9 Women Share The Exact Moment When They Knew It Was Time To Get Divorced (2024)

For some women, the idea of divorce might feel liberating. But for many, it’s just plain terrifying — between all the logistical questions of custody and who gets what and the actual heartbreak of it all, it’s no small decision to end a marriage. That’s why hearing from other women about how they knew it was time to get divorced can be so valuable.

Romper corresponded with eight women who shared the moment they knew their marriage was over. For some, it was one lightbulb, “a-ha” realization. For others, it was a buildup of many small events over years and years. But they all agreed that hearing other women’s stories about their relationships helped them decide what to do about their own, and hope that sharing their memories here makes others feel less alone. So, here are real women recounting the moment they knew it was time for a divorce:

Her intuition told her it was over.

“I had tried to leave a year earlier and my husband kind of talked me out of it. I had been supposed to go on a trip literally like the week Covid started. In October we were like, OK, I can go away for a couple days if I'm careful. I was by myself for the first time in months because our son was 3 at that time and we were all in one little house together all the time because of Covid.

“I was sitting in this really nice hotel room and reading and all of a sudden I just heard a little voice in my head saying, ‘Your marriage is over.’ I came home from the trip and I knew I was going to end it, but I didn't know exactly when. We had a pretty OK week. And then he screamed at me in front of my son, and I was like, OK, that's it. My parents were divorced, but before that there was a lot of screaming and a lot of verbal abuse and I was not gonna have my son raised that same way.” — Leila, 40

Everything about her partner became annoying.

“The first time was when the sound of his chewing and breathing was like nails on a chalkboard. I couldn’t even breathe the same air anymore. I’d been stifled and overwhelmed for so long. One day he was eating grapefruit like a cut orange and slurping and I thought, ‘I am done.’” — Heather, 24

She was grieving. He was cheating.

“The second time was when I had no energy to say how I felt, when I felt like I’d made myself so small that I lived in what I dubbed ‘the shut up box,’ I knew it was time. He had no room in his life for me; I had no patience in my life for him. We were like roommates who disliked each other and I had no fight left to try and fix it after all we had been through. My daughter died and my perspective in life changed and I couldn’t see a future with him because I felt alone in my grief. Also, he started cheating for the second time in our marriage.” — Heather, 47

He didn’t want to work on the relationship.

“I had been trying to get him to take our issues seriously for a couple of years, but he never prioritized them. Eventually I let a crush develop into something more because I was starving for affection. I was honest about my indiscretion. It was when my husband stole my phone to yell at the person I had the affair with that I knew I had to file paperwork. He still didn’t hear me though. We finally went to counseling, after years of me begging, but it was really for him to hear from the therapist that it was over. He didn’t want it to end, but he also didn’t want to do any of the work.” — Anonymous, 27

All signs pointed to the end.

“We were codependent and drowning in the challenges two young kids can bring. I had a few moments I knew it was time to leave, but I couldn’t follow through. They were mostly when his anger would lead him to break things in the house or one time when he pushed me off the couch when I was eight months pregnant with our second kid. Once, he emailed me while we were trapped on a cruise ship with his family that he wanted a divorce because I was ‘holding him back’ from his dreams. Oh, and also he wanted full custody. Eventually, we had stopped having sex, and I started dating women with his blessing because it was something I never got to previously explore. The first time I had sex with a woman, I knew I had been living my life wrong. He could see in my afterglow the next day that something was different. Selfishly, I expected him to be happy for me. Instead, when I saw that he felt betrayed, I knew it was time to finally pull that rip cord.” — Anonymous, 40

He blew up over a change of plans.

“It wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened in our marriage, it was just the last. I didn’t even know it was the last straw until it was.

“I had asked him to do an errand for me, but as it turned out I was done with my activity —a hike with my mom — a bit earlier than I thought. I wasn’t sure whether he had done the errand yet. A slight miscommunication turned into a bunch of big complaints like ‘you don’t trust me’ (of course I did, I just wasn’t sure whether he went), ‘you lied to me’ (of course not, I just got done a little sooner than I thought), ‘you ruined my day’ (sorry), ‘you made me agree to do it’ (eye roll), and the cherry on top, ‘why do you have to be such a bitch?’ I was done. Nothing even happened! I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with otherwise beautiful, peaceful, lovely days turning into a total sh*t show for no reason and with no warning. The next day I told him I didn’t think we should live together anymore. 17 years, four kids. I do sometimes miss him, but I don’t regret leaving.” — Anonymous, 45

He became unsafe to live with.

“We have three kids together. I left when my youngest had just turned 3. One thing that got me started thinking something isn’t right and divorce may be in our future was a number of different Facebook groups that I’m in. Women in those groups would say, you know, this is happening in my marriage and I don’t know if it’s OK. And my first reaction was, well, that’s happening in my marriage, too. And everyone else in the group was like, no, that’s not OK. Seeing that happen over and over again was a big moment for me. It was a slow moment. Then there’s more of a sudden moment.

“Fast forward a year or two. I had to call the police; there was a domestic situation. After that I knew, I cannot stay in this marriage. But that’s not the moment yet. I called an attorney, I met with her, but I was not mentally in a position that I could leave. I was still in shock. It’s hard to leave when you have young children.

“At this point he had said my family wasn’t allowed to be in my home. It was Easter and my mom had come anyway. My mom and my ex-husband actually started yelling at each other, which is, you know, because she was not gray rocking and he was looking for a fight. They went outside to cool off, and while they were outside my oldest son said to me, ‘Doesn’t grandma know the danger in talking to Daddy like that?’ And it killed me. That night as I was laying in bed with my boys, I tucked them in and was rubbing their backs, I was listening to him fighting with our neighbor, verbally fighting. And I kept thinking, ‘Maybe someone will just call the police on him.’ I wanted him to be arrested so that we would be safe and we wouldn’t have to deal with him. And I thought, ‘I can’t be married to somebody when I want them to be arrested.’ The next morning is when I called the lawyer and said it’s time to file.” — Anonymous, 42

He took it too far.

“My ex and I had been separated for about a month and he was…not handling it well. He became unrecognizable in a matter of weeks. One night, I was out with longtime (guy) friends and he was home with our two young boys. Out of nowhere, my phone buzzed. He had copied, pasted, and sent me the Dictionary.com definition of the word ‘slu*t.’ This is what he was doing while, like, refilling our 3-year-old’s water bottle at dinner. A day or two later, he semi-apologized, saying, ‘I don’t know how we come back from this,’ and I answered, ‘We don’t.’” — Elizabeth, 47

He refused to contribute.

“We met just as I turned 20 (he was 23) and moved in together three years later. We had our first child when I was 28. I bought a house soon after and we were married the next year. A few years after our second child was born, my husband abruptly stopped working, deciding he’d much rather stay home with the kids. This would have been fine if we’d discussed it or could have afforded it. We had our final child when I was 35. By then he hadn’t worked in several years, and although I remained employed (at one point I had three jobs) we were facing foreclosure, had cars repossessed, and alternated losing utility services. I started therapy alone because he refused to go. Once he saw how committed I was to bettering myself and my finances, he agreed to join me. I found a new therapist, a man I thought he’d relate to. We only made it two sessions because during the second, the therapist asked him directly, ‘You know you need to get a job, right?’ When my husband replied, ‘I know she says I need to,’ I knew I was fighting a losing battle and didn’t want to anymore.” — Anonymous, 49

They couldn’t be the partners she needed.

“I’ve been married and divorced twice. The first time I married my college sweetheart, whom I was with for 15 years. It was a beautiful relationship and friendship, but we simply weren't meant to go the distance. I knew it was time to end the marriage when we’d been struggling for some time and agreed to spend a week apart to think about what we needed from each other. At the end of that week, we met for dinner and I shared the three things I needed from him. When it was his turn, he (who had taken our dog and stayed with his mother during that week) shared he hadn’t had time to think because his mom had been talking to him so much and he’d had to take care of the dog by himself, which was a lot to handle. I couldn’t believe I’d spent a week reflecting, journaling, and crying over how we’d gotten to this point and what I needed to stay together and he hadn’t spent any time thinking about us at all. As much as I loved him, I knew in that moment it wasn’t a true partnership and that I needed someone who would match my effort to make a relationship work.

“Eight years later, I found that person, and we married three years into our relationship. We were long distance for 7.5 years so the effort to make things work was definitely there, but the distance masked so many incompatibilities. I chalked everything up to the stress of being in separate countries and living separate lives, even though we spent at least half of our time together. When we finally were able to live in the same city, under the same roof, the Covid pandemic hit and, as we all experienced, everything was under the microscope. I realized what I’d excused as anger and frustration due to the stress of a long-term, long-distance relationship was actually emotional and verbal abuse because it didn’t end when the distance did, and actually escalated when I most needed him while I battled cancer during the pandemic. It was worse than ever the night before my last treatment and I thought, ‘If this is how someone treats the person they supposedly love more than anyone else in the world — while that person has cancer — this is not someone I can grow old with.’” — Nicole

9 Women Share The Exact Moment When They Knew It Was Time To Get Divorced (2024)

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