Marriage is one of the oldest social institutions in the world, with people of all walks of life finding themselves participating in it. However, marriages don't always last. These stories are of marriages that were doomed, stories lightly edited for clarity.
My Heart Closed Instantly
“He killed the dog. She was getting older and if left alone for more than seven 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 buying 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.”
“A friend of mine was married for nearly thirty years and had 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 anymore.
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.
I think the first time they considered getting divorced their kids were 5 and 7. They decided to stick it out just cause it was so expensive to get divorced. They wouldn’t have been able to afford their mortgage and rent a second house without significantly down grading their lifestyles. So they stuck it out. After ten more years they ran out reasons to stay married and called it quits.
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 the 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.”
Heck Of A Split
“I worked at a law firm that only practiced family law (divorces, child custody, wills & estates, etc). At one time we had like eight clients getting divorced after 20+ years of marriage, and they were all high ranking military men whose wives came out of the closet after all their kids had grown up and moved out of the house and the guys were getting ready to retire. I thought it was so weird, but I guess for whatever reason the women thought that their duties to their husbands and families were coming to an end and they wanted to live for themselves. I guess I know why they couldn’t come out 30 years ago, it was a different time, but I was curious why they were all attracted to military guys? I assume maybe cause it meant their husbands would be away for years at a time during their service?”
I Feel Sorry For Him
“My husband began surreptitiously going to Adult Lounges. He stole about $200 a week from various accounts and a business I owned to fund these activities. He lost his 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 dancers. 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.”
She Still Loves Him
“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 re married like three months later. That lasted like two 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.”
She Got Played
“A friend of mine’s (ex) husband made $200k a year and came from a wealthy family. She supported him while he was getting all his degrees and then when they were comfortable enough on one income they agree she could take a lower paying job at a non-profit health clinic that serviced impoverished communities.
Almost 10 years later, he takes disability leave because he needs a somewhat elective surgery. She uses all her PTO hours to take two months off essentially nursing him back to health. Disability runs out for him after six months, but he won’t go back to work. At first, she was confused by this. Disability ends and he quits the job he had. This is when he asks her for a divorce
Turns out he waited until he no longer had any income to claim so he wouldn’t have to give her alimony payments. Also! During the divorce proceedings it comes out that this dude was about to come into an inheritance for a few mil when he turned 40, two months after he filed for divorce.
So now, my friend is 38, making $15/hr, with no alimony, no PTO left for herself, and no share of the inheritance. They did split the assets they already had down the middle, but a hefty chunk had already been taken out for the elective surgery and care he had gotten a few months prior.”
Nobody Saw It Coming
“For 27 years my parents did it all. Had two kids they were proud of, traveled the world together, spent Sunday watching NASCAR and would have a coffee date every day after work to talk about their day. My dad always referred to my mom as his beautiful new bride to anyone that would listen. They worked great together on projects big and small. They would go camping all summer long, and always made time for their circle of friends. They had a rule to never go to bed angry, and they followed that rule their whole marriage. They were the couple everyone was so jealous of. Holding hands and flirting even at 49. ‘I don’t understand why my coworkers hate spending time with their wives so much’ he said to her.
A month later, my mom found the text messages to a 22-year-old.
Not a single person got an explanation from my dad. Up until the moment he was caught, he still seemed so happy with his life.
He pursued the other woman. She has a history of going after married men. She took him for any money she could get and left him.
My father hasn’t been happy since, and my mom has been dealing with severe depression.
It doesn’t make sense to anyone what happened.”
Cutting Our Losses
“We were just never good partners. We didn’t fight. We didn’t scream or yell or have a lot of emotional issues, but we just didn’t work well together. We had a kid after dating only a few months. We tried to make the family thing work, and I think we did an ok job at it for 20 years, but we really weren’t a couple.
After seeing my mother and father celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and my mother walk behind my deaf 85-year-old father and say under her breath, ‘I hate that man,’ I decided I didn’t want to hit 50 years of marriage and be in the same boat.
I sought counseling and restarted my social life. I started doing my own thing. I’d slept on the couch for years and hid in my den playing video games and being angry at life. My wife noticed me going out and doing things, and noticed that I had pulled away from any serious conversations or even showing an interest in being home. She asked me if I thought we should try counseling again or if I thought we should do something else. I decided to be honest about my feelings and told her I thought we should probably divorce.
Amazingly enough, it’s going well. We both have a plan for getting out and I think we’re much better friends now than we’ve ever been. I love her and care about her and I want the best for her, but I also know that we can’t be together because it will be way too easy to fall back into the same roles and then eventually we find ourselves in our 80s and hating each other.”
You Just Fall Out
“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, leave 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.”
Off And On Again
“Well funny story. 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.
I got married and 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 five years ago. They are virtually living together, and both of them think it’s funny to allude to their love life around me so that I’ll be embarrassed. It still works, despite my age.”
He Chose Wrong
“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 choose.’
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 ‘assholery’ 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.”
I’ll Never Forgive Them
“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 runs roughshod over the roughnecks.”
Moved On Really Quickly
“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 his 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.”
“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 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 killed her. 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.”
He Was With Who!?
“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, they divorced and both later married other people. These two could not get along for anything, they HATED each other. At our wedding, we had to take separate family pictures with the dad and his new wife and then with the mom and my sister-in-law. It was insane…
Cut to about two 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 four decades.”
Greed; The Root Of Evil
“Not me, but a lady I worked with.
She 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.”
I Already Knew What Was Up
“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 angry 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.”
Couldn’t Go On After That
“He was a serial cheater. The straw that broke the camel’s back was my then 15yo daughter having a panic attack and being hospitalized over the guilt she felt for keeping his secret. He had been having an affair with a married woman for a year and had been taking our kids with him to play ‘house’ with her and her kids while her husband was out of state for work in the oilfield. He was using his dying grandfather as cover by claiming to be staying over nights in the hospital with him so he wouldn’t be alone and that he was taking our kids with him so they could go home with his mother and get to spend time with their grandparents on that side. He threatened our kids and guilted them into keeping it a secret until my daughter just couldn’t handle it any more. She told me. He called her a lying hag and a stupid homewrecker and when she ran to her bedroom to get away from him screaming at her, he chased her and kicked her bedroom door down to get at her for telling. I put him out of my house immediately and divorced him.
Also: His entire family knew what he was doing and kept up the sleeping in the hospital with dying grandpa cover for him. He had been taking this woman and her kids to his family functions and they all welcomed them with open arms. His mother went so far as to also verbally attack my daughter when she told and called her a liar and accused her of stirring up drama for the attention.”