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 the like. But what are the specific reasons? Why, aside from the obvious, do certain married couples end their relationship? When do they decide it’s not worth fighting for anymore? To find out, we asked eight women when they realized that divorce was the only path forward in their marriage. It turns out that some efforts have an expiration date, and that sometimes, trying to fix the irreparable is impossible.
“It had gone way too long with nothing getting better.”
I ended up leaving after not just one pivotal thing, but all the little things that led up to it. All the arguing that couldn’t be resolved; bad behavior that couldn’t be fixed. We were at an impasse, and that was when I started to consider leaving. I heard somewhere that the average woman thinks about leaving a marriage 10 times before they actually do. Basically, it just came to a day where I knew the situation had gotten way too bad for way too long. Way too long without anything being resolved. So I decided to leave.
— Colleen, 54, D.C.
“When my life got tough, he didn’t step up.”
Accepting that it was over took a really long time. I probably first realized, in all honesty, two years before I filed. I started to think: maybe ’til death do us part’ doesn’t make sense. I wanted to do everything I could to save it. But at some point I realized this was the path we were probably going to go down. I was very accepting of his small flaws. But he was breaking promises. That stuff happens naturally in all marriages, but it was hard for me to gauge his level of commitment until we hit the real rough patches. For me, when there were things that came up in my life that had me at my lowest; my mom getting sick, he didn’t step up to be a partner. There was an unwillingness to change on his part. He couldn’t step up to be the partner that I needed.”
— Marie, 35, New York
“His small insults turned into abuse.”
I never wanted to get divorced. I had moments of clarity, but I shut them down. I mean, I remember one time telling my coworker who got a bouquet of flowers that that was so wonderful. She asked if I had gotten anything and I said no, but that my husband was so wonderful, everyday. I didn’t mind. But I think on that now — and that was just a lie! But I needed to keep that going to help the marriage move forward. But then it got too much. His small insults turned into abuse. That’s when I gave myself mental permission to say, I’ve got to get out. I’m not going to survive this unless I get out. That’s when it all clicked and I said I’m not going to have my daughter raised in this situation. That was 4 and a half years into our marriage. I married really young, and there were lots of signs that I overlooked.
— Liz, 54, Alaska
“He really tried. But no matter how hard he tried, I…
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