It's estimated that in the United States, couples marrying for the first time have approximately a fifty percent chance of divorcing. And the pandemic has created a whole new wave of breakups and separated families, as spikes in searches for advice on ending a relationship have soared.
But however rocky the relationship had been, it’s only fair to wonder if anything could have saved it. So when Redditor u/ItzFruity asked divorced people “what could have saved your marriage?” on r/AskReddit, it turned into an eye-opening, honest and somewhat emotional thread of confessions.
People have shared what simple yet (maybe!) marriage-saving things they realized after it was too late and how it helped them build their new relationships. Scroll down through the best of the answers right below.
I was married to the sweetest man. He was just.. always trying to prove himself to the world, always unhappy with his achievements, thinking he was not masculine enough, quite a nervous demeanour.. I can't really explain. He also drank more and more over the years. By the time we turned 40 we decided to divorce. We chose to not have children, so we felt it was fine to just let each other be. We're still friends, although over the past 4 years since the divorce we did grow apart of course. But we see each other regularly still. Then.. a few months ago, he told me he went into therapy. Because as a child he had been sexually abused by a 'friend' of the family.
So there it is. I wonder ever since he told me that if he had confided in me or had gotten therapy earlier, in any way let this 'secret' out, we would've stayed together. It makes me sad, all of it.
Absolutely nothing. We married young, and 8 years later we were fundamentally different people who would've never talked to each other in the first place, had we met then and there. Some marriages are not meant to last.
I used to travel 150-200 days a year for my international recruitment job. I would be gone to Asia or Latin America for a few weeks and then come back for a week, but I was never really present when I was at home because I was so tired. I never cheated on her when I was on the road (like a lot of my colleagues did), but that really wasn’t enough to keep the marriage going. She developed interests outside of the marriage and it ended.
I think i should have turned down a few of the travel opportunities with my job to balance things out and be more present. But the money was so good, I thought that would ultimately make us happy.
To find out what an expert has to say about saving marriages and how we know if it really can be saved, Bored Panda reached out to Jane Parker, a Strategic Intervention Advanced Relationship Coach who coaches clients to have successful, fulfilling and healthy relationships.
“From a coaching perspective, both partners have to be committed to improving the relationship and be willing to change,” Jane said and added that “That doesn't mean that they change who they are, it means changing how they show up in the relationship. If two people are truly willing to take a close look at their part in the relationship, and they love their partner, then I believe the marriage can be saved.”
“If, however, one partner is not willing to make the marriage a priority, it is very difficult for the other to change it on their own.”
Being aware that marriage should be us as a unit, not me vs them. It took me awhile to process the lesson, but I did better the second time around.
Never let contempt or resentment grab hold of either one of you. Whatever it is, fix it ASAP. Be vulnerable, be respectful. Once that contempt sets in, it’s pretty much over.
If he would have:
1. Gone to therapy and done the work
2. Had regular, annual reviews of our finances and been willing to work with me on a financial plan
If his family would have noticed that they were working against me, and our marriage, when they supported his pathetic, man-baby behavior.
They 'get it' now that he's living with them.
The relationship coach added that it is vital that they both value their marriage and both want it to work. Jane believes that for many people, it is a priority, but for others, not until it is too late. “Couples can take their marriage for granted, other parts of life take over and then they pay attention only when it is about to end and unfortunately for some that is too late. If more couples put their marriage as their absolute priority from the beginning, we would have a drastically lower divorce rate.”
Been willing to go to therapy and also be as kind to my struggles as I had been to his. And also not allowing his parents interject in our marriage.
She really needed to work on her mental health, and refused to do so until I had been checked out of the relationship for about 4-6 months at that point. Had to deal with 3 years of temperamental mood swings, her wanting a divorce every 6 months because I wasn’t making enough money when already working 60 hour weeks, then when I was working 80 hour weeks I wasn’t cleaning the apartment (only time I was home I was asleep, so wasn’t making it messy...) and spending enough time with her (... or spending it with her so I didn’t have time to make a mess or clean). Then she also required me to cook and do the dishes.
Finally I told her the next time she says she wants a divorce I was done because I was literally killing myself to attempt to make her happy. I was so dead inside I was done, and then when she said she wanted a divorce because I was no longer the bubbly guy that made her laugh and smile I just said okay, got up from the couch and went to bed. She was so pissed off over the next two months I only treated her as a roommate she tried lying about how abusive I was. Lost a lot of mutual friends to those lies until they realized she was living with me still instead of trying to get out (they offered her rooms and her parents had a spare room for her that they knew about).
All it would have taken though was her working on her mental health that just kept deteriorating and creating unrealistic expectations. I wish her the best, but I really feel bad for her future partners unless she makes significant changes; she is going to burn them to the ground with those expectations.
Will say within 2 weeks of her moving out my mental health was significantly better. Realized it when I took a lunch break (been WFH due to the virus) and stood up to make lunch I felt light, and this was because all the stress I had prior due to her had been lifted. Don’t stay in a shit relationship if it is literally causing you to feel weighed down by the stress of it.
ETA: Thank you to everyone that has messaged, replied, or upvoted this. All I can ask since this has to do with mental health is please seek help if you need it. If a loved one needs it like my Ex did try to work them towards that, but if they refuse to do not be afraid to walk away. It does not mean you are weak, but instead strong beyond your imagination for walking away from someone you love that refuses to seek the help they need.
For men, do not be afraid to seek mental health help. You are so incredibly brave by doing so. I am proud of you for taking that step.
For women, the exact same thing. So to both genders now that we got that out of the way. Take care of yourselves! You must take take of yourself before you can care for others. I love you all, stay safe, and stay healthy. I’ll try to reply to those messages that keep coming in.
Hiring a house cleaner and having a list of handy men. I was stuck with all the chores and a full time job. It was exhausting and I got crabby. He'd be lying on the sofa smoking weed and there was no way I could convince him to help out. It did not occur to me that there are people you can hire to do all that stuff.
ProTip: If you and your partner have a good income and are both employed, hire people to clean the house, mow the lawn and do handyman stuff.
According to the relationship coach, “it would be valuable if people studied how to succeed in relationships whilst their relationship was going well and decided together that their marriage was going to be successful, whatever that looks like for them.”
Should have been more aware of the them. I was a selfish prick. Emphasis on the was, as it's been nearly 20 years and I have grown up a lot.
It didn't need "saving" it needed to be put down, and was. I needed saving and I was . Saving a marriage is not automatically a good thing.
Him hitting me and cheating on me less? I should have never married him. I thought I was "behind" other people my age in life, didn't realize then that it's not a race and people hit milestones differently. I learned from my mistakes and made a much better choice the 2nd time around.
When asked in what cases divorce is a much better option for a family, Jane said that there are “sadly, marriages that suffer from physical, mental, or emotional abuse where it may be the better choice for the family if they were to part.”
She continued: “Marriages where there have been repeated affairs or broken trust also could signal time to leave. If you are consistently being stonewalled or treating each other with contempt or disdain this is also a huge red flag as it can be very harmful long term. Of course, if the children are being affected by an unhappy marriage this would also be a big factor in whether to stay or leave.”
My first husband's friends told him never to compromise or let me have what I wanted, because then he would have "lost" control of the relationship. That...went about as well as you'd expect, if the "first" in husband wasn't a hint.
Marriage is not 50/50 its 100/100
She discovered she was lesbian so I guess my transition to a woman.
UPDATE: I just checked with her and she does not think me as a woman would have checked her boxes.
Jane added that no marriage is not clear cut, and each one is very different. “I believe that even very unhappy marriages can be saved if there is no abuse and both partners are on board to make it thrive again. Again, this can depend on how far down the road they are and if they can heal from the hurt they have already suffered,” she said and added that the sooner support or help is sought, the better.
A desire to save my marriage, which neither of us had
Me: letting him know what was bothering me before it turned into irreparable resentment.
Him: getting a damn job. I put him through school (3 degrees, 8years) while he didn’t work. Then after he graduated he didn’t get a job for seven more years. He finally started working when we got separated.
We are still friends, but he’s still not responsible for taking care of himself.
When he listened to me the first 467 times I told him I needed more communication or it wouldn't work. Apparently divorce was the only thing that made that particular lightbulb click for him
He had a midlife crisis and began to think he was better than anyone else, so the prick got himself a younger model: "You would like her, she reminds me a lot of you..."
It's a bit of an ouroboros honestly. If I had stood up for myself and valued who I was and what I wanted more than the fear that he'd leave me and no one else would ever want me, I would have been a lot happier and more well adjusted. Then again, if I had been happier and more well adjusted, we probably never would have gotten together in the first place, or wouldn't have lasted very long if we had.
Her realizing that the things I experienced during my childhood weren't my fault and didn't make me crazy or less of a man.
Her realizing that it is wrong to hold my prior suicide attempt from me dealing with my childhood issues over my head for almost twenty years and, during one difficult time, encouraging me to try again.
Her realizing that her mother sexually assaulting me was not my fault and not something I should be punished for every day for over a decade.
Myself not fucking up for the first half of our relationship would have been huge. I have no excuses, fucked up past or not.
Myself moving on sooner from the anger at my past and then present abuses. Even in my twelve good years I was quite the ass in response to her being quite the cunt.
Some relationships are doomed from the start. We made it almost twenty years where either one of us had every reason to leave.
I am thankful for the family we made.
If he hadn't had an affair with my "best friend" that I've known since the 2nd grade. Her youngest daughter is definitely his, and their daughter is 7 months younger than our daughter. The only time we are all together the was at my Mom's house at Christmas time for a couple of days.
I found out 8 years later that my God baby was my husband's child.. we had been married 17 years then. We tried to make it work as roommates for the kids and we had just bought our first house, but it didn't work and we had a bitter divorce.
These are the things I've learned in 26 years, still married but almost divorced twice. Don't sweat the small shit, it's absolutely not worth it to either of you. Be willing to make compromises and look at the things from your partner's perspective, or simply in a way that doesn't place your views and feelings on a pedestal. Try your hardest not to be an uncompromising asshole, that's also not worth it and both your lives will be much happier and more laid back. Be honest about your feelings and concerns etc. Try your hardest to support each other and work as a team through the difficulties in your relationship and your life and you will be able to conquer anything together.
The better question is now would I want to have saved my marriage? We divorced very amicably and I don't look back on my ex with negative feelings.
Around the time was a bit different. I did feel like a failure and was frustrated with them.
Basically, I wish we had just waited a lot longer to decide to get married in the first place. My ex was like a good friend that I shouldn't have really been married to, just been good friends with. I don't know that they really wanted to be married to anyone, and I'm not sure we were quite the right marriage pair.
I've since realized that my parents were right: if you're with someone you could be in a good marriage with, waiting won't hurt anything.
If my ex didn't give up in therapy, once we identified my personal issues and I started working on it, and things didn't magically get better. it became apparent that she had issues to work on as well. her response was, and these words are burned into my heart forever..."no.... I don't want to work on it anymore....im done"
Communication has already be mentioned a lot so I'm going to toss in Respect for what each person brings to the relationship. We tend to inflate what we bring and down play what the other contributes.
Let's use a generic, if maybe outdated, example: One person goes to work and earns the money while the other stays home and cares for the kids/house. The worker thinks they have the harder job because the responsibility to provide resources for the family is all on them. They see staying home and hanging out with the kids as the much easier task. The caregiver thinks they have the harder job because there is no start and end time. They are always on duty 24/7. They see going to work as a nice change of scenery, getting to interact with other adults and sitting all day at a desk.
Both roles are critical and they need to make sure they respect the value and challenges each role brings and faces. Lack of respect will erode the feelings of unity and eventually lead to a break down especially when the key component, communication, is not present. If your sex life is waning and there is no medical cause for it then that is your wake up call that you are not on the same page with your partner any longer.
P.S. the roles can be very different. One may be the dreamer that brings fun into the relationship while the other is the planner that makes sure the bills are paid. One may be the artist that make the house a home while the other is the engineer that keeps the pipes from leaking. The list is endless.
A little bit of effort on his part. I'm a touchy feely person. If you want to make me happy just let me cuddle up into you. New bf gets that and does this on the daily. For the last two years of our marraige, my husband barely touched me. Not even an arm around the shoulder. There was about a foot of space between us when we went to bed.
I will happily do 90% of cleaning and household tasks if my SO is regularly giving me the physical affection that I need. The ex just didn't get that. So on top of no physical touch, he did not do any cleaning around the house, never made dinner, never took out the garbage, nothing. Any type of effort into changing ANY of that and I would have stayed, at least for a little longer anyway. But I'm happy now, and getting everything I need so I guess that's all that matters.
If her doctor wasn't handing out opioid prescriptions left and right. Why does a psychiatrist** get to prescribe Norco?
If I had stopped drinking and he kept a stable job. But honestly we are both much much happier now so it was a good thing.
Literally just asked for a divorce yesterday.
She didn’t tell me she was unhappy for 2 years. I didn’t hear about any real thing she dislikes about the relationship until after she kissed someone else and by then she was too unhappy to work on it.
I never told her I was upset either, I would bury it until everything all came out at once. Created an environment where she always felt she was walking on eggshells and cultivated the fact that she could never communicate what she was feeling. So she felt unhappy, unloved (despite always hearing from me how proud I was of her, scratching her back, hugs, whatever) and decided to get that attention elsewhere.
Both sides at fault, communication though.
Edit: Didn’t intend to give a timeline here but there’s some confusion.
Wife and Guy work together for 2 years.
Guys wife decides to move family 4 hours away, guy quits job.
During last 5 weeks at work, Wife and Guy have play dates for our respective kids, he has two daughters, we have a son. They go to zoo, children’s museum etc. During this time, she and him sneak out every day after work to parking lot to Hug, because he’ll be leaving. (Weirdest part of the story for me)
Last day of Work, Guy kissed her. She enjoys it.
A week later they have another “date”, she brings my son to his apartment to help him “pack” the last of their things. They also walk a local river.
Guy Leaves. I confront wife about him and express my discomfort. She denies but we both agree we’re unhappy. We agree to work on it, go to therapy separately to work on some issues.
She texts him daily for four months, “Are you okay” “I miss you at work” etc sending him screenshots of our arguments. Updating him on where we go places “We arrived at “x” talk to you soon.
She literally never leaves the house. We’re always together or at work. They were always with kids. I’m 98% sure it was just the one kiss physically.
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