnati, then I was born in 2001. My brother was a mistake and I was only conceived because they didn't want a lonely child. They got married shortly after, not doing it sooner because my mom was beginning her career at Wells Fargo and was learning about accounting.

From the time my brother was born to me, my parents decided to move after giving up on their current living conditions, so they rode the bus all the way to Iowa where my dad's family was, with whatever they could carry on their backs and my brother on my dad's chest. After I was born, things settled down, my dad rejoined the military, my mom used his pay checks wisely for accounting, we eventually became upper-middle class.

When I was about 4, we moved from Iowa to Washington state. It was the first time I'd been relocated because of my dad's military career. When I was 11, my dad was deployed to Iraq for a year, that was the first whole year I'd been seperated from anyone in my family. When he came home, he changed, and became an alcoholic. He started forcing me and my brother to do chores that he couldn't do because of his military health issues.

We moved to Colorado when I was 13, I got my first PC because we were so well off. Then my dad retired, and refused to get a job when his benefits fell through for 2 entire years. My mom's pay check couldn't hold everything up, and while everything was collapsing, my mom allegedly cheated on my dad. She said she couldn't stand his laziness and temper, and found happiness in another guy. So they divorced, my mom moved on almost instantly, and my dad was left in a pool of despair and loneliness. He called those 10 months the worst in his life.

He would spend all day in the garage smoking, smoking pot, drinking, not eating, and then sleep. During that time my mom moved me out into a small apartment so I could restart on life. I don't know alot about my dad any more except that he's trying to make up his lack of being a father to me and my brother now. I've dropped out of highschool for an alternative graduation, and I'll be starting college at the start of next year.

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4. It ends in tragedy.

Grandparents got divorced after 30+ years of marriage. Met in the early 1950s in a really small town. Both about 19 or 20 and got married 2 years later. I think that was kind of just what you did back then. They had a pretty traditional marriage with 7 children.

I think my Grandmother grew up and became more independent and my Grandpa really just wanted a traditional stay-at-home wife. When the kids were old enough, she got a job as a secretary. She had lots of friends and a social circle. My grandfather pretty much just worked and came home and watched TV. In his 50s, he slipped and broke his back and couldn't work anymore. He really just stopped doing much of anything after that. Sat on the couch all day chain smoking cigars and watching TV. He was also becoming more and more of a hoarder as he got older. I think even before this point they were already more-or-less roommates. Eventually, grandma had just had it with him. She filed for divorce. He had a hard time accepting it. He was supposed to be staying with one of his adult kids, while his other kids were working on purchasing a small house for him in the neighborhood where a few of his kids and grandkids lived. He kept breaking back into the house he had lived in with my grandma.

She confronted him during one of these break-ins and he shot and killed her with one of the old guns he had in the house. I think he was probably depressed through much of his life, but because he grew up with that small town 1950s mentality he was just taught to bury that down. I'm not sure they ever loved each other, but they had a marriage of convenience that worked ok for some time. He was pretty detached from raising the kids and when he no longer felt useful he just unraveled. It's too bad, because he lived over 10 more years in prison. He could have had a relationship with his grandkids, but one impulsive act crushed that. I always felt robbed of having a relationship with either of those grandparents.

My grandmother was one of the most independent, fierce and intelligent people I've ever met. She went back to school while she had children to get her degree and started a career with 7 children at home and little help from her husband. She never complained. She always walked with her head up, dressed pristinely and always carried a book. Most of her family lived to be in their 90s so she likely had 25 or more years left to live. She could have been at my wedding and instead she never got to see me grow into an adult. My family talks of her often. Her memory is very much alive, while he is almost never discussed and we have no pictures of him in the house. I know he was at fault, but that didn't make it easier to lose him. What do you want me to say? I mourned both grandparents at the time. He robbed me of BOTH grandparents. He had a choice to move past a difficult time in his life and instead he chose the cowardly way out.


3. The serial monogamist.

Not myself, but my parents. They were married for 22 years when they separated, 24 years by the time the divorce was final. From the perspective of a child in the situation, there was no way that they were happy people together. There was hardly ever a quiet moment in the house because of my father’s temper, but my mother knew how to serve it back too.

However, the final straw was more of a chain of events. My father had a very rigid view of the family. Man works, woman stays home, cares for the home and children.

When I was in high school my father got injured at work and needed surgery. He worked a physically demanding job, and would be out for six months. My mother, knowing that we were already falling behind on vehicle and house payments decided to find part-time employment. She worked while the kids were in school. It was still important to her to see her kids get on the bus and be there when they got home.

My father immediately believed that she was cheating on him. He installed a tracker and tape recorder in her car. He showed up at her workplace and caused a scene multiple times. He questioned her coworkers. He spent most of time at the house drinking. This was not an equal partnership, and it really never was. You should have seen how hurt he acted when my mom finally asked for a divorce.

But he rebounded real quick. All he had to do was tell some woman on Plenty of Fish his sob story, and he moved right into her house. He spent a couple of years treating her and her children horribly before she kicked him out. Only took him a couple of weeks in a hotel to find another woman to let him move in.

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2. Tale of two marriages.

Our family friends never seemed anything other than a happy couple. The wife was a former employee of my mother's, and they remained close decades later. I only really knew them as the gracious hosts or smiling guests during the trips our families would take to eachothers' homes. They had kids close to my age, so I primarily understood them as their children's parents and my sister's godparents.

Until, you know, the wife opened her husband's phone to find messages from his mistress. Turns out the affair had been going on for two years. Bam, 20+ years of marriage down the drain. They dropped their younger kid off at his first year of college, drove home, and split up. He got the house and wasted no time in moving in his mistress, along with her kids.

She's trying to live her best life, God bless her, but that mostly translates out to getting white girl tattoo after white girl tattoo and showing them off on Instagram. I'm not against tattoos, but I do think there's a difference between giving up your inhibitions and taking on an unhealthy coping mechanism. Still, I can't imagine what it must be like to put in that many years, that much effort, and then have it all come crumbling down. Not long later she was at my sister's wedding, putting on her bravest face. Neither she nor her kids mentioned the husband.

Funny thing is, another member of my mother's "former employee friend group" married a British man that she'd known for 6 months. They fell in love at first sight at an airport. Turned out, he was the son of a Lord, and their second date was a cruise in France where he had proposed. My mother and the wife, then her boss and coworker respectively, had quite the reasonable reaction of "You're kidding, right? You're insane." Regardless, the friend accepted the proposal. She was also at my sister's wedding, getting down on the dancefloor with her posh British husband of 29 years.

Just goes to show that you never can tell.


1. Remembering what love is.

I was married 33 years. Together 36. Went for a decade where I would say "I Love You" in messages, email, real life, et al. Nothing back.

I tried really hard. Made sure I helped with dishes, laundry, cleaning, vacuuming, whatever was needed around the house, every time. Nothing back. Not even a thank you or noticed I had done anything. Always made sure there was an anniversary, birthday, christmas, thanksgiving. Nothing back, not even a thank you or noticed.

I always told her she looked beautiful. She would be critical of me in a way I could never be of her. I would reach out for her and she would say "Go to sleep". I would never force myself on her, I just wanted her to want me. I took her to Italy, Spain, Ireland. She would barely hold my hand in public, and once we were alone summarily ignored me.

She just wanted to watch reality TV shows. Be right. Talk over me when I was talking about something. Or I would mention something, then later she would say the same thing back to me as she had never heard what I had said. Variations of this theme every time we would talk.

There was a time when things were very very different. When we had love and laughter and fun and the kids were young and we took them places, so much promise for the future. I saw her in her wedding dress in my mind when things were bad.

When I took her to Italy, carefully planned the itinerary to be fun and romantic. I thought she might fall in love all over again, it was so beautiful. And she definitely was enjoying it. But one night I just wanted to hug her, it had been such a beautiful day. She said "Don't".

That broke something inside me. I gave up. I stayed for years after that thinking that was the right thing to do. Got the kids through college. We worked, and then she would spend a whole weekend watching TV while pretending to our friends things were just fine. She decided she could just dial it in, and apparently I would always stay.

I asked her politely, then begged her to go to counseling with me as obviously things between us were not the same. She told me no, that there was no reason for us to go. That we had just gotten old and this was what relationships become. When I asked her again later, she gaslamped me that I had never ever asked her before. But that again there was no reason for us to go. I went to counseling on my own, and told likely this would never get better. That you need two people to resolve issues.

I was away for work, unexpectedly met an old friend as she was in the same town. We ended up having some drinks. She ended up telling me that her husband was cheating on her. She had found out from his phone, and was archiving pictures to a hidden cloud account. But that she didn't have the courage to do anything about it. He had all the bank accounts, she felt trapped.

I told her I had been completely loving and faithful over 30 something years, but obviously she didn't love me any more. It had been close to a decade since she showed any attraction or attention to me at all. I didn't know if she was having an affair, but in either case it didn't matter. I felt alone in a room with her in it.

More drinks. Escorted her back to her hotel. Another drink at the hotel bar. And she tells me I am handsome, that she always thought I was. Then loosens my tie and says we should have a drink upstairs. She is strikingly beautiful. We had talked intensely. She listened to me, and I her. She takes my hand and it feels electric. We spend 20 minutes or more saying nothing, just holding hands. What I am going to do is wrong. I shouldn't. I should walk away right now with a polite apology. And I heard the word "Don't". And felt all that pain rush over me.

We went upstairs, and devoured each other. And I woke up to remember who I was, who I had been. What I did was wrong. I should have gone to my ex-wife and told her I didn't love her any more, and wanted out. Then found another woman. I handled what happened after this incident poorly, if I could use that word as an understatement.

I also know it takes two people to make relationship problems happen. There was something about me that she found perhaps abrasive, or boring, or just not what she wanted any more. Could I have fixed that? I don't know since I don't know what it was.

But that Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you kill what had been a strong marriage. No caring, no communication, self-centered, no empathy, no imagination, no energy, no Love. Eventually someone feeling nothing but loneliness breaks, searching for the thing they had, searching for the smiles laughter touches lost in time.

I have been divorced over 5 years now, and now in a relationship with a smart, adventurous, imaginative, hard working, caring, empathetic and absolutely gorgeous woman. She was also married before in a long term relationship where she was bullied, told to shut up, money and family used like a weapon.

We both look at each other, realize where we have been, vividly aware of the perils, and know where we want to go from here. She fell out of the sky into my arms. Always better to be lucky than good.

So to all of you reading this thread, I wish you good luck. Life is short. Make sure there is love in it.