9 Women Reveal The Moment They Realized They Couldn’t Save Their Marriages

Divorce can be logistically complicated and emotionally exhausting, plus it changes the structure of an entire family forever, so it’s not surprising that most couples will work hard to avoid it: According to a recent poll, 85% of married people who had considered divorce said they were willing to try to save their marriage, and 58% were open to the idea of counseling. Still, there’s no guarantee that those last-ditch efforts will help, and some marriages are simply unsalvageable. These women share what they tried and what ultimately convinced them to move on. (Get more no-nonsense relationship advice and smart heath tips delivered straight to your inbox with Prevention’s FREE newsletters.)

“I planned a romantic getaway.”

  • “I thought a romantic weekend in Scottsdale would save my marriage. I did all the planning—airline tickets, reservations at a beautiful resort, car rental, arranged for the kids to be taken care of—and bought some hot lingerie because it had never failed me before. In the past, our getaways together were always fun and exciting, filled with laughter and sense of ease. We didn’t even need to leave the hotel room to have a good time. Scottsdale was different. It felt awkward. He seemed to just be going through the motions. It really hit me when we had sex—it was as if I was with a disconnected stranger. Not long after, we filed for divorce.”

“We tried couples therapy.”

  • “My partner and I tried couples therapy with two different therapists, but both said we would need to make tremendous changes to make our marriage work—and we were both strong-minded individuals who thought our way was the right way. My ‘aha’ moment came on a Christmas trip to Disneyland with my family. For the third year in a row, he’d suspiciously gotten sick and stayed home. On Christmas morning, I saw a couple get engaged in the park. It was a reminder that my own marriage was not a fairytale. At that moment, I realized things were ending.”

“I became the perfect wife.”

  • “I thought doing more for my husband would save my marriage—that giving more of myself would show how much I loved him and wanted a life with him. I would make his favorite foods, drive an hour to pick up his favorite cake, do housework and yardwork, and never complained when he wanted to go out with his buddies and get drunk. In the end, none of that mattered; he needed help I couldn’t offer. The pain in his head and heart that caused the abuse and drinking were beyond my reach. It took me leaving to jolt him in the direction of reality and realize how selfish and hurtful he’d been.”

“I walked down the aisle.”

  • “I knew we were in trouble the moment he presented the engagement ring, but there was no good reason not to get married. We had been living together for three years, so it just seemed like the next logical step. But he had expectations that things would change—he wanted me to quit my job, start having babies, and start cooking and cleaning more. There was a lot of friction, but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. The night he suggested we separate, I was angry at first. But then he said, ‘Isn’t this what you want?’ And I realized in that moment that I absolutely wanted out. That moment of truth changed everything. It became, ‘This is exactly what we need to do.’ It was a relief.”

“We bid on our dream home.”

  • “I foolishly thought a new home, different surroundings, and a ‘fresh start’ would solve our problems. House-hunting was a distraction and a last-ditch hope to fix what was unfixable. I didn’t realize at the time that it didn’t matter where we lived or how nice our house was—that wasn’t going to change the issues we had with each other. After a huge fight one night, I woke up the next morning and called our realtor. ‘I changed my mind,’ I said to her. That was the exact moment I knew I was going to get divorced.”

“I tried to communicate more.”

  • “I realized I wasn’t happy when my husband began to sit on his phone, texting all night and hardly paying attention to me. Our communication during the workday dropped off because he said he was busy. A few for months to communicate better and end his need for the affair, but he refused to open up to me. After nine months of effort, a few therapy sessions, and no effort on his end to rekindle the flame, I decided it was time to move on.”

“We moved 500 miles from his mistress.”

  • “I was married to a medical resident who worked long hours. I never knew when he’d be home, but I thought once he was done training, things would be back to normal. But one day, I looked at our phone bill and realized he’d been exchanging 50 to 100 texts a day with another resident. He kept saying I was being crazy, but my intuition ended up being right: They were having an affair. We moved 500 miles away for his medical fellowship to try to get away from her and start fresh, but they kept reconnecting. I stopped believing his words and started looking at his actions, which told me he was clearly not interested in our marriage. Six years later, he’s married to her—and I’m remarried and happier than I ever thought I could be.”

“I started a business.”

  • “I wasn’t happy in my marriage—our parenting choices were vastly different and we fought all the time. So I launched my own business, thinking I could keep the peace by focusing on work and ignoring his behavior at home. My business gave me money, freedom, distraction, and something to channel my creativity into. But he resented it. He told me I’d never be successful, and the more my business grew, the more he tore me down. I realized he brought out the worst in me, and I was done.”

“I agreed to an open relationship.”

  • “My ex started spending a lot of time away from home—he was always ‘working’ or ‘out with friends’ or ‘too drunk to drive home.’ I eventually found out that he was having multiple affairs. I confronted him, and he told me he needed variety. I thought maybe it would be easier if we had an open relationship; I didn’t want anyone else, but I figured if I knew what he was up to, it wouldn’t be as bad. We tried that for about eight months, but it just made me resent him even more. The final straw came when I found out I was pregnant and he asked me to have an abortion.”