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10 Married Couples Share What Kept Them From Actually Filing For Divorce

Whenever people ask me what I do for a living and I get to the part of being a marriage life coach, almost every time, I follow that up by saying, “…my niche is reconciling divorces." Why? Because it’s something that I’m really proud of. Being a survivor of my parents’ divorce, watching the PTSD of other children (including adult children) of divorce, learning a lot when it comes to Scripture and statistics about divorce — realizing that there are other ways to resolve things in a marriage other than divorce…it really and truly has become a passion of mine. Marital covenant, period, is a passion of mine.


That’s why I strive to pen articles like this one every chance that I get. Because in a world where currently (and reportedly) a little over 40 percent of people get divorced (in first-time marriages; the rate has dropped because fewer folks are reportedly getting married too), this is causing our culture to sometimes act like an entire institution should be seen as antiquated and obsolete, I constantly look for opportunities to share the beauty of marriage. This includes the resilience and integrity that comes from couples who consider divorce and yet decide that love will make a way — sometimes even when it seems like there is no way.

Here are 10 of those people. I salute them all.

*I always use middle names for this type of content, so that people can speak freely*

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(Couple #1)

Mitchell. 32. Married for Seven Years.

“Dating sucks. That’s pretty much it. There have been some days when I have been like, ‘I can’t do this anymore’ and then one of my homeboys will call me and talk about what’s happening in these streets, and suddenly my mind goes to, ‘Yes, I can!’ You think I’m playin’ but I’m serious. I know my wife and she knows me. I love my wife, she loves me. Everything out there is a gamble. On our worst days, it sounds like utopia [compared] to dating. I’m good.”

Ursula. 34. Married for Seven Years.

A lot of people say that marriage is hard work. I wouldn’t say that — it’s more like it just never ends. Nothing says ‘rinse and repeat’ like marriage; that’s what people don’t prepare you for.Then when you factor in life life-ing and your partner pissing you off sometimes…our society is so wired to just end things whenever you feel like it that — of course, it’s tempting. I think what’s kept me from doing it, even on the worst day, is reminding myself that single or not, times are going to be rough. At least I’ve got my bae by my side because I stayed.”

(Couple #2)

Sheldon. 32. Married for 10 Years.

“Divorce is a form of quitting to me and I promised my wife on our wedding day that quitting is something that I would never do. When we went through a rough patch a couple of years back, I was tempted because, when I wasn’t able to provide, I felt like a failure. Losing my job wasn’t my fault. Not fighting for my marriage would’ve been. I couldn’t have a ‘fail’, by my choice, on my conscience.”

Jael. 32. Married for 10 Years.

“We went into counseling last year because the pandemic wore our asses out. We both were at home and [Sheldon] got laid off for six months during lockdown. That meant we were always in each other’s face and, for a minute, I was the breadwinner. The pressure of it all made it tempting to just run away. I literally called a lawyer. What made me not go all the way through with anything is I realized that ‘for worse’ doesn’t mean if the water bill isn’t paid. I had to grow up and accept that I told [Sheldon] and God that I was in this thing. I needed to mean it. I do mean it.”

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(Couple #3)

Keith. 38. Married for 13 Years.

“There’s nothing wrong with staying together for the kids. Too many people are so self-absorbed that they don’t consider the trauma that divorce brings children. I know, firsthand, because my parents are divorced and both of them have been married more than one time since. It teaches you how to disconnect from people easier; to not value your promises as much. I don’t want to leave that legacy for my children. That’s the main reason why I chose to stay.”

Bevin. 38. Married for 13 Years.

“[Keith] is telling a part of the story. We don’t not love each other; it’s just that, marriage goes through phases and when you don’t have the bond of kids, it can be easier to chalk divorce up to ‘What will make me happy?’ instead of ‘How many other people’s lives are we affecting?’ Our kids reminded us that our marriage is bigger than us; that if we walk away, they have to deal with the impact of that — and they may not heal as quickly…they may not be as resilient as we are.”

(Couple #4)

Paul. 38. Married for Six Years.

“What makes a lot of people want to end their marriage is nothing teaches you how to love like that relationship does — and a lot of people want to be loved more than love. When I made the decision to marry this woman, I signed up for learning how to love better. When I wanted to file, I had to remind myself of that.”

Madelyn. 32. Married for Six Years.

“What he’s not telling you is that I cheated a couple of years ago. [Paul] was on the road, I was going through a career change and an ex popped back up in my life. Our affair was brief. Looking back, I should have resolved things with him before I got married because he was always the ‘what if?’ person in my life. I get that I was living a fantasy of what could’ve been while I was a wife. That’s a horrifying thing to admit. I know that [Paul] only stayed because I confessed and he didn’t find out on his own. I stayed because he loved me enough to forgive me. I could never leave that kind of love or man.”

Shellie here: Instances like this one are a big part of the reason why I wrote the article, “Why Every Woman Should Go On A 'Get Your Heart Pieces Back' Tour” back in the day. It’s hard to give all of yourself to someone (which is what you should do when you get married) if you’ve got pieces spread out to other folks. Hey, an ounce of prevention is always gonna be worth more than a pound of cure, chile.

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(Couple #5)

Neale. 40. Married for 12 Years.

There are seasons in marriage — no one tells you about that. And some people’s ‘winters’ are longer than others. I wish that we had heard about that before we got married because when it’s cold outside and you know that spring is coming, you prepare. When your marriage is below zero with no warmth in sight, you think that divorce is the only option. I think that’s why we’re taught that ‘love is patient.’ Sometimes all you can do is wait and see what comes next. Even despair can’t last forever when you’re with someone who is as determined to see ‘light’ as you are.”

Iris. 40. Married for 12 Years.

“I come from divorce. My mother has been married twice and my father? Let’s just say that he’s made a sport out of remarriage. All I really know is to quit and start over when there is something or someone who I don’t like anymore. When Shellie introduced the concept of happy vs. healthy to us, it changed a lot of things because it’s so not realistic to think that you can be happy all of the time — or that someone should be the one to make you happy. Between that and sheer stubbornness to not be a statistic like my parents, I think that is what kept me out of divorce court. [Neale] being nice on the eyes and great in the bedroom and kitchen doesn’t hurt either.”

(Couple #6)

Charles. 31. Married for Five Years.

“I like peace and although I love my wife, there are certain things about our dynamic that isn’t peaceful. And that is why I contemplated ending our marriage. I stayed because counseling gave us some tips on how to prevent our expectations of each other from ruining our love for each other. If you’re at the end of your rope, see a good counselor. It saved us.”

Divine. 29. Married for Five Years.

“People should conduct interviews not using real names more often because when I tell you that I absolutely cannot stand my mother-in-law? She is so nosey and bitter and bored! My husband knows it too. The first couple of years of our marriage, it was really hard because he was trying to figure out how to love her, love me, and not make either of us feel like he didn’t. But it was coming at the cost of her disrespecting my feelings and our home boundaries. Yep, I was about outta there! Counseling is what saved us — that and him finally confronting the issues, with me present, in order for her to realize that I am the queen of my own home. We’re as good as it can be with her the way that she is. I will say that if you’re dating someone with a toxic mom, think long and hard if ‘forever’ is worth it.”

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(Couple #7)

Joshua. 40. Married for 11 Years.

“Tiny things can blow up your marriage. [Yashelle] not liking the same movies. [Yashelle] preferring road trips to the passport stamping. Us not having the same taste in cuisine. Our dating life was a whirlwind, so we figured that we’d figure things like that out after our nuptials. BIG MISTAKE. Our sex life is amazing but there’s only so much sex you can have to avoid the fact that you enjoy different things about life. We separated because we didn’t want to jump straight to divorce without seeing if we could make it work. The time apart gave us the opportunity to slow down and date, if that makes sense. ‘Dating each other’ taught us how to compromise and negotiate. You should never divorce without separating and working on the marriage during your separation in my opinion.

Yashelle. 34. Married for 11 Years.

“You can love someone and just not like them very much. When [Joshua] and I got married, all we focused on was how much we loved each other — because we did; we still do. What living together showed us is we didn’t have as much in common as we thought and a lot of marriage is about seeing if you can get through the day, mostly on the same page, with your husband. Our senses of humor are different. We like to do different things with our free time. In a lot of ways, our personalities don’t exactly mesh. Why did we get married then?

"Spiritually, we are the same. We have similar goals and plans. We see family the same way. Don’t even get me started on the sex! Sometimes you don’t realize that you need love and like to make it work, so we had to separate for a minute to figure out what to do. We found some middle ground. I’m glad we did. I don’t regret marrying him or separating from him. I know I would have regretted divorcing him.”

(Couple #8)

Hamilton. 35. Married for Three Years.

“Anyone who thinks it’s weird for newlywed couples to consider divorce, they don’t know marriage very well. Y’all, I love my wife but when I tell you that we were not prepared for what marriage demands, that is such an understatement! The day-to-day of meeting someone else’s needs with no end in sight? Nothing shows you that like marriage because, even with kids, those jokers leave one day. I went through about four months when I grieved my bachelor pad and just having solitude. It wasn’t about anything other than that. Then I had to remind myself that [Xena] is the love of my life and that I will never meet another woman like her…EVER. Loving her wins out over loving my single life.”

Xena. 34. Married for Three Years.

“He’s right. When you had a blast as a single person, no matter how much you love someone, it can be a real jolt to have to share a bathroom, to have different wake-up times, to have different cleaning expectations, to not be on the same sex schedule, to…to…to. When it’s new, jumping out as soon as you jump in is hella tempting. I’m glad we didn’t do it but I understand why newlyweds do. My advice would be to strive for year five; I hear it gets much better after that. That’s what we’re doing.”

Shellie here: If you’re engaged and you’d like some heads up in this department, check out “6 Challenges All Newlyweds Should Expect In Their First Year Of Marriage” and also “Why Every Engaged Couple Needs A 'Marriage Registry'”.

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(Couple #9)

Abel. 37. Married for Nine Years.

Fertility issues are what damn near tore us apart. Have you ever seen that indie jointIncomplete? That is how I felt that my marriage was for a couple of years. When you first get married and you both want kids, you think that challenges could possibly happen to anyone but you and your wife. After testing and scheduled sex and procedures and thousands of dollars out of the window with still no baby, even to this day, it makes you feel like a failure — like you failed your spouse, marriage, and future. Then there’s the temptation to divorce so that you both can see if you can create a different type of outcome with another person. This is the s-it that people won’t talk about — how to come back from all of that. I stayed because [Rebekah] is my family, even if we never have [biological] children. Our journey tested me to come to that place.”

Rebekah. 35. Married for Nine Years.

“Infertility can be embarrassing. Not so much with other people because we have a truly supportive tribe. It can be hard to look at your partner in the eyes, after months and months of having the same goal and things not working out. And when it borders on humiliation, that can make you want to end it. I stayed because I tried to imagine what life would be like without my man and I can’t fathom it…I literally can’t see it. I’d rather have the assurance of him than lose him and not get someone as amazing — even if our own child doesn’t come out of the deal.”

(Couple #10)

Ezrin. 48. Married for 19 Years.

“When people ask how long we’ve been married, I think it’s really funny how they react. 19 years is not a record breaker; I just think that people are used to folks not keeping their own word when it comes to marriage. Marriage isn’t always easy. Temptations come. Hardships are gonna kick your butt sometimes. You made a promise to someone you love, though, and that should be enough. Your word to the love of your life should take power over life not being just how you like it or want it every day.”

Queen. 44. Married for 19 Years.

“My husband knows that there have been two times when I’ve talked to a [divorce] lawyer. I don’t want to get into it — I’ll just say that you can learn a lot of things about yourself that you don’t want to know when you’re married and sometimes what you see can almost suffocate you. [Ezrin] standing by my side and not being afraid of my own fears is what kept me from going through with it. Surviving divorce takes your marriage to another level entirely. I love this man completely.”

____

Audrey Hepburn once said, “If I ever get married, I want to be very married.” That said, it’s oh so easy to put on a dress and throw a big party called a wedding. You’re actually “very married” when you and your man have gone through some things and decided to stick it out anyway.

If you are married and you’re going through a bit of a rough patch, I hope these stories will inspire you to try and stick it out. If you’re not married, I hope this has taught or reminded you that marriage is wonderful — and it can be challenging. Choose your partner wisely, so that, during the hard times, hopefully, both of you will be able to share how you avoided actually…filing for divorce too.

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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

 

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