Although it tends to happen less and less (finally), sometimes I will still get skeptics who will ask me, "How are you qualified to work with married couples if you've never been married before?" While I have a few answers for that, as it specifically pertains to the topic at hand, how I'll oftentimes respond is, "I know what it's like to be a child of divorce. Twice, in fact. We've got more insight than you think."
This, along with the amount of divorced people who I speak with on a pretty regular basis — y'all, if there is one thing that I'm passionate about, it's doing all that I can to help individuals to 1) choose their prospective partner wisely and 2) proactively do all that they can to avoid becoming a divorce statistic. Because no matter how common it may be these days, ask any divorced person you know and I'm pretty sure they will say that 1) if they knew then what they know now, they would've done things very differently either before or doing their union and 2) there is no easy or uncomplicated way to handle the breakdown in a marriage; that divorce is not simply a "break-up".
As the saying goes, I can show you better than I can tell you. Here are 14 people (middle names provided) who have openly and honestly shared with me why their marriage didn't last, from their perspective. They are doing so in the hopes that you will take their insights as an ounce of prevention if you are contemplating marriage and a cautionary tale if you are considering getting out without looking from a few other angles…first.
Ransom. 43. Divorced 5 Years.
"What a lot of women don't realize is a lot of us can be OK with never getting married if it was just about us. Let me explain — men are sometimes more interested in a good mom for our kids than a wife for ourselves. We don't want our children to be in a broken home and so we get married to prevent that from happening. I already had one child before marriage, so I got married to have more. I loved my ex but I didn't love being married. So, I focused more on being a great dad than the best husband. It happens more than you'd probably think. Men just don't talk about it much."
Cheryl. 29. Divorced 2 Years.
"I don't know why people think they truly know someone after six months. You don't. It's not that my ex-husband is a bad guy. He really isn't. We just didn't know each other as well as we thought we did and it was actually me who started to resent him because of it. He wanted to make it work. I just started shutting down to the point where I made it impossible for him to want to stay. Get to know someone over a year, go to counseling on the front end and don't avoid therapy when you're in trouble after marriage. Forever is too long to marry a stranger."
Nicholas. 35. Divorced 6 Years.
"I'll own it but I've got to say that the Church is out here wrecking all kinds of lives. I say that because it teaches that if you want to have sex, get married to 'make it right'. Don't do that.
"If sex is your main motive for marriage, life is gonna hit you really hard if you don't end up having a consistent sex life after saying 'I do'. I didn't in my marriage and although my wife and I went to premarital counseling, sex was treated like an afterthought with our pastor. We didn't realize how sexually incompatible we were and because I can have sex every day and she was good with once a month, I just couldn't stay committed to that."
"To me, it was torture; especially since, when we did have it, it was just…alright."
Krishel. 40. Divorced 7 Years.
"It's gonna sound cliché AF, but I was the person who thought I could change my ex. In our case, I'm an extrovert and he's an introvert. It doesn't seem like a big deal when you're dating because so much of what you do is with only the two of you. But you start to get sick of people who never want to go out, who avoid family functions, who don't want to do the holidays with family — ugh. I still own my part because I knew all of this, going in, and I thought my influence would change him. If you think you can totally change someone's personality, you're going to be really disappointed. Marry someone 'as is' or don't do it at all."
Judah. 27. Divorced 1 Year.
"Don't get married because you've given an ultimatum. It wasn't my wife that gave me one. I gave her one. I had a job opportunity in another state, I hate long-distance relationships and so I told her that we need to either get married or break-up. We had been together for a year before we had this discussion, so she conceded. But she was miserable where we were and that took a toll on the relationship. When she got a great job elsewhere, she took it and I refused to leave mine. It might sound crazy but we still date and I get that she may meet someone else someday. I just know that I'm not a good enough compromiser for marriage. Not right now, anyway."
Rochelle. 38. Divorced (the First Time) 2 Years. (The Second Time) 6 Months.
"You and I have discussed before how there is a Scripture in the Bible that says if you get divorced, you should either remain unmarried or go back to your spouse and that it should be that way until they die. Crazy how many people ignore that, right? My problem is, when I divorced my husband, I was so afraid of being alone that I went right back. The second time didn't work either because we've both got some growing, separately, that we need to do."
"Don't let fear motivate you to get married. Or, in my case, married again. It doesn't do anyone any good."
(The Scripture is I Corinthians 7:10-11, by the way.)
Paul. 47. Divorced 10 Years.
"I loved my wife. I've never liked her very much. We share a lot of history. We have similar values. We have kids together. But as you get older, you realize how important it is to marry someone you really like spending time around. Someone who makes you laugh a lot. Someone who really is your closest friend. I never felt that way in my marriage and it felt like a slow death because of it. And the longer I stayed, the less I liked. We both deserved better. Now, we both have it. She's happily married to someone else. I'm in a serious relationship. Believe it or not, we're better friends now than we ever were. We don't hang out all of the time, but we're really cool. There's peace."
Nyah. 28. Divorced 2 Years.
"I cheated. I'm not gonna justify it either. I married a guy who was really good to me. He just wasn't my person. Even now, I'm still in love with the guy I cheated on my husband with. Problem is, he's in a relationship. It's a mess. Marriage can be messy sometimes. If your heart is elsewhere, you'd betta wait."
Xavier. 50. Divorced 7 Years.
"I don't know about that whole 'opposites attract' thing. Sometimes you can be too opposite. I'm a neat freak. She's absolutely not. I'm frugal. She likes to spend as much money as possible. She likes to go out a lot. I prefer staying at home."
"Sometimes, you connect with someone on a level that's like, 'If we could just stay in bed for the rest of our lives, we could be together forever'. Life doesn't work that way. If the way you do life, doesn't gel, you're in for a very rude awakening."
Elise. 34. Divorced 8 Years.
"Please don't get married assuming that something is going to go the way you want it to. My husband and I didn't know that we had fertility issues until after trying for three years to get pregnant. The money for IVF treatments, the constant scheduling of sex, the resenting each other for not being able to conceive — it all took its toll and started to consume us. Some things you don't know about until you're in them. If you are going into a marriage expecting guarantees about your expectations, stay single. Marriage is not for you."
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Aaron. 29. Divorced 4 Months.
"My wife didn't like being married. Some people can date just fine. Marriage is a different kind of accountability and she's a free bird. Anything that requires her having to answer to someone else drives her crazy. I think she thought she loved me enough to look past it but one day, I woke up to a note that she wanted out. We dated for five years. She wanted a divorce after one year. It hurts and I don't think we can be friends, but you can't hold a free spirit down. Just let them go."
Hadassah. 26. Divorced 3 Years.
"You always hear that marriage ain't the movies. It ain't. In some ways, it's better but you've gotta be willing to show up every day and not be selfish."
"Too many people are too selfish to be married. They want to be loved. They want to be forgiven. They want someone to go above and beyond but they don't want to do it for someone else. Not really. I was that 'they'. I was more into what I thought my husband should do for me that I didn't really even consider giving back at the same level."
"I'm enjoying being single more because I get that I need to pour into me first. If I ever get married again, I'll be more ready because of this time that I've got now. Hell. I'm in no rush, though."
Daniel. 33. Divorced 4 Years.
"I'm a 'serial monogamist'. I used to be told that in college, but I didn't take it seriously until I started the divorce process. While I enjoy being in an exclusive relationship and other women aren't an issue for me, the demands and pressure that a lot of women put on men in marriage is suffocating. My former wife and I had a great time while we were dating. After marriage, it's like she became an entirely different person. You know what they say — pressure busts pipes. I'd just rather date knowing that I don't have to pay someone thousands of dollars if we don't work out. Marriage is a business. The stress of that reality is…a lot."
Jordan. 42. Divorced 6 Years.
"What a lot of people won't tell you is how much you can change while sharing a life with someone else who is also changing. The first five years with my ex were great. But his new job changed him, my spiritual transformations changed me and soon, we were strangers. Marriage is about two people figuring out how to love new versions of each other. If you're not flexible in this way, don't get married. This is a reality that is totally unavoidable."
There you have it. 7 men and 7 women giving us a glimpse into what brought their marriage to an end. Again, I hope all of this causes singles to take a sober-minded approach to this kind of relationship and married people to figure out things that they can do to hopefully divorce-proof their union or work through the tough times if divorce is currently on the table. Because while marriage is a serious decision, divorce is too. That's why, whatever can be done to lower the divorce rate, I'm totally committed to investing in. I hope you are too.
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